Wednesday

October 22nd, 2014

Reflections

Plaid returns dragging a checkered past

Lori Borgman

By Lori Borgman

Published August 22, 2014

Plaid returns dragging a checkered past

A press release I received said that what a girl wears on her first day of school is as important as what she wears to prom.

It sounds like a lot of pressure. Maybe it's true. But if the first day of school is akin to prom, can you still arrive for classes on a bus, or is a limo in order?

If that's not bad enough, there is even worse news in the world of fashion: Plaid is back.

Plaid was the fabric of my childhood—a fabric I will gladly return to the '60s. Schools required girls to wear skirts and dresses back then. Everything I wore was plaid. Red plaid, purple plaid, green plaid, brown plaid.

I had a plaid wardrobe that would have gotten me into any Catholic school in the city, but I wasn't Catholic. The only solid colors I saw were in my Crayon box.

All of my childhood memories are in plaid. There was the kindergarten red plaid dress with the white Peter Pan collar. There was the brown plaid dress that was a staple of early elementary. Before fourth grade a big box from our Sears catalog order arrived with our back-to-school clothes. And there it was, a short-sleeve, drop-waist dress in maroon plaid. I had now worn every color on the color wheel—in plaid.

In all my school pictures, I am wearing plaid. Wild curly hair and plaid. Maybe the plaid was an attempt to distract from the hair. It didn't work.

By seventh grade I'd finally grown tall enough to shop where other girls my age shopped. It would be "so long, kindergarten plaid." My mother took me shopping and bought me a beautiful wool skirt. It was plaid, a faux wrap-around sort of thing with a big gold safety pin. I developed a fondness for bagpipes.

I even had plaid pants. In home economics, every girl had to sew a pair of pants with a side zipper. I sewed plaid. Self-inflicted plaid. Who does such a thing to themselves?

To this day, plaid gives me bad fashion dreams, a deathly fear of wool car blankets, and I am unable to sit on a plaid sofa.

Well, now they're back—plaid dresses, plaid coats, plaid skirts, plaid shoes, plaid accessories and plaid pants. Just when you think there is nowhere plaid has not gone before, a clothing chain carrying fashionable plaid debuts the ultimate in plaid accessories—plaid leggings. A moment of silence, please.

Let me word this carefully. Leggings are, shall we say, delicate territory even when they are in a solid. But leggings in plaid, on an adult, perchance a well-endowed adult, will be a visual challenge to the person following. Plaid in motion. I don't know that it's been done before. But isn't that the point of fashion?

I suggest proceeding with caution. And preferably solids. Stripes if you must, or even animal prints, but, please—easy on the plaids. I speak from experience when I say recovery takes years.

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Lori Borgman is a newspaper essayist, author and speaker. Her newspaper column, appearing in more than 300 newspapers, touches on a wide array of topics ranging from the truth about nagging to the hazards of upper arm flab. She is also the author of the popular essay, "The death of Common Sense ".

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