I can admit it now. Growing up, I was not a fashionista. My goal, according to my parent, was to go to school and learn, not worry about looking cute. Based on that premise, all clothing purchased was not to look cute but to last for as long as possible.
This included my school shoes. For me, it was those dreaded black and white Oxfords or, as I called them, the shoes that never died, and you could not kill them. Believe me, I tried: primarily by daily scraping my feet along the sidewalk on the way to school and back. Other attempts to destroy them soon followed.
They also required nightly care. Every night I was required to polish them, paying special attention not get black polish on the white part. To complete this picture, the shoes that never died were worn with knee socks of various colors to match my outfit du jour.
Growing up, Home Economics was a required course. Having always been creative, I loved it. The first year we studied cooking. Naturally, I enjoyed that because we got to eat whatever we made—cookies, cupcakes and such.
Year Two, we learned simple sewing techniques, starting with making an apron. Back in the day, women wore aprons over their clothes to protect them from getting dirty. They typically had more than one so they always had a clean one when cooking.
Our next project was learning to make a skirt—a gingham skirt to be exact. For those unfamiliar with gingham, it is a fabric comprised of small squares. My skirt was purple, which is still a favorite color of mine.
The skirt we made had an elastic waist and was trimmed with Rickrack at the hem. What’s Rickrack, you are probably asking? Rickrack is a flat, narrow braid, woven in a zigzag form, used as trimming for clothing or curtains. The braid is made of cotton or polyester fabric and typically stitched to the edges of items.
In hindsight, I should have seen it coming. As you recall from earlier essays, my mother didn’t believe in wasting anything. Nor was she concerned with how crazy I looked in the eyes of my peers. So I should have anticipated what came next.
Picture it: there I was wearing my purple gingham skirt complete with a Rickrack hem with a white blouse. (Don’t forget to add a pair of white knee socks.) Then add my black and white Oxfords. Finally, throw in two long braids hanging down my back…in the eighth grade!
Mother often said that my getting good grades throughout my school years was because I was not distracted by worrying about what to wear every day like so many of my classmates. Yeah, that was probably why.
Author Carol Gee
Retired military Air Force Veteran Author, Columnist and Motivational Speaker
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