Although not an avid fan of the Twilight Zone, it was unavoidable in the summer months during the VHF / UHF days. One particular episode from the show captured my imagination, and stuck with me through much of my childhood. I barely recall it with accuracy, but what I do remember, is the gist of the story focused on a boy being able to dive into the pool and swim to another place. Through a pool floor, into another utopian dimension, and onto the shore of a Garden of Eden sort of trope.
As a result of being fascinated by this episode, the amount of times my little mermaid body would explore pool floors and hidden corners during the 1970’s are innumerable. However, I didn’t need a pool to find my utopian spot. The pool search was more out of curiosity and mermaid tendencies, versus necessity. This is because my grandparents lived just a handful of homes down from mine.
There were so many rituals I indulged in when I passed through their garage door entrance. One of my favorite being, walking down the hall into the guest room, and changing out of my Healthtex and into my Mom’s First Communion dress. I would enter their home, and enter my utopia. The Communion dress tradition started when I was old enough to maneuver the task, but still young enough to trip on the hem and render it frayed after years of wear.
Starting at a few years of age, and straight into Elementary School, I would change out of my reality and into my ideal with every visit. I wore that dress to play pinochle, shoot bumper pool. eat cookies, and polka on my Gramp’s feet in in the living room.
My transition into grade school made an impact on my utopian couture. I wore a uniform for Catholic school, so I would always be wearing navy blue knee socks after school, and Gramp thought they were hilarious with the Communion dress. Once I got a little bit older, and out of my Communion dress wearing days, he missed seeing me in my blue sock and Communion dress ensemble, so he bought me a pair of socks from Kresge’s, and wrapped them as a gag Christmas gift. The gesture was incredibly funny, and remarkably sweet. It also marked the beginning of another special tradition.
I set those socks aside, and saved them for just the right occasion, and gifted those suckers right back to him. The blue socks ultimately become a White Elephant gift between us that spanned decades, making an appearance at birthdays and Christmas. And it wasn't below me to slip them as a gag for Get Well presents when he was in the hospital, or for him to tangle them into a Graduation gift for me.
Gramp died over fifteen years ago, but I have the socks tucked away up in my closet in the last space they were being stored for regifting before he passed. That blue nylon means as much to me as my Gram’s wedding ring I was wildly fortunate enough to inherit.
The blue socks also signify a truth about my fashion sense that has been ingrained since my earliest days being able to navigate it: I wear what I love, and convention has little weight in my selection. And in knowing this fashion fact, I knew it was going to be inevitable my daughter; The Talk. The fashion one. From her to me.
Ruby Joy is turning fourteen next month, and has a fashion sense that is amazing and unique. She also loves having a mom’s closet she can raid. However, I am recently starting to receive the unavoidable advice, as we have entered those intermediary years: the time that spans between a daughter's marvel, and future years in which they find mom's excentricities endearing.
What triggered the inevitable Talk, is the fact that July is a month where I do 80% of my shopping for autumn/winter. The reason for my midsummer shopping spree is twofold. Firstly being that I have already set up my palette for the seasons, and I want to stock up to make sure it all flows from accessories to outerwear. And secondly, because July sales are killer.
Having a mom with lilac hair and fashion that is cool enough to be borrowed, can have liabilities if said mom doesn't reel in her fashion freak on certain occasions. This all ties into to the whole conundrum that self expression does not equate to a desire for attention.
So when I pulled out my reinterpretted leopard fur coat, and goodness does it have an amazing deconstructed print, I saw a facial expression triggering thought bubbles over Ruby Joy's head. Then as I put it on, and told her of the killer floral Doc’s I ordered (they remind me of the ones I bought in Covent Garden back in 1992), I received: “Love them both, but not together, and not at school functions.”
At 46, I felt just like that 6 year old girl standing in a communion dress with blue socks. Knowing my fashion freak flag was funny to some, but nonetheless made my heart soar.
Don’t get me wrong, Ruby Joy celebrates most of my choices with gusto because she knows they’re hitting her closet at season’s end. I also empathize with what a precarious age 14 is. She carries herself with such an elegance and grace, while rocking aqua hair with an amazing undercut. She knows her fashion, but is also navigating through the social shrapnel of middle school. RJ has more chill than most adult women I know, so I don’t want to be that eccentric mom who add waves to her flow.
I suppose the period on the end of my sentence of this topic, is the observation on how much of our little bodied selves live within our grown ass ones. Standing in my own living room tearing through my AW lineup dusted up emotions I hadn’t felt since standing in my grandparents’.
And I absolutely loved it.
What about you?
Do you have your own blue socks memories?
And has you fashion evolved, or are you still dressing your inner two year old fashion freak?