One of the advantages of skirting sixty is arriving at a vast fashion plateau, where peer pressures recede into the misty distance of the 1950s, when our mothers dreaded a hole in our socks.
What a relief it is to window shop today and see tortured blue jeans with unmatched patches, or with gaping holes without patches, and jackets turned inside out with threads hanging off artfully fraying seams! What a joy, to go home and rip apart an old coat taking the scissors to its sleeves, tearing out the shoulder pads and pinning a 1950s rhinestone brooch on its sagging lapel above our heart.
Anything goes. To hell with the old anxieties. This is the age of couture potato sacks. We are liberated and in possession of the wisdom of maturity. We have learnt the secrets of fashion cycles and know now that what goes around comes around again in a decade or two or three.
Just look at the shoes. How we squeezed our feet into stiletto-healed, pointy-toed high-rises in the 1960s. How we swore “never again” when Princess Di made flat heels glam at last and we could walk comfortably without the fear of tipping over in a crack!
And today, here they are again in our Main Streets, the teetering ankle-twisters elongated into pinpoint triangles adorned with fake pearls. They may be good enough to get in and out of a limousine, but hopelessly hobbling and dangerous for anyone who wants to walk from the office to an ATM.
Still, women buy them, that is, women born yesterday who want to be “with it”. The same is true of platform shoes, which have dared to resurface. Why didn’t we save what grandma had thrown out after years of balancing on these ungainly stilts?
They were about as good on uneven ground as the feet-torture devices oriental women used to endure in ages past. We can only smile when we see fake-straw-covered multi-storey platforms on the bean-stalk-thin teen models in glossy magazines. We can’t miss them while we stand in line at the checkout in the local supermarket.
Who can keep up with the spiral of returning cycles by subscribing to these new glossies telling us what to wear? That is where freedom from anxiety kicks in. We have learned not to throw out yesterday’s rejects, but keep them in mothballs long enough to be reborn as the latest fashion innovations from Paris, New York or Milan. Who needs a designer to reinvent yesterday?
We know how to get mileage out of our dollars.
(From the archives)