Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Stockings Stalker

I entered kindergarten during the 1983-1984 school year. My favorite videos were Eddie Grant's "Electric Avenue" and "What A Feeling" from Flashdance. I had no idea the film was about some stripper in Pittsburgh, nor would I have cared. The styles of the time included trickle-down mass punk; ripped, spiked and safety pinned. I, for one, was obsessed with having Big Girl shoes. Today they'd be equivalent to the classic Ferragamo Varina flats. My shoes always had some contraption to keep my little feet in place. Whether it be show laces or a buckle strap, the secured shoe stayed on during rigorous PE sessions of kick ball.

Since I was relegated to white knock off Adidas (they had 4 pink stripes instead of 3), I needed to step up my game. It was the 80s and the sneakers were too casual for me. Enter church stockings stage left.

My wardrobe of worship consisted of a multitude of dresses, and never mingled with my school clothes: t-shirts, jeans, and denim skirts. Within my church wardrobe I had stockings of every 80s persuasion: yellow lace, plain Rubble Bubble pink, and my favorite, white with little red hearts all over.

Back then, my mother dictated what I wore while I ate Cap'n Crunch and watched Inspector Gadget. But, soon I began a campaign for the clothes I wanted to wear. As this was a quarter of a century ago, I can't remember exactly how long the campaign lasted, but it must have been long. Mommy is an Aries/Taurus cusp. She doesn't budge.

Everyday I'd ask her if I could wear my stockings with my sneakers. My church shoes were black patent with a buckle. While they served their purpose at a house of worship, they would have been too too at school. Every time I asked her, I got an emphatic NO as an answer. I can't recall her reasoning, something along the lines of sneakers and stockings not going together or me running the stockings while playing. But I persisted, and finally, she surrendered.

I was psyched out of my mind to be wearing this special hosiery. In addition to the fake Adidas sneakers, I wore what I now consider to be my uniform at the time: Miss Peggy t-shirt in which she's wearing a tank top, shorts that are far too tight, and some roller skates. USA was emblazoned on the shirt, probably in lieu of the '84 Olympics in Los Angeles. The bottom half of my outfit was a simple, denim pencil skirt.

When I got dressed in said uniform, I thought my look was fire. I made sure Mommy gave me the special hair style, too. Instead of two pig tails, I got 4 (concurrent with my fake Adidas), which were reserved for Church or picture day at school.

After my mother walked me to school, my intention was to show all the other five and six-year-olds my fashion savvy...maybe some upper classmen, too. As soon as I got outside of Mrs. Week's kindergarten class, my colleagues started in on me. They laughed and laughed. And when they were done laughing, they laughed some more. These were kids I considered friends of mine. Good friends. One after the other, boys and girls alike, asked me what I was thinking. No one wore sneakers with stockings. Only crazy people did that apparently. I wanted to be a vanguard, but it backfired.

I had yet to get those Big Girl shoes from Zayre that my parents had promised me. Stockings would have looked great with those. But I insisted on wearing my stockings then; I wasn't terribly concerned with footwear. I was making due with what I had.

After a day of what seemed like non-stop ribbing, I finally made my way home on a walk with Mommy. As embarrassed as I was, I told her what happened. She didn't spare me from any "I told you so" or "Next time, listen to me." I got plenty of those. But I'm grateful that she allowed me to wear the stockings so I'd be able to see why the combination wasn't a good idea.

I would eventually get my Big Girl shoes...the next year. I didn't have any more patience then than I do today, but they were worth the wait.

With Stanton + Williams Style Therapy, I try to give clients on the younger side more leeway. They haven't had a chance to develop their own style and have a feel for what works for them and what doesn't. It's crucial to make mistakes, and even spend all day being embarrassed out of your mind. On the other hand, for my more mature clients, my mother's voice of reason filters down through me. If I can spare them from a day of heckling, it's worth my hourly rate.

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