Back to School with Kathy McCullough!

Kathy McCullough is author of Don’t Expect Magic, a new novel about a teenager sent to live with her lame, life coach dad—who just so happens to be a fairy godmother. And guess what? It’s an inherited position. At first, McCullough’s heroine, Delaney, isn’t so much into granting wishesbut she’s very into fashion. So in honor of the first month of school coming to a close (and the publication of Don’t Expect Magic) we had to ask: Kathy, what did you wear in junior high/high school?



It’s ironic that Delaney Collins, the protagonist of Don’t Expect Magic, is so attentive to fashion, when her creator is utterly clueless in that department.

To say that my clothing choices in junior high and high school were not stylish is a hilarious understatement. (In my defense, the 1970s and 1980s were not exactly high points in fashion history.) First, there were the bell-bottoms with loud, wild, paisley prints and peasant tops with ruffled necks and drawstring collars. I even had a poncho: red and gray-striped, made of wool.

At least these outfits had flair, though. As I got a little older, my wardrobe actually became duller. That may be because my teen years were one long awkward phase. The highlight (uh, actually the lowlight) was eighth grade, when I had both braces and glasses. This, combined with being taller than all the girls and almost all of the boys, as well as being skinny and unathletic, made me do anything I could to camouflage myself. That meant dressing like everybody else, but blander.

By this time, I had moved from Florida to a preppy area outside Philadelphia, where the unofficial uniform included Lacoste “alligator” shirts in pink and green (required) as well as other basic colors (optional), and corduroy slacks in various muted shades, from light beige to dark beige to brown. Although these clothes were neither flattering nor feminine, I did blend into the background. Pretty much.

By high school, the braces were gone, the glasses exchanged for contact lenses, and I began to wear clothes that could not be purchased in the men’s department. Unfortunately, this new wardrobe was made up mainly of jumpers, mostly plaids. I paired these with turtlenecks in alternating colors, a different color for each stripe in the plaid.

But there were also knee socks.

Oh, how I loved knee socks! Ribbed! Patterned! Striped! The daily combination of turtleneck and jumper required no thought, so the knee socks were where I could display a little individuality (if not taste).

It’s interesting that Delaney expresses the same individuality in her boots. She wears mostly black, but her boots have color and style—and she designs them herself, “remaking” old boots by adding snaps and buckles and slashes and zippers and leather paint. (And occasionally a sewn-on holster for the wand she uses to grant wishes.)

Hmm. Maybe she and I have more in common than I thought . . .

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