The Katy K Shirt
Fashion comes in many forms here in Miami. There are the “fashionistas” like Leopoldo and Ditmar whose closets carry enough Versace and Prada to outfit an army, and the laid-back tropical set, of which I am a card-carrying member. When you live and work in a beach of scantily-clad people, it is very easy to fall into the mode of “less is more”. Dressing up for me now only means the Thurston Howell III Palm Beach Look. It is so easy, now.
But, there was a time—in New York—in which I, too, was a fashionista; you had to be if you went out every night, but it could be very costly if you weren’t clever. My boyfriend and I had found an invaluable, Vietnamese seamstress who could knock off a Jean Paul Gaultier suit in two days and I was the constant companion of the manager of Matsuda’s stores, which automatically got me a 90% discount there. (The more I took her out, the larger the disounts became; I was a monster.) Matsuda’s latest British school boy jacket would be passed on to the seamstress and clones in different fabrics, purchased in Delancey Street Jewish fabric stores, would suddenly appear.
One hung over Sunday morning I got it into my head to visit the Astor Place store of one of the darlings of The Lower East Side, Katy K. Katy had a line of couture Western wear, a look so incongruous there that it was over-the-top chic. I walked in and plunked down over $300 (in 1990 dollars) on a custom cowboy shirt with embroidered cowgirls on the yokes. I don’t know what I was thinking, but everyone loved it (no, there were no boots or hats to go with it). Along with many other quirky items, it ended up in a trunk here of seldom worn, but sometimes revisited kooky clothing. But, there were times that I simply got frustrated with so much unused fashion that I would bundle up a batch and bring it to the local, Aid’s charity thrift store on Alton road.
About a month ago, I entered my outer office which doubles as a dressing room on weekends for the “girls”, and ran into Geraldine preparing to do a Patsy Cline number with the Katy K shirt. “OMG!” I shouted, “That’s a Katy K; let me see the label.” I didn’t remember ever getting rid of it, but I knew there couldn’t have been many others. “I got it for FIVE dollars at the thrift store,” she said. I explained it’s history and rampaged through my old clothes collection when I got home. It wasn’t there. At some point I had gathered it up for donation.
Geraldine offered it back, but I refused because it had found a whole new life, just as I had here in South Beach. It was once again being paraded around to the amusement of the crowd. She let me take it home to scan and Leopoldo gasped as he ran his fingers across the embroidery. He is always asking about my time in New York as a Party Animal and he had a piece of dinosaur history to hold.
I’ve decided not to actually try to fit into it, though, in the interest of both Geraldine and myself. Dinosaur skin—even the most expensive--shrinks with time; I doubt it would fit.