I'm not sure how my parents scammed this arrangement, but my grandmother bought all my clothes until I was a teenager. She'd take me out for these daylong shopping-and-lunch jaunts that I remember fondly. Once she let me order the Flaming Venus, which was all the ice cream the restaurant sold, lit on fire. I'm not making this up.
Despite the obvious advantages of getting to eat flaming ice cream, my grandmother selecting my clothes unfortunately resulted in me sporting a whole lotta kelly-green corduroy. She was apparently a connoisseur of the clover-colored cords. Sometimes she'd go to town and get me something navy blue or red, but that was pretty much the extent of my wardrobe's color scheme.
Perhaps my parents felt like if they had to look at Corduroy the Bear one more second they were gonna die, but for some reason I finally I got to select my own jeans at this store called Sagebrush, which was a ridiculous name because Saginaw, Michigan, gets very little sagebrush. And this is when I owned my first unforgettable piece of clothing. Come weave through time with me as I remember my favorite clothes of yore:
1. The rainbow jeans
These jeans had a rainbow, curving up one leg, swerving around my 10-year-old hip, and back down the other leg. They transformed me from the nerd at school who read books on her own time to Keith Richards. When I had on the rainbow jeans, I'd look in the mirror and say, "Oh, hell yeah. Break me off a piece of myself." Which is probably what Keith Richards says to himself all the time.
2. The red 1950s dress
When I was 19, I went to visit my father in Dallas for New Year's. We were going to a very fancy restaurant, and then to a party. I remember the restaurant had a phone at every table; I have no idea why. The point is, he took me to a vintage store and bought me a red cocktail dress from the '50s that was somehow trendy but classic and perfect. I felt like a vaguely slutty Grace Kelly, which has pretty much been my goal personality ever since. I wore that dress, with its red-netted skirt, every chance I got for the next 10 years.
3. The green old-man cardigan
You'd think I'd avoid green for the rest of time, what with my 50 Shades of Corduroy grandmother going green before it was cool. But I bought this forest-green, Kurt-Cobain-unplugged, sort of fuzzy cardigan at a rummage sale and it was my go-to for ages. I wore it backwards with tight miniskirts and combat boots. I wore it unbuttoned over sexy camisoles. I wore it 'til all the buttons fell off. There are STILL days I'm foraging for an outfit and I think, "You know what'd work right now? The fuzzy green cardigan."
4. Sparkly pointy-toed shoes
There was a vintage store in my college town called Somebody Else's Closet. I wish I'd had Somebody Else's Money to spend there, because every cent I had went to that place. That and the beer store. I bought a pair of 1960s silver, sparkly, pointy-toed slingbacks, and I wore those to keggers, to class, to traipse down the dorm hall and visit with my friend Dot. I feel like those sparkly shoes were the very essence of me: created in the '60s, a little uncomfortable and definitely more dramatic than the occasion warranted. I wish I'd kept those shoes, just for the memories alone.
5. The pink winter coat
I lived in Los Angeles for a long time, and it took me several years to get over people calling any time of year there "winter." But eventually that dramatic shift from 80 degrees to 69 got to me, and I purchased a winter coat. I found a double-breasted one in a baby pink that had a Peter Pan collar. Typing that, I wonder if in fact I looked Delta-Dawn insane in that coat, seeing as I was 40 and not 18 months old. But it was adorable, and complete strangers would come up to me to compliment it. I wore it until it got all pilly. And until that mysterious dark-haired man took me to his mansion in the skyyyy.
I hope the fact that I'm old and fat-ish now won't keep me from having more clothes I love. Maybe a nice Mrs. Roper muumuu is in my future, or one of those old-lady zip-up-the-front housecoats. Whatever piece of clothing I love next, I guarantee you it won't be corduroy.