Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Cost of "Dressing Down"

My daughter started high school this year and one of the highlights of this milestone for me was the fact that she would be wearing a school uniform. As much as some of the parents (myself included) of her elementary school campaigned for them, every vote was defeated. I am all for expressing one's individuality by the "I'm with stoopid" T-shirt you are wearing, but I have always felt you could do that on your own time - that's what weekends are for! I wore a uniform in high school and even though I hated it, looking back, it was good for me. (god - I've turned into my mother!) After 10 years of enduring a non-uniform environment, she is now able to stumble out of bed in the morning and slip mindlessly into the same outfit every day. With the exception of "dress down" days. Tomorrow is such a day. Ah, yes, "dress down day". These days roll around about every two months and the wardrobe planning goes on days, sometimes weeks in advance. She is presently in her artsy, I hate pop music, rocker phase. She has not gone goth on me (yet), but there is a definite leaning toward anything black. The lower half of her body is always a pair of jeans. The top half is always some sort of black T-Shirt with some self-expression slashed across the front and sometimes the back as well. To date the choices have consisted of her "My Chemical Romance" T-shirt - an absolute original made for her by one of her friends who goes to a specialty "art high school". I am only allowed to wash it in cold water and hang it to dry, as it has craft paint and sparkly stuff on it that would get ruined in the dryer. I comply. The next most popular choice has been her Centauri Arts Camp - "Arts for Life" T-shirt - a souvenir of her 2 weeks at that camp last summer (she is counting down the days - literally - until she heads back there this summer). I could describe more, but I'll stop here - I think you get the picture. For me, this has been wonderful - low cost, no trips to the mall (she hates those anyway - "I'm not a sheep mom - why would I want some dumb shirt that advertises some stupid store?") It is completely amazing to me that she really is not influenced by the marketing of the Hollisters and Abercrombie and Fitches of the world. God knows, I was totally sucked into that vortex when I was her age. (admittedly sometimes even now). She really doesn't care much about "labels" but that could all be changing. About two weeks ago - she discovered the designer Ed Hardy, also known as "the godfather of modern tattoo". He puts his "tattoos" on everything from hats to sunglasses. I was dragging her through Winners one day and we were perusing the bags (she does have a wee thing about purses), and there it was. Black, shiny patent leather, shoulder strap, inside zips, outside zips, a rectangular bulky looking thing with brightly coloured "skull art" on the outside with the words "Love Kills Slowly" scrawled around the creepy tattoo-like image. There was no doubt, this was an original! She did need a new book bag I was told. OK, I thought it was kinda cool too, so I said - sure - until I saw the price tag. What? Two hundred dollars? No way! (apparently Mr. Hardy's tattoo-like designs fetch big bucks from the parents of the kids who wear them). We walked around the store and I gave it some thought. She didn't start begging - she knows that never works with me. What does work however, is the fact that she rarely asks for much in the way of clothes or jewellery, in fact, I am usually trying to talk her into being a little more fashion forward. So, I told her she could have the bag, but she would have to pay for half out her own bank account (she's a saver!) and a deal was struck. Yesterday, I zipped into Winners again looking for some flip-flops for our up-coming vacation and I spotted them. An almost matching pair of Ed Hardy high top slip-on sneakers, the skull art almost invisible amidst the colourful abstract painting on either side of each shoe. No laces, just some hidden little snaps on the inside of the cleverly designed tongues of the shoes. They are meant to look as though you can't be bothered tying up your one hundred and fifty dollar high-tops, perhaps you lost the laces at that Slipknot concert last month, who cares? I examined them carefully, trying to figure out if they were worth the exorbitant price, when I noticed another price tag. SRP - $150.00 - OUR PRICE - $89.99. Better, but still unconvinced they were worth it, I took a spin through the store, self-talking my way through each department. Thirty minutes later, justifications solid in my mind, I grabbed the shoes and headed for the check-out. Maybe she wouldn't even like them and I could bring them back, but I'll take them home and see what she thinks. Maybe they would be too matchy-matchy with the bag (no - that's what I would think - she is a novice at this stuff). I'm always excited to give her something I'm pretty sure she is going to love - what mother isn't? Even the box they come in is cool - all skully and artsy. She no sooner came through the door after school and before she could even take off her coat, I thrust the bag into her hands. They were a hit......but too small! Into the car - back to the store - please, please have the larger size. YES! - they had them. All is right in the world again. The timing on this pair of "tattoo art for the feet" couldn't be better either. The slip-on cheapo skully sneakers she has been "living" in since the end of last summer (another one of my "winning" picks) are about ready for the bin - this will seem like an effortless transition. On the way to school this morning, she told me she is planning to wear her colourful hoodie - it's white with cartoon-like multi-coloured heads all over it (with only an occasional skull mixed in), jeans (always), and her new Ed Hardy shoes. Maybe this artsy footwear is having a positive influence on her clothing choices too - at least she's not wearing black..... again! Let's just hope she doesn't decide she likes his art so much that she wants it inked onto her body as well (we'll cross that bridge when we come to it). Like I said earlier, so glad she wears a uniform to school now. It's saving me so much money!

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