|Bottom row, second from the right…your Princess, age 12.|
From the time I was a little girl, I always embraced being female. I loved everything about being a girl. I loved dresses, playing with my hair, decorating my room in various shades of pinks and purples. I devoured perfume and make up…any of the hand me downs that my mother would be getting rid of in favor of newer items. I would hoard it, keep it all in a big, pink plastic box with the “Barbie” logo emblazoned on it.
I was not one of those girls who tried to be “boyish” so the boys would like me. My nails were always polished. I always had pretty shoes on, in lieu of sneakers. My hair was always “done”. And, for my efforts, I was made fun of, taunted and harassed by some of the boys on my block. They called me “dumb girl”.
Two things I knew for sure. I knew I was a girl in every sense of the word. Second, I didn’t fall remotely into the realm of “dumb.”
|Apparently, my father was a John Travolta/Chuck Norris hybrid.|
On graduation day from sixth grade, 1978, I opted to wear a full length white lace gown. I was in awe of the blue and pink satin ribbons running around the garment tiers. I loved the gauzy material. I loved the way it hung off the shoulder, like a grown up woman’s dress! It looked like the “disco” dresses I saw the ladies on the Saturday Night Fever commercial wearing. I wanted to look like that. I wanted something grown up, classy and above all, trendy. When my mother took me shopping for this dress at Lord and Taylor in the city, I was simply beside myself. I knew I had found my home. This beautiful, amazing arena they called a “mall” was an amazing play on all my senses. I could smell new leather. There were dresses trimmed with sparkle, glitter, rhinestones that shone in my eyes. Fur coats, for as far as the eye could see, beckoning me to come closer and stroke them. I remember putting the sleeve of a satin jacket up to my cheek and caressing my face against it. Fashion, my mother told me. This is all called “fashion”…and I was enthralled.
|The 80’s requisite glamor shot: Eat your heart out, Joan Collins.|
Along came the 1980’s and with that, my love and passion for all things girly evolved. The hair was big. The jewelry was ornate bordering on ostentatious. Deep rich jewel tones, bright neons, mini skirts and huge hair. I had it all. I devoured Glamor, Vogue and Vanity Fair as if they were religion, my bibles. The heels were sky high stiletto’s with ankle socks and opaque stockings. I rocked them all. Animal prints were every where making the malls of Long Island look more like a hunting ground for wild game. My love for all things girly thrived in this era. I had a killer body and wasn’t afraid to show it off in hip hugging outfits. I was easily distracted by all the shiny things Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Sach’s had to offer. Even though I was a lover of punk rock and everything rock and roll, my style stayed firmly feminine. I never traveled with less than six tubes of lipstick and gloss in my Louis Vuitton purses. I indulged in the latest trends, sometimes spending the entirety of my pay checks on whatever Vogue said I was supposed to be sporting. Despite being a Jewish woman, and much to my mother’s dismay, I draped myself in crucifixes because Madonna said so. So it was written, so shall it be done. It was also during this era that I discovered that being feminine didn’t just embody fashion, but ones own personality. I took my cues from the likes of Joan Collins, Deborah Harry and Madonna. Strong, opinionated women who made being a bitch look like an art. Sexy, determined and daring…this would now be the framework for which I would base my own sense of style. I started reading about art, poetry, literature, music…because for me, being feminine not only meant slipping on a skirt and stiletto’s, but being incredibly well-read, well spoken and above all, a take no prisoners persona. This was also the era of the “Supermodel” and I immediately embraced Janice Dickinson as my style icon. She was brash, bawdy and always impeccable…and therefore, so was I.
|Separated at birth?|
The 1990’s walked in and with it came the downfall of the glamor goddess and in with the grunge era. It was a hard adjustment for me. I was rarely seen out of a skirt or power suit and now, the pages of my bible were suggesting that I put on…JEANS? And not just any jeans…but…*cringes* acid washed jeans? Colored denim?? It went against all my fashion sensibilities. Women were wearing…flannel shirts? Plaid? SNEAKERS? Doc Martens? Someone even went so far as to bring back spandex pants in capri cuts? And Dear God, I hold wholly responsible for this disaster, the cast of 90210, who made “rompers” stylish. Rompers are nothing more than onesies for big people. Can we please let this trend die in peace? Ponchos. Uggs. Cut off jean shorts. The “California” look. Well, fuck that, said this diehard New York glamor goddess. I was not going to give in on this one. I was NOT straightening my hair. In desperation, I turned to Peggy Bundy who maintained her high hair and leopard prints from the 80’s (though, she did totally sell out on the spandex capri’s). I kept my flaming red locks with the bangs, bouffed up high and proud. I was not selling out to the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. (Though, admittedly, in a dark room…alone…I would listen to the music). Sure, I made concessions. The chunky shoes. They weren’t too terrible. The harem pants (aka MC Hammer Pants), well, they had their place in the clubs and with a cute sparkly halter top and heels, they didn’t look too awful. Same with stirrup pants. Paired with a long blouse and a thick belt and some high heels, not too horrible. And while part of who I was as a woman meant sometimes braving the trends that didn’t necessarily please me…I stuck up a long, well manicured middle finger to overalls. Even if I was a farm girl somewhere on the amber waves of grain filled plains of Kansas, you could NOT stick me into a pair of overalls. Basically, the 90’s were a fashionista’s nightmare and one I would like to forget.
