Friday, January 30, 2009

When Mom's Fashions Become Daughter's Fashions

A couple of weeks ago my daughter Jess was wearing my favorite sweatshirt. "Take it off," I ordered of the garment that is as old as she is - 15 - worn and soft, with holes and tears both big and small. She was leaving in a few minutes to go back to boarding school. "I'll take it off when I get to my room and give it to daddy," she promised. "That's crazy!" I cried. "You just want to wear it to ride in a car?! Take it off now!" No dice.

Do you know why she didn't take it off, parental order and pulling on the sweatshirt notwithstanding? Because she had every intention of stealing it. I knew this, as this was hardly the first time I had discovered an article of my clothing or a pair of my shoes stuffed into her duffel bag. I also understood that she was hoping to distract her father upon arrival at her dorm, therefore my beloved and fragile sweatshirt would remain in her custody. I'm no fool, no fool at all. I've known this person for nearly 16 years; I am well-acquainted with the way she operates. And so I let her leave home thinking she was going to be successful in kidnapping my most prized apparel. I kept phoning my husband every hour of the three-hour drive reminding him to nab the finery. Once I figured they were safely back on campus, I phoned her: "Hand it over." Click. Mission accomplished.

Once upon a time she was wee and I could dress her at will, not to mention buy the fashions in which I desired to see her attired. I would lay her outfits out the night before school, the form looking like a headless and hand less figure, lying sprawled and creepy on the floor. Of course, and sort of expectantly, as she carried on through elementary school she began to develop her own tastes, some of which gave me pause. There was the Limited, Too and Abercrombie phase: tight jeans, leggings, tiny t-shirts and camisoles. Camisoles! Most of her girlfriends dressed the same; it seemed an unspoken dress code among the fourth and fifth grade set. But camisoles! Cut low enough to a point where a few years later there would actually be something there to make the neckline objectionable to parents (although 12 year-old boys and older didn't find the look risque). The fashions for 10 year olds looked uncannily like those of a 16-year-old. They still do.

"Back in the day" girls looked like, well, girls. Public school dress expectations were strict: we could not wear pants - or heaven forbid blue-jeans - until high school. Once we hit freshman year things loosened up a bit. Well, quite a bit for me actually as it was the 1970's. After years of buttons and bows all hell broke loose and as 14 year olds we let fly as if shot from a fashion cannon. So although I make Jess do the fingertip test to ensure skirts are not obscenely short, my friends and I sported "short-shorts" and micro-minis. I also hypocritically object to and often tug up on those darned camies when in fact we were somehow allowed to wear midriff shirts and halter tops (bra-less, naturally)! But I digress...

Jess caught up to me feet first. By eighth grade we were - and remain to this day - the same shoe size. Initially my heels would go missing, yet only briefly, as the art of walking in such footwear would take practice to perfect. I'd reach into the downstairs closet to grab my pair of Uggs only to discover that they were at that moment waltzing through the middle school. On a bad hair morning I would rifle though a drawer for a headband and find it too had decided to hop on the school bus. Mascaras, eyeliners, and blush would turn up missing. Then this past summer she began rifling through my tops and by autumn, my sweaters. Our pant sizes are only one apart (much to her horror and my glee at having lost weight), so I'm safe at least in that department.

Last night she ambled downstairs in a pair of my pajamas. Pajamas! Mommy jammies!

"What the heck?" I inquired both dumbfounded and amused. She just grinned and plopped herself down on the couch beside me. She leaned into me and cuddled. Aww. My little girl: My size in all respects. We have met in the middle for now, before I give in, grow up and
start dressing my age, and she begins to assert her own style to a greater extent. For now, however, we seem to agree that love is in fashion.

No comments: