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Home: The Toast

When I finally decided that California was going to happen, I compiled a mental list full of logistical questions. Where would I live? How would I get around once there? What in the name of all that was holy was I going to do about my clothes and shoes?

I worked in apparel retail for nearly four and a half years during that second stay at home, and no matter how responsible you say you are going to be about your shopping habits, in that line of work your wardrobe will expand in a rapid and unwieldy manner. I dealt with the problem the only way I knew how. I inventoried every item, every sweater and every pair of boots, and put all of that information into a spreadsheet where I could easily sort and filter it to my heart’s content. But the day before my flight, as my mother and I were puzzling our way through the physical packing process, it became apparent that everything that I had marked as “Plane” was not going to make it into the suitcases. There would have to be a desperate culling. So with less than 24 hours left until takeoff, I found myself sitting on our living room floor surrounded by blazers and dresses and ballet flats.

I had worked on my plan for weeks but it had quickly gone to shit. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No. No. Yes. Even though I worried that I would make a mistake and leave something essential behind, there was nothing to do but continue to tear through what I thought mere hours before would be my Los Angeles wardrobe. About halfway through the debacle I looked at the chaos around me and remembered that I owned six striped dresses and three navy blazers. I could live without some of them for a few months. I took a breath.

When we got to the curbside check-in, only one bag was overweight. The second slid in under the fifty pound mark by six pounds. I had done it. Now all I had to face was the goodbye.

In a family of fashion risk takers, I am the outlier. My mother’s closet is filled with prints and patterns and colors and light. Two years ago she bought herself a jumpsuit. My older sister spent her teens wearing sky-high platforms and dying her hair every color of the rainbow. At times her hair would be all of the colors at once.

As a small child my relative conservatism was cut with a juvenile kick that led me to pair my sweet dresses with a set of printed tights that resembled a rainforest canopy. During puberty everything became muddled, although I eventually grew clear of that phase. But once on the other side of that divide, my fashion statements came to rest in the land of the understated and the quiet.

Almost six weeks into my move here I find myself occasionally missing a pair of jeans here or a silk top there but only ever briefly. The clothes fail to be an issue. The problem, well the problem is the shoes.

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a shoe person. In our family of women, that role was inhabited by my older sister. However, a few years ago, I became obsessed with ankles. My undying love of skinny pants and my habit of cuffing or pegging anything with a straight leg laid them bare to the world. Why not find a shoe to enhance the effect?

It was an understated and quiet statement but this time for my feet. At first my love revolved around a pair of flats with a double ankle strap. But eventually my job in retail presented me with the opportunity to take the leap. And I leapt right into these.

Ballet Flats

They could have flown. They should have flown. But their abandonment was inevitable. In that pre-flight mess, something had to be sacrificed to the organizational gods. These would be their prize. I feel silly requesting that they be shipped out. It’s a waste for them to come separate from all of the others, and I have no one but myself to blame for the state of things.

Now that I’m in a place where it’s warm year round, where I can constantly wear my dresses and skirts with bare legs, I miss them all the more. I’ve taken to looking longingly at others, the reasonable, the mid-tier, and the ridiculous, and waiting for the moment of their return.

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Samantha Powell writes about fashion and other stuff. Her dream is to one day write an in-depth look at the history of the handshake. She usually tweets while sitting in the corner of bars wishing that people would take their hats off when inside.

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