Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ode To Tank Tops

Once upon a time, I had an overprotective father who saw no good reason for his little girl to be traipsing around with little straps as the only thing to cover her shoulders. As a mother of two small girls myself, I now say "Go Dad!" When I was 12, my sentiments were far less encouraging.

I spent most of my seventh grade year sitting in classes and coveting the strappy tank tops that were (and have been, since the seventies) all the rage. Stripes and flowers and pretty colors all held neatly in place by two skinny little shoulder straps.

And then it happened: At 13, I won the school and regional spelling bees and we had to make the pilgrimage to Denver to compete in State (where I failed miserably.) While in Denver (The Big City) we went shopping. And my Daddy let me pick out a spaghetti strap tank top. Oh, the joy. It was olive green with three Oriental-ish koi fish screen-printed near the bottom. I loved it. I cherished it. I wore it every time it came out of the drier.

This desperate desire for Spaghetti Straps has shaped my fashion style all the way into adulthood. At some point a few years after the First Tank Top I began buying my own clothes - and tank tops.

I've discovered a few things over the years: you can wear a tank top all year round. All you need is a sweater in the winter. Tank tops are slimming... well, at least for my body type. They generally look pretty good on me. Tank tops are comfortable, they come in many shapes and colors. They are a breastfeeding mother's dream come true (can we say "Shelf Bra"?) There are tank tops for every need - casual, dressy, working out.

Tank top shopping is like a sport to me. Have you ever noticed you can almost always buy tank tops for less than five dollars? Especially this time of year, since most people haven't figured out the aforementioned Sweater Trick and thing tank tops aren't winter wear. Of course, the abundance of clearanced tank top means I keep buying them. But lo! It is now In Style to layer tank tops - I can wear two at a time, which means I need twice as many.

I was cleaning out my own drawers the other day in preparation for winter. This means I was switching out the short sleeved shirts with sweaters, to cover those tank tops. I was neatly folding and rolling the tank tops in the Tank Top Drawer (yes, I have an entire drawer devoted to these wondrous little things) and tossing a few here and there that I had to admit that I just won't wear. I managed to cull three tank tops from the collection. Tank tops that I just don't wear, that don't look good on me, that are too old or have holes, whatever. I counted the tank tops I was keeping. There were 47 of them. Because really, every woman ought to have nearly fifty tank tops in her dresser at one time.

One of the tops I culled? It was the olive green Koi. Yes, from back when I was thirteen. It is stretched out so that it no longer resembles the female body, it has little holes and snags and tears in it, the koi are crackled and faded. But I've always kept it - you can't beat that for sentimental value. I won't be donating this one, it's gone into the craft room to try and turn it into Something Useful.

Lesson to all parents: be careful what you forbid. You just may be cultivating a life-long obsession with The One Thing They Can't Have.


Just Me said...

I love them too. They were a forbidden thing at my father's house most of my childhood, but not at my mom's. My father and step-mother are very religious type who feel that the slightest bit of exposed skin is a thing of great evil. I still wear them a lot. They are so comfortable and with my broader than average shoulders, they work for me. I know the great sweater trick!

Wendy said...

I'm glad you found your koi! We rescued many bags of clothes that my parents were going to give away a few years ago. I now live in all my "cool" clothes (ok, these were REALLy cool - well...not like I'm saying the koi is not cool b/c I'm sure you looked really damn cool in the koi) Anyway, these are all my old cool clothes from high school that I bought in thrift shops and all.

So I totally hear you on the tank tops. I wear them year round too and have lots of little sweaters to pair them with. I hate layering and having sleeves all bunched up inside a sweater. Tank tops are totally where they're at. Plus, if I'm feeling really bummy, I can wear my army green tank top with a nice cardigan, dressy pants, heels and jewelry, take all that junk off when I change into my play clothes after work and wear the tank with some jeans, and take the jeans off at night and put on some pj pants.

My friend has sewn some cute patches over the holes of some of her tanks and it's very cute.

On a side note, as a parent, I'm definitely some of the clothes they make for little girls. Some little outfits for toddler girls are downright skanky. It's a little inappropriate...but I digress.

Anonymous said...

Lately, I've been living in an ex-fashion model's cast-offs. She moved from a mansion (that Stephen was fixing up for sale) into a regular, nice, big house, which means that all of her clothes from her several closets had to be paired down into one large closet. Of all of those bags of fancy things, the most wonderful, valuable, versatile, and useful are the tank tops :-)They weren't forbidden at our house growing up, but they were forbidden at the schools I went to through 10th grade.
I'm hoping that our discussions of "why" we give our bodies honor will be more valuable than any I remember...