Monday, August 27, 2012


Nice skirt.

Most of you know I just dropped number one child off for college and may even be expecting me to write something sentimental and insightful about that experience but all I can say is man that sucks.

And if you are struggling with it like I am you might want to read my friend Christie Mellor's latest book, Fun Without Dick and Jane which is so very cleverly titled you just know it is full of helpful coping advice, which it is.

Instead, I want to write about how much I love back to school time and especially the clothes we wear for the occasion. I have loved back to school since I was in grade school and I would wear a plaid dress with a big white collar (had to be plaid, my favorite; had to be a dress, we were not allowed to wear pants to school back then). I love my first day of school photos with my gap-toothed grin as I stand clutching my pencil box. Remember those?

As far as I remember I wore the same version of that first plaid dress up until about junior high. I clearly remember my 7th grade outfit. By then we were allowed to wear pants to school and I wore purple bell-bottoms with laces on the side. I had a matching purple body suit (snapped at the crotch) that laced up the front and even though it was all one piece it was supposed to look like you were wearing a short-sleeved shirt over a long sleeved shirt which was the height of fashion in 1973. The bells on my purple pants were so wide they covered my shoes. That is how we measured if they were big enough. I could make a joke about that outfit but I think it speaks for itself.

And I loved going off to college in Ann Arbor with my THREE Pendleton wool skirts my mom made me especially the red and black plaid one. They looked fabulous with my shetland sweaters and my penny-loafers which were back in style in the late 70s after having been mothballed since the 50s.

Since I have had my kids I wear my own red and plaid skirt every first day of school when I get my picture taken with the kids--see above. I have worn that skirt for the past 14 years.


Except that this year, I had to unbutton not one but TWO of the buttons on my skirt to fit in it. I know, I could buy a new one but really, I am much too old to wear a plaid skirt to begin with let alone buy a new one.

Several years back, Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune wrote a whole column on being too old to wear a plaid pleated skirt which I literally read while wearing my plaid pleated skirt. I am sorry to say I cannot find that column and if any of you do, let me know (Maria?).

Anyhoo, I pointed out to Lilly that I had two buttons unbuttoned and that maybe it was time to give up on the skirt but she loves tradition more than any of us and looked at me with horror at the suggestion. I guess I have two more buttons to go so I don't see any reason to get rid of it now.

And by the way, speaking of tradition, I did get to read "Kissing Hand" to all the kids even Atticus on the day we drove him to college but I had to sneak in his room and read it to him while he was barely awake so he wouldn't hear me cry and I also had to change some of the words to nonsense like, "Chester skipped off to school and did not look back the little bastard," also so I would not cry too hard.

So, if you have any back to school memories of particularly fetching or ridiculous clothes you wore or wear still, let me know.

Cute girls. Some day their fashion may be funny too!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Saw you at the game Friday night but was too far to yell at you!

  2. I don't remember a column by BB like that, unfortunately, and though I found this (link below), I don't think it's what you're looking for. Anyway, if I ever go back on a temporary stint again, I'll look for it for you. And I'll try to reach out to Barbara to see if she remembers it!

    1. I don't think that was the column (though I enjoyed that, thanks). I feel like she was a bit more emphatic on not wearing plaid skirts. But I would not for a minute pretend my memory is good enough to know for sure! It would be fun if Barbara remembers! (Embarrassing if I'm thinking of Mary Schmich and quite certain it was not Eric Zorn hee hee).

  3. Oh, meanwhile, I forgot to say, that if you actually HAD to wear a plaid skirt for, oh, say, 12 years, you would never go near plaid again. In your life. Ever. !!!

  4. Ah, good point. There goes my Catholic-school envy again....I also had a fabulous plaid lunch box and matching thermos. Loved it!