The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Create Your Style


I went for food and stayed for music. 13 Stories playing Kittanning PA Riverfront Park. It was the Waves of Thunder Show. I missed the thunder. What’s the style of thunder enthusiasts? Lots of black and leather and logos and philosophies emblazoned across shirts and vests and hats. Tattoos. Men with long hair or scarves wound around their foreheads or bald men with dew rags. Tank tops and jeans. Possibly cigar smokers. These enthusiasts shared love of black and tattoos and long hair with punk rockers walking to concerts on the streets of the Inner Harbor of Baltimore two weeks ago. It’s a unisex style. It’s a communal style.

A woman talked one day of trying to create her style as a young woman. It’s not just about looking good. It’s about making a statement even to those who can’t read. Creating style foiled at times by cost or body shame or a job that wants you in their style. My styles changed with jobs. At one, it was business casual with the edict of no open-toed shoes. A toe fetish perhaps? Too much to have all those naked toes. As a mushroom miner, a uniform of jeans and old shirts and a headscarf. I kinda’ liked that style. It proclaimed physical work where you get dirty and might ruin clothes. And cheap. Any old thing might do.

Makeover shows dress nominees (put forth by friends and family who think the person needs help to dress themself) in the style that is right for your positive features and negative flaws. Enhance and detract. But one person’s negative might be another person’s positive. Remember Lauren Hutton with her toothy gap. It stayed and was the most memorable feature not because people were saying, “How ugly!” So maybe those makeover stylists help you out but the image is theirs. Might be your inner style or not.

My inner style harks back to my generation, the hippie generation. Long flowing multi-colored skirts with long flowing hair. But my hair is not thick or luxurious enough to fall long and flowing. My great-aunt, the one I was almost named for, had long hair, white by the time I knew her. It was not long and flowing either, but she gathered it up rolled into a bun secured with an ornate rhinestone-dotted comb.

My inner style denied and the outer style determined by cost and body shape. That discomfort with body shape fortified from birth by commercials and designers and movies and television. Easy to quote slogans about being comfortable in your own skin. A mountain to climb to reach that pinnacle of acceptance. I can’t wear that I thought as I sifted through the racks. Too young for me. Showing too much skin. Not the right size. Simply finding something a little appealing tagged color-of-the day. I don’t just shop thrift. I shop stores too for color and price and something I like. I admit it. I’m influenced by labels. Designer labels. Name-brand labels. Made in USA. Made in China. Made in Vietnam. Guilted by knowing some adult or child was paid pennies for making it. Even those expensive designer labels. Yet I still buy it.

The bow to my style was in the accessories. Hats. I love them. Once there were milliner shops devoted to them. There was a hat department on the second floor of the Arcade in Kittanning. The building still stands but the hats are gone. I just bought a batik hat at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Artist from North Carolina. And earrings. Long dangling ones. Not straight-as-an-arrow dangles. Curvy full-bodied dangles. Love ’em. The feeling of them bouncing off my neck. The noise of flicking them.  One of my most favorite, beaded ones that dangle so perfectly. Bought at the Hazen Flea Market years ago. Artistry.

Maybe you don’t need the whole package to reveal your inner style but one itsy-bitsy thing.

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