If It’s Not Me, It’s Carmen Miranda: Fashion Mistakes Of My Youth

The Decade Of Dressing Badly: Fashion Mistakes Of My YouthI cringe at the thought of my first (and only) date with Mr. Handsome. I had a HUGE crush on him and his chiseled features for years. He was several years older, so naturally, I wanted to wear something special. That was my first mistake.

I was going to pull out all the stops. I was going to WOW him…which I’m pretty sure I did, just not in the way I had hoped.

I wore black satin puffy gauchos with gold flecks that caught the light it such a way it could blind you, like the sun, if you stared directly at it. To complete the look, I wore the matching fitted jacket, because nothing says sexy better than looking half matador/half court jester. The cherry on the icing was the pair of shoulder pads that made me resemble an NFL linebacker. The only thing wider was my hair. I thought I looked, like totally, cool. I shudder at the memory.

Even though he kissed me at the end of our date (actually, it was more like a hit and run), he never called again. Was I just too young or did the fact I had broader shoulders scare him away? I will never know.

When I look back on my years in high school, there were those girls who didn’t succumb to the latest fashion trend. They had long, smooth, shiny hair and wore simple body-skimming wrap dresses with nary a should pad in site. They had style and classic beauty and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a pair of jodhpurs.

I, on the other hand, would wear the latest fad no matter how big, puffy, neon, shiny or unflattering. The glitzier the better. My hair was thick, kinky and curly, and wouldn’t know a modicum of control until decades later, when women would start to use nuclear strength varnish to tame their mane. I was under the false impression that once I got rid of the braces and the training bra I was home free. What did I know?! Admittedly, it was not my best look.

You think I would have learned something from the many fashion mistakes of my teen years. But, sadly not. Decades would pass before I would even have an inkling that some of my choices in clothes were less than awesome.

In fact, there was a little black velvet number with a fuchsia ruffle that Carmen Miranda would have killed for, that I just had to have for my engagement party. Did I mention the giant flower the size of a Thanksgiving turkey flanking my hip? Oh yes,  I was a show-stopper that night -probably a traffic stopper too. Blame it on youth.

It’s good to know I have learned a thing or two over the years. I no longer wear anything puffy or with shoulder pads or that could double as reflective safety apparel. According to my teenage daughter, I play it too safe. I say, better safe than sorry. Been there, worn that – I have the photos to prove it.


  1. says

    You look ADORABLE!
    But I have to say, you’re right. Those simple styles, never go out of style. Think Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie O.
    Both timeless!
    And Mr. Handsome lost out on a wonderful lady!

  2. says

    Ah, fashion…I have a suspicion a lot of these surprising styles are simply the designers’ little joke. I can see them now, huddled around a runway, plotting new and even more ridiculous garments of humiliation for us, then cackling madly as jelly shoes, stirrup pants, or mullets take off.

    Never mind your daughter–I think you’re far better off taking the safer route!


  3. says

    I think I was YOU! I went through the exact same scenario, only I was wearing a tight black leather skirt with a red shiny-silk top and a WIDE patent leather belt wrapped tightly to make my waist look tiny. It was so “un” me to wear 3 inch pointy heels and walk through a date with a guy who was gorgeous but obviously uninterested. After reading many GenFab stories, I think us curly-haired women are fortunate to have our self-esteem intact and our priorities straight – be who we are, always! GREAT story, truly great!

  4. says

    I remember that look you are wearing. It was hard for anyone to pull it off successfully but you look cute! I seldom wear jeans because I wore them almost everyday for years and looking at old photos there I am wearing jeans! Jean pants, jean shorts, jean overalls, jean skirt, jean dress, jean jumper!

  5. says

    I truly applaud your courage, here, at sharing your fashion history.

    As for me, I’m pretty sure I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my 80s fashion (and hair! and makeup!) disasters when I was in high school.

    Thanks for the laugh! 😉

  6. Elaine says

    Half matador/half court jester – you are too funny! This brought back all my fashion and hair disasters from the 80’s, but nice to know I was in good company. Where was this photo taken – love the groovy wallpaper?!

  7. Elaine says

    Half matador/half court jester – you are too funny! This brought back memories of bad 80’s hair and fashion crimes – but nice to know I was in good company. Where was this photo taken? Love the groovy wallpaper.

  8. says

    That is a lot of ruffles! Oh do not get me started on the shoulder pads. I am convinced that those will never be in fashion again anytime soon. Loved your post – where were you in that zigzag tunnel?

  9. says

    >>because nothing says sexy better than looking half matador/half court jester. <<

    It was about at this point of your post that I fell off my chair and died with laughter.

    We definitely need photos here. Of the gauchos.

    *waves at you, fellow brewer* :-)

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