I was recently laughing out loud reading my girlfriend’s email to me about her dating life. She’d liked a guy but unfortunately on their second date he wore Birkenstock’s. So what,you ask? Well, exactly, so what? But you’d ‘get’ it if you knew my girlfriend who is incredibly stylish and studies design so the Birkentsock’s were akin to walking into a Parisian atelier with flip flops. Indeed, fashion can cool romance faster than a cold shower. It can be a harbinger of doom and has crushed more hearts than I care to think about.
I once went on a blind date and was waiting outside the Stanley theatre and looking up and down, up and down Granville street, tapping my stiletto and then suddenly, as though it were a 1970’s summer flick, a white suit began to glowingly emerge through the busy South Granville crowd. Yes. I knew. It was my date. White shoes. White pants. White blazer. White tie. It was midnight cowboy after he died.
We enjoyed the show, especially the part where he spoke back to the actors. Alas, our fashion destinies weren’t aligned and the romance took a dive to the discount rack.
Girls always talk about boys’ fashion in the context of romance but boys’ talk about girls’ fashion too. Recently, I was pretending not to be listening to my teenage son and his best friend talk about girls and what they were wearing at school. It was clear that the girls who wore trashy outfits were in the loser pile and those who were ‘cool’ did not wear low-cut tops or micro-minis. They may not be as picky as us females but there is still a perception, based on what people are wearing, even if it’s laced in glitter and has band names on it, that gets paired with an instant romantic judgement.
Can fashion keep you from finding true love? Some would say yes, others would call you shallow, they’d say you have to look ‘deeper’, for the magical dust powder that sits below the stained, Monday night football t-shirt that is sure to rub off on you and make you look beyond the huge signs that say: danger, couch snugglies ahead.
I learned early on that if there is a clothing issue, it’s likely the relationship is not going to result in clothing ever coming off. I was 17 once (sigh) and in love with Billie Paslovski of L-Kabong. I was obsessed in fact. And when he invited me to a New Year’s party at a fancy mansion I felt I had won the lottery. I spent weeks deciding what to wear. I had my hair done in a salon, I was glittery with sparkles and wide-eyed with mascara and perfumed and dressed to the nines and when I turned to him in the cab he looked at me and said in his, slouchy, rock and roll way, “So, you’re pretty into fashion eh?” in way that made me realize I had it all wrong. All that effort and he wasn’t impressed. I was heartsick. Why was he judging me so harshly on what I was wearing? I could be rock and roll. I could be slouchy. I could look like I didn’t give a shit. Couldn’t I?
No, no I could not and the fact is he could no longer be dressed up as I could be dirty and messy and it was just not meant to be. His grunge didn’t go with my glamour–what can you do?
There are cases where I’ve got it wrong—unduly dismissed a pair of polyester slacks only to see years later that same pair of legs walking down a street with a girl on his arm, dressed rather, well perfectly for me now. What happened? Maybe she looked beyond the man-made fabric to see the man beneath or maybe she said, ditch those pants and I’ll sleep with you. Who is to know what really goes on in people’s closets?
I would love to hear other people’s funny fashion stories, in fact, I think I could make a book of them because I’ve heard so many of them in my life. What a fun title that would be to think of, feel free to make suggestions!