Floridian in the Big Green Apple

Attention airport security: Florida clothes in carry-on may cause blindness.

I’m packing today, for a trip to New York City, where I’m hoping my lack of New York clothes won’t make me the laughingstock of the lower east side.  (“Look at the lady, mommy!”  “Shush, darling. She can't help it; she's from Florida.”) My clothes are all wrong. I’ve got too much pink and green and not enough black, gray and beige. I’m afraid I’ll look like a margarita in a martini bar.

I used to be a black-beige addict. All of my clothes were like the Mix-n-Match Travel Ensemble from the JCPenney catalog. I used to love looking at that model wearing a total of four items of clothing, but by wearing them in different combinations, had a different outfit for every day of a 9-day business trip. Put the black blazer over the beige tank one day; next day add the beige-and-black striped top; turn the whole thing inside-out for a black-on-beige reverse trick, all worn with the same black pants, which, like a chameleon, look different every day.

When I shopped, I intended to buy colors, but would be drawn like a magnet to the black pants, the beige shirt, the gray scarf.

I was an addict. And my enabler was every women’s clothing store in the mall. Some seasons every rack of clothing in The Limited and New York & Co that is visible from the mall entrance was full of black and beige clothing. And then there’s the Black & White store.

One day I honestly said aloud, “I should look for a job as a hostess or something in a place where you have to wear black and beige every day as a uniform. I wouldn’t have to buy a thing.”

Then I moved to Florida and started to shop in stores where you had to put on sunglasses when you walked inside. So much hot pink, bright white, sunshine yellow, turquoise and lime green. The drabbest thing in Beall’s is the Nautica navy blue line with embroidered sailboats.

I was buying it and I was wearing it but I wasn’t entirely comfortable about it until my daughter said, “You look younger, now that you’re wearing colors.”

Then it all began to make sense. Florida is in statewide denial about aging. No one here wants to admit that we’re all getting older. The Sunshine State is the plastic surgery and hair dye capital of the world. Not to mention drinking too much, driving too fast, and behaving immaturely. People go to great lengths to hide their age, including wearing a day-glo sundress to calling hours. There is no job in the state of Florida where the hostess wears black and beige.

I don’t think it works that way in New York. So I’m prepared to be mistaken for a 43-year-old dressed like an umbrella drink.

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