I always believed that our lives are written like screen plays packed with challenges that get us to the final goal, with sweet sidekicks, fierce opponents and wise supporters. In my recent outfit journeys I discovered that we also have a wardrobe stylist, an intuitive inner costume designer.
Please enjoy excerpts of my journey in and out and back into this magical color from my upcoming book “FRINGES.” When outfits talk magic happens.
Three petticoats made the skirt of my white lacy dress stand up impressively. My mom was happy; her little girl was seen; I stood out. Matched by my fluffed up, curled Shirley Temple hairdo held by a white bow I was a princess flower girl and so much more stylish than the other, sad looking girl. I felt silly and proud, embarrassed and cute. I made sure my white socks stayed white this time, behaving perfectly well mannered like in a good-housekeeping book. I tried hard to be the girl my mother envisioned after I had failed to be the boy my dad had wanted. I had been a brave 5-story-high walls climbing kid playing trucker and race car driver with my doll’s stroller but whatever made a boy a cool dude made me the uncontrollable misfit girl. The impeccable proper of white would show that I can be the little angel my name demanded.
“You walk like a wood cutter,” my mom commented on my perfect flower girl style. “You’re just missing a tool box.”
I smiled harder.
For my 12th birthday dress up party my mom’s silver sequin jacket added the royal touch to the long white silky night gown she let me borrow, held by her silver belt. I was mesmerized by my mom’s wardrobe especially her bottle green Taffeta dress with black netting overlay and black velvet neckline. It rustled so mysteriously. The kids in school had mocked me; my mom always wore pretty dresses and lipstick. Their mom’s wore aprons.
I was the reluctant white princess of my birthday theater wondering why wearing a tiara was supposed to be an honor. One of the girls, dressed as Prince Charming, kissed my hand. I blushed, giggled and took my hand back quickly; I didn’t like to be touched. I took the jacket off, slipped out of the gown and focused on the toy cars my one boy visitor had brought. He was a nerd with glasses and Bavarian “Lederhosen”, he didn’t count as a real boy.
“You have no diplomatic bone in your body,” exclaimed my mom later, ”you’ll never be a woman.”
I always felt the the pebble in her shoe.
If I was not allowed to rebel against my female fate I would fulfill it with grandezza; I’ll show you, mom. I’ll be the best wifey material ever. But as you will never take the rebel out of my princess I ‘ll also get my revenge for the jail you put me in.
I screwed with the heads of my parents male friends, husbands like my dad who didn’t care about my truth either. Their buddies had no chance not to be painfully aware of me, I made them tremble with desire in their polyester socks. I had no intellectual awareness of what I was doing but the revenge of being a tease filled me with confidence and joy. I had a dark little secret my mom couldn’t take away.
On a mild Sunday morning in May I flaunted my 16 year young untouched virginity in a white two piece suit; a vest and pencil pants adorned with a thin golden necklace and matching bracelet flaneusing our small town’s promenade. The sun was out in gray, rainy Germany and people looked much more relaxed than usually enjoying their umbrella free strolls.
Happy with my halo I sometimes took care of a three-year-old kid, the out of wedlock daughter of my sinful cousin, condemned as the family “whore.” With Katie on my hand I was hoping to be seen, maybe even discovered; my photos plastered the local photography studio, owned by a woman who liked me and had even created my modeling set card for free. The rumor was that she wanted me to date her glasses and suspenders wearing math genius son. She couldn’t possible think… ? Naaa. I negated it as small town gossip.
Mirror obsessed since a kid checked up on my self in every shiny surface. Am I really here?
“Look Katie, aren’t we pretty?”
She wore a short white dress and fit perfectly to my suit, which was sassy in its tameness. I was vain like my mom and put a lot of effort into forgetting about my shortcomings. I made up for them with my vivid sense of style which I had inherited from my dad’s mom, grandma Maria, an elegant Catholic lady with butt long white hair who I adored. She let me comb her beautiful wavy mane and revel in the magic of her vintage velvets and silks, her lace gowns and fur coats. Her musty smelling crocodile leather handbag held love letters, postcards and photographs from her past; she was my romantic royalty and her unconditional love for me kept me sane.
