Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fashion Refugee

Fashion refugee

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published December 7, 2005

I’m a woman without a home. Or at least a clothing department.

During one particularly frustrating shopping expedition Saturday, I found myself wandering in that no-woman’s land of identity-crisis fashion common to thirty-somethings such as myself.

Here’s our problem: We have nothing to wear. We can’t — or at least shouldn’t — shop in the Juniors section anymore. But most Misses departments don’t really do it for us, either. Somewhere, between low-rise jeans and Sag Harbor Christmas sweaters, there has to be a place for us.

I almost found it in a local department store last weekend. Drifting along in the Misses section, with all the other wistful-eyed women my age, I spotted a pair of pants.

This was no common pair of pants. They were black and made out of some kind of poofy, crepe-like material. I tried them on.

Standing in front of the mirror, I had one of those confusing dressing-room moments in which I rapidly went back and forth between “I look great!” and “I look like a Halloween decoration!”

I consulted my mother. She thought they weren’t bad. But then, she was there to buy me a Christmas sweater.

This can be a touchy subject. A lot of people love Christmas sweaters. You could be wearing one right now. I just think this type of thing is a personal matter and, personally, I gave them up years ago.

TLC’s “What Not to Wear” is what did it for me. This very informative show is hosted by fashion experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. Stacy and Clinton gang up on some poor unsuspecting woman and basically tell her she couldn’t dress her way out of a paper bag. After they make her go through her closet and toss out her worst offenders, they load her up with cash and send her on a shopping spree to reinvent her wardrobe.

One of the big no-nos on “What Not to Wear” is the seasonal sweater. Stacy and Clinton believe that if you are older than say, 5 or so, you should not be walking around with Santa or the Easter Bunny emblazoned across your torso.

Now here’s the embarrassing part. I owned a Christmas sweater for some time. I bought it in my early 20s, when I was young and foolish. It gets worse. I wore a turtleneck under the sweater that was covered with little Christmas ornaments. I also had candy cane earrings. And socks that jingled. I was a walking Christmas card — the kind you stamp “RETURN TO SENDER” across before throwing it back into your mailbox.

Just now, while researching this painful topic, I did an Internet search for “ugly Christmas sweaters.” I found a discussion forum where people were posting pictures of their holiday fashion nightmares. And there it was. My Christmas sweater. The word “yikes!” doesn’t even come close.

I’m old enough to know that decisions we make in our youth have a way of coming back to haunt us. This sweater is doing a fine job of that.

So I just said no to the Christmas sweater last weekend. And the scary pants.

But I’m not giving up. I’m going shopping again this weekend. I don’t want to look festive, or 25, or 65. I just want something to wear.


  • At Wed Dec 07, 09:17:00 AM, Blogger Meredith said…

    Amen, sista!!!!! I find it so challenging to find great clothes for us 30-somethings. I, also, have given away my Christmas/seasonal attire due to watching "What Not To Wear". They have really good pointers. Good Luck!!!!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 09:41:00 AM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    Seasonal sweaters=Elementary school teachers!

    Fortunately, I have a younger sister who keeps me looking hip.

    I hear low rise jeans are out and the waistlines are coming up!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 11:29:00 AM, Blogger Angela said…

    Hi Deana. Just wanted to let you know you have a new fan whose added your blog to her favorites list!
    I stumbled onto you after seeing you referenced several times (on Mike's blog) as the Erma Bombeck of the Cofc. Wish I'd "met" you sooner. We just moved from Pasadena (where my husband was preaching minister at Burke Rd). We could have been Bunco buddies! My husband grew up in Baytown and graduated from Sterling in '85. I moved to Baytown in 11th grade and graduated from Lee in '87. We met at Lakewood Church of Christ and married at Missouri Street in '89. the last couple of days I've read all of your postings back to November '04 and I've enjoyed reading about familiar things like San Jacinto Mall, Astroworld, Lakewood (I lived on Bayway Drive right across from Lakewood Cofc), and the Baytown Sun (my grandfather, who lived in Baytown for 35 years, still recieves his subscription up here in Arkansas!).
    You have a gift and I look forward to reading many more postings.

