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Meredith C. Carroll Headshot

The Whooping Cough of Aspen Fashion Week

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The irony wasn't lost on me when I received an e-mail saying I had been "credentialed" for Aspen Fashion Week.

Never mind that seeing "credential" used as a verb initially evoked thoughts of being Massa-ed or Rielle-ed -- as if I had been encroached upon by something vaguely inappropriate or sleazy. Like had I known I was in its path, I would have gotten the HPV vaccine in advance.

But really, the idea of someone wanting me at a fashion show is about as logical as asking Gabourey Sidibe to lead a Weight Watchers meeting. My sense of style is so nonexistent I wouldn't even make it onto a Worst Dressed list. It's just a fact that my torn yoga pants and stained sweatshirts don't qualify as a fashion statement so much as a statement that I've just given up.

Every glimpse of fashion I catch while clicking past shows like "Project Runway" or "Keeping up with the Kardashians" or flipping through magazines like Vogue or W is like staring into a solar eclipse -- I'm blinded by ugly, stupid and ridiculously expensive. The more haute couture it is, the more I snicker. Particularly if it's worn by Sarah Jessica Parker.

Sure, there was a brief time in my life when I tried to keep up. I was 11 and smugly wore a Benetton rugby (the green or blue one) or Esprit sweatshirt, parachute pants or Guess jeans and a piece of lace or the contents of an entire can of Aqua Net as a headband. When those styles expired, I retired.

Since seventh grade I have thought so little about fashion that I wore the same dress to my junior and senior proms and only got rid of it when my parents sold their house a few years ago. I hadn't worn it since high school mostly because I didn't have occasion to, not because it occurred to me that a prom dress should only be worn when accessorized with a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler and a healthy sense of humor.

Fashionable to me now is clean, comfortable and baby proof -- basically, something with a fabric that, if it insists on holding the stain, it will eventually be rid of the smell. And if the odor persists, it's not so expensive that I have to choose between replacing it or paying the heating bill. In other words, anything from the Gap and Lands' End.

It's not just my public wardrobe that leaves everything to be desired. What I've been sleeping in for the past two years could be called a teddy, but only if it's understood that the word is not synonymous with a slinky negligee, but strictly a nod to women's nightwear worn during the first Roosevelt administration.

Initially, though, my nightgown was a huge step up from the ratty old T-shirts I used to wear to bed. Now it's looking a little haggard and unfortunately for my husband, I was able to find an almost identical one at a lingerie store for old ladies. You know, the kind of shop where the saleswoman keeps the dressing room curtain open while you're naked and talks in her outdoor voice while practically going to third base on you as she fits you for a bra.

I do like shoes, but I've broken my pinky toe twice in the past eight months by tripping in my bare feet, so anything more complicated than a sneaker, flip flop or low-heeled boot is a recipe for disaster (unless you're my orthopedist, in which case it's a down payment on his next tropical vacation). Besides, if I ever find myself suddenly in Moscow or Vienna and engage in a Jason Bourne-like chase, I'd much rather be in a sturdy pair of kicks than an impractical and outrageously priced pair of Jimmy Choo's or Manolo's. You just never know when you might accidentally become a spy caught in a situation fraught with international intrigue and Matt Damon. Hopefully he'd find sensible is sexier then, well, sexy.

I sort of wish I cared more, but I just don't. Any yet, despite my fashion allergy, that someone thought to credential me has piqued my interest enough that I might just pick up my laminate and attend an event or two (unless the organizers will now interpret my presence as some kind of infectious threat, like H1N1 or whooping cough).

If nothing else, I figure the fashionistas probably need someone to look at who makes them feel better about themselves, and I'm always happy to leave my mark -- or a laugh -- wherever I go.