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JANICE WELLS: Family portraits and ensuing wardrobe therapy

A black crow just doesn’t belong in this picture. - Aster and Iris Photography
A black crow just doesn’t belong in this picture. - Aster and Iris Photography - Contributed

For my 70th birthday last December, Daughters decided we should do a family portrait and purchased a gift certificate for that purpose. The certificate languishes in my drawer so they have been putting their collective feet down.

Daughter #2 gets a family portrait done every year for their Christmas cards and had the session booked for the Thanksgiving weekend. I very recently had the brainwave to use the gift certificate, simplify things, save them some money and combine the two events with half of the 45-minute session used for them and half used with the rest of us.

The million-dollar question of course, with so little time is what will I wear?

This is going to be outdoors, one of those healthy-looking pictures with fall colours, everyone dressed outdoorsy and apple cheeked.

I can fake the apple cheeks but I didn’t have to look in my wardrobe to know that I’d have trouble doing outdoorsy with the contents; blacks and blues and the scattered purple and red.

I used to favour fall colours. Then I “had my colours done” (remember that?) and was found to be a “sallow winter” which meant I should not be wearing any orange or brown tones.

It really was spot on.

As soon as I started wearing jewel tones and switched from peach tones lipstick to rose tones I did look better, as Janine and others told me with such surprise that I started wondering how dull had I looked to begin with.

Then black started nudging colours out. Somewhat coincidentally as I think about it, with black becoming a regular visitor to my frame of mind.

F.U. wouldn’t wear black. He said it was an old people’s colour. He didn’t even wear black when he was an old people. I, on the other hand, am now avoiding black like the plague. Ha ha.

Daughters came over to see if there was any hope in my existing wardrobe. Poor things; they managed to cobble together a few outfits which barely passed muster. The winner was made up of clothes whose collective age was greater than mine, the unavoidable black being nothing a nice scarf wouldn’t cheer up. Ha ha again.  

First I was happy that I didn’t have to go shopping. Then I realized that I didn’t want to be the black crow amongst the pretty birds in what will be my first family portrait since the girls were small and very likely my last.

I remain ever faithful to the thrift-store creed, but treasures have eluded me just when I need them most. I did put together what I thought was a very appropriate outfit with the only black being inside a sporty Jones New York jackety thingy and mostly concealed by a smart scarf. OK, it was a black and white scarf but all together it struck the right note of cool boomer. In my opinion. Yet another ha ha.

Dressed in my new finery I went out to lunch with some female members of my family. A cousin sporting multi-coloured Italian leather ankle boots observed that it might be OK if I was sitting on a pumpkin. In fairness she didn’t know it was an outdoor setting. The rest sort of murmured and shook their heads. Daughter #1 had no such compunctions and dealt the final blow with a fashion ‘f’ word: frumpy. 

“But its Jones New York” I cried in defence of my jacket. No one was as impressed with that or the fact that I got it for $7.99 as I was.

There I was, left standing in the middle of Murray’s Café as they tried to be kind and avoided my eyes.

So I have started venturing into the “real” stores.

Today, dressed in Jones New York, Eddie Bauer, and Ralph Lauren with my Turkish leather shoes on my feet at a total cost of just over $20, I will walk the retail side again.

If you hear that I’ve collapsed it will be from sticker shock or exhaustion and probably a combination of both.

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at janicew@nf.sympatico.ca. (or jwelloeo@hotmail.com.)


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