In which I see and hear horrifying things

Every time I go home my mom asks me to take a look through her massive closet that is bigger than my current bedroom. The idea is that I will weed her clothing collection, which I am more than happy to do. My mom has so many cute new things now that they have real stores in Alaska. These clothes look great on her. So I don't feel at all bad about tossing out the stuff that screams "room mother" or "Women's Conference participant" or "stuck in 1993."

Last time I showed no mercy. She could only keep one denim jumper--the rest had to go. Ditto on the high-waisted pleated khaki pants. And pretty much any high-waisted pleated thing, since they are all of the devil and want nothing more than to make everyone's butts look huge. And then laugh and make those beeping noises that trucks make when they back up. Mom fussed and fretted over the huge pile of clothes I was collecting. I ripped down all the wire coat hangers and told her she wasn't allowed to use them anymore and could just give them back to the dry cleaners if she doesn't like wasting them. Also nasty Christmas sweaters. I tried to take those out back and burn them but she caught me at it.

Then we come to the vests. You know what kind of vests I'm talking about (waistcoats for my British friends). They were really big in about 1990. And now middle-aged ladies are still stuck on the idea. Also they still wear the same hairstyle they had in 1990, which is a completely different tragic story. My mom doesn't do that though. Her hair is very nice.

Anyway. The vests. It's the ones that elementary school teachers and PTA moms wear over their white turtlenecks with the buttons in the shape of apples, or schoolhouses, or farm animals. The one in the pic below is newer and not as hideous, but you get the idea. My mom used to make them for every holiday and had about 15 hanging up in her closet. I knew we were in for a fight, there.

I pointed out to my mother that she no longer works at an elementary school and therefore has no reason to look the part. I chucked them all out but since I never actually saw any of them make it to the thrift store it's entirely possible that she snuck them back upstairs. And maybe they're hanging there now in their buttoned glory, while other, cuter clothes pretend like they don't see them.

I chatted with Spitfire about this recently and asked if she remembered The Vests.

Spitfire: "Uh, yeah I remember them. Every time she made one for herself she would make me one too."

Me: "Wait, are you serious?"

Spitfire: "Oh yeah. And I would tell her I liked it because I didn't want to hurt her feelings, even though I was 13 years old and she was dressing me like I was 6."

Me: "Maybe it's because you were the size of a 6-yr-old."

Spitfire: "Yeah, maybe. I had the vests with the farm animals and everything."

Later I talked to Jenny about this. Because that's what we do in my family: talk about each other.

Me: "So did you know that Mom used to make Spitfire those awful vests with the farm animals?"

Jenny, laughing evilly: "OH yeah. And when she would make them I would tell Spitfire how pretty I thought they were. And how she should definitely wear them to school."

Me: "What the crap? Why would you do that?"

Jenny: "Hey. That's what you get when you freaking pinch me on the inside of my arm. She did it all the time and never got in trouble. Well who's laughing NOW??!??"

Then there was all this cackling and possibly thunder and lightening and other evil sounds.

Me: "Oh my gosh. That is so wrong and you're probably going to hell."

Jenny: "See? That's why we tried to borrow your clothes all the time. It wouldn't have killed you, you know."

It's crazy the kind of family stories that are coming out now--things I never noticed happening because I was too busy being scholastically minded and self-absorbed.


April said... [reply]

My sister is 5 years younger than me, and most mornings, I had to get her dressed for school. She still hates me for making her wear matching clothes, including a pair of bright yellow polyester pants. But, boy, do I love those memories! hahaha

FoxyJ said... [reply]

My mom still wears vests like that. And a skirt she made herself out of red bandanas. She also has hot pink Birkenstocks and paints her toenails to match. The thing is, she does teach elementary school so it works. And she still has really long, gray hair and looks the ex-hippie that she is. So I just let it go because she loves her clothes so much...

But, I'm so grateful that my freshman roommates convinced me that I don't have to let her dress me. Like the vests--I had some like that. I even once made myself a jumper out of fabric that was printed with old fruit packing labels. Eesh! I also still have a few jumpers that I wear and really like. And I'm slowly convincing myself to get rid of them; my main problem is that I don't like skirts because they aren't comfortable. Anyways, enough about why I'm still such a nerd :) I think it's funny that everyone's mom dresses the same...

kristen said... [reply]

Oh jumpers and vests.....seriously what is it with older women and these things? You know what I call the annual UEA meeting up in Salt Lake? The jumper convenetion. That's because it's full of elementary teachers who wear jumpers and vests embroidered with ridiculous school-themed pictures.

I must confess that I had a few jumpers on my mission--like nine years ago, mind you. They were comfy and they went with everything. And who cares about looking good in South America?

Jér said... [reply]

That was classic. I wish my mom would let me weed her closet. Or let my sister shop for her. Or something equally drastic and crisis-averting.

