Musings on Cool

Ever since I turned 50 and my old gangs had reunions that keep on giving, I’ve been looking at fashion again. It didn’t hurt that I lost 30 pounds. 20 more to go. I was very much into edgy fashion when I was young. I was a Whiz Kid.  You know, Bowie, glitter, hair that stood on end, platform shoes, satin with a bi-sexual vibe…

1976

Dig those shoes…  And my friend’s ripped up shirt.

1979

Morphed into hair that was pink but that still stood on end (oh I wish I had photos), black, straps and razors, leopard shoes, and serious attitude. Punks don’t carry cameras. They can’t afford them for one thing, and they’d forget them for another. Lots of drugs.

1988

Back to my own color but still sticking straight up.

1995

Two months before I got sober…  Yes, I still have that awesome necklace, two sterling winged cobras on either side of a gold scarab.  Not my own color, very long, less makeup, no more painted nails, more natural for the most part although vinyl bras and tie-dyed silk cowboy shirts still made their appearance.

1995 (second half and beyond)

I spent most of my early sobriety running from those days.  They made me afraid of relapse, afraid of dying, afraid of living, but I knew I had to discover who I was.  I honestly had no idea, not a clue. Birkenstocks, baggy soccer mom clothes, extra weight.  And the time to spend time with me.  I think those years I looked like that because it gave me a shield of protection that kept all away who were interested in appearance.  I was only noticed for my insides, which improved with time.

I have a clue today.  And while I have lots of things to wear that have color in them, I’m back to black and lots of silver jewelry.  Black suits my silver hair.  I am back to short hair that sort of stands up, that is sort of elvish (tendrils and the like) but it’s not pink, it too is silver.

I’m suddenly obsessively reading edgy fashion blogs and I’m struck by a few things.

  • There are some cool things but none of it is new.  It’s been done before, sometimes better, sometimes not.  Hammer pants are back for one thing.  OI!
  • I was in the first wave of serious edge but the shoes today are getting very strange, seriously…  real neck breakers.  I note that more than ever they are like foot binding in old China.  Restrict the women, they can’t run and are in constant pain.  Why are they so afraid of us?  Isn’t there something cool and edgy and fashionable that won’t get you broken or killed?
  • Fur is back in, furs like chinchilla.  Have you ever met a chinchilla?  I have, darling creatures.  And don’t EVEN get me started on fox. The new wave of fur is making me just disgusted and sick.  I can’t believe how much headway we have lost.
  • Smoking is now cool again.  gah!  Fer crying out loud.  I see beautiful, fashionable, emmulated women like Kate Moss smoking cigarettes in photos and I say to myself, “those women, beautiful as they are, STINK.  Literally, they smell bad.  Sure, there are the health issues but since when did stinking become beautiful?”
  • Skinny is still in but I was never that skinny, I was thin I admit it but I ate well.  I just walked everywhere and had an athlete’s metabolism from years of running track, skiing, and yeah, even dirty dancing.  I was never a size 0.  I was a size 8 and anything in double digits, like an 11, freaked me out.  If I had only known that one day I would get up to size 16 I’d have freaked out.  Those days are long gone.  I’ll be happy to get down to 150 and call it good.  Never thought I’d say that.
  • I drank because it was fun but it also helped me fit in, don’t want to go there, the trying to fit in with the uber cool.
  • Cool nearly killed me but I still love textiles and fashion and interesting styles.  I really hate the common in any area of my life.
  • The people I’m running into now?  The ones I knew 20 or 30 years ago?  Are still cool, still fun, still smart and funny.  There is an edge of normal even for those still going the extra cool mile.
  • Where is my tribe?  I don’t fit in with the normies, the drunks, the cool kids, the pagans, the sober drunks…  I kind of do but there is always something missing that doesn’t feel like a true fit.
  • My friend Candace and I used to say that if we ever started dressing age inappropriate that the other was to shoot us and put us out of our misery.  I don’t want to be a “Cougar.”  What a strange concept, cougars are awesome.  What’s wrong with older women and younger men if they’re consenting?  One more way to put women in a locked box.  On the other hand I really don’t want to be looked at as pathetic, I admit to having some pride.   I’m really just not into looking for men these days.  Seriously.  Every once in awhile someone sparks my interest but the truth is I like my freedom, I’ve had lots of sex and it didn’t give nearly as much as I gave, I love being on my own for the most part, very set in my ways, and my perfect partner list is a tad long to be realistic.  No micro-minis and leopard with gold lame for me.  Even so, I find it disturbing that older women having fun with fashion and sex are treated with so much anger and ill will.  We seem to threaten even more than the young women in their scary shoes.

I’m trying very hard to find some balance here. I want to get back to wearing things that actually speak to who I am inside.  I’m tired of being a stealth fae/witch/artist.

The question becomes how does one remain fashionable, be kind to the earth and her inhabitants, not be a laughing stock, and have a good time without killing the pocket book. As much as I like fashion I have no intention of giving up my core beliefs.  Me?  I shop at thrift stores most of the time.  Sometimes one must venture elsewhere, but second hand is my friend.  I find the coolest things in great shape for super low prices.   Even though thrift stores have raised their prices in the last couple years, screaming deals are still to be had.

