Posting this as it was exactly thirty years ago. How far fashion (and I) have come!
Picture the fall of 1982. I was in 8th grade, in the midst of an awkward phase that lasted until my 28th birthday. My school picture features an unfortunate poodle perm and an expression of what I thought was ennui, but what looks now more like constipation.
Daily life in Nogales, Arizona was unbearable in the way only 12 year old girls could possibly understand. I was too young to be a proper moody teenager, too old for Barbie, and developed just enough that no clothing fit. Shopping was not just a chore, it was outright torture. My choices were either caftans (what every tween dreams of wearing to school!) or Sears Husky brand boy’s jeans and T-shirts. Remember, this was 1982…fashionable plus sizes are at least a decade away.
Life dragged on until I got the news of a lifetime: my Dad had landed a temporary assignment in…Miami! For six glorious months I didn’t have to attend the school I hated with the PE teacher that confused humiliation with motivation and Lawrence …who I had loved (in the way only 12 year old girls can love) since third grade but who just wouldn’t notice me. For six glorious months we would live in an apartment complex with…a pool!
Understandably, the fall of 1982 holds a special place in my heart. I had maybe 30 minutes of schoolwork every day that was mailed back to my teachers, so my Mom and I had a lot of free time. We dug into Miami with gusto, and I’m sure we did lots of cultural activities that certainly must have expanded my horizons. I’d tell you about them if I remembered a single one!
Well, there is one. Pre-Kardishians, THE place to shop in Miami was Bal Harbour on Collins Avenue. We certainly didn’t belong at Bal Harbour; so I am eternally grateful for a lesson my mom taught me by example: if you act like you belong, people will assume you belong. So we sauntered through Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, browsing even though the super-super clearance racks were over our budget.
I’m sure the Missoni store in Bal Harbour was just a store, but to me it was a revelation. In my mind 30 years later, I see clouds parting and hear a choir at the entrance. Inside were these amazing garments in the signature zigzag pattern that were cut…one size! Basically, they were caftans, but in a Missoni print even a caftan was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. I remember trying one on, modeling it proudly, and imagining myself parading down the runway like on CNN’s “Style with Elsa Klensch”. I don’t even remember how much it was, I just know it was so far out of our price range that I didn’t even try to beg for it as a Christmas present.
Not to worry, I didn’t leave empty handed. At the register were sample sized bottles of perfume with bottles featuring the zig zag pattern for twelve dollars. I bought one with my own money and made that 10 ML of perfume last three years. It didn’t even smell very good as I remember, but to this day if I was to play password and the clue was “classy”, I would say “Missoni”. My Mom bought me a Missoni scarf for Christmas two years ago and I burst into tears of joy.
Recently Target premiered their Missoni line. I am torn. While I’m happy to see the democratizion of fashion, I’ve learned in the last 30 years that there is value in scarcity. Sometimes the desire for luxury is more rewarding than the luxury item itself. Will I love my Missoni for Target tote the way I loved that silly perfume bottle?
Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I will. (And I do.)