Homecoming with Danny senior year
New Years Eve with Danny
It was my first day of high school and there he was, Daniel Datzer, bounding down the hallway after homeroom in long athletic strides, wearing an Izod shirt, khakis and Tretorn tennis shoes.
I was making my way to my first period, Ms. Niggemeyer's biology class.Thanks to her alphabetical placement of students, Daniel Datzer sat down next to me, Keli Daniels, with his Lands’ End catalog and his worn-out edition of The Preppy Handbook. I knew I'd met my match. We became fast friends. He was my constant companion, confidant, and date to prom and homecoming.
When we should have been memorizing frog and cadaver body parts, we were exchanging notes and elaborate high-fashion illustrations, hidden inside The Preppy Handbook.
We used that handbook not so much as a bible but as a guide, the rules of which we were just as anxious to follow as we were to break.
We nicknamed ourselves Kiki and Wynn and rode buses downtown and to the east side of Milwaukee to explore old thrift shops and army-navy stores. We bought hats, angora cardigans, coats, ties, brooches and vintage dresses.
I painted barrettes and made grosgrain-ribbon headbands, while Danny cut up oversized T-shirts and converted them into dresses for me. We stole his mother Ethel's pearls, along with her champagne. Then we took our style creations out for a spin at a gay bar or two in downtown Milwaukee. On the occasions when I could actually get past the discriminating bouncer, we drank water and danced all night!
Then there was the time we got pulled over late at night in the rain after switching license plates from my Karmann Ghia to his Dodge Dart Swinger. We had to fill out a card with our name, address, DL# and a description of what we were wearing?! The officer let us go with a warning but we were told that the cards would remain on file. To this day we still don’t know what that was all about.
We didn’t always get it right, but God knows we tried. There were the turquoise blue parachute pants I rocked, the pink and bright green duck shoes we both wore, the asymmetrical bob his boyfriend Dirk gave me, Danny’s Flock of Seagulls red dye job that highlighted his green loafers and black leather pants from Bigsby and Kruthers in Chicago. He also gave me the advice that proportionately my body didn’t work well with a purse. Hmnnnn. Like I said, we strayed from the rule book a bit.
During a time filled with angst and change and sometimes confusion, Danny and I had each other, and fashion was our way of expressing ourselves and communicating to the world who we were and who we hoped to be.
Today my style equation still reflects those times and those basics. And I find myself gravitating toward those great tailored pieces to anchor my wardrobe. Danny and I are lucky enough to be in each other’s lives shopping and sharing our ideas even now.
Recently, while shopping with Danny I discovered a few items worth mentioning: The updated Jackie cardigan at J. Crew teamed here monocromatically with their pencil skirt and the polka-dot sequin top, shown layered with their classic white blouse. Another current favorite find is the updated loafer. This one is the Braxton with grosgrain trim from Banana Republic.
Jackie cardigan and pencil skirt, both at J.Crew stores, sale plus 50% off
Online and in J.Crew stores, on sale plus 40 or 50% off
So who in your life has been your biggest fashion influence? I’d love to know.