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A Grandmother's Fashion Statement, 1957 Vs. 2012

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In 1957 real men didn't wear earrings or beaded necklaces or jeans that showed off the bottom of their butt crack while they were standing up. Dear God! Grandmothers didn't wear funky T-shirts and tight blue jeans, and they wouldn't be caught dead without white gloves at church on Sunday. Their fashion statement had to do with plain-weave cotton fabric dresses. (Despite June Cleaver and Harriet Nelson wearing pearls as fashion accessories, most housewives and grandmothers did not wear pearl necklaces Monday through Saturday while vacuuming and washing dishes by hand.)

Today, in 2012, modern grandmothers make their own fashion statements. We don't care if we dress half our age because it makes us feel younger and gives us a license to sass our grown children who raise their eyebrows when they see us dress like teenage warlocks.

Just because I have the title of grandmother doesn't mean I have to feel silly wearing jeans with those shredded slits cut out zigzagging up and down the legs, and I dare someone to question my motives with statements like, "She's dressing half her age." Really? Bite me.

Having said that, I can't even imagine my grandmother wearing pants (especially tight jeans) and a Clark Gable T-shirt (don't think they had logo T-shirts back in her day) ... or fussing with her makeup beyond putting a little face powder on her nose. And having her eyebrows plucked at a local salon wasn't an option. I'm pretty sure she never had her eyebrows threaded. Women back in the mid-50s went to the beauty parlor to get their hair washed, rolled, dried under a big-hood hair dryer, combed out, and sprayed with a gallon of hairspray so that their hairdo blew in the breeze about as freely as cardboard.

I've already mentioned the size of my grandmother's panties. That's something I live with (as I now wear the oversized underwear myself) but nobody has the right to tell me I can't dress young.

My mortality is important to me, so I do whatever I can to keep my fashion statement in line with the age I want to feel. Is that so wrong? If it is, take a rubber pipe and bang it on your great, great grandmother's headstone. I don't want to feel like I have one foot in the you-know-where. Graves depress me.

The thing is, no matter how "old-fashioned" my grandmother dressed back in the '50s, she was my soft place to fall. (Of course "old fashioned" is what I'll be to my grandchildren in 30 years.) If I needed unconditional love (beyond what my parents gave me), it was her lap I jumped in. Her lap always had an apron wrapped around it, and I often found candy or gum in her pockets. My grandchildren get the same unconditional love from me, but they have to reach into a candy jar to find chocolate. My jean pockets are too tight to hold Hershey Kisses or Gummy Bears.

I'm not saying grandmothers today want to look and dress like Britney Spears, but we don't want Andy Rooney's eyebrows either. We want to look good. There are limits unfortunately. I can't wear sports bras or short tank tops anymore because of those ripples in my lower back and the unsightly stretch marks surrounding the space that showed off four baby bumps. But I can wear "I'm With Stupid" T-shirts when I'm with someone stupid. I can wear UGGs boots and look like I'm 21 from the ankle down. I can't wear short shorts but I can wear pedal pushers ... whoops, I think they're called cropped pants now. I might even wear a Justin Bieber T-shirt just for spite.

The face is the challenge, but, I must say, most grandmothers today, for some reason, don't look matronly (not that there's anything wrong with that). My grandmother, may she rest in peace, had a grandmother face and a grandmother figure. Those of us who remember our grandmothers from the 50s know exactly what that means. Frumpy ... but frumpy, back then, was truly a blessing for grandchildren everywhere. We didn't want our grandmothers to look like Marilyn Monroe.

I don't want to dress like my grandmother, but I hope I have her "soul." I want my grandchildren to remember me the same way I remember her. Maybe to them, seeing me through their eyes, I look like Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies. Kids see things differently.

God bless my grandmother. Her first name was Pearl ... and there was a good reason for that.