LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS: PALM SPRINGS FASHION THEN AND NOW

Ever since an ill-fated family trip to England, during which my dad took six thousand pictures of one castle and his girlfriend packed her belongings in four non-wheeled duffel bags, my sister and I had been planning to take a trip together. Just the two of us.

That’s how we found ourselves in Palm Springs, which is a highly affordable destination in August; just be careful not to get a third-degree burn from your seatbelt. Our hotel room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we walked around the downtown shops very, very slowly.

Palm Springs was once a getaway for stars like Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball—a stylish crowd. Here’s a photo from an episode of I Love Lucy called “In Palm Springs,” guest starring Rock Hudson as himself. It might have been a soundstage, but Ethel’s halter dress (which reminds us that Ethel wasn’t the frumpster she was written as), Rock’s checked shirt and Lucy’s crazy SPF-1,000 getup are very real and very awesome.

I want to be in the show!

These days Palm Springs is home to a lot of gays and old folks. A store called Marianne seemed to cater to both demographics. It was well stocked with bellbottom figure-skating pants, metallic prom dresses and some great polka-dot sweaters that would either make me look fun and funky or like my seventh grade Spanish teacher. I really wanted a rhinestone poodle necklace, but it was $86 marked down to $43. Instead I got two pairs of earrings from the $2 box. It’s a small miracle that the hoopy pair don’t have rhinestones on them.

Plastacular!

On the way back to L.A. from Palm Springs, nestled between tree-less hills and a wind farm, are the Cabazon Outlets. Cathy wanted to shop for some work clothes, so I agreed to stop. In my mind I only buy clothes from thrift stores and boutiques that stock one-of-a-kind pieces made by local designers from recycled bicycle tires. In reality, I couldn’t wait to hit the outlets.

If you're crawling through the desert, this is not a mirage. You can get an iced latte at the food court.

First stop: Ann Taylor. Very work-y. Cathy is a high school teacher, so she pretty much has to wear slacks and respectable lady-shirts if she doesn’t want kids to throw spitballs at her. But I work for an arts nonprofit in a two-person office. I don’t even wear shoes for much of the day.

Still, I found a gray A-line skirt ($12!) with tiny sparkles embedded in the fabric and some interesting pleats in the front that say, “I might spend the morning wadding up spitballs, but I could still meet a donor for lunch.”

At the Gap outlet, I found clothes that I will dress my future children in when I teach them about the Gay Agenda:

Is that a rainbow on your pants or are you just happy to...wait, this is a weird caption for toddler pants.

My little girl will look like such a bad-ass in this shirt. And maybe I’ll make my son wear that “too pretty to do homework” shirt that’s causing such an uproar.

Tiny rapists are so adorable.

At J. Crew, I was surprised to see lots of “Made in China” labels because aren’t the Obama women all about J. Crew? I decided I would start my only-buy-American campaign tomorrow when I found the perfect deconstructed, asymmetrical sweater. It looks a little droopy here, but when on a person it sort of makes you think of a preppy, knit motorcycle jacket.

I wish I had a life-sized crocheted motorcycle to go with it.

In addition to giant versions of typical mall stores, the outlets sell brands I only know from magazines: Tory Burch, Marni, Prada, Jimmy Choo. I made Cathy stop in Marni so we could see how the other five percent lives.

“I’ve been to Barney’s Co-op,” I told her, “and it’s kind of like seeing a movie star on the street. Sure, she’s good-looking, but she’s also kind of short and…person-ish.”

I rescinded this thesis, however, as soon as I saw these shoes:

What I'll wear to the premiere of the movie adapted from my novel.

Unlike Jimmy Choo—whose window display fit my movie-star-up-close theory by featuring generic pointy pumps—these are both retro and sci fi. Like the new Tomrrowland, or the Electrolux vacuum cleaner we inherited from my grandmother.

The Cadillac of vintage vacuums. Or, like, the Marni shoe of vintage vacuums.

Exhibit B in my case that Jimmy Choo Isn’t All That: these platform wedges from the mid-priced brand Aldo. I love the combination of textures—neutral-colored suede and out-all-night glitter.

What I'll wear when my novel doesn't get optioned, but I decide that small press authors still deserve to look hot.

When I told my girlfriend I was hoping to guest-blog for Ironing Board Collective—which is like this amazing window into my deep-down thoughts about fashion, if my thoughts were better articulated and accompanied by lots of pretty pictures—I speculated about what niche I might fill.

“Maybe they need someone to represent for not-that-cool?” I said hopefully.

But what I love about IBC is they make fashion democratic without dumbing it down. It’s like they’re the really savvy director who gets the aforementioned celebrity to star in some brilliant off-off-Broadway play. Which would make me the new-in-town character actor who is absurdly excited to have a speaking role.

About Cheryl Klein

According to the ads that show up on my Facebook page, I love little vintage dresses and shoes with funky heels (and I should also consider a social work degree and self-publishing). Facebook knows too much, you guys. Other things I like: clearance racks, fingerless gloves, the phrase "a smoky eye," and clothing that reminds me of my early fashion icons--Pippi Longstocking, Punky Brewster and Laura Ingalls.

2 comments

  1. anissegross

    Tell me you bought those Marni shoes…..

  2. hollyhilgenberg

    You’ve just made outlet shopping humorous. Beyond the normal humor of outlet shopping. I think you’ve just achieved a major feat. And on Labor Day, nonetheless!

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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