Beauty Crimes

Picture 2I’ve found something that is harder and more uncomfortable than having the “human reproductive system” talk with your daughter. It’s explaining and justifying your decades of beauty crimes. On my daughter’s last trip to grandma’s she went through photo album after photo album of my teen and young adult years and came home with awkward and uncomfortable questions that she wanted answers to like, “Why did you turn your brown hair orange?”  It’s at this point I had to sit her down and turn my years of grooming gaffes and fashion felonies into a hard lesson about life. A “teachable moment,” if you will. Yes, I did suffer for beauty and crimes were committed in the name of fashion. Yet, all these unlawful acts can and should be forgiven. Most of them were crimes of passion. Committed when I deep in the throes of trying to woo a boyfriend back or doing some serious “I’m going to change my image” back-to-school shopping. Some were inspired by various issues of the September Vogue magazine. I wanted to rock the New York look while living in Boots R Us Texas. I can admit that most, if not all, were miserable failures and, pay attention carefully here sweet, sassy mouth daughter of mine and repeat after me, “I should have listened to my mother a whole lot more.”

In order of severity here are my worst beauty crimes:

The Great Sun In Debacle of 1988

Sun In could be the grooming world’s greatest “Fashion No.”  I considered it the devil’s urine. You might as well spritz your hair with Tilex and go lay out in the sun. Oh sure, it sounds great just spray it on your hair and presto chango you’re a beautiful Christie Brinkley/Kim Alexis blonde. But nooo, that is not how it works. It’s presto chango your Carrot Top. I had circus orange hair! The weeping, the wailing, the hours spent in the shower using my Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo trying to get the orange to wash down the drain. Finally after my mother had decided I had suffered enough (which was an entire week) she took me to her hairdresser (or as they said back in the day her beautican or beauty operator) for what we would now call a color correction. I got my brown hair back and have never, ever touched my hair with “at home” bleach products again.

Stirrup pants – Dateline: Austin, Texas 1987

Have you ever had an outfit that you just loved to wear, that you thought you looked really great in? Wearing the outfit actually made you feel good and boosted your confidence. That was me and stirrup pants. It was a tragic, heartbreaking day when I discovered that stirrup pants were never my fashion friend. First, the person or persons who thought up stirrup pants should be put away for life, forced to sew orange prison jumpsuits for eternity. I’m sure their offspring are the ones who are currently hawking the Gap “skinny jean leggings.” Hello, skinny jean leggings are just navy blue freakin tights that cost about four times as much. I was hopelessly in love with stirrup pants.  They had everything I require for a long-term relationship. Lycra, extreme elasticity, a forgiving, non judgmental waistband, no ironing and very, very comfortable to be around. I worked those stirrup pants, wait it gets worse, with a shirt TUCKED, in almost everyday.  It wasn’t until I saw myself in a mirrored wall as I was coming down the escalator at Foleys that I realized the crime(s) I had been committing. Since the entire escalator wall was mirrored you couldn’t escape looking at yourself. The visual followed you. It was unspeakable. Let’s just say unless you’re a supermodel with legs that resemble Slim Jims  you should never ever pull on a pair of stirrup plans. The fact that I had my blouse tucked in gave me the overall look of a “fashion mullet.” Business up top, crazy fat chick on the bottom. I looked like a toddler who had pulled her tights on over her puffy diaper and crammed her fluffy pajama top inside her tights. Beware shoppers, stirrup pants are making a comeback. Stella McCartney featured the “pants” in her fall fashion show. You too can buy a pair for $655 at Bergdorfs.  They’ve tried to class up the name a little by calling them “stretch stirrup leggings.” But, don’t be fooled they’re tights. Tights no one should be wearing without a dress. Preferably one that hits at the knee.

Eye Brows – Over & Under Tweezing

Your eyebrows hate you. Once you get them just the way you want them after a grueling tweeze-a-thon they start growing back in. Prickly, stubby hairs staring at you in your 10X magnifying mirror. My beauty crime is two fold. I have both over tweezed and under tweezed my eye brows. My worst over tweeze was in high school where I went all weed whacker on my brows and looked eternally surprised. It was so bad my mother made me surrender my tweezers and I lost all tweezer privileges unless accompanied by a woman over 35.  My under tweeze experience spanned two decades. I, shell-shocked by my H.S. no brow look decided to go through college, my twenties and into my thirties trying be all Brooke Shields and not tweeze.  I looked more like a  Russian peasant from the age of Ivan The Terrible than any resemblance to Ms. Shields. Why don’t your loved ones tell you, “hey, you need to tweeze?  Instead, everyone took the high road and said things like, “My you have such a strong brow line” or “Not everyone could pull off those eyebrows.” I thought they were compliments not polite hints.  Is was not until my late 30’s that I even had my brows “shaped” by a professional. It involved a vat of hot wax and beach towels being used as wax strips to accommodate my huge brow size. By this time they looked more like bangs than brows.  I kid you not, the “brow artist” had to bring in “colleagues” for a consult to figure out how to best wax my furry forehead.


