Every now and then we fall in love with something that just isn’t right for us. Rather than give it up, we ask: what can I do to make it work for me? At least as far as clothes are concerned, there are lots of tricks you can do. Dyeing, taking in seams, raising hemlines, and putting decorations over holes are just some of the ways you can keep the things you love out of the storage boxes and in closets on hangers where you can use them.
On a trip to a thrift shop several years ago, I came across a perfectly good black wool sweater with rows and rows of pink piggies on it. I loved the pink piggies, but I loathed the sweater’s tight round collar. That style just doesn’t look good on me. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to give up the wacky little piggies. To add to their allure, they were priced to fly out the door, it being the end of sweater season, which sealed the deal for me. This picture gives you some idea what the sweater originally looked like even though it's now missing both arms, and has been shrunk in hot water and laundry soap.
At the time I bought the sweater, I also didn’t like that the piggies were so highly regimented. One row all facing left, the next row all facing right, as if they were doing military drills. These piggies needed to cut loose, which meant I would have to cut the sweater up and do something completely unsweaterly with them.
Because I am all thumbs - and all untrained thumbs - the very simplest solution came to me. First I had to shrink the sweater so the wool would not unravel. Then I could cut up the piggies into single squares, spray starch and iron them to stay flat, skewer each square on the world’s largest safety pin (or kilt pin, which sounds more fashionable), and then link all the pins together into a necklace.
I went to Steinlauf & Stoller, where huge safety pins cost $1 each, placed them end to end on a table to see how many pins would make a good sized necklace, and then bought a few more for good measure. (Always buy a bit extra. You never know…) It turned out I needed ten pins, so that meant eight piggies (no piggies on the top two pins at the back of the neck), and I discovered I could get all the piggies I needed using only the arms of the sweater.
After the necklace was completed, four whole piggies were left - just enough material to make cuffs from. So two of the extra pins I bought came in handy much sooner than expected.
(This reminds me of a story about Joe Kennedy and Gloria Swanson. It is said that when he bought her a luxurious bracelet, she put it on and was enraptured by the way it looked on her. Then, said she cleverly, “But I have TWO wrists!”, thereby forcing Mr. Kennedy, who had perhaps underestimated his mistress, to have a matching set made. No Kennedy for me, and no matching luxuries, but don’t you think the similarity of the inspiration is uncanny?) [Photo of Ms. Swanson in matching bracelets by Getty Images, in case you can't read the subtle print across her chin.]
I decided to wear the piggies today, but Jean and I have a reputation to live up to, and now our adoring public demands to see us in hats. I have a lot of piggies left, but this morning I had little time before our standing brunch date. (Actually, we sit. Standing date is a silly expression.) So I got out my black fleece neckwarmer (which I have always worn as a hat), found a stray pink piggie, rummaged for my collection of small safety pins (I get them when my dry cleaner pins my newly pressed pants to wire hangers – I KNEW they’d come in handy one day) and, while on the bus, pinned the singleton piggie to the hat.
I could have basted it down with black thread, but that would mean I’d eventually have to cut the stitches off if I ever wanted to put something else on the hat instead.
Plus the small echo of the huge safety pins proved too hard to resist. At left is how to manage and organize your pin collection if you have a mild case of OCD.
The irony of wearing huge safety pins long after the demise of the punk movement, and the knowledge that no real self-respecting punk would want to be seen with a woman my age in safety pins, is not lost on me. But I tell myself that when I get to the nursing home, where I might well have to start wearing safety pins on a daily basis, the nurses will love me because I won’t fight against wearing them. And if they have a contest for the best accessorized safety pins, I’ll win it every year. (That is, of course, unless I'm joined there by Jean, in which case all bets are off. See her entry on pink duckie diaper pins dated Sept. 7, 2009.)
Found this photograph on Fashionista.com several weeks ago. LOVE the leggings. LOVE the shoes, which we couldn't possibly wear. (Who could?? Notice the model is lying down.)
When will a blythe spirit of such creativity come our way again?