Wednesday, June 18, 2003

True colors of pink, green will never quite fade away

By Peggy O'Farrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

As a former Prepster, I can only shake my head in wonderment at Muffy's rebirth. I thought she had smothered under all that flannel in the Grunge era.

Once again, the mall is awash in plaid and polo shirts; thankfully, unicorn hair hasn't made a comeback.

The hot pink Polo shirt, with logo
In the early '80s, the neighborhood I grew up in was solidly blue-collar, but the People Who Mattered at my high school aspired to pink and green, with a smattering of khaki for contrast.

Dressed like CPAs

My older siblings and their classmates tried to look like rock stars; we dressed like CPAs.

I tried; my knee socks matched my starched oxford-cloth shirts and my penny loafers were just worn enough to be classic, but not shoddy. On good days, my plaid Bermuda purse coordinated perfectly with the shirt and socks. But my family's finances didn't run toward what my mother called "an overpriced T-shirt with an alligator on it," and the Sears version didn't quite cut it.

(If you were truly among The Chosen, you wore your Polos or Izods layered, collars up, at least until your mother got annoyed and flipped them back into place.)

To enter preppy heaven, you needed the right uniform: A hot pink Polo shirt with a lime green logo. I got my only shot at true cool my senior year when the two teachers I assisted (yeah, I was that kinda kid) teamed up to buy me the genuine, Ralph Lauren-sanctioned article for graduation.

When I opened the gift and glimpsed the hot-pink fabric, my heart stopped. Sad to say, when I spied the teal blue polo player, my heart dropped. I was that kinda kid, too.

No more preppy

Missed it by inches, and that was as close to cool as I ever got. In college, I wore the shirt with spiky fuchsia hair and black high tops; I thought I was being ironic.

The penny loafers are long gone. So are the fuchsia spikes.

But Muffy still owns my soul: My wardrobe might be practical black, but my heart is pink and green.


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