The lobby of the Somerville Theater was a blue/gray sea of denim, chambray, and fleece. “Yikes!” I said to my husband. “These are my peers?” We were there to see Joe Jackson, Brit rocker of olde, and as I wondered if that nasty AARP card issued automatically at my big 5-0 could have maybe gotten us a discount, I also registered more than a little remorse that this is how my generation was choosing to express itself sartorially. I should have worn my wig!
The mostly male and solidly middle-aged crowd was as entertaining as the band, fervently swinging to the beat while singing along full throttle. I felt like a fly in a car ride of teens on a beer run. Except this time, the elation I was witnessing related to temporary liberation from pressures due to recession, marriage, and parenting.
Born a Yankee fan and transplanted to Boston for love, I sat holding my prized John Galliano coat (admittedly snatched on sale at Alan Bilzerian yet still equal to a mortgage payment) and wrestled with my own angst. Call me an alliterating smug, superficial snob but I found the casual and comfy clothing choices I was surrounded by unimaginative and dull. In addition to the verve of the seven million people I used to live with in Manhattan, I still long for the delight of the copious stream of street fashion they provided.
As a professional stylist and budding fashion critic (see my recent exploits here and here) I can attest style comes at every price point — and is not dependent on a label. If we all have to do it everyday, why can’t dressing be more fun? And right or wrong, we do make assumptions about people by what they wear (or don’t).
Ruminating on this as we exited the show, my photographer husband recognized a former colleague sporting a Domke photo jacket, which the wearer later described as his “concert jacket.” To me, the coat was more National Geographic than W, though I appreciated his unique interpretation of function and, upon hearing of his affection for it based on memories of where it had been, his expression of nostalgia. Paired with a black Calvin Klein t-shirt from Costco and a form fitting pair of black jeans from H & M, he’d be good to go, concert or otherwise — in style, and on the cheap.
–J. Sybylla Smith
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