Fashion Forward… Backwards, Inside-Out & Hogtied

I wipe the kid’s nose on the bottom of my shirt while simultaneously swiping my sweating forehead with the collar. I scratch my tangled ponytail only to find a leaf lodged scalp-deep. I laugh when a little girl runs by, stopping to point out the rainbow of chalk handprints smacked across my stretchy pants. The wind blows, and I discover with some alarm but more relief a new hole ripped near the crotch. On such a hot day it’s best to take all the breeze you can get. Refreshed by the wind, I crawl and slide, swing and chase my son through a maze of plastic and metal. This is a glorious place, this playground.

Across the way I spot a gaggle of prim ladies perched daintily on park benches. They are shiny (save for their perfectly matte faces). They are starched and ironed, tailored and styled. They are cleaner than a bleach wipe and more feminine than a flower. They are moms who are not frumpy. They are defying logic. They are every cover girl I’ve ever wanted to be. I crawl and slide, swing and chase on, my tiny boy not bothered by their sparkle. But I crawled a little heavier, slid a little slower, swung with the weight of embarrassment pulling at my heels.  I was all at once aware of my shortcomings. It was the wide-awake version of showing up to class completely naked.

For days I tried to achieve some sort of resemblance to stylish. I wore deodorant every single day for a week. I curled one eye’s worth of lashes and would have conquered the other had there not been a makeup tool injury the likes of which my poor retina has never seen. I brushed my hair, and- can you handle it?- dabbed lip gloss. Pink! Glossy! Lips! I felt no different by the end of this extreme makeover, though, and cursed the whole minutes of my life consumed by such tedious beautification. It was a fateful visit to a friend’s home just the other day that reignited my hope for hotness. Casually she whipped out the fancy in the form of a little blue dress. “You can have it.,” she offered, “Your boobs are little enough for it”. I glanced past my flat chest to the glorious garment in my hands. Glitter and dust blew from the crusted, old fashionable part of my brain. Years of glossy magazine images spun like a couture windmill, flooding me in a bedazzled breeze. Breeze! I eyed the wide open crotch tear of my ragged old pants and felt the creep of shame once more. Hand discreetly covering lady bits, I headed home anxious for the chic-ness that awaited me. I clutched the dress between my fingers as I drove, positive that what the powder fresh arm pits and tortured eyelashes could not fix this dress surely could.

That afternoon I stood stark naked before the bathroom mirror. I said a silent prayer: “Let this be the cute that cures me. Let me be shiny and new”.  Attached to the silky fabric I found a directions pamphlet. This must be what respectable clothes look like. The dress, I learned, had multiple magical qualities. While at first deceptively tattered to the eye, the strips of cloth could be twisted, tied, and tucked to create an infinite number of silhouettes. I then Googled “silhouettes” and I found it to mean the cut, draping, or overall shape of an item.  Excited that this teeny heap of fabric had already made me smarter, I grew more and more faithful in its ability to transform me.

   As I wrestled a thigh, then a hand, then a- urgghhhh, wait- belly button into the spandex I hardly noticed reality in the mirror as my vision was so blurred with day dreams. Surely my son would weep joyfully when he set eyes on me. I would be the glamorous, dinner-baking Queen and he, the little prince. Strangers would hear of the beauty mowing the lawn next door. Neighbors would beg to watch my skirt sweep and sway. At the park the freshest mothers would flock to my well-appointed side. They would be desperately clawing at the seams to know where, where! did I get such fabulous fashion sense. Midway between my theory that this dress would stun the bark right out off my rotten dog’s mouth and the fantasy in which Peter Gallagher shows up at my doorstep begging to rub my dry feet so long as I’ll wear that little blue number, I realized I was stuck somewhere between a ruche and a hard place. With the ins and outs of outfit styling somewhat totally foreign to me, I’d misread or misapplied or- whatever. I didn’t understand the fancy dress instruction manual and managed to hogtie my person with a bounty of Boy Scout knots. One butt cheek and half a boob exposed, I hopped to my phone and used my nose to peck a panicked text to my dear friend, The Giver of Dresses. It was a SOS and a WTF culminating with a LOL and the conclusion that perhaps I am not meant for such fashionable endeavors.

"I'm A Slave 4 U"? I don't think so, Ms. Spears. In history and high-fashion, slavery is never cool.

  

  Oh the places you’ll go, little dress! Forty-two original “looks” later, I’d pulled a muscle in my groin and still not managed to take myself from drab to fab.  The Flock of Seagulls, The Drug Raid, The Two Fisted Ring Tailed Tooter, even The Sponge Tori Square Shorts styles left me (and the greater Western Tennessee area) more disgusted than on my crotch-less yoga pants days. With minimal tearing and a few teeth marks bruised into the delicate hemlines, I broke free from the sassy shackles and threw the Wardrobe Wonder to the side. I dressed then, as days and weeks and months before, in simple things void of beading or fuss or frill.

