In the really early days of television, my family owned a small, small screen Emerson. The tiny tube was ensconced in a blonde wood box that had Bakelite dials on the front, with an alien antennae perched on top. No remotes back then, and only black & white, with three or four stations made up our choices. Apart from the excitement of “Captain Kangaroo”, there wasn’t much to offer a really young child. However, I remember one exciting day, when I was told that my sister was going to appear on television.
Evelyn was working at the Hanover Modeling Agency in New Haven, Connecticut, teaching modeling classes. She was going to model evening gowns on some local program. We could hardly wait until she came on. When she did, however, I burst into tears, thinking that now I had lost her. She had somehow gotten into that box and couldn’t get out. It sort of ruined the day for my poor mother. Evelyn wore some kind of sequined gown, and stood out from the others. The TV lights hit those sequins, and made them sparkle. She seemed to emanate some sort of magic.
Later she told me that when faced with a decision about what to wear, there were a couple of rules one should follow. The first rule was, if there are sequins. wear them. The second one was never tp dress down for anyone. I’ve kind of thrown out the sequin rule, this being over a half-century later, but the second rule has stood me in good stead all these years. Never dress down for anyone. Period. I’ve broken this rule several times in my life, and these particular times stand out in my memory as personal social disasters.
I’ll just tell you one of these times, concerning a barbecue at my then-boss’s home. Stupidly, I assumed that a pair of jeans would be fine, but this was a Marin party, disguised as a barbecue. No one but I was wearing jeans, and I felt like an idiot. My boss’s stares clearly told me she didn’t approve of my outfit. I guess she thought I should have known better. I’m sure my sister, Evelyn would have known instinctively that high-end sportswear would have been more appropriate.
These days I don’t wear jeans very often; but nor do I dress in sequins. My closet is well-stocked with Brava! elegant Casualwear, which is always appropriate, and always looks good. When others are confined in their overly-constructed, stiff dressy clothes, I sail through the day or evening, comfortable, unwrinkled and nonplussed. I think my sister would have been proud.
Back to my sister, Evelyn, who was so much a part of me. We were always on each other’s side, always loving, but honest with each other. We had a saying about someone who seemed to have thrown together an outfit which shouldn’t have worked, but somehow did. “She gets away with it!” This meant that neither of us could wear something that outlandish or in such poor taste, but that other woman could. I can still see her pronouncing this dubious compliment, a wry smile on her lips.
Getting away with it. Was this something to be envied? Sometimes. And yet…
Then there are the people who manage to do more than just get away with it. Sometimes, while on shopping expeditions, Evelyn and I used to follow people with whom we became intrigued. We weren’t stalking, and we weren’t being catty. We merely wanted to further study these people to see why their outfits worked so well.
Which all leads me back here. Just why do some people have the ability to seemingly throw on a couple of pieces of clothing and have it all come together and look perfect? I have, on rare occasions, possessed this ability. I was told so, but not by my sister. If we were going out somewhere, Evelyn would work on me until I passed inspection. “All right,” she’d say, adjusting a scarf or lapel. “You’ll get away with it!”.
These days I want more than just to get away with something. I want to look my best, feel comfortable, and feel confident. I really don’t care about fashion trends. I know who I am. My sister told me. I have forsaken most of my other clothes to wear, almost exclusively, the Carole Wang Collection from Brava!