Saturday, October 27, 2012

Secret vanities

Does everyone have these—fabulous fashion statements that cannot be aired in public? I have a closetful of them: extravagantly tiered and flared bellbottoms that 40 years after I stopped being a hippie and started being hippy I secretly think look pretty great, halter tops that reveal shoulders and arms that I pride myself are still youthful but my daughter assures me are not (“Just no!”), circle skirts that went out of style when I was 10 but remain a personal vice (I think of them as “swirl skirts”), satin palazzo pants that remain the height of glamour (to me alone), the maryjanes that make other women look like dancers but that Other says make me look like a clown, and (don’t laugh) hunter’s-camouflage shirts—you know, the ones with trees and leaf litter.

There are more. Many are unworn, or worn only in the most indulgent company (my own), but the whims that made me buy them just keep resurfacing. Many of the daffiest arrived straight from Daffy’s, the aptly named well-loved “Bargains for Millionaires” store, which closed its doors a few weeks ago, so I suppose my collecting days may be over.

The thing is, the styles that now look best on me—sportswear and business clothes—don’t appeal to me. I don’t identify with the image they project: severe, competent, crisp, sure. And I don’t seek out that kind of woman for friendship. How did this dysmorphia happen? And will it ever end?

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