Fashion is something that you can count on as always changing. The designers hope to pique the interest of clothing buyers each season. They go all out for the back-to-school scene knowing that the students want the latest in fashion for their school wardrobe.
Fashion is an elusive thing. My school wardrobe consisted of skirts and dresses. We were not allowed to wear slacks or shorts. Pleated skirts and knee socks were "in" in my day. I had sets of sweaters and skirts that coordinated. I could mix and match to create different outfits. If we did not wear knee socks, we wore color-coordinated wool socks. Blouses with Peter Pan collars rounded out the outfits. One of my favorite outfits included a kilt that I bought on one of my shopping trips. The big gold safety pin gave it style.
That style was popular for many years. When I went to college it still worked, but we were allowed to wear slacks by then. I wore one of my pleated skirts and a sweater that my mother knit for me to coordinate with it as my going away outfit when I got married.
When I think of going back to school, one of my fondest memories is shopping for clothes. I have always been a good shopper. It did not matter if I was spending my mother's money or my own. I looked for bargains.
Big-name labels never made any difference to me. If I liked something, and it was the right price, I bought it.
The back-to-school budget I worked with as I grew up was not a large one. First, I tried on all of my old clothes to see what fit. At that point I made a pile of clothes to give away and a pile to keep. I was finally ready to fill the holes in my wardrobe. Sometimes my cast-offs went to my cousin; sometimes they went to a charitable organization.
I was always a second-hand rose. When a box or bag of clothes arrived from a distant cousin who lived near Buffalo, I carefully went through them before I planned my shopping spree. Barb had beautiful clothes. She was the only girl in her family, and her family spared no expense. I was really sad when I grew and was taller than Barb.
Mom and I took the Nickel Plate Railroad to Buffalo to shop for school clothes. It wasn't really that I had to have different clothes than were available where I lived. It was a day just for the two of us, and it was fun. We walked up to the corner to catch the train. Once we arrived in Buffalo we took the trolley car into town. Riding the trolley was fun. I loved to watch the spark where the car connected to the wires that stretched throughout the city. Whenever I see one of those cars, I think of my mother and the trips we took.
The city had many more stores than we had at home. If we asked to have our purchases shipped home we avoided paying the sales tax, too. My favorite place for lunch was a cafeteria. The food made a colorful display that I could not resist. It was a treat to choose what I wanted for my meal. Frequently my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and my mother ended up finishing what I could not. I think she planned on that because her tray was always rather skimpy when we went through the line.
I remember visiting the Christian bookstore when we shopped in Buffalo. The children's section was upstairs. I liked to be able to look out of the big windows to see the city below us. I was collecting a series of books, so a book purchase was made whenever we shopped.
Recently I went shopping with my granddaughter for school clothes. The two of us took off early in the morning to see what we could find. We did not take a train or a bus; we took my car.
Of course, lunch out was on the docket. My granddaughter chose to go to Eat-N-Park. She loves a pasta dish that they make with shrimp. An hour to eat gave us a chance to regroup and decide where we wanted to go next. Once we arrived at the mall we went from one end of it to the other with numerous stops in between.
We went from store to store picking out things we liked. Once we had an armload of things, we began trying them on. If we needed another size, I went to get it. These days you cannot rely on size. Every manufacturer sizes things differently. They may even size them differently between styles. Often I pick out something I like only to find out I do not like it when I try it on.
I would call the day successful. Grandma found the shoes she was looking for and the granddaughter found several new outfits and separates. Are they things she absolutely needed? Probably not. They were things, however, that filled in her wardrobe and enhanced it. Everyone enjoys getting something new once in a while.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.