“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” – Coco Chanel
During my extensive teaching career I was witness to many fashions sported by my students. Some of those outfits were very imaginative, some were trendy and some raised eyebrows which prompted comments such as: “Why do their parents let them dress like that?”
Why indeed? But sometimes parents can’t be blamed when they are unaware of how their children’s outfits transform once they leave the house. (It’s amazing what layers can hide!) I myself can attest to falling victim to a teenage fashion indiscretion, but unlike some of today’s youth I wasn’t smart enough to get away with it.
It was the age of the mini-skirt and my mother had just sewn me the cutest baby-doll dress for an upcoming dance. (My apologies to my younger readers, but you can google that particular style.) I kept insisting that the dress had to be shorter, but my mother hesitated. Finally after days of my begging and pestering she relented and, against her better judgement, took up the hem.
On the night of the dance I got ready, slipped on my new dress and checked out my appearance in the full-length mirror. As I admired my new outfit I had an uneasy feeling that my mother had been right and that maybe the dress was a bit too short, but I pushed my doubts aside with the reassuring thought that this was now the style and everyone else would be following this newest look. I did wonder what my dad would say, but he was watching hockey on TV so he might not notice. I suddenly wished I had been foresighted enough to bring my coat to the bedroom so I could cover up my dress and slip out undetected. But it was too late now, so I took a deep breath and out I went.
“Good night. Don’t wait up for me.” I offered nonchalantly. My dad continued watching the game, so I quietly ventured on and was almost out of the room when he called me back. By the look on his face I knew he was not pleased.
“That dress is pretty short,” he tersely noted.
“Is it?” I replied trying hard to act surprised. But I’m sure my blushing face gave away any pretense of innocence.
“How are you going to dance in that dress?” he questioned. “Lift your arms like you’re dancing with someone.” (Again for the benefit of you young folks, he was referring to polkas and waltzes.)
I slowly raised my arms by sort of hunching up my shoulders while trying to keep my elbows close to my body. I must have looked like some weird chicken getting ready for flight. But my attempt was rather futile as my dress rode up anyway revealing far too much. My dad didn’t have to say anything else, he had made his point and back I went to change my outfit. My mom would be taking down the hem before I would ever be allowed to wear that dress in public.
Although I was angry and upset with him at the time, I came to realize that he was only looking out for my best interests. Maybe it was a good thing that I wasn’t crafty enough to outsmart him, as he probably saved me from much embarrassment. My dad was no fashion consultant but he certainly knew what not to wear, especially when it came to his own daughter.