Distressed clothes stress out Mom

Columnist Claudette Sandecki on the benefits of no longer feeling responsible for how her adult children dress

Following a visit I was waiting to drive my oldest daughter to the airport for her return flight to Vancouver when she walked into my kitchen wearing bluejeans, both knees torn across from seam to seam.

Incredulous, I asked, “You’re not wearing those on the plane, are you?”

“Sure,” she said. “Why not? I’m on holiday. What’s wrong with them?”

This from a young woman who attended high school dressed in colour coordinated garments that observed the dress code current at the time, not a button missing or a seam gaping.

I wanted to say, “Your father wore better Levi’s stripping concrete forms on a construction job site. Anyone would think you can’t support yourself. Suppose we meet someone we know? What will they think? ” I said none of that.

What I did say was this: “You hold two university degrees, and earn a six figure income. Surely you can afford a decent pair of bluejeans for a plane trip.”

She looked down admiring the denim faded to the palest blue, her bare knees poking through the frayed rips. “This is my favourite pair. They’re so comfortable.”

Age has taught me to quit arguing before I hurt someone’s feelings if it’s clear I’ll lose. Instead we shared a pleasant conversation on our drive to the airport and waiting for her to enter security.

One of the benefits of adult children is I no longer feel responsible for how they dress, whether they refuse to dress appropriately when leaving home, or even when their attire conflicts with both the weather and my personal standards. In winter, they may arrive at my door with jacket zipper undone, feet in ballet slippers and no socks. Just looking at them makes me shiver.

When they leave my house I zip up their jackets “to keep Grandma warm”. They probably unzip before they reach their car.

Several years ago I heard   that second hand worn, faded, naturally distressed jeans any self respecting Salvation Army outlet would reject were being bought and resold by  high end  B.C. clothing stores at phenomenal prices.

By chance, last night I watched Bill Cunningham’s video of street fashions posted in The New York Times. Executives and teens alike stride along Fifth Avenue or 42nd Street clad in jeans deliberately torn, shredded, or slashed.

Dubbed rebellious or radical chic, this fashion trend dates back to l962 when Andy Warhol became famous for painting cans of Campbell’s soup.

During a recent 8 a.m. Saturday broadcast on KLTA, a local station serving the greater Los Angeles area, meteorologist Liberte´ Chan wore a lacy black cocktail dress – narrow straps, shoulders and plenty more skin bare. (I would describe the dress as a slip, the old-fashioned garment all women wore under dresses before fashion okayed any rag as proper attire beyond the bedroom.)

Suddenly, mid-broadcast, weekend anchor Chris Burrous’ suit-clad arm appeared on the side of the screen, dangling a gray cardigan.

An unhappy Chan slipped on the cardigan, then declared, “I look like a librarian.”

Her original black-and-white dress “keyed out”, which means it clashed with the green screen; the weather wall turned her dress partially transparent. Thus her cocktail dress at 8 a.m.

Viewers’ emails and tweets poured in to the station.

“Looks like she didn’t make it home from her cocktail party last night,” reads one.

“Overall I like Liberte´, but this was a display of very poor judgment,” reads another.”

Too often poor judgment wins out.


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