The above illustration and the two below come from a 1925 edition of the first volume of My Book House. I can't read the artist's name, but the story is "Across the Fields" by Anatole France. I put these here because, as I recall, these pictures mark my first interest in clothing. I was fascinated by what these children were wearing, and, for some reason, I kept checking the illustrations to see if the clothing stayed the same from picture to picture.
These illustrations did not, however, mark an interest in fashion.
But I do have a fashion high point in my life that I would like to tell you about. It happened during the heyday of my flower child days when a girl, out of the blue, said to me, "Oh, you're wearing the Laird Look!"
"The what?" I said.
"The Laird Look," she repeated. "It's the "in" look these days. You're wearing it. You look very fashionable."
In retrospect, I should have questioned her a little, but I was so taken aback, and so abashed, and so secretly pleased, that I didn't ask her more. I tucked her compliment away to think about later. And over the next few years or so, I would take her compliment out and admire it, as if it were a little treasure.
Unfortunately, I had failed to note what I was wearing on that golden day, so I could never be sure if I was still wearing the Laird Look or not. I was probably dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and a plaid-flannel shirt, and I might have been wearing a sweat-jacket vest, but I wasn't sure. Maybe the vest was a Laird vest. Was "Laird" a brand name, perhaps?
Four or five years must have passed, and honestly, the Laird Look took on the aura of Camelot:
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
That was known as Camelot!
And then one day as I was looking through the lifestyle section of a newspaper, I fell out of my chair, for there it was, my look, written with a slightly different spelling.
The headline read in enormous capital letters for all the world to see:
THE LAYERED LOOK!!
I have laughed myself silly over this many, many times since, but to this day, I still forget sometimes that the Laird Look is really just the layered look, and this fleeting memory will come to me of that one brief shining moment when I sported the Laird Look and walked in a halo of high fashion.
In writing this post, I got to thinking about all those jokes about people who are "one card short of a full deck," or people who are "missing the top story." It seems I might have the opposite problem of having one too many layers. I think I might be wrapped up with a extra scarf or muffler that prevents me from seeing clearly. I really do walk around pretty clueless sometimes.
But I love the layered look, and every time it comes around and is "in" again, I get to be fashionable. It's one of the reasons my bag lady is my favorite of all the guardians I have made.
Here is my bag lady again in her full glory. She taps upon my heart in so many ways. My post about her that I wrote last August can be found here, in which I dwelt upon bag ladies, but today I'm interested in her layers.
When dressing in layers is done with the joy of putting this color with that color, of mixing wool with silk, cotton with burlap, stars with checks, flowers with plaids, it becomes a work of art. Maybe it is a little like walking around in a quilt, for only in a quilt can a person put quite so many different pattern pieces together and get away with it.
When I was teaching, I wore aprons with pockets to school. Such nice big pockets, too, in which to safely "save" vampire teeth or rubberbands until the end of the day, as in "Let me keep that little helicopter in my pocket where it will be safe until the end of the day when you can take it home."
I loved finding a striped apron that almost matched a flowered dress, and pairing them together. I felt a little bit in costume and a little bit at home, with my apron on at school. I did have to remember to take it off before grocery-shopping at the end of the day. Once when I was busy helping some little lady to find where in the world the canned jalapeños were, I realized that she thought I would know because I was wearing an apron . . .
There is the little black dress at the far "high fashion" end of the clothing spectrum, and the layered look at the other end. I love the little black dress, too, but there is something about all those layers that appeals to my heart and soul.
The more layers I have on, the safer I feel, as if each layer comes with its own kind of protection: the flower guard, the polka-dot brigade, the paisley patrol, the starry-night sentinels. Well, all I can say is:
Long Live the Laird Look!