Less known for her sharply-defined shoulders as she was for a mother’s nasty abuse of her children, Joan Crawford was immortalized in “Mommie Dearest.” I can still hear her shrill call out to her daughter: “No wire coathangers!”
Screen goddesses of the 1930’s recognized their value, as was evident with Joan Crawford and Katie Hepburn. A simple explanation as to why I cherish…love…and refuse (for perpetuity) to part with an essential member of my wardrobe: shoulder pads.
No, I’m not referring to the kind the high school players wear in football combat. I‘m talking the ones our feminine forbears discovered in the 30‘s, the ones the rest of us rediscovered in the 80’s, a fashion that give a chiseled look to one’s figure, defining shoulders as only a sculpted set of foam delights can.
In my wardrobe, they never go out of style, and on that note, I want it fully known, too: When I finally pass on from this world, I expect to be waked in a pair as well, even if it means my daughters snicker.
My girls have always laughed at my fashion preference. They’d never be caught dead with the fake accoutrements that would “man up” your shoulders, defining them, through jackets and dresses. But I love them. So, I never gave them up.
Not even when I suffered that really embarrassing situation like when one fell out of my blouse and lay on the floor, in a grocery supermarket, when I feigned no knowledge of the little bugger. “What…mine? (I said to a questioning shopper); “Oh, no…I never wear such things. “ The shopper probably thought me daft as he noted my asymmetrical look with my other shoulder neatly defined.
Or the official real estate closing I attended where a less–than-gracious opposing realtor (she represented the buyer) informed me: “Your shoulder pad is up around your throat“ in front of everyone. Buyers, sellers, and the lawyer appeared even more uncomfortable than I. They looked away as I sought to correct my wardrobe malfunction.
She could have nudged me, leaned in, and whispered but she chose the more public forum of bringing everyone’s attention to the fact my nicely-squared shoulders weren‘t “mine“ after all, but then again, “Where‘s the fun?” In the end, it didn’t surprise me: She’d been going for my jugular throughout our interaction (Now it was easy–my shoulder pad was on it!)
There’s part of me, even today, who wants to return the favor and fervently hopes that opportunity will present at some point in the future.
But though my shoulder pads were miscreant children, at times, I remained faithful, never giving them up, not even when they went out of fashion–at least for most of the female population.
That’s when the era of “natural” came in, unstructured dressing, you know, asymmetrical hems, multi-layered effects, sort of a cross between the Haight Ashbury hippie meets psychedelic, throw in a little hard rock and even Rap. In other words, a hodge-podge under the guise of “new.”
But we know there’s nothing ever truly “new.” That’s why we all roll out eyes at the ever-hanging Jim Morrison posters (you know, he was the face of the Doors, a teen idol who died way too early) that dress up every self-respecting teen‘s room.
That’s why some of us keep everything we’ve ever owned (I don’t), neatly catalogued for possible future use. I even know one woman who’s kept all maternity clothes from the long-ago time when she was pregnant and expectant moms sported circular cut-out’s in their maternity ware…as if anyone would want these.
They never want to say: “Oh, I wish I’d kept that madras jacket…or those white bucks.”
So, shoulder pads? Yes, I’ll continue to wear them through the years whether they’re fashionable or not. And on days when I feel threatened, fragile, or especially tentative, I’ll put on a big, honking pair, to help me get the message across that “Indeed…I’m in control.”
Here’s a site that proves my point: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/speak-softly-and-wear-big-shoulder-pads/
But, I’ll have to check to make certain that damned realtor isn’t around…just in case one of them slips. There’s nothing like an errant shoulder pad falling out on the pavement telling the world otherwise.
Are they still available? You betcha…here’s a site where you can order up a pair or two (because some of us believe: You can never have enough. http://sears.shop.com/339919209-p.xhtml
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