I saw this girl the other day. She was wearing stunningly high, bright green heels, a strapless silver jumpsuit with a huge white belt, and a fur vest. She looked amazing. I don’t know how she did it, but she looked amazing. And I thought, as I always do, I wish I could pull off something like that. And then I shook my head sorrowfully, but in a resigned way, like an old man on his deathbed at the end of a movie about the pointlessness of modern life, and off I went, going about my day in my ordinary jeans and my Old Navy pea coat. But I have dreams of grandeur. There are things I dream of wearing. Things I fantasize about wearing, in another life, when I am reborn as a Minka Kelly look-alike. For every single thing I secretly want to wear, I have a reason why I shouldn’t wear it. I also have a perfectly clear picture of the kind of girl who would look better than me in every outfit I would like to wear (she usually looks like Minka Kelly). But life is for living! Fear is for lame-o’s! And someday I will work up the courage to wear all of these things …
1. A sleeveless dress. One of those conservative, professional ones. In gray. With a miniscule shiny belt. Michelle Obama would totally wear it, because of her arms. I would not, because of my arms. They are my shame. They are my sadness. They hold all of the tragedy of the world within them. By which I mean, they’re pretty chubby. Which is why I can’t wear sleeveless things. Until I get a lot thinner. Or braver. I’m thinking the brave will come first. And also, I overheard someone saying that arm fat is this special kind of fat that never goes away. It’s like the most potent, dangerous, dedicated fat ever. So there’s that.
2. Extremely tall red velvet stilettos. I’m 5’5.” This is supposed to be the average height for an American woman. So why are all of my friends shorter than me? They are also more delicate. They have fragile bird wrists and slender bird necks. The only thing bird-like about me is my nose, which has caused both tactless acquaintances and poetic dates to compare my face to that of a hawk. It seems safer to wear flats. But giant heels are sexy. Especially when they’re red and velvet in addition to being giant.
3. Very flowy things. Goddessy things. I’m thinking green gauzy pants with wide, fluid legs. A green tunic, with gold embroidery and draping arms. Something that Arwen might have worn to meet Aragorn on a bridge in the middle of the elfin forest. It takes courage to wear that stuff, because you have to wear it like an elfin queen, unironically. You also have to have really good posture. I don’t have that yet, but I’m working on it. And once I have it, and I’m braver, I’m gonna get me some flowy things.
4. A backless dress. Preferably in bright red or electric blue. Backless dresses look amazing when your shoulder blades protrude gracefully, like tiny wings, which mine definitely don’t. And when you didn’t used to have backne. “Don’t pick!” my mom said. “You’ll get scars!” I picked. I got scars. I still get the occasional confused, anachronistic pimple back there. For all of these reasons I am not allowed to wear anything backless. Also, the bra? How does that work? Why don’t I know these things?
5. A tie. They look good on me. But to wear one out feels like a statement. And I’m not sure how to wear a statement-making thing without making a statement. And I think I’d just be shy and keep explaining, “They look cool, y’know?” And then people would feel sorry for me for not having the balls to just own it. But then, just because you don’t have the balls doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear the tie.
6. A white bikini. It’s probably always a bad idea. But it’s a worse idea when you are utterly unwilling to get anything waxed. Also, you know how you tell yourself that you’ll lose the weight and wear the bikini again? Well, I’ve stopped telling myself that. When I was 18, my stomach went in instead of out, and I felt sorry for the girls who had to diet before the summer, and I suspected I’d been blessed by the gods, before my birth. It turns out the gods were just messing with me. My belly will probably stick out for the rest of my life. But I have this image, which might have something to do with the James Bond movies, of a woman emerging from the water in a pure white bikini. And I want that woman to be me.
7. Parachute pants. I own them. I bought them at H&M on a whim. I was in Amsterdam at the time, and I felt bolder. I felt like the kind of person who would wear parachute pants from a Dutch H&M. I have never worn them. Because I think you probably need to be a very tall, very thin Dutch woman to wear parachute pants from a Dutch H&M. And maybe you also need the right high-heeled boots and the right furry vest over a skin-tight bright red shirt. And skinny arms. And narrow cat eyes. I don’t know– it seems like you have to not look like me.
8. A really low cut shirt. I’m not sure if you need boobs for this, or no boobs. Because I don’t have very much in the boob department, I assume that you need them. I mean, if you’re going to show that area off– shouldn’t there be something there to show? Maybe not! Throw them off! Keep ‘em guessing! And without the boobs, the neckline could be even lower and more fantastic. I could so low I could go braless! But I’m not quite brave enough to go without a bra. Almost brave enough– I sometime wear one without any padding.
9. A huge fur hat. You know what I’m talking about. With the ear flaps. Anyone can wear this. Everyone is wearing this. The subway is full of people wearing this. I am the only one in New York City who is not wearing one. Because I am scared of what my hair will look like when I take it off. There’s a real chance it will be horrifying. But one day I will join the furry masses. When I gain more strength of character and fortitude of hair.
10. Overalls. Just because I really want to. But who the hell wears overalls? And this is New York City! Come on. Impossible. Or … just very, very brave?
Sometimes it feels like the world is full of implicit rules about who gets to wear what. Who has the right body for whatever. Who is tall or thin or flat-chested or dramatically-breasted or fun or gorgeous enough to pull off any given article of clothing. Who gets to wear the silver jumpsuit. We’re all supposed to know our place, and wear the according outfits. But I’m a rebel! One day, before anyone can stop me, I’m gonna bust out the white bikini on top of parachute pants, with a tie and 6″ red velvet heels. And then I’m gonna walk down the street to the deli on the corner, and just like everything is normal, I’m gonna buy a bagel.
Or maybe I’ll start with the gray, sleeveless dress. No reason to rush.