Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shorts Story

As the clouds rolled in and I bundled up at an outdoor brunch in April, I stated rather plainly that the time of year where I stop wearing pants was approaching. My go-to for most of that month had been any one of the numerous pairs of jeans that I own. Pegged when the temperature rose. Worn full length when there was a chill in the air. But now that May is coming to a close, my reliance on denim will begin to wane in favor of skirts and sundresses. And perhaps one more item.

Getting over my various clothing neuroses has been a long, tortuous process. The breasts. The legs. The colorful. The adult. Dealing with all of those leftover middle and high school insecurities that caused me to spend most of college either using my clothes to hide from the world and myself or to show how well I could fit in. Most of those impulses have faded away at this point. Yet for all of my steps in the right direction, all of the shaking off of the dowdy, insecure girl I once was, there are still remnants of her that appear occasionally.

In the past five years, I’ve bought exactly three pairs of shorts. A pair of denim walking shorts that fall just above the knee in the summer of 2006, a navy chino pair in a similar length in the summer of 2009, and a shorter chambray pair in early 2010. The denim pair has been worn on and off but without any real frequency since I purchased them. I spent most of the summer and early fall of 2009 in the navy pair. The chambray pair made brief appearances during the summer of 2010 and, like the navy pair before them, lived on into the fall complemented by black or gray tights. (My mother bought me a seersucker pair with sailor buttons last summer that has never been worn due to the fact that I have limits on the amount of preppiness that I allow myself to emit at one time.)

Shorts are one of the last items that I approach gingerly in stores. That I’m not compelled to bring into the fitting room with me. And I try on everything. Because I want them but can’t afford to buy them. Because they make for fun “twirling in front of the mirror" material. Because I’m simply curious.  But with my adolescent insecurities roaring through my head and colliding with my latent good girl tendencies, shorts never make it into the room.

I've decided that I should take a second look. That purchasing only three pairs of a summer staple over the past five years was a bit ridiculous considering my shopping habits. That maybe I should have more shorts in my closet than lip products in my purse. (There are six currently hiding in various pockets.) 

So there is the casual, linen pair in a sunfaded yellow from Level 99

That can be paired with a simple tank from Old Navy

A navy and white striped, lightweight cardigan by Rag & Bone

And cross-strap flats in camel from Marais USA

Then there is the more formal pair by Alice & Olivia

That can be topped off with a shimmering tank from 3.1 Phillip Lim

And finished with equally shimmery red flats by Repetto.

Or the denim pair from Joe's Jeans

That can be complimented by a Rag & Bone cable knit sweater with a bit of swing

And colorful sneakers from Urban Outfitters

The plans have been made. Now to actually go through with them.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Trench

I write a lot about favorite things. Those that spend little time in my closet. Those lost to the vagaries of overuse. But there are far too many pieces that I overlook every day.

Trenches are iconic. Everyone should have one. Or so I’ve learned from piles of fashion magazines and a number of pop culture icons ranging from Carmen Sandiego in her red, double-breasted version.

To Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly in her more classic take.

My trench has been sitting idly in my closet for…well I actually don’t remember when I got it. Four or six or five years ago. It spent my time in Brooklyn living in a little nook of my apartment with all of my other coats. Yet when it rained, I never reached for it.

The Trench, like almost every coat I’ve acquired since the end of college, is single breasted. Lightweight and of a more classic shade, it came with a blue and yellow striped belt that lives on a separate hanger in my closet. The belt was a bit preppy for my taste. Or, if I’m honest, more preppy than I was willing to admit that I was at the time of The Trench’s entrance into my life.

But on Sunday as I prepared to work an overnight shift, my mother suggested that I throw it on. It was warm yet misty. Perfect weather for The Trench to make its first appearance in who knows how long. I was wearing a skinny pair of olive sweatpants and a lightweight navy hoodie over a black tank. But finished with The Trench, a high ponytail and two-tone ballet flats, the outfit made it seem that I was headed off to do anything but work for the next nine hours. I walked down the street twirling my floral-printed umbrella. A tall, cute boy carrying a pizza smiled at me. I smiled back.

So often I don’t feel like the adult that I’m supposed to be. Any signs of stability or success are fleeting. But like the sparkles and shots of color that I put on to mask the feelings of restlessness and disappointment that sometimes overwhelm me when I think about all of those things happening and not happening in my life, wrapping myself in that coat gave me a momentarily lift.

If May continues on as it has, I think I’ll be wearing it more often.

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