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Tarting Up A ’78 35th Reunion Jacket

Some people customize their clothing with great good taste.

If however you’ve a mind for a little tarting, here’s what I did to my Princeton Reunions jacket. What started out all Tommy Bahamas Tuxedo, for our 25th…

Princeton 25th Reunion Jacket

…wound up like this, for the 35th. I could deconstruct, but I suspect you will do a better job of analysis than I.

Princeton Class of '78 35th Reunion Jacket - All Tarted Up

I’m not sure if it gets better or worse…

Close Up of Princeton '78 Reunion Jacket

…close up. Or from the back, for that matter. The ribbon sash sets tigers crawling ever so fetchingly around the waistline.

Princeton 25th Reunion Jacket - Customized with a sash and then some

Blame Britex, the venerable San Francisco fabric house. I took bales of lace and tulle to Jacquie’s Sew and Sew in Palo Alto, who did a great job of well, tarting. The rest will live in infamy.

35th Reunion, with roommates

The charming, smiling, dear woman on the left is my college roommate, Catherine. We lived together 3 of 4 years, having been thrown together as freshmen only to discover an affinity. She’s from Houston, I’m from the Bay Area, both of us now returned home are still friends. I just have to remark on what good shape she’s in. I’ll tell you that she runs, long distances, in Houston, as a small indicator of her mettle.

Catherine had the good manners to don the 35th Reunion costume as we were given it, albeit with an especially crisp and polished approach. The theme was “Hollywood,” and our 35th shirt was printed with film strip cartoons of Reunion logos past. Somehow I took a detour to Vegas, all Georgette Heyer Goes Behind The Candelabra. I involved a lace J. Crew tank, Forever21 polyester crepe and lace skirt, and gold Havaianas. If you’re going to tart it up, do so on the cheap.

My toenails however, were high end Deborah Lippman glitter. If you’re going to tart it up, go head to toe.

For our 50th, I’m going to request a costume of black and white seersucker blazers, with gold and orange crest. Or perhaps a black and white tweed mock Chanel, or Thom Browne shrunken schoolboy. Time for boys to dress in girls’ clothing, I say. Orange piping please. Do you think the Alumni Committee will entertain my ideas?

If not, I suppose I can add more tulle every year, the layers like tree rings, palimpsests, or notes in the margins of a first edition.

All images by me, except the last one. Credit to Lore, and thank you!

29 Responses

  1. college roommates are some of life’s best flourishes. i’m so glad you had a good one.

    still trying to wrap my head around reunion-related clothing. is that an ivy league thing? stanford has, thankfully, spared us.

    1. Clearly I haven’t blathered long enough about the phenomenon of Princeton Reunions. My apologies.

      This is a Princeton thing. We have Reunions every year, and something called a P-rade. Each class wears a costume. Each class has a theme. Some Reunion years get more attention than others, 5th, 10th, 25th, and so on.

      When you graduate you get a “beer jacket.” It’s canvas. On your 25th you get your “class blazer.” It’s usually ugly.

      In subsequent years you get new costumes, but your class blazer is always allowed.

      I got tired of dressing like a middle-aged man. I’m totally on board to be a middle-aged woman, however. So I tarted up my class blazer in the only way that I could imagine might render it proportionally harmonious and intentionally over the top.

      Is this all making ANY more sense now?

    2. “a Princeton thing…P-rade…costumes…intentionally over the top”

      Nowwwwwwww I get it. Ohhhkayyy! Thank you!

  2. HUSSIE! BRAZEN hussie! We never miss your visual clues, ie shooting this feature “in a back alley,” your lovely sleeve cuff caught “in the gutter.” This is a great tutorial in how to tap into your inner tart! This vision of yours to camp it up is only topped by your courage to WEAR it! I bow…

  3. What a beautful way to transform (tart up)that jacket. It looks amazing, as do you wearing it. ♥

  4. Everything I know about Princeton jackets comes from you, so I have a question. Are the names of your classmates on the lining?

  5. Laughing out loud. Good for you! I don’t think I could participate in such adult dress up festivities without the touch of irony you bring. And even then…

  6. I think I need a little more background. For your reunions, you have costumes? Dictated by the alumni committee? (I went to Georgetown. We just have Scotch.)

    1. See reply above. Also, there’s an entire entry on Wikipedia about Princeton Reunions. That’s how goofy and enduring they are.

  7. I suggest the Chanel for the 50th! Wondering what my college roommate and I would look like together these days. She’s an Episcopalian minister these days.

  8. I am always making over my good quality pieces. I have a Nicole Farhi dress that I have altered 3 times. It is now a tunic! Great way to keep wardrobe fresh without spending a fortune.

  9. I thought of you recently while selling many, many, many orange bracelets for recent Princeton graduates.

    I see like every other bride-to-be you can’t lay off the lace ;) Your tarted up jacked looks surprisingly good on you (true, I had some doubts). But you did the best with what you’ve been given!

    1. In some cases, actually so. Some people wear fuzzy tails. The mascots wear full tiger costumes, covered in fake fur. In 96-degree heat, no less. It’s an entire sub-culture.

  10. That’s a very unfortunate looking jacket. Adding lace is not helping. The problem I think is that it is too long and loose. It looks like a man’s jacket. If it were me, I would “accidentally” misplace it.

    I might be a little envious of your reunions. Although I started college the same year as you, I went to a large state school. I have only been back once, hoping my son might want to attend (he didn’t). My mother went to a small women’s college and has attended reunions for the past 60 years.

  11. Actually, there is always an air of Mardi Gras to the whole event, particularly as one’s class approaches the young alumni, who inevitably have had an hour or three to imbibe (remember this is a celebratory parade, beginning with the oldest graduates, ending with the youngest, taking several long, hot hours to complete, with music and costumes for all). Lisa presents her costume a bit out of context. In context, she totally blended with the crowd and was actually rather sedately attired compared to many (think huge orange sunglasses spelling out class years). It was a lovely, feminized “bells-and-whistles” version of a tuxedo styled jacket. She said Liberace, I say Marie Antoinette minus hair.

    1. “there is always an air of Mardi Gras to the whole event”

      Mardi Gras, yes! Got it!

  12. What fun! My college reunions feature alumnae dressed all in white, which can be lovely. I do get a little judgy about those who wear ivory.

    My aunt has some hilarious costumes from the P-rade. The bright orange short-alls take the cake.

  13. Romper—definitely a romper, think Lena Dunham in Girls. She went to my alma mater Oberlin. After seeing that amazing jacket I’ve no doubt you could pull it off! And I love your blog! Thanks.

  14. “I suppose I can add more tulle every year, the layers like tree rings, palimpsests, or notes in the margins of a first edition.”

    Classic LPC, I love your brain! And thx for cracking the code open here — despite having P-alum friends, neighbors and relatives, this is the first mention of the P-rade in all my years. Always a much better listener than talker, I’m overjoyed to have this brand new conversational opening/bait to use with all of them.

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