We played outside today. I glance down to the dirt smeared on my feet, the frizz of my unruly hair, the small chalk hand print across my hips from a boy who so wanted a hug. I don’t wear makeup. What good is powdered blush for those out in the sunshine? I don’t bother with color coordinating my muu muu. It’s floral print, and we’re outside, so, you know, that’s something. If I wanted to get all poetic I’d say that  everything goes well with the blue of the sky, and there is no color to compete with the rust of his sweet, baby hair. Instead my thoughts center around  ” I am a hot mess,” as I use my palms this time to shoo away sweat. “I am a hot, comfortable mess,” I continue.

And it took a couple of years of motherhood, a couple of decades of trying to fit into a mold or a style or a tricky, blue dress for me to find the most timeless look. The chalk dust, the slobber, the grime and soil, these disastrously thoughtless ensembles I’ve thrown atop my skin: they are the threads of a real life. They are wrinkled and fraying and stained and so perfectly tailored for me. What they lack in gloss, well, they overcompensate with vibrant scenes of a boy crawling and sliding, swinging and chasing. There’s a flow, an ease of movement, in this most un-stylish of styles. Just enough for me to crawl and slide, swing and chase. I am a hot happy mess. And happiness might just be the trend that I can follow.

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73 thoughts on “Fashion Forward… Backwards, Inside-Out & Hogtied

  1. LOVE! I’ve never heard of or seen one of those newfangled “outfits” before. This makes me either extremely fashion-savvy or way behind the ass-full chaps times. :) Your pics and captions are PRICELESS, Tori– great post!

  2. What a great, great post. Great sentiment, great writing, great laughs, great realness. Great pics… great mumu (I didn’t really believe that bit of writing until I saw the photographic evidence). Great smile, too. PS stop calling yourself fat. Stop it.

    • Thank you :) The fat thing? I am working on it. I’ve got what most would call a Fat Mentality. I love food and more food and spoonfuls of sugar and lounging on the couch. I used to have the weight problem/ health issues to go along with the mentality until this year. I just lost a lot of weight, so I’m getting used to the idea that I’m not the funny fat girl anymore. Skinny and serious sounds a little boring, though :)

      • You can be formerly-fat and funny. Just remember that when you look healthy and are a healthy weight and you tell people you’re fat, you contribute to THEIR unhealthy body image as well as your own. You are better than that. Own who you’ve become! You worked too hard for it to deny it now! (I don’t mean to lecture or embarrass you – I mean to encourage you and others!)

      • No, you have a really good point. I’ve actually been on the other side of that- comparing myself to a self-proclaimed “heavy” girl and feeling heavier by default- so I have to remember that. It’s my go-to reaction to kind of make fun of myself, but that’s hardly funny if my self-depricating humor makes someone else feel less than!

      • Jumping in here because I can so relate. Anyone who has been fat carries that label around as part of them. Especially if you were fat as a child, because that has a lot to do with who you become. For some reason, self-deprecating humor seems to be the go-to self-defense mechanism for this more than any other body image issues.

        I think it’s like someone who hasn’t had a drink in 20 years still refers to themselves as an alcoholic. It’s recognition of the strength of the addiction, the profound impact the addiction had on their lives, and the ever-present, deep-down fear that they could relapse at any time.

        OK, climbing down off serious soap box before I get a nosebleed.

  3. My favorite is the bondage Britany. But I really think you should have worked it in to a bathing suit. One of the Versace numbers with the deep plunge in the front… Yowza- for front yard sun bathing.

    • Some specialists theorize that these ideas come from a dark, scary, scary place known as The Black Hole. It’s probably somewhere around the part of my brain that makes me try to hip-hop dance and eat a cake without chewing :)

  4. What a remarkable post. I loved it. And could relate to it on so many levels. This line was perfect, “I felt no different by the end of this extreme makeover, though, and cursed the whole minutes of my life consumed by such tedious beautification.”

    But as funny as the post was, as brave and hilarious as you are for those great pictures, the post still carried a poignancy for me. Such a deep and heartfelt message, and what a joyful picture of you and your little guy there at the end. The trend of happiness? You’ve hit the jackpot. Beautiful, Tori.

    • Melissa, you get it. Really, big time, totally get it :) It was a serious post wrapped in a joke, and I’m really glad you dug right beneath the surface. I think a lot of women feel disgusting after becoming moms. Even that word, disgusting, seems so counterintuitive to what we should feel like. In a gown or in sweatpants we should feel thrilled, beautiful, powerful, impressed with ourselves. Whatever you dress her in, a mama can grow and birth and nurture and shape another human being. That is a pretty lovely look.

