One of my favorite things about living in LA is that every weekend, wherever one is driving in LA, in every "hood" from Bel Air to East LA, there is a garage sale. Or several.
A few weeks ago I stopped at a garage sale on Beverly Glen Boulevard between Sunset and Mulholland. A very tricky area. It's a mixed bag of anything-goes architecture, although mainly partial to hippie craftsmen; they play loose with the term "estate sale" on Bev Glen. One could luck out and score big or make it a five-second, nothing-ventured-nothing-lost moment and wave bye-bye. This was closer to the first; a lovely Aussie couple packed up everything after five years of renting and was heading home to Melbourne unloading their James Perse T-shirts on the way out of town. Bins and bins full of James Perse T-shirts. Several of the T-shirts had tiny holes, but not a one had a stain.
As I was combing through the one clothing rack burdened and swollen with faux-fur jackets and sun dresses baring names I hadn't heard in years like Katharine Hamnett, God Bless Her, and Cacharel, a fellow shopper, a pretty young woman I'd shared a T-shirt moment with, handed me a vintage white silk blouse that was, to quote my favorite fashion cop of all times, Miss Kelly Osborne, "perfection."
If I wore sleeveless, I'd be wearing that blouse as I hit these very keys and never take it off, it was such perfection, but I gave up wearing anything without sleeves several years ago. This is not for religious reasons and no, I don't have a communicable skin disease on my upper arms. I just can't continue to keep it all together and have allowed the arms to go first.
"Oh, thank you," I said, chuckling. "I gave up years ago." With the little girl-to-girl laugh, I think that I'm concealing the truth, which is that it's a damn shame about that little blouse because it would be adorable on me if I had good arms. My fellow shopper, who was a great-looking girl with cafe au lait-colored skin and a beautiful little shape, cast her eyes kindly toward my upper arms, which were swathed in white cotton. She had one of those mixed European accents that sounds real and interesting and not rigged and pretentious when she says, "You are so funny. In Europe a woman would wear this happily and not care about her arms. Or if her legs are tanned." "Why did she throw that in?" I wondered but let it go. I do care if my legs are self-tanned (no one needs to wear tights or, God forbid, "pantyhose" in summer, right?).
There was no point in trying to make a point over $2 T-shirts in the middle of Beverly Glen, so I smiled, told her she was sweet, and moved on. Seventy-five-year-old grandmas in Italy wear bikinis at the beach in August, but I'm not down with that either.
But, with the help of my friend, the actress/comedian and wife of Tommy, Shelby Chong and her sister, Forrest Phelps, I have been saved, rescued from ever having to feel sad about my chicken neck upper arms again! The two created a Bamboo cotton line of T-shirt dresses called Precious that is true to its name and more. The dresses are form-fitting, extremely comfy cotton (the bamboo, I've been told, makes it soft and sturdy). They are simple, sophisticated and, most importantly, not only cover the upper arms, but magically hold my chicken skin in!
Aging, though no picnic as some of us are learning, keeps bringing about new freedoms. And if aging doesn't bring it, a girlfriend who is along for the ride with you, will. Thank you, Shelby and Forrest, you ageless beauties, for freeing me from sleeves.
Yes. I'm vain, I'm shallow and I had upper-arm shame. (Had being the best word in that sentence.) I dropped it the way I dropped the James Pearse T-shirt with one too many holes in it back in the $2 bin back on Beverly Glen and walked on knowing it was nothing I needed.