  • At Wed Dec 07, 11:41:00 AM, Blogger sarahdawn said…

    Staci & Clinton are changing the world one ugly sweater at a time. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

  • At Wed Dec 07, 11:53:00 AM, Blogger "Snapshot" said…

    Oh Yeah! Amen! I decided that solids are for me. Heard one of those fashion shows report that prints say "look at me!" while solids say, "I'm ok with who I am."
    I had a few Christmas type sweaters that have gone the way of the buffalo. Along with all my other themed earrings and clothing. I used to be all over that, but I guess my age has finally set in. I can celebrate the holidays without being a billboard or walking advertisement.
    And Elizabeth, Praise God that low rise is going out! That didn't look good on any body shape. Somethings just need to covered up!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 01:35:00 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Low rise going out!!?? Argh....

  • At Wed Dec 07, 01:55:00 PM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    I admit that I will miss several of my low rise jeans. They flatter my figure.

    Its just the whole bending over thing that kills the whole look!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 02:47:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Hey, Angela -- I live on North Burnet, the last street before the bay at the back of Lakewood subdivision. Lakewood CoC is within walking distance of me and my daughter goes to Travis Elem. We attend Missouri St. where my husband is the youth minister. When you got married there, was the carpet the color of cream of broccoli soup? Because it is now.

    I guess I drive by your old house just about every day! Did you know many Missouri St. people?

    Nice to meet you -- thanks for reading!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 02:47:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At Wed Dec 07, 06:40:00 PM, Blogger Jacinda said…

    Oh goodness...I do still love Christmas sweaters. (And Eliabeth, BTW, I WAS an elementary teacher once upon a time! LOL)

    My mom & I discussed the other day about what "What Not to Wear" had said about those sweaters. *sigh* I never claimed to be high fashion!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 07:04:00 PM, Blogger SG said…

    I agree with Stacy and Clinton, but I have one that I wear from time to time. It zips and is a little more demure than the one you pictured. Back in the day that was the thing to wear! Sad as it was, we were all cute little walking Christmas Cards at one time! AND YES little kids love it when their teachers (and Moms) look at least a little seasonal! Sometimes I think it's ok to thumb your nose at fashion and do what you want to do.... as long as it doesn't land you on What Not To Wear!

  • At Wed Dec 07, 07:21:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    I was in Julia's classroom today -- the day the column making fun of Christmas sweaters came out -- and in walks her teacher wearing a black sweater with tons of big old Santa Clauses all over it!

    She didn't say anything.

  • At Wed Dec 07, 09:42:00 PM, Blogger Hoots Musings said…

    Hi my name is Hootee and I have a confession to make...I use to paint those gaudy sweatshirts with flying reindeer, Santa chock full of rhinestones, and fairy dust all over the entire outfit.

    I made a butt load of money painting and I am glad the look is out...I refuse to wear anything painted to this if I could turn my creative side to something else to generate some income...

    Great post Deanna!

  • At Thu Dec 08, 04:04:00 AM, Blogger Cheryl said…

    So, so funny. I even had a Christmas vest that I wore MY Christmas ornament turtleneck under. I was a vision of holiday loveliness...
    By the way...I think I saw all of the holiday sweaters, sweatshirts and turtlenecks mentioned at the clothes market here last week. Boat loads of old American clothes are sent over here, bought by merchants and then sold in open air markets all through this country. I go on Wednesdays 15 miles up the tarmac road to dig through piles of old Christmas sweaters, garage sale apparel and Goodwill throwaways.
    Occasionally, I find a jewel--a Gap shirt, Old Navy with wear left...even a Tommy Hilfiger shirt for my daughter. I bought them all from a very dignified Ugandan...wearing a sweatshirt with a big jingle bell on it! :-)

  • At Thu Dec 08, 06:20:00 AM, Blogger GraceSaves said…

    okay my little fashionista, are Christmas t-shirts okay? lol Personally, I really don't care. =D I know I'm 'da coolest' person around. Right Chadwick? Later fools!

    ><>In HIM<><

  • At Thu Dec 08, 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Sandy said…

    The voice of dissent here... I've also gravitated away from theme sweaters over the years but I am tired of black clad New York fashionistas telling me what to wear. I was in New York last summer and found the sea of black, brown and navy (but oh-so-chic) clothing to be terribly dreary. It was a relief to spot a flash of lime green (with orange flowers!) in the subway and find that my supposition was correct... here was a group of happy women from Tennessee who knew how to use hot rollers! I'll take Southern happy over east coast dreary any day, even if it involves Santa or orange flowers on my sweater. I rest secure in the fact that my sweet southern friends would consider it poor etiquette to turn one of their own into the fashion police :-)
    I enjoy your blog, Deanna...thanks for the smiles!


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