Saturday, December 12, 2009

School Clothes

When I was in first grade my mother made my clothes. I can remember the excitement of school starting and my 7 or 8 new dresses. Each was from the same basic pattern - but at 6 what did I know. And, each was from a different material, in a different color, some were plaid, one was solid, a few were prints. Each were short sleeve and most had pockets on them. Almost all were decorated with a different color of ric-rac.

This enthusiam was well worn off by Halloween. I was tired of my wardrobe. To make things worse, I seemed to be the only child in my class who was "fortunate" to have a mother talented enough to sew. Other mothers would often ask me if my mother made my dress and comment that is was "so cute". Even at 6, I wasn't sure if that was a heart felt compliment or the kiss of death.

One particular little girl comes to mind. She was pretty and petite. Her clothes were always perfect. I was not sophisticated to understand what I was seeing, but I knew it was different from the rest of us. Every season, she would change like a chameleon into a new phase of fashion.

Then there were the kids who got their mothers to let them shop at the "It" shop in town, where all of the "hip" clothes were. I think I got to go into the store once. Needless to say, none of my clothes came from there - only in my dreams. Meanwhile, I endured ric-rac. Little did I know I was just beginning a 12 year battle with my mother over clothes - a stand off that I never won.

It was only after I got out of college that I found my sense of style, what I really liked and felt comfortable in. I never learned to sew and swore I would never make my children endure that affliction. (Although, we have fought many battles over dress - or lack of it, over the years.)

The mystery of the well dressed little girl was revealed when I learned that 3 or 4 times a year her mother would take her to New York to shop for clothes. No wonder she was so far ahead of us. After all, most of us did not even know where New York was. Since it was north of the Mason-Dixon line it may as well not have existed. Looking back on it, even at 6 she looked like she dressed out of Vogue. No wonder I couldn't relate - as I sat next to her in gingham and ric-rac.

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