Out of Vogue

It has come to my attention that fashion trends have cycled again without my knowledge.  This is not something new by any means.  Many times in the past I have cleaned out my closet and donated everything with flared legs, padded shoulders, stirrups, platforms, pointy toes, etc. only to open the latest issue of Allure at the hair salon and see all the starved models wearing something exactly like I just discarded, with the heading above their blank expressions announcing, “Catch the Latest Trend!”

Then Husband has to listen to me stomp around our bedroom moaning, “Damn!  I just gave away my Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress and wrap dresses are back.  For chrissake, Kate Middleton’s wearing one right there on the news.”  I point at the TV in frustration, and Husband attempts to console me.  “She’s pregnant, babe.  It’s probably just in style for maternity.”  Even he knows he’s wrong.

Recently I had cause to attend a fundraising event on the Upper East Side.  It was in the early evening on a rainy work day, so I put on my favorite art gallery opening look (unlined dress pants and slouchy silk sweater) and headed off for my train trek downtown to catch a subway uptown.  When I arrived at the venue, a quick sweep of the room revealed a sea of tight sleeveless black sheaths, bare legs, and taupe patent leather heels.  There was barely a sandal in sight, or even a classic ballet flat.  And certainly not another pair of Nine West black ankle boots like mine.  Just those neutral-colored high heels clicking across the marble floors.

How did I miss the memo?  When did pale beige shoes start to be worn with black dresses?  Apparently everyone else was in the loop.  And clearly not coming straight from their day jobs, or jumping over the gap on an E train platform.  When I got home, I went on Google and found pictures of various celebutantes walking into movie premieres and exiting rehab centers in black dresses with taupe pumps.  And lovely Kate Middleton, too, waving to the crowd from high above her baby bump, neutral heels gleaming in Britain’s fog-shrouded sun.

As a little girl, I remember watching my mother get ready for a party and carefully lay out her black dress, dark hose, and black heels.  I once asked her, pointing in her closet, “What about those white shoes, Mommy?” and she shook her head patiently.  “Oh, no, honey, you can never wear light shoes with a black dress.”  She paused a moment and bestowed on me one more piece of fashion law.  “And you can only wear white between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”  For years I thought fashion designers invented the calendar.

This clothing trend obliviousness might be because I went back to college several years ago and have come to accept flipflops and Uggs as interchangeable footwear suitable for any occasion.  But it may actually go beyond that.  The other night I was walking home from a community meeting with a neighbor from down the street who is younger than me and works in landscaping.  As we paused in front of my house to say goodbye, she glanced around at our shrubbery.  “How long have you lived here?” she asked.  “Twenty-five years,” I answered.  Gesturing across our front lawn, she asked, “Were all these big hedges here when you moved in?”  “Yes, they were,” I responded with pride.  She smiled slightly and shifted her weight.  “These kind of shrubs are pretty much out of style.  You might want to think about putting in some airy, modern ones.”  Really?  My shrubs, too?  I almost asked her if they should be taupe.

Daughter invites us to FIGMENT 2013, the annual interactive art festival on Governor’s Island

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