Sometimes Fancy Ain’t Fancy, Just Smart

posted in: Fashion 0
Woman's silk damask shoes with buckles; 1740-1750, London. Photo: Los Angeles Museum of Art.
Woman’s silk damask shoes with buckles; 1740-1750, London. Photo: Los Angeles Museum of Art.

All this talk of magazine closures and hemogoblins calls for lighter fare. It’s time for fashion.

Years ago, I dated a chap who did not own a pair of bluejeans. He was fancy. He wore suits and bowties and because I liked him so much, I decided to clean up my act. I was a scruffy, twenty-two year-old slam poet waitress, so I naturally lived in jeans and hoodies. This guy was charmed by me, but it was clear that I’d need a dress or two if I was gonna go out with him.

Embarking on this upgrade wasn’t easy; I was still on a waitress budget, so I got good at sourcing fake pearl earrings and designer dresses at secondhand shops. But it worked. I began to cut a fine figure, if I do say so. I kept refining it because I discovered was that when I dressed a little nicer, when my shoes were polished, life was kinda better. People smiled at me more. I walked a bit taller. This was not social climbing — no one was mistaking me for Brooke Astor — but it was confidence-building. I was hooked.

The dapper fellow dumpity-dump-dump dumped me and broke my heart, but I continued to work on fanciness. (Who needed that guy, anyway. Bow-ties? Seriously?) Not long after the breakup, I quit working as a coat check girl and a waitress and got several great writing jobs. Eventually, I could afford nicer clothes (take that, Mr. Fancy Pants!) and I learned the true secret to looking good in one’s clothes:

Buy nice stuff, never at full-boat retail, and get a good tailor.

Got a nice dress? Take it to a tailor. For a bit o’ cash, you can get that dress taken in a nip there, let out a bit here, and voila: you are now a smokin’ hot mama. Gentlemen’s suits can be shaved down a smidge or opened up a bit; suddenly a fellow who looked rather average before is now A Man of Consequence. Tailors vary in style and price, of course, but start humbly and get used to the process: you’ll come to love it. You know all the dry cleaning places with the signs that say, “Alterations”? That means they do alterations in there. The pantsuit you really love but never wear because the crotch is…well, it’s not good. That can be fixed, usually. Instead of buying a new outfit ($100+) you can be green, fancy, and look great for far less.

Cobblers are important, too. The high heels that look like the dog chewed them can be restored within a day or so. Twenty bucks at a shoe repair shop beats Zappos with a stick.

That is the fashion report. The body report is that I’m feeling better but worried that my body cannot absorb iron. A friend emailed me to share her own anemia trouble; she’s been battling acute anemia for several decades. I may be in for another odyssey; we shall see. Thank you to each and every kindly soul who sent encouragement. I can’t reply to all the comments but I see all of them.

Thank you. Now go into your closet and make a plan!


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