Ah, th 1980’s the Golden Age of all things Preppy. Like any good southern girl I embraced the preppy lifestyle with gusto. Polo button downs, khaki pants, Bass Weejun loafers, I had it all. My fashion crimes during this period are so extensive that I have broken them down into subcategories.

(a) Bows (excessive bowage)

My go to accessory was the bow.  I had madras bows, plaid bows, polka dot bows.  I had belts with bows, hair bows, shoes with bows, purses with bows. Most days I had a bow in my hair, a belt with a bow and bow shoes.  I looked like I was mentally ill with a gift wrapping fetish.

(b) Shoes

The aforementioned Bass Weejun Penny Loafer with navy blue knee socks was my everyday sock and shoe look. Flattering – not so much, especially when you add in that stretch nylon knee sock. Even better was that the top of the knee sock was creating a little upper calf fat muffin top. It was some serious frump-a-dump style.  (And I wondered why I spent Friday nights in the dorm watching re-runs of the Love Boat.)

(c) Mexican Dresses

Nothing says Texas sorority girl like a vast array of Mexican dresses (crappy cotton sack dresses with colorful embroidery around the neck) in your closet. These dresses are what my daughter referred to as a nightgown when looking at my sorority yearbook photo. Her question was “Mom why are all those girls wearing nightgowns in that picture?” Why?  Because when we paired those dresses with madras espadrilles and matching madras purses we thought we were the coolest girls on campus. Sadly, we were not. But, what good is the college experience if you can’t be a little delusional.

(d) Button Down Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts

The aggressively starched polo shirt was the foundation of any preppy outfit.  If the shirts weren’t scratching and rubbing your skin raw then they weren’t starched enough.  This shirt was matched with either pleated khaki pants or a pleated khaki skirt.  Since everything was so starched your outfit could literally stand on it’s own.  Imagine that flattering silhouette and the lovely starch crunching sound you made when you walked.


It’s a miracle that I have any skin left on my face.  It should have just all melted off. I was an over tanner. SPF was for pussies. I used baby oil and iodine or if I was feeling a little bit cautious Hawaiian Tropic tanning butter.  I was a lifeguard, so on my one day off a week, Monday, I used that time to not escape the sun, but to tan my back. The first day of school was all about who had the  deepest, darkest tan. “Laying out” was my summer career.  I looked like a chubby Malibu Barbie deep fried and then microwaved in bacon grease. Today, I don’t leave the house without my SPF 100 spray and I have a yearly full dermatologist body scan done. If only I had known the road to the fountain of youth was called sunscreen.

As for my beauty crimes, I’m pleading not guilty by reason of mental defect. What’s  your excuse?

****For all thinks wonderfully Snarky go to where you can find T-shirts, ecards for Facebook and my brand new book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.  Here’s a little ditty about it:

The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.

 If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

30 thoughts on “Beauty Crimes

  1. Bonnie says:

    Here are a few of fashion periods of mine:

    I taught school and had “cute” jumpers with co-ordinating Keds and socks. My daughter still cringes when she reminds me of this fashion phase.

    There was a time that I wore flowered dresses, blouses, etc. Except for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then I would wear a Christmas themed blouse/sweater set. (By the time I retired, I had enough to not repeat a blouse for the season. Scary, huh?)

    Now, there is a fashion fad that I still wear and it’s been part of my life for a few years now. I wear Crocs. Yeah, I know they aren’t in fashion, but I love the way my back feels when I wear them. Fancee-smanzee shoes are worn to dress-up dinners, but that’s about it.
    If you see me, you’ll see the Mary Jane style Croc with silly jibbitz in the air-holes. Fashion, can’t dictate my style…comfort does. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that my Grandlove is fascinated by my silly shoes.

  2. Kerry says:

    I also liked knickers in the early 1980s. We all looked so lovely with the argyle socks and the Oliver Twist knickers. Classic.

    Around the same time pin stripe jeans were pretty hot too.

