“Wow! I like your outfit. You look like Marilyn Monroe.” The words were spoken by a 20-something I was about to pass on the sidewalk as we strolled by one another. It was a gorgeous summer evening with few people taking advantage of it in the residential area where I live. Since I was fairly certain we were the only pedestrians present, I assumed she was talking to me and that she was serious.
For a moment I was flummoxed. As a silver-haired baby boomer—trim yes, voluptuous, no—I was aware anyone who had aced a driver’s license eye test could never mistake me for the blonde bombshell. But then I realized she wasn’t saying I physically resembled the goddess of sex.
She was saying my attire was what she would have expected to see Marilyn wear. Really?
Obviously, we were not talking slinky, lame gown complete with plunging neckline here. I was dressed in a cherry red t-shirt, white cotton shorts—not short-shorts, mind you, just a modest little number that reached mid-thigh—white ankle socks, and sneakers. To me, the look was more fourth grade than femme fatale.
However, considering the shorts were high-waisted, and the t-shirt fit snugly and had cap sleeves, it dawned on me why she might have thought I could have stepped off the pages of a 1950’s magazine instead of a Montana sidewalk.
“Where did you get those shorts?” she asked. “I wish I could find a pair like that.” Now I definitely knew she was not joking, because I was a fan of these shorts as well.
We then started to commiserate about how difficult it is to find shorts or skorts with a waist band high enough to tuck a shirt into securely. This retro feature puts to shame contemporary hip-level bands that refuse to let you anchor a shirttail. We concurred: locating anything that rests in the neighborhood of your bellybutton rather than in the territory south of it is no quest for a quitter.
Regretfully, I had to break the bad news to her. “Actually, I bought these at a thrift shop in Florida, probably around 25 years ago,” I told her. “Believe me, I’m grateful they still fit. The style has met my needs perfectly all these years.”
Besides that, I didn’t reveal this little tidbit: my shorts even sported something that has become practically extinct for today’s woman on the move—pockets. To have five of them in the same garment, one being a watch pocket, is like winning the fashion lottery if such a thing existed. When I’m out walking, which I do most days, I have someplace to stash a cell phone, keys, hanky, lip balm, credit card, and cash.
Forget the fanny pack or pocket book. Yippee! I wouldn’t want to think about how hard it would be to find a suitable replacement. Even if I could, it would certainly cost a lot more than this pair did a quarter century ago.
And alas, there was more bad news to report to someone wanting to get the look of the film legend in casual dress. The top I’d donned that day, coincidentally, also hailed from a thrift shop. Purchased just a few years ago in Arizona, it cost only a couple of bucks. As with all my thrift shop finds, which are few compared to what else hangs in my closet, I figured I’d not be out much money if the bargain proved disappointing. Even when paying full price, it seems you always risk discovering something that bugs you about it.
Speaking of bugs, the socks I was wearing just so happened to be decorated with cute little spiders and ants. This pair of socks, I now recall, was a much appreciated hand-me-down from a friend. I chalked up another dead end.
After completing my on-the-spot sartorial inventory, I realized the only items I’d bought new were my sneakers and underwear, which were considerably younger than my companion.
I also realized that was information overload for the poor stranger’s ears. I wished, at the very least, I could have provided her with name brands from the t-shirt and shorts, but that was another lost cause.
The shorts no longer had a label sewn inside. Likewise, all that remained of what once was a label along the t-shirt’s inner neckline had aged into a scraggly white wisp, serving no purpose while causing no harm.
We chatted a while longer about how fashions have changed and the beautiful sunset. Then each of us pursued her own direction. I departed, delighted with the knowledge that my ancient outfit had arrested—in a good way—the attention of someone youthful enough to be my granddaughter.
Homebound, I walked with a bit more samba to my step. For a brief moment, I savored the notion that anything about me could have inhabited the same stratosphere as Marilyn Monroe—if only in one person’s imagination. MSN