by Theresa Edwards
The year was 1999.
I won't tell you how old I was, but let's say I'm more minimum middle age than maximum.
Specifically, and for you little supersleuths out there, 1999 was the year that I realized my feet would never grow and that I would be doomed to wear institution-issued LA Gears when what you wanted on your feet were some fly-ass FIFAs. (LA Gears would become cool and very expensive, and I would call lots of people posers. I had also discovered smoking.)
It's also the year I realized that – even if I were not the size of a tallish keebler elf with the birthing hips of a rural visigoth peasant woman/hand-tooled Oolitic limestone fertility idol – I was too poor to be interested in fashion. I was basically the kind of poor and the kind of short and the kind of fat that's good for wearing chewed-hem Walmart Cherokee jeans in cornflower wash and the occasional factory-flawed Avirex crops. Oh, and for being mocked. Like, a lot.
Then I saw them. Late February. Late evening. They'd come to peep some bona fide orphans and were on their way back to what I guessed was probably a beautiful tudor reproduction home with genuine fachwerk in their '81 Cutlass Ciera. She, with crepe skin around her eyes and a sparkly angel brooch pinned to her faux-fur floor-length coat, a pillbox hat atop her cotton-candy bouffant. He, with genuine mukluks, and a Florida-shaped liverspot on his temple, his shiny dome warmed by a full 12 inches of reproduction Ushanka and a trench coat the color of a dog's throw up after they lick up their pee.
Not stylishly dressed, and not giving a single fucking fuck about it, and I knew: I want that.
There's no shortage of people telling you how to hide your gross, gravity-ravaged tits with monochrome ensembles and tasteful, inobtrusive cardigans from Coldwater Creek, all in the hopes of making sure that you bid adieu to your younger, once marginally fuckable self in an outfit that doesn't gross people out OR make you look too old. And you know what? Fuck those people. I say go either/or in rainbow cheetah print bralettes or a drop-waist maxi calico shirtdress.
As for me, I still aspire to Eastern European rest home chic, which is why I need all of these things from Vermont Country Store.
Women's Eileen West Moonlight Sonata Cotton Robe
This robie-nightie-tunic-thing is supposed to have been inspired by "the simple beauty of a moonlit night," but I prefer to think of it as inspired by a simple Amish woman exempt from the ridiculous silk-like asscheek floss and cheap-ass cotton boy shorts of English sleepwear whose name might also be Eileen. I also wanted to be Amish when I was younger as well as an octogenarian fashion plate, so this is the number one item on my VCS list. It's one of their most highly-rated and most-purchased items, so for once I'm popular. Also, this review, which I suspect was written by that one hilarious XOJane writer: "Feel like a Victorian goddess in this gown!"
I also want to feel like a consumptive single-breasted piece of property.
Women's Flannel Mock Neck Popover Nightgown
This is the ultimate and zero fucks sleepwear, and I know that because the copywriters on Vermont Country Store told me so, bless their little pea-pickin' hearts. I'll let those little copymonkeys sell you on the finer points of lilac plaid:
"Many of our mothers wore flannel nightgowns like this one for a long list of reasons."
Women's Turtleneck Dickie
Every selection on the Vermont Country Store's website has a sentence of sparkle text under the product name, and it's the best fucking thing about this entire website. You can practically hear the Dartmouth lit grads wiping their tears on their promissary nots. For instance, the Women's Turtleneck Dickie — which, paired with the Women's Flannel Mock Neck Popover Nightgown proves that the only thing old ladies like more than latchhook is affixing big aesthetics-only polyblend foreskins to our necks – is aptly described as "A Layer of Cotton Knit Comfort Without the Bulk." And thank fucking Christ for that, because what else would I wear under this next gem.
Women's Lanz Velvet Trim Scoop Neck Dress
Holy fuck. Yes, please. This dress is exactly what my kindergarten teacher, a kindly old woman named Mrs. Hale, who didn't even get that mad at me when I bit another kid for spelling the word "cloud" wrong and gave me stickers even when I pretend-snored instead of napped wore. She was approximately a million years old back then, so this fits the bill nicely. At the exact moment that I wrote that sentence, I realized that Mrs. Hale is probably dead now. Fuck you, Vermont Country Store.
Women's Classic Floral Swim Cap
Why do I need this? Because suck my balls is why. Actually, I need to know why this review was written: "Color is great. Saved my life by keeping me afloat during 'treading water.'" I think the only path to understanding is by owning Mildred Ellen Orton's own swim hat.
Women's Wool Scarf Hat
This hat promises a lot: "Soft, Warm, and Stays Put...Even On Breezy Days", a sentence which, frankly, could have used at least an exclamation point. But alas, the biggest selling point remains not that you won't lose your scarf — because this motherfucker right here is attached to that motherfucker right there — but the fact that you'll look like you're wearing a hat that happened when a hat from Call the Midwife had hate sex with a hat from the bee parts of Wicker Man (Nic Cage version, NATCH). That's the draw. Not "sturdy wool felt" construction. Fucking Dartmouth.
Women's Denim Walking Short
The tagline for this is "You'll Feel More Comfortable and Confident When Out and About In These Longer Shorts," an inaccurate headline because these are not shorts. These are denim leg tubes, and I will deffo wear them during my dream trip to Savannah, Georgia, where I will pair them with my walking clogs and use the entire ensemble to promenade my ass up to Lady and Sons restaurant, where I will scream at my waitress when it finally becomes clear that Paula Deen is, in fact, not actually there. Afterward I will tip her change on the dollar and ask her if she's ever met Tom Hanks. This is your privilege – nay, your God-given duty as an old. These walking shorts are not elastic-waist culottes at all but a solemn promise. Don't take that promise lightly, like some fucking millennial would do.
3 Pairs Women's Mid-Thigh Panties
These panties promise to "glide ever so gently over your skin," a promise dubiously amended with the weird-ass phrase that insists, "you're going to want to call these nylon panties your own." It immediately brings to mind a panty-swapping circle, in which you and six of your frenemies trade panties during a game of strip-Bunco and then one of you grabs one of these mid-length motherfuckers, and when you reverse glissade them over your chub rub, you whisper, "Fuck you, Maude, these are mine now."