I saw the red convertible in the mirror; so rebelliously attractive. Look at me, you two wild guys!
“Hi pretty lady,” one the guys called out,” is this your daughter?”
I smirked, shaking my head. “No.”
“These men are silly,” I told the kid,” they can’t see that I’m sixteen.”
Luckily. They looked like students, I wanted to be important and being accepted by students was the way to achieve that. When they stopped at the red light it felt like my opportunity, they were the 68’ revolution I had not been allowed to take part in. When I had danced with Mick Jagger in front of our black and white TV my dad called me spastic and him a monkey.
“Turn this weirdo off”.
I did but freedom was in the air in the 70’s and I couldn’t help breathing it. It wasn’t my fault, it was right there!! The two young men in the sexy car were right there. They looked like the morning after a party, unshaven, messed up hair and dark sunglasses. So inviting.
“You look gorgeous,” the driver said.
“Very pretty.” The other guy chimed it.
I liked the driver; he seemed taller and more elegant with a stylish red shirt matching the car. My dad didn’t have a driver’s license and we were traveling everywhere on bicycles, trams or trains. A convertible spoke of luxury, fun and freedom; they got an easy 10 for that. When I was on my own I usually brought my notebook with me on my walks; I listed how many whistles and compliments I got and taxed my admirers on a scale from 1-10 for looks, style and originality. The hot driver got a ten, the other guy? A 7 minus.
Green light. The duo waved and drove off.
To make the story short, I dated one of the two students, the 7 minus. My mom did not let me date teenage boys and my heartbreak caused by her mandate to “never see this silly drummer boy” ever again was still fresh; I had been so in love with him. He sang “wild thing” to me when we were dancing to the Troggs in a barn, it was the day I tasted my first coke and my first very shy kiss.
Mom loved the idea of the student guy.
“How charming,” she said,” he is seven years older, the same age difference as your dad and me. He will make a proper woman out of you.”
The man who had the same name as my father served my vanity, my body and my curiosity. I did not love him, I did not fancy him. I even cried when he shaved his beard off because I found him so ugly. But he had to be it. The Damocles sword of intercourse had hit me. My upbringing said that I had to marry the first man I had sex with; number 7 minus became my chastity belt.
Good-bye, handsome piano player. The dream to ever catch his friend’s attention was dead; I had to get engaged to my boyfriend instead. It felt like a funeral.
There was no “I love you forever”, falling on his knees, nothing, just a ring that appeared to seal that I was officially owned now. I kept the engagement a secret; I was still in my all girl high school and none of my classmates had long-term boyfriends, not to talk about being engaged. I was ashamed and tickled at the same time. The ring proved my value, I had no girl friends but I had a guy who wanted to marry me. I wore it sometimes for them to wonder. Nobody cared about my attempt to be a rebel with a ring; this bizarre “secret” made me, the weird math loving smart ass, even weirder; in a time of communes and free love I got engaged.
It was a rebellion in the wrong direction; I was going backwards.
I overheard my fiance telling my mother that he wanted me to finish school; Germany gives you a Baccalaureat after 13 years. But that would be it. That would qualify me “to entertain his business guests in the future.”
I had always been sexually reluctant and the year after the engagement his sexual needs became pushy and unbearable to me. I didn’t give in. In a bed and breakfast on a vacation I heard this weird noise in the morning. Curious about what it was I got out of bed and saw him in the bathroom. He masturbated. I had no idea men did that. Now I knew. I felt nausea for days.
“How do I tell him to stop pushing me?” I asked my father for help.
“Men are like that,” my father said.
I was alone in this and this felt terribly wrong. I had to be brave.
“I want to be wild like the hippies and flower power girls with their amazing clothes and crazy cool hair and I want to go to college,” I told me fiance in a bar.
He patted my head like a pet’s and chuckled.
“Little sweetheart, “ he said in a calming voice, ”you are much too good for that.”
I was too good for all the good stuff?
I stared at him. I did not want to be his little angel.
Ha, ha, ha,” I said with a grim grin.
