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Tell me your stories

Hello Lovely Ladies

I am in a writers group here in Richmond and I have found great pleasure discovering that I love to write stories .

So I thought about what I might include if i wrote a book.

There are so many wonderful experiences owning and managing a retail store for over 43 years so I thought about One of the things I have heard so much over the years said to me is “some of my favorite things I have ever worn I bought from you many years ago. They then add either “I still love them and wear them to this day” or “I cannot get rid of them just yet as I just love looking at them even though they don’t fit me any more.

I would love to hear from you about those favorite pieces of clothing purchased from the Phoenix (at any of my locations throughout the years) and what you have loved about them. Where have you worn them and felt so special? Tell me a story about your favorite item and if you have a photo please include it with your story.

In the late 1950’s in California, just before Joan Baez, headbands, and

“Make Love Not War” T shirts altered our consciousness for the better (or worse,

depending upon your point of view) the uniform for teenaged girls was a gathered

cotton skirt, cotton blouse with a peter pan collar, and maybe a little scarf that

brought the whole outfit together. But the essential article of clothing was a

crinoline. For anybody under 75, which I assume most of your are, a crinoline was

a petticoat, also gathered, but usually in tiers, that you wore beneath your skirt that

turned it into an upside-down bell. The crinoline brought the whole outfit to life,

gave an otherwise limp cotton skirt some serious personality. For teenagers who

were a little on the plump side like me it created an optical illusion, making your

waist appear smaller because your skirt was so huge.

There were cheap and expensive crinolines. I mostly had the cheap kind

because my parents didn’t believe in excessive spending for clothes. But when I

turned 15 and was taken by my parents to New York City for the first time, my rich

Uncle Bobby gave me $20, which was like $75 today, maybe more, and I went

right down to Macy’s and blew the whole thing on the Ultimate Crinoline - which

was made out of nylon mesh, gathered into tiers, and attached to a hip=hugging

band that held it in place. This was a monster of a crinoline. When I wore it and

walked through the living room, vases, picture frames and glasses of ginger ale

were swept off the coffee table. It was a lampshade on the loose, and I thought I

looked completely perfect in it.

My relatives in New York were silent on the subject. They had never met

me before and I guess they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. But on the East Coast

crinolines were not fashionable. So I was the only one who wore it. I learned to

gather the nylon pleats together and edge around furniture that held things I could

knock over. But it gave me a tremendous sense of security, probably the way

young girls with tattoos and nose jewelry feel today. I was being paid attention to -

but in a good way. On the way home, with no one to impress, I rolled my crinoline

into a sausage and wrestled it into a nylon stocking, which made it more

manageable to pack. One day, I tossed it into the dumpster. Joan Baez had

arrived, with Bob Dylan in tow.

Phyllis Theroux

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