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back to the (fashion) future

If I had a time machine, I’d start right from the beginning and fix all of my mistakes. First, I’d get rid of the white spandex frill-necked top with the floral pastel to-the-knee denim shorts which I always wore as a set (girly pirate chic derr). I’d definitely scrap the low slung, boxer-shorts-showing baggy-jeans from my bus interchange days. I’d also throw away the girl-boxer undies. Those things give killer wedgies.

With the benefit of hindsight, there are lots of little fashion choices I  have made that deserve close scrutiny. They remind me that no matter how sophisticated I might feel,  it wasn’t always so; and there’s likely to be a time when what I’m proudly wearing now will seem just a little bit silly.  There’s nothing like a good dose of humble ‘ugly fashion’ pie to make you realise that you are completely vulnerable to bad bad decisions. It’s only photo evidence that makes it obvious.

Maybe I could have hung out with the cool kids in high-school if I went back in time and replaced my weird green flares with tencel jeans and converse sneakers. While I was hangin in ’94 I could also sneakily swap those navy blue Hang Ten Big W men’s boardies with short Billabong rainbow girlie ones. That way, I would never have agonised over the scrawled ‘Hang Ten’ which appeared on my locker the day after the year 8 swimming carnival.

Oh yes, if I were Girl McFly I’d do heaps better than cruising in a Delorean with Doc. I’d be fashion invincible! My wardrobe would be nothing but the coolest, hottest, eternally bombastic stuff. I’d be more awesome than Blossom, Girlfriend and Salt ‘n Pepa put together. I’d change my name to something food-enhancer-related like Paprika. I’d have millions of boyfriends and none of them would be dorks from the all-boys school across the road.

If I could achieve so much going back in a time machine, I might do even better moving forward a few decades to give my older self some advice. ‘Hey Grandma Mason, what’s with the elastic waisted beige trousers and, more importantly, where are your girls hiding under that big baggy blouse? Don’t they have push-up bras for saucy old ladies? Let’s get you into some spanx pronto. Not only will you get your ass back, but I bet they work really well with maxi-Poise’.

Dutifully, I’d pile old-lady future me into the micro-cosmic transporter machine and when we re-confabulated at the mall, I would shove my wrinkly old future-ass into some gorgeous garb. Perhaps a structured sunflower-yellow short sleeved frock would set off my latest blue-rinse? After all, I won’t attract my sixth husband looking like a wall-flower. Old-aged billionaires demand ladies with spark. Might as well make the most of my years of learning, if you know what I mean… eh eh eh.

The only thing wrong with my time travel fantasy is that if I fixed all my past fashion faux pas and created an ultra cool infallible future me, the grandkids would have nothing to look at, no questions to ask, certainly nothing to giggle and point at, thanks very much. Now be quiet and eat your peas!

The pictures on the shelves at ‘fashion-Granny’s house’ would be pretty uniform. Hot little black dress circa 1987: chicest kid in kindy. Hot little black dress circa 1999: most glamorous at high school formal. Hot long white dress circa 2012, 2015, 2020, 2021, 2040… What else for a wedding but ivory Oscar De La Renta? Perfect each and every time. ‘Boring’, the kids would yawn, just another picture of Gran looking absolutely right.

What’s missing is the embarrassing evidence that makes life just a little bit more fun. Particularly for those who are at the laughing end. The time Granny wore those tassled knee-high cowboy boots to the P&T night at school. Embarrassing! Not to mention the wildly inappropriate vintage mini-dress she wore every single day of her working life. Worst of all was her absolute belief in the appropriateness of overalls for all occasions. Even when she won that Oscar. She sure had personality, that mistake-making Gran.

That is, before the time-space-fashion continuum was forever disrupted.

The highly fashionable version of me, ‘fashion Granny’, might be cool. But she’s too cool. No-one dares interrupt her. She’s always too busy polishing her thousand perfect patent black Chanel pumps and muttering to herself and her creepy hairless cats. Even as a girl, she would never go on dates. She was too busy shopping to hang out at the interchange. If by some twist of fate, she got married, all of her husbands would eventually dump her. She would never go camping, or muss up her hair or go to a rodeo, and she would always try to make her ‘man-bags’ enter ‘fashions on the field’ . ‘ARGHHH!’, they would scream in frustration. ‘I am so sick of winning this every single year, we always get so much hate mail! Can’t you just be a bit less perfect!?’

The divorces would take up so much of her time that she would forget to write. The film script that was meant to win a big award would float into the sky and become lost. And it would all be my fault. I went back in time and stole her mistakes. I made her perfect. But just like Rapunzel, she is unable to escape her own rigid castle walls. But unlike Rapunzel she simply can’t let her hair down.

Only seeing the misery of perfection could I know that when I gave her Billabong, she needed Hang Ten. Without being teased, she could never know the sweetness of humility. Without being poor, she would never need to be creative. I ruined the whole messy, ugly, cringe-worthy but absolutely necessary plan. If could go back in time and fix all my mistakes, there would be no pictures to mark how far I’d come. How could I possibly know my potential if I couldn’t look back at the obstacles I’ve overcome? The frilly shirt thing was a big one. But I got through. And I will survive bad fashion again!

I also know I will at some point in the future be disgustingly misguided in my fashion choices. I will be swayed by magazines, pop-stars and tragically, will revert to my teenage years by the time I hit eighty. It will be a grand return to girly pirate floral chic. There’s no changing it. There’s no Delorean. It’s gorgeous, ugly, weird destiny. And I will embrace it. Cowabunga dude!

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