Part 5:Best Friends and Sport Chic
It was late spring and in a few months, my pal Ann and I would go our separate ways—I was headed for Notre Dame Prep across town, and Ann was off to seventh grade at Hamilton Junior High in the neighborhood. Ann and I had been best friends since third grade. We were buddies in Girl Scouts, and we were absolutely inseparable. The day this photo was taken in my back yard, I wore a boat-neck pullover with three-quarter sleeves—a classic design, good for those of us with short necks, said my grandmother. It was risky to go with the stripes because they made me appear wider, but I loved that Jean Seberg Breton sailor look.
Ann was always been more of a no–frills type, and on this summer afternoon she sported a tailored white blouse, very classic, with clean lines. After college, she became a flight attendant and flew the friendly skies, wearing various versions of this tailored look over the years before she moved on to an entirely different sort of work. She lives in the Pacific Northwest now, and it’s a safe bet she still has a closet full of classic white shirts.
Part 6: Jackie Kennedy, the Pillbox, and Chanel
I was in eighth grade. Senator John F. Kennedy was running for President. He was young and tanned and he never wore a hat or an overcoat like my dad and all the other fathers did in winter. Mrs. Kennedy was young, slender, and chic. Up until now it seemed that President Eisenhower had been in the White House since the beginning of time, and first lady Mamie was an old lady, boring, with weird tightly curled bangs. I was into rock and roll, Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson and Ray Charles.
Jackie Kennedy was everywhere—with her Chanel suits, pink and orange, her pillbox hats, her fine boned face and wide smile. Awkward, chunky, an eighth grader wanting desperately to get to high school and grow up, I studied Jackie’s every outfit—in Life and Look magazines, on tv, in the newspaper. By now I was choosing my own clothes and shopping alone, armed with Mom’s Charge-It of Baltimore shopping plate and a spending limit of fifty dollars. For my Easter outfit that year, I got a navy wool suit with Chanel jacket and pleated skirt, a gold-toned circle pin with my initials engraved on it, bone colored pumps and a beige pillbox hat with a small veil. I added white gloves from Mom’s top dresser drawer to complete the look. I didn’t realize that Jackie was reed-thin, and that it would be best for me to avoid an open-pleat skirt like this one. The collarless jacket look I love, to this day. When I see this photo I feel as though I was secretly a 40 year old woman living in a 13 year old’s body. Thank God for what would come next– hemlines would rise, morphing into tunics over pants, girls (and then boys) would grow their hair very long, jeans would become the building block for any ensemble, patchouli oil would replace Chanel No. 5 purloined from Mom’s dresser. And the only pillbox hat around would be in a Bob Dylan song.