Monday, November 22, 2010

Of Diamonds and Track Suits

Not long ago, I was having lunch in a chain restaurant in the mall (it's not as depressing as it sounds). I wasn't gussied up to the nines, but I'd brushed my hair, done my makeup, and had jewelry on. My usual public appearance.

Next to me at the bar was another shopper, and I think she was about as typical as any lady at the mall whom I could dream up. On her head was a crisp, white baseball cap. Her brown pony tail was fed through the back of it. She wore a Texas Longhorns T-shirt, running shorts, and running shoes. She had a Rolex big enough to put your eye out, and the biggest, BJ diamond ring I have ever seen in my entire life. She carried a name designer handbag. Her iPhone was glued to her ear the whole time as she picked through her salad (how nice that was for whomever she was talking to, the sound of her smacking as she blabbed).

I never can quite reconcile the incongruousness of these elements on a person's body — the exercise clothes, which have been commandeered for day wear, and accessories whose total value equals annual earnings for many other people. What gives? Where did this habit originate? My own memory is that I began to see this in about the late 70s and early 80s in Houston. Velour track suits (many with designer labels!), and diamonds. Perhaps we could blame this on New Jersey.

If the intent is to look put together, the effort has failed. If the intent is to look insouciantly casual, the effort has also failed. Why the determination to ignore what the cap, T-shirt, shorts, and shoes signify ("I've been at the track up at the high school"), and impose the status accessories ("I've been a very good girl, wink, wink") over them?

Whatever happened to the lady's luncheon clothes?!


  1. LOL, I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this one. I live in a gorgeous resort town more than half the year and see these women everywhere. As a matter of fact, if I do see "lady's luncheon clothes" I usually assume the woman in question is not a US citizen...and I bet I'm right 90% of the time.

  2. I remember this from Houston in the late 70s and I've seen it up here too, most often in the summer though since it is colder, and often with tennis clothes as well.

    Around here I think it is more a combination of status and "I don't have to bother looking nice for work" as if the only reason to dress is for work. To my eye it backfires and comes across as shallow, crass, certainly lacking in style or creativity. In my nastier moments I want to say something about getting paid for favors but not being able to afford real clothes.

  3. Mardel, I love you. You are on the money with the paid for favors comment, which I also allude to in this little tirade of mine . . .