|He said the sun was in his eyes, but I suspect the lack of smile was more “what the hell did I just do?”|
Ah. The entrance of the 2000’s. The new millennium and of course, the beginning of new trends. One of the best trends to appear was the low rider jean look. Yes, because this lovely trend was the beginning of new lingo like “whale tails” and “tramp stamps”. For those not in the know, a “whale tail” was the v-shaped piece of material that you would see sticking out of a girls ass from the thong she was wearing while paired with low-rider jeans. And, just when you think it can’t get any less classy, enter the “tramp stamp”, the need for every twenty something (who are now thirty somethings and undoubtedly full of regret) to get a tattoo just over the crack of her ass. Most men referred to it as “the target”. I’ll let you people figure out that one. Some things are just self-explanatory. I finally allowed my hair to drop down a few notches and wore it long, freer and above all…flatter. The flat iron became both my best friend and nemesis. My huge can of Aqua-Net now gathered dust in the back of my bathroom cabinet. What the 2000’s did bring back was the wonderful dark wash flare jeans of the 70’s and the biker chic look. The jeans had a taste of the 70’s as well, with their leather tie ups replacing zippers. The bottoms were not neatly hemmed, but rather, fringed…also reminiscent of 70’s fashion. Lacy, gauzy blouses, much like the ones I adored and coveted as a 12 year old were now back in style. Black boots with jeans, pointed toe…either full calf or ankle came into style and I adored the look. Above is a photo of my wedding day. I chose “biker chic” meets “scared to death husband” for my look. The make up was lighter, more natural. A basic “sun-kissed look” that we had not seen since the 70’s. No more glitterati. No more huge, chunky jewelry. Bohemian chic was back and I for one, was thrilled to see its resurgence. Once again, my faith restored in fashion humanity, I re-subscribed to Vanity Fair and Glamor (though, secretly, I never gave up on Vogue. They swore the 80’s would come back and while I still wait in breathless anticipation, I trust in them.) This was also the beginning of my not cutting my hair for the next 10 years. Trims, sure, but no hair cuts. I would not subject myself to the chunky layers, the bobs, the streaks, the highlights. Besides, there was one trend that I had been sporting for years. It was the one a chunky little guidette made popular on “Jersey Shore.”
|Long Island girls did the “pouf” long before Snooki got her first tan.|
(Please note the Louis Vuitton overnight bag on the bed of the tacky little hotel we were in. You can take the girl out of the classy, but you can’t take the classy out of the girl). Which now brings us to today. Today, where I am still a slave to all things girly. I still adore pink. I love purple. I love glitter and unicorns and Barbie dolls and playing dress up. Only now, I wear what I like. I wear what looks good on me. If it happens to be trendy, great. If not, that’s okay too. I have a shoe collection that rivals most department stores and, if I hang onto everything long enough, always see a second coming of whatever shoe is now “in”. I dress to make ME happy and not according to the guidelines of a magazine. (Okay, again…MAYBE Vogue has a little influence, but come on now. I’m a girl, for God’s sake.) I buy what I like which, according to my husband, appears to be just about everything judging from our bank statement. But, what I can say is that although I am now a 44 year old grandmother of two, I won’t go out like that. I will not get the pre-requisite 50 year old woman hairdo. I will NOT wear polyester. I will never buy a matching necklace and earring set. I will never give in to the lure of open toed shoes with pantyhose. (WHY, Ladies…WHY???) Most of all, I will live and die in my high heels. Blister me. Cripple me. Give me arthritis. I care not. But what I did do…just two weeks ago, was to cut my trademark long locks. Six inches. Gone.
|Funky, fresh and fun. I am totally diggin’ the look.|
So what was the point of this little jaunt through fashion history? None, really. I always find it interesting to see how a woman’s look evolves through the years. Like, Madonna…then and now. She’s grown up. So have I. But, what remains the same is that strong sense of femininity. Feminine doesn’t necessarily mean girly. It doesn’t mean you have to play “damsel in distress” to your “superior” male counterparts. No, feminine is simply the act of embracing the fact that you are a girl. A lovely, beautiful, interesting creature that eludes men’s perceptions, confounds them and makes them desire you all the more. It is a mystery. It is being strong in body and mind, while having a certain grace at the same time. It is the ability to rule the world with the gentle touch of a hand. It is knowing that tears don’t mean you’re weak. It is the aura that allows you to cry at a dog food commercial and then, go outside and build your children a tree house. It is the very embodiment of being, divinely female. An exceptional woman. A slave to your emotions and then, a master of your domain. While some women see being “feminine” as a weakness, I see it as a strength. Men have always had their abilities. The feminine mystique is ours. It is a trait as unique and elusive as the women who represent it.
Coco Chanel, one of my style icons, once said “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.“
I think she’d be pretty impressed with the woman I have become.