    My favorite as for the hairstyles was the feathered bangs with nothing else done to the hair. That stayed for quite a while in Colorado to where curling the bangs but doing nothing else and having a perm in some state of growing out was standard issue around here

  3. Cheryl says:

    Oh lord, the memories!…..
    FC#1 – Natural Wonder Eye Shadow in neon green. Yep, you read that right. Neon green above my brown eyes, freckled face, and very white skin. Can we say “Hideous?” I look back at my 11th grade school pic (yep, wore it for picture day – right along with my too curly perm) and cringe. I think, “I did that on purpose??”

    FC#2 – Culottes. Enough said.

    FC#3 – Linebacker shoulders. Yeah, I know, we all had them, but on an already wider than most frame, huge shoulder pads were not a good thing. And yes, I had a near neon blazer that I buttoned and belted on top of my stirrup pants. Oh yeah, I was hot!

    FC#4 – The straight up bang. Yep, Aquanet to the rescue! Bangs were plastered straight up. The longer the better baby. Luckily, I only partially partook in this nightmare of a look. I had a limited Aquanet budget and short bangs, so mine weren’t plastered straight, just big.

  4. Partly Sunny says:

    This is my first time on your site, and you’re killing me (we’re both in the Snarky Moms group at MBC). Love the bunko story. Anyway, do you remember “About Last Night” with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe? I recall thinking at the time that her clothes were SO CUTE and trying to dress exactly like her. Then I watched it the other night, and she looked like someone who’d lost a bunch of weight and was still wearing her fat clothes. There’s a dress that makes you wonder if she’s part of one of those religious cults in Utah (I can’t remember what we used to call them — prairie dresses?). And at the end, she’s wearing a hideous pair of overalls — again, three sizes too big. Why would Rob Lowe take her back? What the hell were we thinking?

    And about the eyebrow thing — I feel like it took me until my mid-30s to finally get into my groove when it came to just about everything (As far as my looks. The rest of me remains perpetually screwed up).

    • snarkyinthesuburbs says:

      I had forgotten about the Praire dress – yikes. I had one I would wear with ankle socks and keds and I thought I looked hot. Just thinking about it makes me want to poke out my eyes with tweezers. Thanks for reading. I’m going to your site right now.

  5. Jen says:

    The whole shorty overalls look was my downfall. Oh, how I thought that I was cute in my Keds, folded over socks and farmer wear. So not a good look. I think they made every girl look pregnant even though we were at our skinniest weight of our lives.

    Also, remember those horrible shirts in the 90s that would change color when they got hot? Why did anyone think that emphasizing where you were hot and sweaty at was cool in anyway? Seriously it was like yelling out, “hey look at my color changing armpits, aren’t they awesome?”

  6. Allison says:

    Did you forget the Twist-A-Beads– standard issue with the Mexican dress and sorority pin. Is that what they were called? And Gold Shrimp earrings!!! LOL.

  7. Andrea says:

    My mom took extra large sized t-shirts and sewed a ruffled bottom onto it creating a dress. That in itself is bad enough right? No, the prints on the fabric were something a grandma would use for sofa upholstery. Ugh. Then I wore white keds with ruffled socks and lots of bright blue eye shadow. Just thinking about it makes me want to barf. My mom recently asked if I wanted her to sew a similar dress for my 10 year old daughter. I politely declined. No need to scar my child too!

  8. Ginger from Counting Caballeros says:

    I remember so many fashion mistakes — spiral perms, mismatched tacky earrings, hyper-color t-shirts, Sun-in, and enough Coca-Cola clothing to get me on their payroll as a middle-school spokesperson were all prominent in my past. But the absolute worst? Probably my senior portraits. Class of 1992 in Alabama, I had the normal, black velvet, off the shoulder drape that is the standard, but I also did elbow length gloves with a white feather boa. I was not Madonna. I was also not Julia Roberts, but that did not keep me from posing all “Pretty Woman” in my brown and white polka-dot dress for one casual shot. But the one that I have hidden away with shame is the blue and white stripped Guess short-alls that were at least 2 sizes too big.

  9. SJ says:

    My many beauty and clothing felonies have to be seen to be believed. I wear stripes with paisley, clashing colours, and I have a bleach white mohican hair cut (with orange and pink bits), inch long and very fake nails usually painted and decorated in colours that my mother describes as bilious. My favourite shoes are made by a company called Irregular Choice.