Things in my closet.  Black suede platforms with sequins and beads (you never know, maybe I’ll be invited to another gig or a 70’s dance, it happens and the last time that happened I just couldn’t find the shoes), lots of boots and clogs all mostly low or flat, a studded leather biker jacket, floaty faery skirts, t-shirts and t-necks, sweats, exercise gear, wool hats, a white, see-through, lacy tiered 1950’s poofy half slip (makes those 1950’s Mrs. Cleaver dresses poof) to wear over leggings, down foofy jacket (lime green at least), a few velvet shirts and a few more see through things.  I have lots of pants, lots of cute clothes but what do I wear?  Mostly a pair of levi’s and a shirt and boots.  I’m trying to get myself out of this rut by wearing different things as part of my Who Am I In The Second Half Of My Life quest.  I’m certainly a magpie.  I’m so confused.  I want comfort but I want edge.  I want fun and I want thrift.

All I know for sure is that I don’t want to get caught up in the Cult of Cool. But I know what I like and it’s edgy and somewhere in all of this I’ll find my style, my new, more inclusive style.  Without fur.  But I have to admit that yesterday I saw a tiny piece of fur with the belts.  I went to touch it and immediately felt the animal’s residual spirit.  I had touched another piece of fur earlier and no one was home.  Believe me or not, that piece called me.  “Please, please, take me home and let me snuggle with you, I’m lonely.”  I put it on and it felt all snuggly and right.  Seriously.  It’s one of those collars that folks button on to sweaters.  So it’s lined and has little button loops already.  I did it. I brought it home.  I will wear it like a scarf, buttoned at the throat.  I don’t know whether to be honored or pissed. How do you explain that it asked you for help and that your purchase was an act of mercy and love?  Wear a big sign?  *sigh*

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5 thoughts on “Musings on Cool

  1. What a great post. The wheel of fashion really has turned, hasn’t it? I try really hard not to smile when I see teenagers in the mall wearing their jeans so long they’re walking holes into the hems (been there, done that) and that hug them quite a bit south of their hips letting their pudgy bellies and backs softly bulge over the waistline (been there, done that without the pudge, thank goodness), wearing four inch platforms (been there, done that).

    I made all my clothes until I got a full time job after my second year of college, can you imagine? Even then, I whipped up a few business suits and skirts. I once designed a pair of low (really low) jeans slit up the back and then laced down to the back of the knee and left open to the heel in Home Ec (can you say scandal?). Halter tops (the skimpier the better) were de rigeuer and I had them in every material you could think of, but my favorite was from a small piece of deer hide from my Grandfather (and of course I decorated it with horn beads and turquoise). I’ve turned sheets into wrap-around sundresses that were basically a halter top sewn to a skirt.

    I remember, with horror, the first time I purchased a pair of pants with any stretch in them — it was like admitting I had one foot in the grave! For about ten years, all I wore were Candy 5 inch spike heels that just had a strap that went across the toe area (clickety, clickety, clickety, you could hear me half-way across the building coming down the hallway) and when I put on my first pair of ballet flats after 10 years, I literally could not put my foot down flat, my hamstrings were so shortened. It took about 2 months of stretching and wearing the shoes a few more minutes each day to lengthen them sufficiently to be able to walk barefoot again. For 10 years (probably 18-28) I never walked without those spikes on my feet. Gak!

    I have to confess I continue to shop in the juniors section (although my clothing budget is nearly nil nowadays). I don’t like the styles they have for “women” or “activewear” or whatever it isi they think 50 year old women wear. I like cute, flirty, filmy, frothy, sparkly, fun, floaty, lacy, see-through, HOT clothes. I ain’t dead, designers. I’m not a cougar or any other animal, but I don’t wear mumus or housecoats either. I’m the same person I’ve always been, just older. I have to age, but I don’t have to grow up or grow old.

    I think it’s time we become the new Madonnas. It sounds to me like you got some great stuff you could “repurpose” or combine into some new designs. I don’t recommend the bra-on-the-outside look, but I’ve layered shorter witchy skirts over jeans and tied cotton shirts at waist (or higher) over long tees and then put a witch shawl over the top of that. I’ve turned old long sleeve tees into short sleeve or no sleeve and tie-dyed them or done some other radical process to them to make them fresh. I’ve taken the sleeves off of one cotton shirt, sheered them, and switched them with the sleeves of another cotton shirt. I figure, if I haven’t been wearing them or they’re looking kinda raggedly, what matter if it looks worse after I finish “playing” with it? Decorate a so-so shirt along the neckline with those poufs/buttons thingies you’re making (they look fast and easy and you won’t need many). My one remaining braincell is percolating with ideas! I know you can do better!

    • I made a lot of my own clothes too, it was the only way I could get what I wanted. Seattle in the 1970’s was no New York or LA not to mention London. Lot’s of sewing. Today I do some sewing, some repurposing, a lot of alterations but the truth is I don’t really like straight sewing and I like alterations less. I prefer to let the creativity be how I wear it and what I wear it with.

      Here’s to hot at 50 with power and confidence and none of that desperate must get at man at all cost to my dignity.

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