Posted by: zhak39 | January 15, 2006

What Not to Wear

Perhaps on these pages I have gloated a bit. Yes, I am a master of the kitchen, a carrier of the cooking gene and practitioner of culinary expertise. I have tented my fingers and poked fun at those poor mortals who sieve stock down the sink or can’t measure a tablespoon by eye. There is a downside to my genetic makeup. While in the kitchen, I am queen, in the wardrobe I am the family jester.

The fact is–my fashion sense, that is lack of fashion sense– is legendary.

Jeans. Sweat pants. Ripped t-shirts. Knee length sweaters. Black, because I fell under the misconception that black goes with everyone and everything. And of course being the youngest, Second Hand Rose had nothing on me. As a child of straightforward country folk, my clothes were functionary. Form was secondary, my one and only consideration was that it covered the places that needed to be covered. And pockets. That’s all I cared about. Pockets. And what did I put in my pockets? My jack knife. Twine (the kind from hay bales, of course). Acorn caps because I couldn’t manage to whistle between my teeth. Worms. Yes, worms. I liked to fish.

Was this a problem? Not for me because as a child, I didn’t do the laundry and I didn’t do a lot of shopping. May I offer my mother, here on this page my deepest gratification. Thank you, mom, for allowing me to live past the age of twelve.

I have terrible taste in clothes and I really hate to shop. I hate changing my clothes in a little room with flourescent lighting. I hate full length mirrors. I hate price tags. I hate spending money on something when I would really like to be barefoot and draped in a poncho if it happens to be chilly. So after forty years on this earth, what has been the result? Brace yourself, I am inserting a picture here–

For the last year or so my mother has been gently suggesting that I might get a kick out of a show she enjoys called ‘What not to Wear.’ I only pretend to be thick, I knew why she repeatedly mentioned it. It’s self improvement time!

A couple of weeks ago while getting ready to start a new job, I turned on the TV for background noise and guess what was on. Uh-huh. And guess what kind of a woman they were helping out. Yes again. A middle-aged woman who happened to be about my height and weight and wore the same clothes as she did in high school. Because she was in her comfort zone. Because then she didn’t have to make any decisions. Because it worked once. Because her clothes were functional. And you know what else? Even I could see that she didn’t look that hot. She looked frumpy. She looked like an old, old woman.

Oh, boo. I hated that show. I came up with every one of her excuses a beat before she came up with them. I held hope with her to have that hope squashed every time. And I took notes. And I took action.

First I pulled out all the clothes tucked around my room and examined why I have boxes and bags of outfits that even in their era were hideous. And I didn’t even buy them. And I never even wore them. People gave them to me. It’s like this. Someone, say she’s a size 12 buys an outfit that’s a size 6. “I’ll diet until that fits me,” she thinks. A year goes by. She’s a size 12. Two years go by. She’s still a size 12. Ten years go by–and she says–“Ahh. ZhaK. She looks to be about the right size. I’ll give it to her!” And because I love the person (and have absolutely no taste) I take it! It’s never about the style or the color or the material. It’s all about the size. And what do I end up with? Take a breath again. Another picture.

Yes, this lovely TURQUOISE LEATHER outfit is a delightful floor length slim cut skirt (to make it impossible to walk) and knee length oversized puffy jacket has padded shoulders and false pocket fronts. This, this outfit is, it’s the family fruitcake of the fashion world. It has been handed around from person to person year after year after year because no one really wants it but no one wants to throw it away.

Last week I took all of the clothes that I don’t wear, that don’t match anything, that don’t fit, or how about this? are just flat out hideous and stuffed them in a Planet Aid receptacle. They’re gone. Maybe they can be buried and recycled as fossil fuel or fertilizer some day. Don’t know. Don’t care.

So this is what I’m left with.

It is very far from perfect but it will get me through the first couple of weeks of work. In most cases, the necklines are too high and the skirts are too long. The blouses are too plain, the skirts way too conservative. But they will do as I pick up real clothes, appropriate clothes, fun clothes and for the first time in my life, clothes that actually look good on me because it’s OK to consider form as well as function.


  1. Congratulations! I would love to go shopping with you when we come for a visit, if you have any free time!

  2. After you came by my workplace this week, the folks in my office remarked that you were “decked out.” I’d consider that a compliment to your fashion sense. Of course, it could have been that they were shocked that my buddy could have such a contrasting fashion statement to mine. Because, you know, dear friend, that I am the world’s frumpiest dresser. I believe that it was you were the person who gently informed me that the pants I wore to work one day were actually pajamas.

    Good to see you back online, by the way.

  3. To get your guidance and good advice I will brave flourescent lighting and triple mirrors and make time!

  4. Yes, but you can pull it off.

    As for the folks in your office. Hmmm. My pants were tucked into my pantyhose because the elastic in the waist died in 1998 but were the only pair I had that would cover my only capable-of-walking-across-campus-in dress shoes have paint on them. The jacket was given to me as a college graduation gift (would that make it vintage? uh oh. That makes ME vintage). Thanks for the support, though!

  5. OK, I bow to the Queen of Frump!

  6. Fraid I hold the title as the queen of frump ladies since I know exactly where that turquoise leather suit she had came from

    Funny thing is I always wished I dressed as well as you when we were working together 🙂

  7. My friend, let me reiterate, I accept all sorts of things not because I like the ‘thing’ but I love the person who is doing the giving.

    ‘Dragonsinger,’ I’ve been wondering if you had been lurking. Thanks so much for coming to visit.

  8. I am still trying to get past the image of the lady wearing a poncho only….I guess this goes back to your days of sunbathing without poncho or other material….

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