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The Ghoulies in My Good Clothes

I don't pretend to have good fashion sense. But this time of year, the fine line I tread between haute couture and Halloween costume blurs even more.

My daughter always raids my closet to scare up her ghastly garb. It's downright hair-raising.

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She pulls out my oversized red sweater, the one I splurged $65 on because the sales clerk assured me that the baggy look made me took svelte.

"Great! I can be a big fat M&M this year!" my daughter says. "Do you have any gaudy red leggings to go with it, Mom?"

Yes, but I'm wearing them.

The little wanna-be witch doesn't mean to be rude, I tell myself. She just has a different perspective of my finest fashions. It's good to be open-minded and tolerant of others' viewpoints. Isn't that what I always preach?

"So. Where'd you get this geeky shirt, Mom?" She fingers my frilly white blouse, the one I wear to funerals and other fancy functions. "I could be a pirate, especially if I wear your black silk pants."

Horrors! I survey the outfit with a critical, unpatched eye. Did I really dip punch at my cousin's wedding dressed as Captain Hook? It was a second wedding, I remind myself, not so formal a wing-ding. Still, my gold-hoop earrings shiver at the thought.

I dress without fear for 11 months of the year. Never with confidence, but at least without therapy. Never once do I think of Dopey, one of the Seven Dwarfs, when I belt my tunic top over leggings. "Bag lady" never enters my head when I layer a blouse with my droopy black cardigan. The only appellations I consider as I zip my black-linen dress are "chic" and "rich" and "smart."

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"Morticia!" my daughter shrieks. "This is the perfect Morticia dress! Bethany will be so jealous." I register a blank. "The Addams Family," she adds.

Every October, I question my ears and my judgment. Think back: When I waltzed from the dressing room in the "Morticia" dress, did the clerk shout "sleek" or "eek"? Geek? Chic? It's spooky how much they start to sound - and look - alike.

My best friend accompanied me when I bought the gray "power suit" that cost more than a power mower.

Now I wonder. Did she mumble "elegant" or "elephant"?

After riddling my closet and nerves, my little ghoul opens my chest of drawers to search for goblin accessories. She unearths some skimpy underwear I'd felt obligated to buy at a neighbor's lingerie party. I've been saving it for when Barbie needs a new hair ribbon.

My little girl smiles. "Madonna," she whispers.

I snatch the ruffle and cram it back in my drawer.

"Not a ghost of a chance," I inform her. "Take Morticia and dig my lilac eye shadow out of the bathroom cabinet. That's what I wore to Uncle Eldon's retirement party. Trust me, you'll look hideous."

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