back to school

10 Aug

i miss going back to school.  not the school part, but the new clothes part.  my memories of back-to-school shopping are vivid and thinking back to that time makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

there are a few places in life where you feel totally yourself.  where it’s safe to be silly and maybe even a little bratty (if called for) and be surrounded by unconditional love.  back to school shopping with mom and my sister was one of those times.

starting in grade school and going pretty much into college, the three of us would designate a day in August to hit the stores and pull together outfits for the coming school year.  the excitement started in late july when the august issue of seventeen magazine was sent to the house.

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it was thick with serious knowledge and crisp pages of what we were to expect for style that season.  that magazine sat in its wrapper on the kitchen counter like a present i was too excited to open.  when the time was just right, i’d take it upstairs, close my door, lay on my bed (on my stomach), open it up and slowly review each ad and editorial.  only after i was done and i’d let some time pass would i let my little sister take a look.

we were totally spoiled.  i’ll admit that right now.  it was the one time of year where we just went crazy and stocked up on all the fall and winter clothes, shoes, bags – everything.  it was GIRL POWER all the way and dad always insisted on a fashion show once we got home.

so to understand the comment i made above about back-to-school shopping and being totally yourself – you have to know joan.  joan is my mom and you can read more about her here and here.

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my mom doesn’t mince words… at all.  she tells it how it is.  not one of those people that will say “looks so cute” and then say in her inside voice “not so much.”  her inside voice is her outside voice.  and the best part about that is she is my mom.  not someone who could be swayed by other intentions.  i know my mom has my best interest in mind.  so B-T-S shopping became this time of extreme family bonding. we laughed, joked and threw clothes over doors.  we tried on millions of clothes. the best was all three of us getting in one dressing room.  sometimes we laughed so hard that we had to gather ourselves together – wiping smeared mascara and tears from our eyes before exiting the stall. 

mom would sit on the little stool and direct:

“katie, give that top to amy, that color looks better on her.”

“amy, those pants are very slimming but the top is too short.”

“amy, stop standing on your tippy toes and making that silly face.” <laughter>  

“oooh  oooh, i like that!  that is cute, let me get more colors.”

together we went through the preppy phase where it was all about wide wale corduroys, button-down shirts and penny loafers. then we struggled through the grunge phase of ripped jeans.  we trampled through the limited and the limited express.  in high school, i ended up working at the limited because i knew their inventory better than they did.

we always had lunch at the food court and did a recap of our purchases and then hit it again.  at the end of the day, we got a diet coke at the mcdonalds drive through, went home and proceeded again to take inventory of our purchases by laying everything out by outfit on mom and dad’s bed.  only then did we start to think about which one would become the big FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL outfit but we had time for that.

my favorite part of the day was at dinner when at the urging of my mom, my dad would INSIST on seeing everything in the way of a fashion show where he would put on some duran duran or loverboy <whatever us kids listened to> and we’d parade up and down the stairs and into the family room, pivot, step up on the mantel and show off our goods while dad ooohed and ahhhed.  it made us laugh because we knew it wasn’t his cup of tea but he always played along.

how very blessed i was to be able to do that and have those clothes but most of all it’s the memories i cherish the most.

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