Wear: Cruise Wear
against the notion of seasonal retail torment
Currently, it is sunny and 7 degrees Fahrenheit outside. This is a big step up from earlier today, when it was -4, and also from tomorrow, where the high temperature is forecast to be 0. I know this, because I keep track of the best, sunniest time of day to exercise my dogs at the off-leash park. Normal walks are out of the question now, because the salt on the street hurts their paws, and stuck on a leash, my guys can’t run enough to stay warm.
In order to keep warm on these outings, I wear two pair of socks, two pair of leggings, a heavy wool skirt, a coat that comes to my shins, felt-lined boots, a sweater, a muffler, two pair of gloves and ear-warmers.
This sounds like a lot. I’m not trying to be smug or snotty about it. I don’t intend to make others feel bad for shivering in 50-degree temps. I have lived in Minnesota most of my life, and while this kind of weather isn’t fun, I am used to it. Every climate has its problems—snakes, hurricanes, heatwaves—and the people who live there learn to solve them. So, I know how to dress for cold weather. To pile on quilts and use draft snakes and salt the walkways. These temperatures will persist for a few weeks and then let up, and next we’ll have spring, and snow, and spring again, and mud and rain and suddenly it will be swelteringly hot, and the calendar will say June 1.
This is how our seasons go here. I understand this. I accept this.
However. What I cannot accept, what I absolutely hate, is the presence right now in any store you enter, something the fashion industry calls “cruise wear.”
Cruise wear, as the concept trickles down to the lowly off-the-rack retail shopper like me, means there is a display of bikinis and mesh cover-ups and flip-flops and beach hats in Target or Walmart or Old Navy in the middle of blistering cold. There are racks of pastel dresses and rows of spindly white sandals preparing us for the post-Valentine’s gift-hiccup, which is Easter.
I hate Easter. You can’t have Easter where I live. It is always drizzling or muddy or windy or snowing on Easter in Minnesota. I know no one cares what I think because I’m not religious. But someone needs to tell the Pope to make a dispensation for our state. Little kids scurrying around for hidden eggs while wearing sky blue shirts and pale-yellow dresses beneath their dirty winter coats is an abomination.
If you drill down into the history of it, cruise wear began as a high-end capsule collection for the very rich, who desired packable, summery garments and swimwear for their winter yachting and island getaways. If you’ve managed to hold in your vomit after reading that, understand that this notion, then, dribbled down to the rest of us proles who aspire to maybe put a trip on our credit card once a year in hopes of relaxing a little at Cabo or Sandals. This is how bikini sales in subzero temperatures happen. If you pony up the scratch to go somewhere during your precious two weeks your company offers you, you’re going to want some culottes and a caftan and a tube top and jute espadrilles and fancy leather slides for a night out at dinner and a whole tinkling slough of rose gold bangle bracelets and a straw bag that won’t survive a mild spring rain. Naturally.
This means, of course, those of us who can’t afford this get to stand in line at Target, six feet apart, our boots dripping dirty snow on the linoleum, sweating in our parkas, waiting in the middle of the women’s clothing section, staring at some boobless mannequin wearing a halter-dress. This is an unreasonably demeaning situation. Cruel, even.
Worse yet: cruise wear collections are typically shipped to stores in November. November! The audacity. This paradisiacal attire, sitting around in boxes and crates, lurking in the back of the store by the timeclock and the break room, just waiting to be hauled out on a dolly and styled on racks and endcaps by someone getting paid $12 an hour, who will not be wearing any of this garb to an island or a lagoon in the middle of February. There is no time further from summer than mid-February in Minnesota, and there is no world where this situation makes sense.
I love summer. I hold the concept of summer very close to my heart. Maybe closer to my nostalgia glands, actually. Everything horrible and wonderful growing up happened to me in summer: getting my period when I was not even 10, breaking my leg, breaking my other leg, swimming at the lake, staying at the cabin, first kiss, first love, first heartbreak. So much magical mischief and brute sorrow came to my life in the summer.
Right now, I am mightily struggling to keep moving. Things are not well in my realm; we have sorrow of all flavors hurting the people I love. I am trying, though. There is no other choice. We are trying to make something beautiful out of ourselves every damn day. In this isolation, where friends and family and happy distractions are out of reach. In this cold, which makes a house feel like a prison. In this moment, when going on a vacation, laying in the sun, drinking giant fruity cocktails, walking down the street in flip-flops looking at racks of souvenir keychains seems like a story your great-grandparents would tell you.
We are trying to be patient with ourselves. With what we cannot change. To heal what has been hurt. To forgive, soothe, listen. To warm each other in love until the spring comes. And to hope—to never, never let go of this idiotic hope—that spring will burst back once more, making the whole bonkers notion of life seem worth it again, crazy crocuses pushing their way up through the snow despite all rationality.
And that is why I hate cruise wear.
like what I make?