Taking a Gamble On Fashion

Me and Dee Dee under the Reno "Biggest Little City in the World" sign, circa mid 90s. Not my platformed Birkenstocks, Negro-league cap and hurricane-type cocktail

Me and Dee Dee under the Reno “Biggest Little City in the World” sign, circa mid 90s. Dee Dee is rocking one of my favorite items ever, the “Overall”, perfect gambling attire. Note my platformed Birkenstocks, New York Giant’s cap, ankle-rolled sweat-pants and hurricane-type cocktail. I clearly gambled at fashion and lost.

Tomorrow I am flying to Reno to meet dear high school friends Kelly and Dee Dee and I could not be more excited. True, it’s no hotbed for fashion, but I could care less. It’s all about the slots and the tables and the watered-down-drinks and the cherries and the ding-ding-ding and the dealers and the lack of clocks.

Nevada casinos are home for me. Every summer growing up, my parents packed us in the Chevy Citation and headed up to Tahoe, where they promptly dumped us at the pool and hit Harvey’s. Vibrating hotel beds were our roller-coasters. We loved it up there. Even after my dad died, mom would take the bus by herself, straddling two stools to play two machines at a time. She sometimes made so much money she had to claim it on taxes. My dad’s ashes are scattered in the Lake.

For most people, turning 21 meant drinking. For me it was more about graduating from the pool and into the casino to gamble with my parents. My fondest memories involve my mom schooling me on the fine art of “Double Diamond” and “playing the maximum amount of coins.” With dad, it was playing video poker and and shooting the shit during Keno. He would get absolutely silly up there; I think it was the combination of screw-drivers (never beer, his usual drink, which would make him too sleepy, he told me) and altitude. Ask Kelly about the time he put cars in her bed.

I never win. I never much care. Does this mean it’s my time? To increase my chances, I’ll carry my giant rabbit’s foot bag, from Jslow’s collection of yore, Mona Milkface. You can ask her about that nickname. She tends to inspire them.

rabbit foot 1

Rabbit’s Foot bag by Jslow, from her Mona Milkface collection.

This casino-chic show-stopper is one of many gambling-related pieces of clothing I’ve worn over the years. My favorite is below: The infamous 80’s/90’designer Patrick Kelly “Dice dress” I snapped off a sale rack at Neiman Marcus. It was such a hit at Chiat/Day where I worked it even made my going-away party invite with the line: “You can leave, Paula, but the Dice Dress Stays.” Always inappropriate, I’d wear it pitches and meetings, even joking about using the dice to help determine what media I used.

Me + Kelly at a wedding circa late 80s. Dress by Patrick Kelly. Yes, those are real dice.

Me + Kelly at a wedding circa late 80s. Dress by Patrick Kelly. Yes, those are real dice. No, those are not caterpillars over my eyes.

I donated it in the late 90’s after a great run. God I wish I would have kept it.

Even though Reno is a bit of a dump, and unlike Vegas, is not teaming with celebrities and clubs, I still care about what I wear. It’s more about practicality and utility, not unlike dressing for a sport. Here are my tips on how to be Casino Chic:

  1. Since you’ll spend a lot of time sitting on backless stools at the slots or tables, low-rise jeans are a disaster, unless you want someone dropping a quarter in your crack.
  2. It may be 90 degrees outside, but it’s cold inside. Make sure to bring light layers. A sweater can also double as a waist-wrap to prevent the issue stated in #1 above.
  3. Unless you want to get hit on by all manner of toothless smelly man, wear the neck-line high and the hem low.
  4. Or, by all means, wear the neck line low and the hem high! What happens in Reno…
  5. The buffets are pretty legendary so make sure your stomach has room to groove, whether in an unstructured dress or tunic and leggings.
  6. Casino seating can hit at awkward heights, meaning feet can dangle. This can make certain sandals and slip-ons hard to keep on. If you don’t want to lose your shoes, wear a sneaker, boot or something that hugs the foot for dear life.
  7. Since the odds of running into anyone you know are slim to none, why NOT take a gamble on fashion and wear something crazy or that you are too shy to wear at home. Reno can be a great “breaking in” destination.

So there you have it. Wish me luck. I want to bring Jslow’s rabbit’s foot back stuffed with cash. Which I of course will spend on more fashion.

2 Responses

  1. Paula

    Hahahaha, thanks, I could KILL MYSELF for not holding on to that dress. So stupid!

    DeeDee donned the dice ring in Reno to no affect; Kell and I can’t find ours. We both put them away in special places so we’d remember them but of course can’t remember where those special places are!

    We missed you. Already planning on another trip soon. I’m even changing my tune about Thunder Valley — a pool is always enticing. xoxo

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