You know what I totally get now? Pearls. I understand now!
Over the course of the last couple of months, and especially in the last couple of weeks, I have been dressing in the morning, trying to fabricate a professional-ish looking outfit from the remainders of years of freelancing, working backstage, the occasional opening night gala event, and lots of club clothes from the nineties. When I want to look like a mature and reliable grown-up, the pickings, they are slender.
But when I look in the mirror and feel almost dressed, like if only I had one fabulous thing to pull it all together, then I could go forth and conquer, I have reached for the pearls.
What is happening to me? I am becoming Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl, aren’t I? But I always wanted to be Melanie Griffith in Working Girl! Especially the parts about making out with Harrison Ford.
My college suffered under one particular stereotype that always cracked me up at the time — in the Five College region in western Mass at the time, Mount Holyoke chicks were supposedly identifiable by their ever-present string of pearls. This was particularly hysterical to my crowd, as we were identifiable by our Doc Maartens, baggy jeans, and plaid flannels. Hey. It was the early nineties. Blame Kurt Cobain.
The complete image of the proper Mount Holyoke Chick was a langorous debutante, floating dreamily about the dorms in a Lanz nightgown (like any of us knew what THAT was) and a string of pearls. I vaguely understand that Wendy Wasserstein had something to do with popularizing that image in one of her plays (she’s an alum), but I’m pretty sure the stereotype predates her work.
So anyway there I am, in my string of pearls and otherwise clad in good old reliable black from head to toe, when someone notices my Mount Holyoke travel mug and comments on it. I see her noticing it, I see her eyes flick to the pearls, I see a slight smirk.
Dammit! Dammit dammit dammit!
But honestly, they are kind of like armor. They have this fantastic whiff of old money, of confident timelessness, of unassailable good taste. They were my grandmother’s, of course, and of course I wore them at my wedding.
Maybe I wouldn’t be quite such a sell-out if I paired them with some classic Doc boots.