I grew up wearing hand-me-downs, so I didn't learn how to dress myself until very recently. The other day, I looked at a series of pictures of myself from four years ago, and I nearly had an aneurysm. My clothes! My hair! My SHOES! There are no words to describe how badly I dressed back then—and this was as a senior in college! Fortunately, thanks to the kind attentions of concerned friends and boyfriends, I am well on the way to recovery.

Miss Hass said... [reply]

My mom taught kindergarten so she had a small quantity of holiday-themed clothing, but she most had jewelry. Large plastic Christmas trees, ghosts, pumpkins, turkeys, etc... They were awful. I hope she burned them.

Edgy said... [reply]

Now, you will only get this argument once.

It is ill-advised to throw out all the ugly Christmas sweaters. I say this because I had to attend far too many Ugly Christmas Sweater parties this past holiday season. So, one should always save one (and I do mean just one) ugly Christmas sweater. And one should hide said sweater, only bringing it out the day of said party when one must wear it.

Foxy . . . Skirts can be quite comfortable. Maybe it's the type of skirts? Not that I would recommend them anymore because they're so not the style, but those gypsy skirts of the early nineties were quite comfortable. I only know this because my friends and I were helping our girlfriends pack out their dormrooms after freshman year. As a joke, we put on the skirts. The girls couldn't get them off of us for days. Granted, the ornery door attendants at the Morris Center wouldn't let us in to eat, even though our skirts were to our ankles.

Jenny said... [reply]

Also, the jewelry. When I was in the 9th and 10th grade I took this jewelry elective and our teacher had us make all these funky beaded things. I gave them to my mom. She still wears one or two with pride, I think. I should probably have those chucked as well.

And our mom does have some awesome. Clothes. Like the hooker boots she got from Nordys after Christmas. I still don't even have a pair.

daltongirl said... [reply]

Confession: I sometimes see one of those vests when I'm picking through clothing at D.I. or Savers. And once in a while I actually stop and look at it as if I'm considering a purchase--usually because it has a ridiculously low price tag. Then I start slapping myself as a reminder that I don't have to buy something horrible just because it's super cheap. Sometimes there's a reason people are giving things away.

Then I look furtively around to make sure no one saw me considering the ugly vest.

Each time this happens, I lose a tiny bit more of my self respect.

Desmama said... [reply]

Every time you vent about ugly clothing I do a mental run-through of my clothes and wonder if something I wore spurred the posting thereof. You are making me neurotic.

Kristeee said... [reply]

My mom loooves her some fun vests over her white turtlenecks with little designs embroidered on the turtle part of the neck. Only she's never been an elementary school teacher. Not that I have any fashion sense (or at least not very much), but I cringe at some of her outfits. I still have a couple jumpers that I think are darn cute (and they are). But I can't do anything with furry creatures or snowmen embroidered on them or apple buttons down the front. Or the wide-collared blouses.

CoolMom said... [reply]

Hahahahahahahaha. I DID hide the two Christmas vests, but I forgot where I hide them until around St. Patrick's Day! I found them in the ironing basket in the closet of the laundry room. It's a wonder I found them at all. Also I bent over the other day wearing the denim jumber with the big buttons down the back and suddenly heard something around my backside area make a loud POP sound and something hit the wall several feet behind me. It was a button. I took this as an omen and tossed the jumber. I am now totally jumperless. I guess it's time for a trip to the jumper dept. Wanna come?

cooldad said... [reply]

I'm imagining nice christmas vests for my wonderful daugthers for their Christmas present this year.

Cicada said... [reply]

I was the type of girl who loved it when my mother made me clothes and wore them with pride. And when other girls' mothers made them clothes that they wouldn't wear, their moms would give them to my mom who would give them to me. I was that girl. I was also hated in jr. high. Hated. But when I look back on it all now, I think, "Wait... I was hated by girls who wore stretch pants with stirrups? STIRRUPS!"

Jimmy said... [reply]

That's just classic stuff. It's really something the way family life should prepare us for the tough world out there, all the stuff we do to each other :)
Payback for the pinch, ow.

Jimmy said... [reply]

...I hit the enter key 'fore I was done!
I was going to say, if you'd like to make a case-study of people who are truly trapped in the past, go check out Staten Island, NY. Big Hair, Big Sweaters/vests and spandex pants.
The sparkly kind.
Yayyy, '90s

Natalie said... [reply]

I too have become a little more neurotic thinking about my closet...as I am an elementary school teacher. Even though it is true that most teachers are not the best dressers, we don't ALL own jumpers and vests. This is what is cool about my job: I don't have to get up and fret over what I'm going to wear because honestly, do the 10-year-olds care? But at the same time, it feels good to look nice and to have people think you are somewhat fashionable. I, unfortunately, am not super fashionable. With the little money I make, I rarely use it to buy new clothes. I would rather have food and a new couch. However, I recently made a few new clothing purchases. I tell you what - I feel much better in "normal" clothing. I even wore two outfits to school and those kids were like, "Woah! You look SO PRETTY." So, do they notice - yes. Do I feel better - yes. But occasionally I have to put on the ugly stuff, 'cause that's all I've got. Sad.

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