Pleather and Pain, or How I Broke Through the Space/Time/Fashion Continuum

Rachel’s friend Enda invited us to go dancing on a boat. “What should we wear?” we asked. “Whatever you want,” was his reply. “Something waterproof.”

As it turns out, very few of my clothes fall into that category. My old raincoat went into the charity bag this past spring. (It was hardly the sort of thing one would wear dancing anyway.) As I mentally reviewed the contents of my closet, I suddenly remembered a pair of PVC pants I’d acquired in the mid-1990s. Tight, black, and very tapered with lacing up the front, they were classic Le Chateau; cheap and cheerful. I knew they were still in a box somewhere, and I set out to find them. A few minutes later, as I yanked them out from under a stash of vintage fur collars, my next thought was to wonder if, after more than a decade, they would still fit. They did.

I looked at myself in the mirror; not only did they fit, they were surprisingly chic. With a white tank top and red flats, they were just the right mix of current and retro. They were just “new retro” enough to be edgy. Once I was done being pleased with myself for having kept them, I had a very disturbing thought: I had actually become old enough to reference myself – as an adult.

It was always normal to wear things my mother had worn (50s dresses, 60s shoes) or things my sisters had worn (disco-licious), but the clothes in my closet had been – until now – a one-round deal. This everlasting 80s revival doesn’t count either; I was only a teenager and aesthetically unrefined when New Wave was actually new, dressing at the mercy of my parents’ budget and approval. No, I was a grownup when I bought those pants. They were cool then and, somehow, I’d managed to live long enough for them to be cool again.

I am both amused and appalled. Of course, my reflections on the inexorable march of time and the cyclical nature of fashion have been validated, and my packrat tendencies have finally paid off. That’s quite nice. On the other hand, you know, I’m old.

A few days ago I was in the Salvation Army store. I found a fantastic dress – a long-sleeved, scoop-necked, black microfibre jersey thing. It’s exactly the sort of outfit Peter Lindbergh would have photographed for Vogue when I was in University. (It’s the sort of dress I would have bought myself if I could have afforded it – and if I hadn’t thought dresses too girlie by half.) I couldn’t resist trying it on; it looked great. There was nothing to do but pay the six bucks and hurtle headlong into my future – which, it appears, has been hiding in my past all along.



7 thoughts on “Pleather and Pain, or How I Broke Through the Space/Time/Fashion Continuum

  1. Beautiful dress Gwen. I want to live in your closet. From what I hear (and what I’ve seen) it’s one high-class tickle trunk (see red tutu). You should go on tour!

  2. The dress is lovely and those pants are AMAZING (as are the hat and the shoes and the… everything).
    And I really love the idea of dancing on a boat.

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