Archive for the ‘Wearables’ Category

A Change of Attire

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

orange mohair sweaterSteph and I had Labor Day brunch at the neighbors, and we ate on the back porch dressed in shorts and sweatshirts. Josie mentioned the cool air always got her looking forward to breaking out the fall wardrobe.

I get a similar feeling  this time of year. I think it harkens back to the days of wearing my new back to school clothes for the first time. But it wasn’t always unbridled anticipation—there were fashion faux pas even then. The one featuring Eddie C. and the black and yellow jacket is probably the most tragic.

Back in fifth grade, Eddie C. was about the coolest cat there was. He was a small kid, with hair coiffed in the manner of David Cassidy. Part Portuguese, he looked tan year-round. He lived in a big house with columns, in a new development that his father built. His mom was tall and blond, and Eddie was always dressed in the latest thing.

One day he came to school in a black “Mac” jacket with a big wide yellow stripe around the middle. This was a very smart jacket, and I did not hesitate to express my admiration. That very day, I came home from school and my mom told me she had picked up a new coat for me. The elation at seeing the black jacket with the yellow stripe lying on my mom’s bed lasted exactly as long as it takes a fifth grade brain to figure the social consequences of showing up the next day with the same black and yellow coat you had been praising on your friend the day before.

This mohair sweater I picked up at a flea market many years ago, even though the orange is not great with my skin tone. It’s a bit Mr. Rogers (Can you say ‘sweater?’ Sure you can.) and I don’t wear it all that much, but I do like it. I wonder what Eddie C. would think.

Jack vs. Chuck

Monday, August 10th, 2009

jack purcells are better than chuck taylors uhuhThere was a time when I wore Chuck Taylors, and not only in classic black or white. I’m slightly mortified to confess I had a pair of orange lowtops while in my 30s. In college, I immortalized a pair of red hightops in a painting that riffed on Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe.

It was for a design class assignment that was supposed to demonstrate how warm colors come to the foreground and cool colors recede. I painted the main figures—the nude and the two guys in funny hats and frock coats—and added the red Chucky Ts to the young woman’s heap of clothing in the foreground. Instead of the background being that other woman searching for her contact lens, I put in some bluish mountains and a tyrannosaurus rex coming up over a ridge.

I guess a lot of kids draw their sneakers, but I was always proud of this bit of classwork. I gave the painting to my brother, and it hangs in his apartment to this day.

After college I discovered Jack Purcells. I didn’t completely abandon Chucks until many years later, but I favored Purcells for most occassions. They seemed sturdier, more grown-up, less punk but still plenty casual and fun. They were also not nearly as popular, a big fashion plus. When people mistook them for All Stars, I could enthusiastically enlighten them.

I currently have three decently worn pairs, one blue, one black, one white. Those were the colors you could get them in until, well I’m not sure when. I bought these on eBay when Converse was sold to Nike in 2003 and they stopped making them for a while, or so the rumor went, and I thought they might be my last pairs ever. Now, rather unfortunately, they are available in a wide array of hideous configurations.

Quick Jack Facts:

Jack Purcell was a Canadian badminton champion in the 1930s. B.F. Goodrich made the sneaker Jack designed until 1970 when Converse bought the rights. In America, badminton is pronounced bad mitten. Another reason to be proud to be born in the U.S.A.


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