I rounded a department-store corner, past perfume into ladies’ wear, and I’ll be a gold chrysanthemum if I hadn’t returned to the 1960s.
One problem with living too long is that colors that never should have been together return to style with a vengeance.
And they reincarnate in the same garments that once upon a time, when you were young and didn’t know any better, made you look like a pregnant street walker.
There on the racks, with women fighting over the choices, were aqua and lime-green baby doll tops in voile, and Capri pants in leopard skin and bright-orange dresses and lilac waistcoats.
If I’m lying, I’ll march up stadium steps in platform heels.
My friend Tom Fox has wryly observed that the styles and colors of the 1950s, excepting a little pink and black, were sedate to the point of boring. Men were toiling away in gray flannel suits and women were vacuuming in pearls and matching sweater sets of pale blue.
Then, with no explanation or warning, we all woke up one day in 1965 and started dressing like clowns. There are pictures of Tom in a chocolate leisure suit with gold braids to prove it.
Fashion, fortunately, is a lot like literature. The really good stuff never completely goes away.
And you have to give the 1960s credit for making blue jeans a wardrobe staple. In an otherwise outlandish fashion era, when men looked like Captain Kangaroo and women like go-go dancers, we were given the perennial gift of denim.
Now I know people wore blue jeans before the ’60s, but not everywhere, not to fine restaurants and churches and class reunions.
Today you can get away with it. Jeans, depending on what you wear with them, go to the office, the cocktail party and the fields. So that takes care of the bottom half of my wardrobe.
The good thing is, if you’re smart, you only care about style a lot in your youth. This time around I’m not obligated to get rid of perfectly good black pants and jeans to wear orange and yellow polka dots.
I can stick with denim and earth tones and look like a nerd if I want. And I want.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t always feel this way. Dressing in hideous fashion was fun once upon a time, no denying.
I can remember the purple corduroy bell bottoms that laced up in the front and the back with shoe strings. I loved them. And somehow, when my waist was the size of my ring finger, I pulled it off – not the pants, but the look.
Today, though, I’d just as soon get a nose ring as wear a bright color. My niece once said my closet looked like Johnny Cash’s, all black and denim. But she said it almost admiringly, as if she instinctively knew that someday it would be her turn to ignore the demands of style and simply dress and live comfortably.
I have lived through stiletto high heels and Urban Cowboy boots. I have earned my ugly Birkenstock sandals. I have dragged my jeans through university mud and pranced through concert crowds in halter tops. I once opted for sartorial splendor and cared where my next shirtwaist was coming from.
Today I want only three choices: fat jeans, just-right jeans and skinny jeans. And I hope to have loosed the bonds of this world before orange and pink are ever mated in Dacron again.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a syndicated columnist who lives in the Iuka vicinity. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson