Pro: I think I found T-shirts to wear during my hospital stay. Con: My head looks like an old crone’s chin.
I’ll start, I suppose, with my bad news. Instead of the smooth Telly Savalas or the majestic Yul Brenner, my head is closer to Gollum’s from Lord of the Rings. My dome does not resemble a shiny apple, nor a smooth peach. It’s a kiwi gone bad, an old forgotten coconut.
My hair is almost all gone from the first round of ICE chemo, but a few stubborn hairs remain. And it’s not pretty. I expect these stragglers to fall out after this second round of ICE chemo. If not, I’ll take a razor to them.
On the bright side, the online education session about my autologous stem cell transplant put my mind at ease. A lot. And one of my fashion questions was answered; I’m pretty sure Henley T-shirts are the best option for me during my hospital stay.
Even better news, my old standby Uniqlo, where I buy almost all my clothes, has a new spring line of Henleys, so I’m going to buy some tomorrow. People sometimes ask me why I love Uniqlo so much, and it’s simple: It has the clothes I expected to wear when I thought of the present day as the future.
I was promised this future—now—in the ‘70s. The prediction then was that we were going to wear lots of white and monochromatic unitards and tunics. What about the fashion of Logan’s Run? Where are the magic amulets that I saw from other worlds in Wonder Woman, as I made myself dizzy spinning around in the living room, perfecting the change from Diana Prince to superhero and wearing bulletproof star bracelets made of paper? (Seriously, I’d wear those bracelets, bulletproof or not.) I’d even take Erin Gray’s shiny Buck Rogers suits from the 25th century all these years early.
I think of the ‘70s as a dark time for most fashion, but future ‘70s fashion—the era of tunics and unitards and shiny clothing of the 2000s and beyond—was going to be awesome.
You can only imagine how unspeakably disappointed I am.
I waited for this century only to be offered worse versions of what I wore in junior high and high school.
I am most disappointed in American Apparel. I had high hopes when I first heard about the American-made clothes and array of basics, before I realized the sizing is weird and, as Jezebel pointed out, everything makes you look like fat hooker. And why do the ads all look like young Dov Charney/Terry Richardson/Joe Francis-types took them in dorm rooms?
Things have changed a little. This week, after years away, I managed to buy an American Apparel sweatshirt in my size that fit. But I also took note of some of the “new” fashions on display, and a lot of them were straight from my junior high days. We’re not even talking the mall items you HAD to have, otherwise you would surely be expelled from society forever: The oversized ESPRIT bag, the Benetton sweatshirt, the big Express shirt with French writing on it, a long Limited sweater paired with colorful leggings.
We’re talking DEB offerings. Basics. A loose-sitting floral-print dress. A velvet tunic. Cropped sweaters. Acid-washed jeans and light denims that are begging to be French-cuffed. (I have been told that most people called it pegging, but we referred to them as French cuffs in my school.) They do have shiny skirts and clothes. But it’s not right somehow.
So I turn to Uniqlo, which feels like it’s from the future, with their mannequins in basics, long escalators and robot-voice announcements. A friend who lived in Japan doesn’t understand my fascination; she thinks they’re the Old Navy of Japan. But they promise me clothing technology, if not from the future, then from Japan, which is pretty close in my mind. They have clothes that magically stay warm and clothes that stay cool! This is what I need and what I deserve in this present-future. Otherwise I may as well go around draped in animal skins.
The thought of racks of fairly plain basics appeals to me, not only from my lady-of-the-future perspective, but also from my present wardrobe as someone in her mid-30s. At American Apparel, as I took in some of the crazier fashions from my youth and the youth of today, I realized why you pay attention less to trends as you get older, even as you keep an eye to fashion. Trends often look pretty ridiculous. And they often (but not always) expire after the first time around.
I think of my wardrobe as pretty basic and tame, especially after my last year of cancer. But then I just sent a sequin peacock dress from New Year’s Eve to the dry cleaners.
For a very brief insight into my psyche, life story and wardrobe: My mom and I dressed alike until I was in fourth grade or so. She made all our clothes, and all of them were identical mother-daughter outfits. (We were pretty darn adorable when I was little.) I eventually picked out some of my own stuff from fifth to seventh grades, during my personally most awkward phase, then transferred at the height of everyone’s most awkward of phases to public junior high in eighth grade and no longer had a uniform.
After a metal phase late freshman and sophomore years, “alternative” hit. (I’m talking about clothing here. Metal is still awesome.) So I had the Docs and the overalls and my grandpa’s flannel shirts and the band T-shirts, but I was goth-tinged. And so I’ve gone from a teen who wore black a lot to a New Yorker who wears black a lot, and I feel like I’ve really come to my fashion home.
All of this means that my fashion choices are at odds—a mix of blending in and hiding and standing out. Hence the neutrals and black and my usual uniform of black shirt and jeans, with a closet full of well worn craziness, from the Union Jack dress to the shiny pants to the sequined peacock dress.
I keep remnants of these past trends and phases in my closet, though I winnow things down as time passes. I never part with everything. It’s hard for me to part with anything, frankly, and I have a crowded closet to prove it. I delightedly broke out my Doc Martens when they came back this fall. Is it time to revive my ESPRIT bag? Because I still have it.