Fierce! Hot! Directional! Yes, fashion is all that and a bag of zero-calorie TicTacs. And I get a huge kick out of it. So this week I'm introducing Fritinancy's first theme week. I'll be posting interesting items from the world of wearables and pausing ever so briefly to toot my own horn.
My interest in fashion (and this is not the horn-tooting part, believe it or not) goes way back. My first wage-earning job, as a high school senior, was on the sales floor of The Broadway Wilshire¹ in Los Angeles, which for a sixteen-year-old Seventeen-reading girl qualified as Died and Gone to Heaven. And I wasn't just some schlepper of a shopgirl--no, ma'am! I had been selected as L.A. High's representative on The Broadway's Hi-Deb Fashion Council--even then, the name was eye-rollingly corny--which meant I modeled in fashion shows, learned grooming and makeup tips from "the experts," toured clothing and shoe factories, and--pinch me!--received three free outfits to wear while I stood around waiting for customers. I even won a guest-modeling spot in Seventeen.
(There was a boys' counterpart to the Hi-Debs, which of course added to the appeal. I wish I could remember what the boys were called. It definitely didn't include the word deb. Or hi-.)
I'd been sewing my own clothes and gazing longingly into shop windows for quite a while, but those free Hi-Deb outfits accelerated my fashion savvy into warp speed, emphasis on the warp. The first outfit, as I recall, involved transparent plastic shoes and yellow fishnet stockings layered over shocking-pink opaque hose. This was definitely not accessorizing as I'd known it. Still, a deal was a deal: I had to wear the outfit (and did I mention it was free?) and so I did. I even came to love it, sort of.
Downhill from there? In a sense, yes. However, I did spend a couple of very happy years as copywriter and then editorial director at Banana Republic's San Francisco corporate offices, back when the chain was tiny and safari-themed. (We had eleven stores when I started working there, and about 111 when I left.) I invented names for items of clothing (the Amelia Earhart Jacket, the Poet's Sweater, the Port-au-Prince Pants), dreamed up stories about the places our clothes might find themselves, and asked simpático literary celebrities to write little reviews for the catalog. (I remember phoning James Fallows, who was then living in Kuala Lumpur, I think it was, and waking him up: I hadn't done the math, and it was 3 a.m. over there. He graciously wrote the review anyway.) Best of all, I got to work with a bunch of smart, funny, creative, irreverent people.
Later on, I was the long-term freelance catalog copywriter for Travelsmith: more product naming, more talespinning. In between and since, I've written about golf shorts and little girls' party dresses, Birkenstocks and Ferragamos, tummy-tuck jeans and hemp-silk wedding gowns.
On my own time, I've been known to pay full cover price for a copy of In Style or Vogue (it's research! honest!). And I've logged more hours with Stacy and Clinton of What Not to Wear than any nominally sane woman should admit to.
So welcome to this little corner of my world! Coming up this week: a theme-friendly Word of the Week, a special fashion linkfest, a post about fashionspeak, a post about fashion nomenclature, and the promised (fashion-related) horn tooting. And possibly more. To get started, here's a post from August 2006 on the derivations of many of our names for fabrics.
¹Eventually subsumed into The Federated's empire (Macy's, Bloomingdale's, etc.).