Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thinking outside the box

When I was in high school, the uniform was flannel shirts, 501-button fly Levis, and Clarks Wallabees. Man, those were comfy shoes.

In college the uniform was flannel shirts, 501-button fly Levis, and Earth Shoes. Shoes not quite as comfy, but otherwise, the same damn clothing.

I understand the need for conformity. I dressed just like everyone else in high school in college. Except, I didn't. I've always been pretty much my own person. In LA, back in the paleolithic era when I was in high school and dinosaurs still roamed the LaBrea Tar Pits, there were distinct groups. The "surfs" wore a lot of plaid shirts and wheat colored cords with Jack Purcell sneakers. The "grease" wore leather jackets and pegged jeans and white t-shirts ala the Fonz. The "burn-outs" wore the flannel shirts, 501s, and Wallabees. So I identified heavily with one particular set of kids, but I really wasn't a burnout, I was kinda artsy-fartsy. I majored in photography in high school. I went to a music and art school where you could pick a major and spend a lot of time doing that particular interest.

But in my senior year my parents, in their infinite ignorance of what it meant to be 16, decided to uproot me and move to Baltimore Maryland. Oh yeah, they did. I wasn't even given the choice of staying, I just had to go and do my senior year in a place I didn't know with kids I didn't know and it was hotter than hell there and they had 17-year locusts. You can imagine the thrills I was feeling. Fucking asshats.

I arrived in our fancy Jewish 'burb in Baltimore, and it was like 1958. The girls were wearing peter pan collars and frigging circle pins, for God's sake. They wore skirts to school! With knee socks. And little Capezio flats! It was frightening. Of course, I had no interest in ever copying these people, so I went with the...wait for it... flannel shirts, 501s, and Wallabees. This caused a huge commotion because there was a freaking dress code. A WHAT? I'd never even heard of this before. So I ignored it, which made me incredibly popular with the vice-principal and the school staff. But they couldn't break me. I just would not wear anything else, and they eventually dropped the dress code. This endeared me to the other rebellious students and made me plenty of friends, all of whom were, of course, the school's artists and burnouts. I knew my place! I found my social group.

In my high school year book from this school in Baltimore, the senior portraits were taken in the city by some goofy photographer that insisted that the girls wear this stupid black drape and pearls. Um, no. That wasn't going over with me. So I'm the ONLY girl in the entire book that wore a grey sweater instead of a drape. Even though I was a conformist of sorts, I was really a rebel and stood up for myself even way back then.

Which brings us to today. As you know, I'm still a rebel and I've got quite the wild side when it comes to clothing and general appearance. There are very few women in their mid-50's that have shocking pink hair like mine. My rebellious nature has definitely been passed on to the Boy, who has a crazy fashion sense. This past weekend he picked out, and has been wearing, a pair of plaid Etne skate shoes. Even I balked at them, but he liked them and we bought them and he's totally into them. OK now. He tried to talk me into a pair of orange wide-wale cords but I absolutely refused. They were peachy orange and I just thought they might be a little TOO overboard for high school in our suburban town, but he would have worn them no problem.

However, and this is the real reason for this long-winded saga, the Girl has not been blessed with the rebellious gene when it comes to attire. She is a sheep. She wears the uniform of our town. Layering tees topped with a Juicy velour hoodie, flared jeans tucked into Ugg boots, and all topped off with her North Face Denali jacket. Every kid in school has the same outfit. EVERY kid. It's like they were pushed off an assembly line. I surely don't deny her the right to feel like a part of the crowd, but I wish she were just the slightest bit adventurous when it comes to clothing. She isn't.

I took the Girl and her friend Squid to H&M on Newbury Street today. If you're not familiar with Boston, Newbury Street is the equivalent of Rodeo Drive, same designer shops, same high fashion mavens with a lot of shopping bags, same crowded streets, same celeb sightings. We miraculous, and I do say so with great glee, found a parking space a block from the store! This is unheard of. When we got into the store, I told the Girl to "think outside the box" because the vast majority of clothes you can see at H&M are trendy, high fashion, cheap prices, choices. She looked and looked all over the store. She had a gift card with a pretty penny on it, and she could have bought some really outstanding pieces for her wardrobe. Several times she was looking at stuff she already had at home, like layering t's and camis, and I would say "Think outside the box." But she's just not an outside the box kinda kid. Sigh.

She ended up purchasing two bras and a pair of jeans. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. There were such cute things there, and yet she couldn't find ANYTHING that she would feel comfortable wearing. OMG! If I were her size and her age, I could easily have spent hundreds and hundreds on stuff there. Cute coats, dresses, pants... such cool clothes and totally different than everyone else in town.

She doesn't want to be different. She wants to be just like everyone else. But, in her defense, she also had a gift card to Old Navy and we went there and she could not find one thing she liked. We left empty handed. She HATES Old Navy clothes except for... hold on... camis, layering t's, beaters, and flip flops. So she'll spend her card on summer stuff later on in the year.

It's so hard defining who you are when you're a teenager. I feel for her because she just hasn't found her both a comfort zone and her individual style yet. She will. I know she will. It's just going to come later on.

But at least she's not wearing plaid shoes!

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Blogger Bethany said...

I think those plaid shoes are awesome! :-) I would wear those in a heartbeat. I love H&M too and only wish I could wear more of their clothes (I am short, and they don't do too much short-person stuff unless you are also a size 0, which I am decidedly not).

29/12/07 1:59 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29/12/07 2:00 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I love the plaid shoes! I also wished I had tried pink hair!

29/12/07 8:19 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

I love the plaid shoes. My daughter (21, photo-major) is a fan of converse all-stars in the low-top version. She has a pair in a plaid similar to the shoes in the picture. Other than that, she's a layer-t's, hoodie on top, jeans kid. I like to think the shoes are her nod to creativity.

29/12/07 12:30 PM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

Hmmmm, plaid is so outre here. Ry is my fashion kid and the THING right now is seven or true religion jeans. He has hoodies, Nike mostly, 8 pairs of sneakers~Etne is kinda over around here as well,jeans that aren't washable(How stupid I know), t-shirts from Karmaloop.com. I find it highly amusing that my son is a fashion trend setter. I have an awesome DC hoodie that he gave me because he saw too many people wearing it. I get tons of compliments because most adults have no idea what's in or out. So I'm a 45yo wearing a very trendy hoodie.
I was also moved during my junior year from MI to Irvine and I kinda had my own MI/CA mixed looked. The biggest part of the look-a fabulous tan. No dress code in CA except for exposure issues. I think vice principles are evil everywhere. ;)

29/12/07 5:13 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

OK, I concede. The plaid shoes are awesome. Ahem.

Janice, funny about the fashion trends. 7 and True Religion jeans are kinda outre here, where they were popular a few years back. Now you can pick up 7's in the thrift store for $5 a pair! Really!

Plaid hasn't ever been popular here. Plaid shoes especially. Here the boys wear dark Tims in the winter and in the summer it's Converse All-Stars, mostly high tops. I think the boy must have at least 10 pairs of Chucks high tops, all bought at unreal prices at Marshalls.

NOBODY would be caught dead in Sketchers. NOBODY. They're about as gross as you can get here.

And carpenter jeans? Social death. Ditto the big and hugely baggy pants, and anything even remotely 'gangsta' like Rocowear. Oh no, we DO NOT wear that stuff at all.

Mostly we like funny t-shirts and plain jeans. Nothing fancy. We get a lot of the Boy's tshirts at either luckythreads or threadless.com. Cheap, funny, and unique.

29/12/07 5:27 PM  

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