The quest for a new top is something I knew very well as a teen, forcing my mother to drive me to Contempo Casuals at Topanga Plaza, where mile-long racks featured patterned, puffed sleeved, ruffled delights. “I need a new top!” I insisted. “I need a new top for the dance.”
There was always an excuse. A school photo, an outing with buddies, the first day of school, the last day of school, and so on. It all comes back to haunt me, the dang top thing. Today, my 14-year-old daaughter implored us to take her to the mall to secure a new top for her first school homecoming dance. A top would make it okay. A top was her ticket to success, to feeling fresh and new and accepted.It’s the ultimate natural high. Can you top that?
I resisted because I think it is a bad pattern, the notion that unless we are wearing a new top, we won’t feel the approval we so crave. It’s really the anti-green, if you think about it, the impulse to buy something totally new that no one has seen in order to feel we have succeeded fashion-wise.
The fashion world promotes this feeling. That’s the whole theory behind seasonal collections, the idea behind dressing actresses to showcase all that is new and fresh and never before seen by mere mortals. I remember a time when actresses could just focus on their craft without concern the paparazzi would flash them taking out the trash in a robe or sunbathing on their private patios. Now, you have to look flawless 24/7. You have to wear something new, or at least, a good vintage piece that you just purchased. You have to stay on top, in pretty tops.
Sites like Hot Fash sell the hottest in fashion tops, including sexy halters, tubes, one shoulder looks, cropped tops, army chic tops with metals and stripes, cute tees, tanks, blouses, corsets and more. Today, I’m cleaning out the closets in the rooms my daughters occupy, closets that are apparently so jammed with tops that the girls struggle to hang them up or fold them to put away in the drawers. I do a spring cleaning every season, not just in the spring, and it always makes me feel lighter knowing they are carrying a lighter burden.
Will it make a difference allowing these privileged kids see what they actually own. They might even be surprised to see a cool top they didn’t even know lived in their room. It has happened.
But until I finish the job, the sense of urgency has taken over our domain.
“Mom, I’ll never ask you for another thing my entire life, but I must have a new shirt for the dance, I need it, I need it,” she begs, bothering me as I write this blog, avoiding the task at hand because I hate housework.
I give in the way I know I shouldn’t, the way their father never does, the father who has bought two pair of jeans the past five years.
She will be wearing a new top tonight for her first date, her first dance, and she will feel pretty and accepted. Until the next time when she needs her fix, and promises to never ask again. Tops are the drug of females, the devil, and they lead to stronger garments, to skinny jeans and jackets and boots. Just say NO to tops if you can. Otherwise, accept the fact, we dwell among a warped culture that needs new tops to lift us from the bottom of the heap.