Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fashion Backward

Tomorrow night, I'll be hanging in the cigar tent at MAL, but tonight, I'm watching Project Runway. Last week, I was devastated when Kevin was eliminated. (What??? Really???) That said, I totally got what Heidi, Michael, and Nina were saying about Kevin's dress: it did look like something the girl's mother would wear. Damn you, Kevin! You made a bad dress and now I don't get to cran my eyes looking for shots of you without your shirt brushing your teeth in the morning! And damn! Did you see Kevin in his prom picture? Want. That. Bad.

So last week, I took on the unenviable task of cleaning out my father's old clothes from my closet. About of third of the closet in my bedroom is occupied by stuff from my dad. And a lot of my dress shirts get squished and I have to climb over luggage to get to my flight suits and such.

Going into it, I thought that I'd just bag it all up and take it to one of those Good Will drop-off dumpsters, although that would be for the stuff I didn't end up throwing away. My father is famous for wearing clothes well after they should be used to dust furniture and bind wounds. I routinely toss out my father's boxers when I'm doing his laundry when I see that I could read a newspaper through them in dim light.

But oh my gosh. Right away I hit upon... I have no idea what the hell they would even be called. Not quite sports jackets. Could it be a leisure suit? Maybe that's it. The lapels were about five inches wide and they had slit pockets in the seams sort of like a bomber jacket. One was a dark burnt orange, but the other one was--Get this!--this peach and white gingham.

Yes, you read that correctly. My dad used to wear peach and white gingham leisure suits. I don't know if even I could pull that off.

Suffice it to say, the leisure suit jackets went neither in the Good Will bag or in the trash. I'm gonna hold on to them. Maybe next summer I'll do my own personal Starsky & Hutch film festival and get inspired to appear in public in a leisure suit. The burnt orange one would look kinda cool with leather jeans, but what the hell would I pair the peach and white one with? Don't think they'd work with my Carhartts.

And then came the shirts. No cottons were killed in the manufacture of those shirts! Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Polly Esther!

In my head, as I went through them, I was hearing Michael, Heidi, and Nina. "I don't know, for me it is too matchy-matchy." "That piping just makes it transcend everything." "Can we see the back?" "I want one of those in every color."

So I totally have some new shirts.

But here's the thing. I totally remember my father wearing those shirts. Sitting out in the yard, smoking his cigar and reading the paper. Back when he was my dad. That man I loved and feared. My first relationship with a man. It's so difficult to see that man now in the feeble, selfish old guy I cook dinner for. Is this the "real" him? Was that my idealized version? Or is it the other way around? No separating them out.

My father feels the cold terribly. But maybe, some hot day over the summer, I can coax him into wearing one of his old summer shirts, one that I remember him wearing to the Bucks County Democratic Clam Bake held every July. My father. My Daddy. Smelling of cigars and Aqua Velva after-shave and Vitalis. I love that man. Love him still. Even the pale shadow of him that I'm left with.

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