In My High School Closet

Every single time I come home for a few days I end up rifling through my bedroom (now my dad’s office) closet in search of…I don’t know, exactly. Some amazing piece leftover from my high school years that I somehow forgot about, and somehow escaped what happened to my parents after they read The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I do this every time I come home, despite the fact that were there anything there, I would have found it by now (as my closet is located in New York City, and is not exactly what you’d consider “spacious”). And every time, all I find are the same four things. None of them are the kinds of pieces I’d ever even consider wearing again, but all of them are pieces that – for various reasons – I’ve never let go of. And so my childhood closet is where they stay.

what I wore in high school in 1999

First, here is my junior-year prom dress, worn to beguile and enchant my junior-year boyfriend, Alex (who bore a striking resemblance to Seann William Scott, but only in Dude, Where’s My Car). I designed it – by which I mean drew it and sourced fabric for it, and then found hired someone to sew it for me, but still: I think that’s sort of neat. Unfortunately, this self-designed dress also looks exactly what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have worn to her prom, accessorized with a bunch of butterfly clips.

It has tiny Swarovski crystal dangly things on the ends of the string-ties. It has an Empire waist. It is seafoam-green.

It is a time capsule in dress form, and I am never letting it go.

what I wore in high school in 1999

Ohhhhh my goodness, this is not an appropriate item of clothing for a 16-year-old to own, and yet.

And yet.

This one I’m semi-certain I purchased to wear to my 16th birthday party, but I’m absolutely certain that I wore it during my senior year Spring Break in Cancun, because of course I did. I have no idea why this inch-wide piece of silk to which I have no real emotional ties is one of the few things I’ve held on to from my teenage years, other than the fact that the silk itself is really pretty – I love the colors and the pattern – and I think I’ve always had some vague idea that I might be able to make it work again. Somehow. Like with three or four additional items of clothing on top, maybe.

what I wore in high school in 1999

This was my father’s t-shirt in the ’70s. How, exactly, was my father ever appropriately sized for this t-shirt? These are the great mysteries.

Beyond the size, the shirt is tight under the armpits (not to mention tight everywhere else) and weirdly cropped and stained in the front…but it was my dad’s in the ’70s, and so now it’s a family relic, I suppose. So I’m bringing it home to California and giving it to my son. Who is five, and has maybe one year to wear it before it’s too small for him, too.

what I wore in high school in 1999

My sophomore-year prom gown was from a vintage shop upstate – I remember thinking it was the most elegant gown I’d ever seen in the world. It seems I managed to ignore the fact that it is the color of algae, extremely bridesmaid-dress-esque (it even rustles when you move, like the very best of them), and does not zip. (OK, maybe it zipped when I was in high school. It does not zip now.)

So that’s what I’ve got tucked away in my childhood wardrobe: A hobbit-sized t-shirt, two dresses that speak to some latent mermaid fantasies, and a mini perfectly suited for my Real Housewives audition. Seems about right.

(Below, a few ’90s-ish items that I really wish I had found in my drawers instead.)

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