I didn’t mean to write a third blog post in a row about fashion, but the death of an icon inspired me.
I am not a fashionista by any stretch (see my last post if you need confirmation), but I do love me some clothes. And with Gloria Vanderbilt’s death brought back a strong memory of mine.
My first pair of designer jeans were Gloria Vanderbilt. I vividly remember the day they were purchased: I was at Cartan’s with my mom (does Cartan’s even exist anymore? It was a store that carried things for kids and babies from birth until teen, from cribs to clothes.) I somehow convinced her that I should have the pricey jeans, and I was in awe of the GV triangle logo stamped on my butt.
I agonized on when to wear them. I was torn on wearing them right away or waiting. My “maturity” won out: I chose to wait until Friday. That way, my jeans would be a lasting memory for whoever thought of me over the weekend (is there anything more self-centered than a young teenage girl?).
In hindsight (sorry), no one was looking at my butt. But I treasured the thought that they might. I was realizing the power of fashion, not just to influence others, but, more importantly, to influence the way I felt about myself. As I have matured, I have learned to let that feeling guide my shopping: how do I feel in this outfit? I remember about 10 years ago taking girlfriends with me to buy a gala gown. I ended up getting the dress they liked on me rather than the one that made me feel glamorous and strong and sexy. I still think of that dress as a “one that got away.” When I see that other one in the closet I feel conflicted. I am sure I won’t wear it again.
Gloria Vanderbilt was, of course, way more than a name on a butt. A few years back I read a terrific book about her, written by her son, Anderson Cooper (for my review, go to https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26072609-the-rainbow-comes-and-goes). I had heard the phrase poor little rich girl but really didn’t understand it until I read this book. I’d recommend it — it’s a glimpse behind the heavy oak doors of the uber-rich and how money certainly does not guarantee happiness.
But those jeans, and the way they made me feel? That was money well spent on something that made me feel happy — grown up, special, middle-school sexy (as sexy as a flat as a board 12-year-old can feel with braces and badly feathered hair). I like to think that Gloria Vanderbilt, who experienced such dramatic highs and lows over her lifetime, ended up on a high. She was having a renaissance, valued as a talented painter and quite fun to follow on Instagram. And, as a mom, probably quite happy to be known as “Anderson Mom.”
I’ll always remember her as the gal who got me started on the dark and twisted path to fashion.