Great White Whales (with Pockets)

Image courtesy of Brian Gratwicke. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I am fatter now than I was in college, and was fatter in college than I was in high school. This does not bother me particularly. Given the fact that I entered the world breeched and jaundiced, wound up with a paralyzed face during delivery, had (rather botched) eye surgery as a child, and have been blind as a bat since the age of 9, most of what I think about my person is “holy shit, I am a testament to the human brain’s ability to override natural selection despite nature’s attempts to kill us.” (#TeamThumbs.) At any previous point in history, I would be dead 3 times over by now.

That said, the confines of this particular meat sack have forced me to lose some truly spectacular items of clothing. This came to the forefront of my mind this weekend, as I was walking—drunk on Fuller’s ESB and cheese toast—around my hometown square. Stepping into the local hipster boutique (by “local,” I mean “the one on that side of the square,” since there’s approximately 7 in a half-mile radius), I saw an absolutely beautiful pair of knee-high, wooden-heeled, burgundy Frye boots in the most completely gorgeous, buttery leather. They were 40% off. They were the last pair in the store. They were my size.

They were also, in the way of Frye boots, designed for tiny-calved people: despite the fact that they fit my feet, I couldn’t zip them up over my legs. My calves, inherited from my father, are giant.

Before the white whale of discounted leather boots, though, there was a pink lace dress. It was picked up in a second-hand store in Arkansas for $25, and it dated from the 1940s. The core of it, a sheath, was pink silk, with rose lace overlay on the skirt and torso. A foot-wide band of the lining tied around as a belt. The dress, which managed to survive a particularly drunken New Year’s Eve freshman year of college, died at the Great Gatsby-themed party where this was taken. I ripped a side seam in the torso due to beer/becoming an adult weight/enthusiastic dancing. At some point I will fix it and sell the thing, because it is gorgeous.

Cousin to the torn pink dress was this green satin thing, which at least had the kindness to wait until the end of my associate’s degree before it became too small (and which never ripped, since it wasn’t 60 years old). It had a fitted bodice, and a tie belt, and it had pockets. It was bought second-hand for $20, and it served admirably as a combo spring fling/freshman-year-boyfriend’s-semiformal dress. It has become the Great White Whale of formalwear for me, since its cut allowed me to eat as much as I liked and its pockets prevented me from having to carry a clutch.

The same year (and same freshman-year-boyfriend, though this time it was a formal) saw me wearing this deeply bonkers dress, which was picked up for $20 at a Covington, GA thrift shop on the assumption that I would probably find something to wear this completely, delightfully over-the-top garment to. It had a beaded bodice worthy of a rodeo clown, and a floor-length, black taffeta skirt. It was backless. The only photo which exists of it appears to be this one, where I am grimacing like someone who has spent a weekend in Chattanooga with people she doesn’t know, and I am deeply resentful of my past-self that she apparently gave this dress away without first taking a photo, because it was amazing and should have been kept, despite “weighing 20 pounds” and “being deeply impractical for my life.”

Of course, clothes wind up wearing out or no longer fitting or being deeply impractical in the lives of their wearers. But I swear to god, the first person who manages to invent something to allow wardrobes to scale up or down with their wearers? Is getting all of my money, because I will be gallivanting around in pocketed evening wear like you wouldn’t even believe.

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