Shopping Like a Hoochie-Mama
My trip to Brazil was completely spontaneous. Part of this impulsiveness was due to the weather. Anyone who has been remotely near the East Coast in winter knew it had snowed uncontrollably since January. The sun had not been seen since the day before Christmas. As I threw open my closet to pack, the only visible shoes were my hiking boots. Why not? I had been wearing them every day since New Year 2003 – The Year of the Boot.
I had heard all about the “fio dental” or dental-floss sized bikinis in Brazil. I had seen the pictures in my guidebook. This is a tropical country. There were photographs of the beautiful people of Rio de Janeiro – tanned, toned, running around in Speedo’s and G-strings. Needless to say, my blizzard-stunted wardrobe contained none of the items necessary to get by in Brazil.
As I burrowed into the summer section of my storage, I found a few things that I thought might work in Rio. Then I looked at the guidebook and web site again. Denim cutoff’s and Teva’s didn’t really seem to be all the rage there. T-shirts? Tank tops? Khakis? Nope.
This required a quick trip to the local mall. Lucky for me there was a sale on summer items. If I had not been leaving for Rio the next day, I would have bypassed these “hoochie mama” clothes – flimsy things with animal prints, spaghetti straps and skirts that barely cover, well, what needs to be covered – found in the junior department for teenage girls.
On this day, though, I had entered a new world – a world that did not revolve around sturdy trousers for trowelling through ancient artifacts or cotton/wool blend socks best worn for miles on the Appalachian Trail. Who cares now if I run into a former student while wearing a leopard print?
I looked back and forth between my guidebook and the clothing racks. There were outfits for beachside bars and dancing through the streets at Carnaval. I had fun shopping (trust me, this is a rarity). I was looking for party clothes. There were brightly-colored boustierres, type of tops. I felt like an 18th century French courtesan with overflowing cleavage and a smooth fitting waist. I slid back into the 21st century with a shimmering gold spandex tank and a shiny black mini-skirt.
As strange as this sounds, my new hoochie wardrobe was liberating. I was free from the past blizzard-filled months of wool and Gore-Tex, from the constraints of three layers of stretch pants. Banished were the boots, having been temporarily traded in for sandals and toe rings. Armed with a new supply of spaghetti strap tops and mini-skirts, I was ready for Rio.