Privilege Blog

I May Need Help

I went shopping yesterday. For clothing. This is an unusual happening. I haven’t shopped for clothes in ages except my sortie to Target, which was really more for existential dislocation than purchase. And I haven’t shopped for clothes that weren’t work clothes in centuries. But I went out for drinks with some of my colleagues from my misplaced job, and I saw one of them looking at me oddly. “What,” I said, “You are amazed at my wildly stylish look and the depths to which I have sunk?” “Something like that,” he said.

Below is what I was wearing. Yes, really. Notice the High WASP behavior in which you just always wear the same jewelry and carry the same “good” bag.

Really, What Would Your Mother Say?
Really, What Would Your Mother Say? – by High WASP on

These are clothes that belonged to my kids and even my kids had the good sense to leave behind. Honestly, my mother would never recover if she knew I left the house like that. My mother is a good woman. She wouldn’t judge me. But some part of her would wonder what she had done wrong. Or whether I had some terrible sorrow I wasn’t telling her about. And, more pratically, since I cannot live forever on cute photos of my son eating baby sweet potatoes and the sight of my garden out my back window, I will need to return to work. And let’s just say that if I were to meet someone as I walked around wearing those clothes, the likelihood that anyone in a position to hire me would be favorably swayed approaches zero. So. I went shopping.

Most importantly I needed shoes. But here’s the problem. High WASPs don’t want to wear uncomfortable shoes. Actually, they won’t do it unless they are winning an award or something. There is no point in my going all Stacy and Clinton and getting myself a cute green jacket and some wacky pumps because I won’t put them on. My goal here was only to find some things comfortable enough to put them on and respectable enough that I don’t have to duck into a doorway should I spot someone I might know in a professional context. That’s it. That’s all I have to do. So I got shoes. Then I went to Banana Republic and got pants. I might also go to Levi’s and get some boyfriend jeans.

But Naturalizers?

At Least When You Leave the House...
At Least When You Leave the House… – by High WASP on

And then, even if the above is OK, then what on earth do I wear to replace my son’s Santa Barbara Surf Shop sweatshirt? Jeans jacket? Too butch. Cardigan? Whatever it is has to be of throw in the washing machine caliber. Hoodie? People I am 52 years old, despite any delusions of indie hip I may cultivate. Lordy lordy lordy I may have to go back to the mall twice in one week. Save me.

14 Responses

  1. I rely on a trench to get me through this time of year. I always feel sassy in it, and it works with all of those things and makes me feel put-together. Maybe you need a trench?

  2. Trenches are way fab but they make me feel all crisp and detective-ish and I am looking to replace the feeling of going out in a blanky. Wait I am trying to replace a blankie that reminds me of my son. Wait that is probably impossible. Your idea is correct.

  3. V. nice. Am particularly fond of the soccer ball. I certainly put my time in on the sidelines. I was, however, forbidden to shout my boychild’s name. A rule I usually flouted. Thanks for passing on this site, I did not know of it.

  4. 1. Shawl-collar swing coat with a scarf. (Scarves are the key to cuddly to me, with gloves running a close second.)

    2. Pendleton-esque jacket. Preferably with a scarf in an obviously clashing plaid. I found a mint vintage Pendleton in Stewart made expressly for Disneyland’s Frontierland. No shit. Way cute. It looks insanely great worn with the old Burberry cashmere scarf I found in a garbage dump in the Hamptons during Spring Break of 1981. If I could still pull off red lipstick, it’d be off-the-charts awesome, but I have no patience for something that high maintenance anymore.

  5. Pendleton! Yes! I had forgotten about Pendleton! Just saying that word makes me feel like a teenager again. Which is almost as good as having a blankie. Wait. Actually maybe better.

    I can’t wear red lipstick unless I really think I can channel Paloma Picasso.

  6. Just a passerby and thought I would offer my two cents. How about jeans, ballet slipper shoes (from Target, $12.95, comes in black or gold beige, SUPER comfortable), a v-neck comfortable fitted t-shirt from Target (in pretty much any color), and a longer sweater wrap in a neutral color, like camel or gray? That is my uniform on the weekends, in case I run into colleagues. Goes perfect with jewelry and cute bag.

  7. The ballet slippers are really comfortable? No joke? Hmm. May have to gird my loins and get back over to Target. Thanks.

  8. I am not a WASP, as I’m not white, but I did grow up in Simsbury, Connecticut, so maybe that’s close enough.
    Anyway, I totally hear you on the posh bag / jewelry thing. I wear my silver Tiffany necklace all the time. And all my stuff is in my black leather Lancel tote, and I’m too lazy to switch bags. So, even if I’m running to the gym in a sweatshirt, or going to the supermarket in crappy jeans and old sandals, that’s what I end up accessorizing with.

  9. Coincidence of coincidences. Or perhaps sheer global reality at work. I see you are in Hong Kong. The company that recently misplaced my job has headquarters in Shanghai as well as Silicon Valley. I spent much of 2005-2006 in Pudong, which I think of as the Hayward, CA of China. Maybe Fremont. I never made it to Hong Kong but my coworkers do a lot of projects there. Anyway, in my opinion, the cultural and physical diffusion of the last generation means that High WASP is about the attitude. I say you are High WASP if you want to be. Even if it’s only on Tuesdays. And Simsbury CT is just icing on the cake.

  10. If I were you (which of course I can’t be…), I would wear nice straight leg or boot cut khakis, a button front shirt and a cardigan. For shoes maybe some cute flats or even some cute high style slip-on “sneakers.” It should be polished enough for any prospective employers or other networking contacts but still comfy enough for your purposes.

  11. May I chime in on the cardigan? Cardigans are perfect for anything and everything. I delight in a long cardigan with a belt (at least when I have a waist to emphasize) and the long-enough to be a button-front sweaterdress cardigan is the world's gift to traveling women. I bought the most delightful embroidered fleece cardigan – who would have thought such a thing existed? – at some strange department store in the Oakland Hills, and it is beautiful (and fleece!). I keep a cashmere cardigan rolled up in my bag for cool evenings (cashmere squishes so small). Yes, I even wore a cardigan to a Hell's Angel's party. Cashmere has the added bonus of a built-in excuse to pay someone else to wash it, though machine-wash-gentle and dry flat is not overly cumbersome for me. Else buy cheap fake cashmere in an outrageous color and know it will be pilled and unwearable in a year and enjoy it like a fleeting summer romance.

  12. I have been dying to get a fleece cardigan. A fleece jacket. All of the above. This fall. I also have my eye on a Pendleton jacket. Miraculously, a Pendleton outlet opened up right down the way.

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