So then…I push open the doors to the hotel pool and see that some of my co-workers also took our boss’ advice to relax a bit before we need to be at the conference dinner tonight.
I’m only 22, so I can hardly believe my good fortune that I have a job that allows sipping cocktails poolside – I’m literally giddy!
As I enter the hotel pool area in my navy blue one-piece, one of my co-workers says, “Oh, that’s a pretty swimsuit, Darcy.”
I grin broadly, sort of surprised at the compliment because that co-worker happens to be a girl my age who hasn’t been very welcoming in the past. She comes from money and an Ivy League education and she’s always acted sort of snooty toward me and my small town background.
So I stop in front of her lounge chair and smile happily with a genuine, “Thanks, Cheryl!”
She smirks with a side glance to her friend and says, “Yeah, I remember it being pretty when I first saw it. It’s from last season, right?”
I am thunderstruck.
Not because she’s rude.
But because it just now hits me: swimsuits have SEASONS?
I shuffle off to a lounge chair in a daze. I know I’m not exactly sophisticated, but it never occurred to me that clothes have SEASONS. Is there an EXPIRATION date for clothing?
As I lay out my towel and lay down, I think back on what my mama taught me about fashion:
1) Trends and fads come and go, so buy “classics” that you can wear forever.
2) Buy your clothes a little loose so they can last a long time even when you grow.
3) Take good care of your clothes so you can pass them on to your younger siblings.
4) Style and color are secondary to a great sale price!
So our entire buying strategy was based on the hope that our clothes would last practically FOREVER! The concept that a perfectly-usable garment would only be good for one season, then tossed aside and replaced with a new garment was literally MIND-BOGGLING.
We chose dark colors, classic styles, and larger sizes so we could wear our clothes for years! We practically looked like cast members of Fiddler on the Roof!
We knew not to even ask for whatever the latest trend was – tye-dyed bell bottoms, hip huggers, that burgundy-wine color everyone was suddenly wearing one winter, or whatever.
My closet was basically filled with conservative clothes fit for a funeral parlor – with the occasional wacky item from the mark-down clearance bin.
For example, as a high schooler, I wore a bushy ORANGE winter coat. Not a hipster so-retro-it’s-cool “burnt umber” winter coat. It was a HIDEOUS OMIGOD-WHAT-THE-HELL-IS-SHE-WEARING FLAMING-ORANGE COAT.
I’d walk down the school hallway, weaving in and out of my classmates’ black and brown coats like I was a Neon Orange Traffic Cone!
But.it.was.on.sale. A BIG sale. And so I wore that coat proudly.
I rub suntan lotion on my arms and look over at Cheryl and the other girl giggling and gossiping. Their swimsuits look adorable but I literally have no concept if they’re from this season or last season or from 17 seasons ago. Who’s able to keep track of such things?
I put on my sunglasses and think back to an afternoon when I was about 10 years old, back in Louisiana. My Mom came into my room and laid out two shirts on the bed. They looked the same – two blue short-sleeve shirts. She said, “One of these cost $6.99 at Kmart and one of these cost $19.99 at Dillard’s Department Store. Can you guess which is which?”
I studied and studied those shirts. I touched the material. I compared the colors. But they were practically identical.
“I can’t tell the difference,” I said.
My Mom looked me straight in the eye and said, “Exactly!”
Lesson learned, my friend, lesson learned. Talk about a great visual!
And so our family of 7 shopped at Kmart, Target, and Wal-Mart – with the occasional splurge at Dillard’s Department Store for special events.
And we were happy! We weren’t worried if our clothes had “expired” or they weren’t “labelled” by a fancy designer. We were just delighted not to be walking around nekkid!
So I’m certainly not going to let Cheryl shame my “dated” swimsuit now. I sit up, grin at Cheryl and her pal, then proudly sashay my ass over to the bar to order a cocktail and chat up the hot bartender.
— Darcy Perdu
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(What did your mama teach you about clothes, shopping, and sales when you were a kid? Any mortifying garments you recall from your childhood or teen years? P.S. While typing this, I’m wearing expired clothing RIGHT NOW!)
EXTRA P.S. For another funny fashion faux pas, check out this VERY embarrassing thing I said to a co-worker!