His bewildered face reminded me of the disgusting cow’s tongue in cream sauce I had to politely accept not to insult the uncle who had cooked an expensive meal. It had made me storm the bathroom to throw it up. It was time to summon my powers to spit out the man who was “given” to me, screw holy condemnation.
I am a good Catholic girl, I thought sarcastically, I will admit to my sins and after ten paternosters I will be pure again.
“My mother told me that you see our future in a nice house with four bedrooms,” I said, smiling.
Happy that I changed my tone he answered, “Yes, maybe even five? And you will have your own car.” He added a generous smirk, relieved that a possible fight had been circumvented.
“So that I can drive our kids to school,” I commented.
He explained that I could also go shopping, as he would give me an allowance for outfits.
“Nice,” I said. “Do you still think that my high school degree is enough to help our kids with homework and serve your guests? Would I be smart enough for your doctors and engineers?”
“Of course,” he answered, eager to be accommodating, “that’s enough. If you don’t know an answer you smile and swing your sexy hips. College these days just screws with women’s brains.”
There was something about this black leather dress with its long fringes that made me feel strong and safe.
I got up.
“Where are you going?”
I threw a kiss at the handsome guy at the bar and walked towards the entrance door. The fiancé rushed after me grabbing my arm. I pushed his hand off.
“Don’t touch me or I make a scene.” He looked panicky now as guys from his doctorate class hung out at the end of the bar. He let go.
Opening the heavy exit door I added, “Don’t follow me.”
It was raining but I didn’t care. I would walk home. He ran after me grabbing my arm again trying to push me towards his car.
“I am driving you home,” he demanded.
I pulled the engagement ring from my finger and tossed it into the next puddle.
“You are not driving me anywhere ever again. I hate everything about you.”
I walked. Yes, damn hell, I am walking.
“You will always be bound to the first man you had sex with,” he yelled after me. “You will never forget me.”
Now I ran, cursed by his Catholic karma, the water splashing onto my shiny black plateau boots. At the corner I looked back, he was not following me. He was digging into the puddle to find his investment.
I had exercised my right to say No and was not hit by heavenly punishment.
Drenched, swirling around myself like a Dervish I felt my wings, dripping wet wonderful wings.
Two weeks later I signed up for college. Two months later I moved into my own apartment, ten minutes away from my parents yet it felt like light years away.
It had taken my black leather dress two days to dry while my wings morphed into those of a fierce black rebel raven.
I would never get married and I would ever wear white again.
After being a fierce independent entrepreneur for two decades in Europe, my stubborn fate pushed me into being a wedding planner for 15 years, a rather funny moment for my friends. I got used to the world of white princesses, some of them proper but none of them “pure”. I always felt a little sarcastic but I loved many of my brides so I pushed my past under the carpet.
I kept the promise of my 18 year young rebel girl; I did not get married and never wore white.
I recently did.
I had gone through a fashion journey of a colorful phoenix rising from the ashes of her past in fiery red, I wore Kill Bill yellow, world embracing pink and other pastel colors I had never accepted; they opened my heart and my eyes.
In August 2019 my inner stylist put me into a monochrome white outfit with lavender Barbie booties. I wore it for a photo shoot. I had out of body experiences before but this was a “landing in my body” experience; at 60+ I am returning to my innocence, a song from Enigma that had filled my heart in the 90’s. Circles are closing and when I say I feel like 16 it is because I am at a new start, one that includes the words I had lost on the way; believe, trust and faith.
In color psychology white is innocence and purity but also balance, fairness and neutrality, the color of new beginnings, of pouring out the full glass to fill it with new thoughts, perspectives and experiences. I pour my heart as much as my pain and limitations into my memoir, which happily ends in a new journey believing my visions and dreams. My next book is the blank canvas of my life waiting to be conceived and written by me.
I am the black raven, the red phoenix, the multi colored peacock and the angel, I am the princess and the rebel; my white angel wings are adorned with colorful sparkle of crystals, my kind of wings.
White is complete and pure, the color of perfection; it has it all, all probabilities.
Let white open your eyes; dive into it, feel it, let it talk to you. What is your story with white?