I love Nora Ephron and I love clothes, so I think I already love Love, Loss and What I Wore, the new Broadway play Ephron has written with her sister Delia. This month’s Elle magazine, which has been sitting on my coffee table for weeks and which I finally read this weekend, featured little pieces from all sorts of writers (and even one very funny, well-written essay by Meg Ryan) about clothes that coincided with important life moments, as a tie-in to the show. (Incidentally, that was the only thing I actually read in the issue; no one cares about Victoria Beckham. How she has been able to ride her Spice Girls celebrity for eleven years I will never know. But at least her cover looked better than this.)
Anyway, since I am a highly suggestible person (one time in college, my friend Charlie and I chopped up caffeine pills in a coffee grinder and snorted them after seeing something similar in The Faculty. I do not recommend this. It was like snorting yellow gravel, and did absolutely nothing except probably irreparably damage our nasal passages), this made me want to revisit some of my own fashion memories. (Each of these could be its own essay but I am lazy, so each gets its own paragraph instead.)
The Junk Food Tee-Shirt
I had this amazing long-sleeved tee-shirt when I was four or five that had illustrations of junk foods all over it. Needless to say, it was awesome. Somewhere there is a photo of me lying across the book on the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park wearing it, but that is the only evidence of its existence. It was too magical to last. It was like the unicorn of awesome childhood shirts.
The First Kiss Outfit
The most salient of all of my ensembles is the one I wore to get my first kiss. I picked it out specially for the occasion (which I pretty much manipulated into happening): a blue and white checked gingham waitress-style dress from dELiA*s, dark blue Airwalks and LipSlicks lip gloss. In retrospect I cringe at pairing those giant clodhoppers with a dainty dress, but I remember feeling so incredibly fine in that get-up... and feeling incredibly fine was rare for me between 1992 and 2000.
The Prom Dress
I went to Betsey Johnson to get my prom dress, and at $150-something it was the most wildly expensive piece of clothing I had ever owned (Future Una laughs bitterly from atop her pile of credit card bills). It was short and tight and lacy and pink, with a floppy fabric flower pinned to the front. My mom let me get a matching pair of bejeweled pink rosebud barrettes. Sadly the look was ruined by my acne-prone skin: I wore so much foundation that in photos my face looks stark white (especially since my prom date’s face was beet red). Also en route to our afterparty we stopped the limo to get Zima from a bodega (this must have been right during Zima’s five minutes of zeitgeist prominence), and I promptly got drunk for about the second time in my life and awkwardly propositioned my date. None of which takes away from the amazing dress, but seems worth mentioning.
The Unfortunate First Kind-Of-Date With Future Husband Get-Up
Have I ever told you the extremely long-winded story of how Jeff and I got together? The short version goes: We went to college together and were in the same circles senior year. After graduation we both lived in New York and a mutual friend of ours decided to teach a tango class to earn extra money. We both took the class, and one day we were the only two people to show up. Afterwards we went out for a beer, and a week later this happened:
It was a Saturday night. April 12, 2003, which was the day before my birthday. I was invited to a fundraiser-slash-dance party with the theme “High School Dance.” I went with my roommates at the time, Kabir and Bajir. My character was the girl who tries to be one of the guys but is secretly in love with her best friends (think Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful), so I wore a wifebeater with rolled-up jeans and sneakers. We danced our asses off (including a very Romy and Michelle-esque three-way in which the boys catapulted me into the air), so I had an attractive sweat-sheen by the end of the night, and my hair was in a messy ponytail. I ran over to a bar on the Lower East Side to have a drink for another friend’s birthday, and Jeff showed up. He insisted on walking me home via the Manhattan Bridge at 2 am, so I spent the wee hours of my 23rd birthday with him. We didn’t kiss or anything, but I remember thinking that something important was happening. And of course it would happen to me while wearing a sweaty wifebeater.
I wish I had photos of all of these outfits, but coincidentally none exist, with the exception of the elusive Junk Food Tee-Shirt photo and some prom pics I am too vain to share (my skin was REALLY bad). Maybe that adds to the magic of these clothes: they made appearances for brief but crucial moments and then vanished into the ether (or, probably, the dryer... or the Salvation Army), leaving only the sense memory of fabric on skin. And maybe not even that, as I was too young, or too lusty, or too drunk, or too distracted by the handsome man tangoing with me against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, to notice.