  10. Lisa says:

    My fashion sins included Jellies in every color! Remember those rubber shoes that smelled slightly toxic? How one drop of sweat would turn them into tiny “strap-on” skating rinks where you took your life into your hands with each step! How about the DR. Scholl wooden block sandals? Or the Candies made of an industrial-grade plastic? I also confess to the “Member’s Only” jacket that I stole from an old boyfriend. Oh, yeah, and the blazers with the sleeves pushed up like Rick Springfield’s “Noah Drake” on General Hospital with…dun dun dun…the sparkly headband and Pat Benatar bi-level hair cut.


  11. Tamara says:

    I remember the multiple socks (in different colors) over pegged pants. One of my friends would wear three or four pairs of socks at a time and my mom wouldn’t let me because she refused to wash that many pairs of socks in a week…Oh how jealous I was at the time, now I can only thank my mom for her frugality. And seriously, how did her shoes fit with that many pairs of socks on? I have no idea.

  12. Lisa says:

    Nuthin’ says fashion like pairing the stirrup pants and Keds (canvas in the summer, leather in the winter) with a pair of slouchy socks to match whatever lovely color scheme I had going on. Even occasionally layered two pairs. I had every. color. in. the. rainbow. And some colors that were illegal in 24 states. I should have known my late 80’s clothes weren’t doing me any favors when I didn’t have to buy maternity clothes until I was 8 months pregnant– the stirrups and long shirts did the trick.

    I also confess to those matching sweater and sweater skirt outfits. You’ve got to admit they were darn comfy and didn’t need ironing…

    Ivory hose were another fashion choice that now makes me cringe…Silk Reflections. I thought I was much classier wearing ivory than the “gaudy” white that others wore. I was wrong.

  13. PJ says:

    I also tried the Sun-In the summer I was a camp counselor- big mistake. Short sleeved Izod shirt, Calvin Klein jeans and barrettes with ribbons woven around them in the same colors as my outfit were standard issue in 1982 along with those purses with the wooden handles and interchangeable covers. In college I tried to go punk /New Wave but just didn’t have the edge to pull it off right. i wasn’t really a Madonna music fan when she first came out but I loved” Desperately Seeking Susan ” and wore lace ankle socks with heels, glo bracelets and a big matching headband tied in a big bow on top of my permed hair. Then came Camp Beverly Hills . . . I was also in my 30s when I first had my eyebrows done -and don’t tell anyone – but I sometimes miss the perm ( but not the Aqua Net hairspray).

  14. Elena says:

    I grew up in Australia, where everyone wore school uniforms so my fashion crimes were left to the weekend. Remember max head room sunglasses. Yep I wore them thought I was cool. In the 90’s I wore plenty of bike shorts, and leggings with the oversized shirt or sweater. My fav was a blue patchwork looking sweater. I also wasn’t allowed to have a perm, so I put my hair in rollers everynight, but never got the lesson that you shouldn’t brush curls, so I always had frizzy hair. I also thought it was cool to have little braids in my hair, with little bells on the ends. So I jingled everywhere I went.

  15. Heidi says:

    One of my many fashion felonies (a lot of mine have already been mentioned)….pleated jeans. They were even tight rolled at times. Seriously, what were we thinking? And I rocked the permed big hair….many girls were jealous of my aqua net skills.

  16. Jill Bukowski says:

    The outfit you pick out, for your first day High School is very important. It’s the outfit that tells the world, THIS IS WHO I AM! I’m not quite sure what I was telling the world, but I was certainly screaming it. My mom had taken an OLD pair of over-alls, (the light blue railroad striped ones), split the legs, and sewed in a patch-work of other denims making it into a Maxi Dress. I wore a red long-sleeved body suit, toe-socks, and platform sandals. This was in a town the size of a coffee stain, in New Mexico. Circa 1975.

  17. Silly me says:

    7th grade photo: thick frosted blue eyeshadow, highlighted w/huge granny glasses, red ribbed-knit boys shirt w/oversized zipper (pinned from the back to prevent someone from grabbing the large ring of a zipper-pull) and the most awesome brightly colored gold, orange, red, purple and black paisley print bell-bottomed pants.

  18. Silly Me says:

    Tube tops paired w/Oversized Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls.
    Halter tops made of bandannas
    Jersey printed “sizzler” dresses (so short that you needed matching printed underwear)
    Sailor themed hip-huggers
    Straight hair – I spent even MORE time fighting my curly hair than I did on my dark tan!
    Afros – much to my delight, a very FANCY and expensive hairdresser (Bob) @JC Penny’s showed this white (well, painstakingly tanned) curly haired girl that her hair COULD be fashionable! SO wild and curly became my unleashed hair, that people did not believe it was natural. Perms were so “in”, lol.

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