Life Lesson # 210: Going to School in a Black Plastic Garbage Bag

mom and me

(My beautiful mother & me ❤ )

Maybe this is a sign of getting older, but I chuckle at the fashion magazine article advice about “what’s hot and what’s not.”

I do enjoy seeing new styles and new makeup ideas, but what I laugh at is, how they dictate what is hot and what is not. How did they become the authority on what looks good on each of us? What’s hot for one, may look ridiculous on another.

There was a time when I listened to these fashion authorities, and took their advice to heart. It was of high importance that I wear certain brands from certain stores. Even if I could only have one pair of jeans, instead of 10 at the discount store, I chose to have the one pair.

I knew what looked good on me, and what didn’t, but only within the confines of “what’s hot and what’s not.”

I’ve broken out of that fashion jail, and now live in fashion freedom. I dress in clothes that are an extension of my personality, rather than within the confines of the fashion police. They are too busy with the likes of Honey Boo Boo to mess with me, anyway.

Though it took time to grow, this seed of fashion independence was planted in me back in elementary school:

I was in 4th grade, and my grandparents came to stay with my sister and me, while my parents were out of town for a few days.

Before school one morning, as my sister and I were about to run out to catch the school bus, a heavy rain started. I had outgrown my raincoat, so my grandmother promptly cut three holes in a large, black plastic garbage bag, and plopped it over my head.

I immediately cried in protest.

She calmly responded, “Be a leader, not a follower.”

I knew I was no match for her, so off I ran to the bus in my shiny, new raincoat. As I walked down the bus aisle looking for a seat, I heard the inevitable, “is that a garbage bag?!”

No one outwardly made fun of me, and I think some of it had to do with my disposition. I was absolutely mortified, but I was more than prepared to duke it out with a teasing kid rather than combat my strong-willed grandmother.

My grandmother had the same attitude when I wore designer jeans in junior high school. “Why would you pay money to wear someone else’s name on your clothes? They should pay you to put your name on their clothes.”

It has taken many years, but I’ve finally come to her way of thinking. No, I don’t confidently strut around in garbage bags when it rains, or request Mr. Klein stitch out my name on the back pocket of his jeans, and that will be $80, thank you very much, but, I get where she was coming from.

What looks good on you is not what someone tells you looks good on you. Be your own person, and be proud of who that person is.

Years later, shortly after my grandmother passed away, I remember  Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett. It was a shock to many, as she is stunningly beautiful, and Lyle is, well, Lyle.

Discussing this marriage and the obvious differences in outward appearances with my mother, I’ll never forget when she said,”Lyle is immensely talented. That, in itself, is attractive.”

Yes, she is my grandmother’s daughter.

With one big difference, she would never send me off to school in a black garbage bag(though we still have some good laughs about it!).

My mom values fashion and has an admirable sense of it. She believes in confidently wearing things that are “you” as an expression of who you are. She doesn’t follow any fashion rules, she follows her own. 

My mother has a beautiful, creative taste in clothes. Some of her outfits might look outlandish on some, but she never fails to pull it off looking fabulous. That is because her clothes are an extension of her true, fun and energetic self.

I now enjoy that wonderful feeling of fashion freedom, and am not confined to the limits of a label.  When I wear an outfit, I rock it like my name is written all over it 🙂


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leigh Longstreth
    May 17, 2013 @ 20:38:21

    Grandma is probably getting a good laugh!!!! Love, Mom


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