    • You are sweet, Maggie! I stick to a very VERY strict regimen of carrots and exercise plan in which- oh, whatever. My kid is built like a sack of bricks and he sure does like being carried around. If you’ll babysit for free, you too can get some guns ;)

    • The pictures are a testament to why Tom doesn’t blink an eye (or scrunch a nose) when something smells like toe funk or dysfunction. He already knows where it’s coming from :)

  5. Haute couture is highly over-rated. Though I do like the “Celtic Woman” look – tres chic! But overall, I’d say dump the dress and go for comfy. The heck with those mannequin mombots. You’re twice as gorgeous and TEN times the fun any day! ;)

  6. That dress should really come with warning labels. The politically incorrect Britney was my favorite. I think you should wear that next time you go grocery shopping :lol:

  7. LOL’d a few times while reading this post. The makeup tool injury to the retina sounds pretty painful. I’ve been in a similar situation in the playground but the mums looked like a meeting of fedora hat enthusiasts. Yes, they were all wearing them!

    • A whole gaggle of FEDORAS? Like a Kevin Federline convention? Is this real life? That might be the one instance in which I would be more than glad to be the outcast :)

  8. I’m not sure I can adequately put into words what I’ve just seen, nor can I ever, EVER, un-see it. So I’ll stammer through this comment in hopes that the 42 seconds it takes to write it, will somehow wash my memory clean. I want to mention that I love the new look of the blog, especially since my computer no longer has a seizure every time I try to read your posts. I also wanted to mention that if you still need a musician for the wedding, give me a shout. I’ll grab my spoons and castanets and be there toot sweet!

  9. I’m not sure which feat shows your bravery more – posting those pictures on the interwebz, or taking them in your FRONT yard.

    You look just like the brochure, Tori. Really. I mean it.

    BTW, my grandma called. She wants her housefrock back – she’s got bingo tonight.

    • Tell your grandmama I got that floral piece of glory fair in square (on sale… at Good Will). I’ll let her borrow it, though, if she has any really fancy events coming up. Also? Totally took those pics in my FRIEND’S front yard. Here’s to hoping she doesn’t need to borrow any sugar anytime soon.

  10. Aw man, this post is so awesome! (And I need that honey badger shirt.) First of all, you’re totally hot as is, which makes me want to hate you a little. (You should see how much make-up it takes to get this presentable. Luckily I’m into that shiz or I’d be in trouble.)

    I would really like to see all 42 looks, too. Hilarious!

    • Jules, I wake up every morning thankful for all this hotness. HA! I laughed and Tom read this comment and whimpered. He knows the truth… and it smells like sweaty gym shorts and split ends :)

  11. I read this at work and was laughing out loud! hahaha Somebody told me that my hair looked good today and asked what I did different and I told them “I actually brushed my hair today.” So overrated.

    • Girl, you be fancy. You be so fancy all the time with all the brushing of the hairs and such :) I always aim low. That way when I manage to wear a bra people are genuinely impressed :)

    • At this point I’m just glad I made it out of that thing alive. There were a few (30) minutes when I was laying bum-up on the bathroom floor, bound in The Politically Incorrect Britney. It occurred to me that if I died this would be the very worst way to be found :)

  12. Oh my lord, I am laughing so hard at those pics. So glad you are making like the honey badger and deciding to not give a shit. Besides, I hear mu-mu’s are in style…

    …at Walmart.

    • I live next to a Wal-Mart, thank you very much. In the south that dirty discount shop is akin to a sacred sanctuary :) Honey badger likes a bargain, you know, when he’s not busy not giving a shit!

      • A trip to Walmart is like a trip to the buffet at Shoney’s. You hate yourself for it, and hope your friends don’t see you, but you always end up getting way more than you wanted.

      • Analogy WIN! That is EXACTLY what it’s like. I still keep hoping the old-lady greeters at Wal-Mart’s front door will start passing out complimentary bacon, though :)

  13. Happy I had my SITS day today because it brought you to visit. So I was able to follow you back here. Love your blog, this post, and especially love the photos of you and your blue wardrobe wonder! Too funny.

    Most of all, though, I love that the trend you’re going to follow is the happiness one. Yeay!

    • I cracked a tacky joke full of sexual innuendo and cuss words once. It may have involved my giving out happy endings to WP staffers in exchange for a Freshly Pressed feature. Sadly I haven’t been Freshly Pressed so much (at all) since then. I can’t help think they’re messing with me. Karma sucks.

  14. Devil with a blue dress, blue dress, blue dress. Question: when you take this dress off, does it attach itself to other things – I can also imagine it winding itself stylishly around a chair, a fire hydrant, a parking meter…as you have demonstrated, the possibilities really are endless.

  15. You had me at “Camel Foot!” When I taught school, I saw that gaggle of perfectly coiffed women everyday at drop-off and pick-up time. I’d always feel slightly self conscious with chalk dust on my ass from trying to sneak-pick a wedgie when the kids weren’t looking, Half the time, I’d also have ink somewhere on my face or chest. I’ve always assumed that it takes lots of money and inactivity to look that good! Comfort and no fear of getting messy is the key to enjoying your child! Wonderful post! :)

  16. Hahaha… hilarious!
    I wouldn’t know fashion if it bit me right in the Ass-Full Chaps.
    I think my favorite look might be ‘Celtic Woman Cover Art’… I just hope I don’t need to be on the lookout for an incoming spear. :)

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