Way back when, before the internet, before Nintendo and before SUV’s, girls shopped at Jay Jacobs. A now extinct old dinosaur. Flashdance apparel, neon colors, and wierd stuff that was “de riguer” in the 80’s was all located here and at other stores I never went to, primarily because by the time 8th grade rolled around, I was thrifting as much as I could (not easy without a car). I was a hair farmer hippie chick. I had the hair for it. A looooooooooong time ago.
About week ago I underwent an anthropological experiment in taking my neice Christmas shopping. One thing I can say definitively is that my neice is pretty mature given her age. Second thing I can say is that they now sell in stores alot of the stuff that I was thrifting in 8th grade. Not that I was so ahead of the times, but the shabby chic of strange seventies or sixties-ish stuff is now full retail. See Wet Seal.
She gave me a rundown of the brands (I already knew them, and my only general sentiment has ever been total and complete disinterest). She is in that prime age where a sweatshirt isn’t really a sweatshirt, it’s a hoodie, and it means precisely nothing unless it says “Billabong” or “Roxy” or some other name of some other company that manufactures sporting equipment of one type or another.
Even when I was young, about the only name I wanted on my shirt was that of an obscure band, and while for about 15 minutes I wanted an Ocean Pacific shirt once, I got over it. But in middle school, it is insanely huge. I have already dated myself , and it is clear that I am approaching Crusty. This shopping excursion sealed the deal.
Am I the only one who feels the companies should pay me to advertise their logo?
I knew because I was pretty thoroughly grossed out by the Hollister mannequin whose pants would have revealed, were the mannequin anatomically correct, the precise male accoutrements that give pants their purpose. The store itself was an incarnation of a skanky frat house on the beach and a Calvin Klein ad where people are contorted in black and white and advertising cryptically named fragrances. I didn’t really feel old as much as something else, something like pity. My neice must have felt the same thing because we didn’t linger there for long. But while I was there, I did what I do worst, I chilled and tried not to look like a disapproving prune faced old biddy.
Actually I was smiling and thanking God I was no longer 13, among other things. And hoping we could leave soon.
We also stopped at PacSun. She neither surfs nor skates, but this is the place to buy clothing suggesting a generally supportive attitude to these sports. How timeless is skateboarding and surfing. They reek youth culture. And there is lots of benjamins in those Volcom garb.
Our first stop, mentioned last, was where I saw the most retro stuff. Wet Seal“Teen clothing for girls”. Despite their clear statement of their target, the models saying they are about 6 to 7 years older than who they are aiming for. In the store was music I listened to in high school. Stuff they really had to dig up, or someone did anyway. The clothes were alot like disco diva stuff only sized for girls. I felt my lunch returning on me as I wished girls could just be girls and not be pushed into looking like…something else.
My sweet faced neice, she really has amazingly avoided any misery in these awkward years so far. She was not without a trial though, as she dealt with allopecia and lost every strand of hair on her body, even her eyelashes when she was 11. She would tell me stories of other little girls excluding her, and people asking if she was in treatment. I wanted to choke the other little girls, but she did look like she was in chemo.
All told the experiment yielded some not surprising results. Early teen kids behave in totally predictable patterns, meaning, they are very similar in some ways generation to generation. No matter how much more sophisticated they are these days in some ways. I guess I am relieved about that.