like much of america, i spent my president’s day honoring our founding fathers with my credit card. george washington is totally going to love my new pencil skirt (H&M was having a BOGO on all sale items). but my purchases, shockingly, are not the central focus of this post.
while at the forever21 (i know i’m probably too old to shop there, but i fundamentally don’t give a shit and they had a lot of really cute work blouses for under $20), i saw this young girl cruise by- boyfriend in tow. this is a pretty unremarkable thing at the mall, since it’s pretty much wall to wall teenagers (enough to give me a massive panic attack at the delia’s). but in the vast field of skinny jeans and ankle boots, messy ponytails and graphic Ts, this girl was a standout. bright blue hair in braids, and this enormous home made bow perched on top of her head that looked like she ripped it off a samantha doll circa 1992.
and there was her adorable boyfriend. trailing behind, happily bobbing through the cacophony of racks, fluorescent lighting, and pushy high schoolers.
and i looked at that ill advised bow. and i looked at that boy. and i realized that i needed to send a thank you note to every boy that i ever dated from age 14 to about 25.
not every girl is born to take fashion risks. in 1988, most girls were born to wear pastel guess jeans and vuarnet t-shirts with big socks and white keds with no laces. but in 1988 (at age 11), i had discovered the wonders of my mom’s discarded vogue & elle magazines, and would not be satisfied with the softer side of sears.
i fell for exaggerated 50s silhouettes (miss yvonne from pee wee’s playhouse was my first fashion icon), and the wild hot pants and beehives of the B-52s. throw in a little madonna in desperately seeking susan/who’s that girl, and the look is complete. except that on an 11 year old budget and living in a town that had exactly 1 sears and 1 jc penny, i had to improvise. A LOT.
i remember buying a pair of powder blue elbow length gloves (polyester, with fake pearl buttons) at a yard sale. i saw a picture of an actress in vogue who had fake flowers attached to her levi’s jeans. of course, i attached fake flowers all over my jean jacket.
as you can imagine, i was very popular in junior high.
and then there were the high school years- a darker time of knee high combat boots and that tube top i made out of a vampire the masquerade t-shirt. i sent my mom to the army navy store on prom night to by as many yards of dog tag chain as she was willing to pay for. i wanted steel pearls to match my navy jessica mcclintock evening gown with the lace overlay on top. i died my hair dark magenta and carried a book of kafka around in my backpack.
but through all those ridiculous experimental days (i’m sure highly embarrassing to my family- although bless their hearts for never saying anything about it), i had this string of lovely boys willing to be seen publicly with me- even at times complimenting and encouraging my uh… bold fashion choices.
so to these boys, i say THANK YOU! you let me be myself, and work my way through many awkward awkward years of fashion experimentation. platform shoes! furry powder blue baby prostitute coats! that period where i had a pierced nippled and refused to wear a bra!
i’m still pretty experimental. i throw a whole lot of rainbow brite into my office casual wardrobe. but i believe that finally, at the ripe old age of 34, i have come to a point where i can say that i am not embarrassing. or at least that i am less embarrassing. but in no way could i have managed to get to this point without the willingness of a dozen adorable boys who were happy tag along next to me and get snickers and side eyes at the mall.
p.s. the girl in the picture is tavi gevinson. she’s been writing a style blog since she was 13, and now she’s all famous. i think she has a magazine. i think i’m jealous. i guess i just imagine what 11 year old allie would have been up to if she had internet access in 1988.