For over a hundred years there have been many iterations of denim in one form or another. I have never been a big fan of jeans until 10 years ago, since they were uncomfortable for wheelchair wear. With textile advances, which incorporate spandex into the denim fabric, I find them exceedingly comfortable and fashionable. There is one particular item, popular in the 80s, which repulses me especially when worn by women. What was once farmer’s functional wear and favored by widowers past 60, who have given up on grooming, has found its place in the fashion world. It once again has reared its unflattering, disfiguring existence. Item in question? The OVERALL.
Although it is difficult to style overalls with confidence, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Few women can wear paper bags and look amazing, so attitude, edge and indelible non-trendy accessories are necessary.
Last week I relented and bought a pair of overalls. I wanted to see if there was anyway I could feel attractive and if this piece of clothing would hinder my movements in a wheelchair. I paired my overalls with a St. John Couture jacket, strands of pearls and Prada ballet shoes. The minute I looked into the mirror I felt drained. Overalls have the mark of the devil and suck the life out of you. My friend who helped photograph me, took one look at my outfit and remarked “oh honey, not even Prada can help you with that mess.” I agreed, but we soldiered on anyway.
Exhausted and unhappy by the end of our shoot, I left undeterred. I had to figure out a way to wear these overalls, make them look fashionable or find a location best suited to wear them. I needed to find a beauty look that would complement my denim outfit.
What popped into mind was the way models from the Marni fall runway 2014 collection were styled. Marni’s hair pro, Paul Hanlon, used “brains” and “bird’s nests” to describe his coif creations. I agree but would add, “You know after a baby is born and the after-birth and placenta is still wrapped around his or her head making the hair matted, thready and sticky? Yeh, that is the look I am going for. Bird’s nests, babies and birds.”
I needed to be comfortable, so wearing a pair of designer strappy sandals was not an option. (By the way, I hate that look. Pairing overalls with $800 5 inch strappy shoes won’t disguise the fact that you are wearing shitty overalls, nor does it add irony to this look.) I opted for a 20 year old pair of Doc Martens, which still have oil paint from my fine art painting days. I threw on my blue Alain Mikli sunglasses, Jamie Kreitman white tee with chiffon bow (had to add some femininity to this ensemble) and drove around town searching for the perfect spot for my photo op.
Found! A downtown bus stop, heavily littered though a trash bin sits nearby. I sat there and thought “What is worse than sitting in overalls on a hot sunny day? The American mass transit system.” I live 30 miles outside of NYC and the bus system is severely deficient. Buses do not run regularly on weekends and make so many local stops that you could write a dissertation by the time you reach your destination. So I sat there patiently waiting, while noshing on a bag of Howard’s Pork Fried Skins.
Spurned by a suburban bus driver, I had to try one more look before tossing the fried skin bag into a dumpster behind my building complex.
I decided to reach for my Denim Urban Turban, designed for a fashion post of mine last year. I wanted to be swathed in denim head to toe to pay tribute to the Levi Strauss legacy. What better way than to twist a pair of jeans around your head?
An hour went by, people avoided making eye contact with me as buses kept passing me by. Feeling defeated, I looked at my friend Marty and our conversation continued like this:
Me: I feel better in this outfit than my initial one with Prada and St. John. Why aren’t people making eye contact with me? I am so approachable and make friends everywhere I go.
Marty: Dude, you are wearing a pair of jeans twisted on your head. You look insane. People fear you, even though you are in a wheelchair.
Me: Thanks for your honesty, but that comment gives me the confidence akin to an obese woman, adult acne and bad posture. What now?
Marty: As long as I know you, you have been able to pull everything off. Everything but this. Don’t feel defeated. You tried. You know what tastes better than pork rinds right now on a hot sunny day? Sangria. Let’s go get some.
Me: Mmmmm, salt and sangria. You are my hero. Screw overalls, I am going to feel great in minutes.
Even though I didn’t make a fashion statement that worked that day, I did prove something to myself. Overalls look best on a select few women. These include: celebrities walking around makeup free on Rodeo Drive, pushing a stroller while waiting around for a movie script and Brooklyn gals mulching their roof top organic gardens to sell their heirloom tomatoes in mason jars at $15 a pop on Etsy.com. Unfortunately, they don’t work for women in wheelchairs. After several glasses of sangria I had to use the bathroom. Try wiggling out of a pair of overalls when nature is making a very loud call. Not easy. Looks like I will be sticking to jeans, pants and dresses.