My Life

Seattle Stories: Finishing School

Once upon a time, when I was 21, I went to Finishing School. I really did. Two evenings a week, after work I attended Carolyn Hansen Fashion College. My classes included fencing, acting, makeup, runway modeling, marketing, photography shoots, location shoots, and since this was 1975, posture, deportment and how-to-be-a-lady classes.

Carolyn Hansen’s school aimed for a well-rounded set of skills, all very pertinent to the era. The fencing classes were excellent; the idea was to teach us how to move with both grace and deliberate intent. Personally, I just liked poking people with a sword.

I had the best time ever, and all those taller models-to-be were not the least bit snarky towards the 5″2′ miniature person hanging out with them. Here’s the only surviving picture I have from back then, from a black and white photo shoot which followed a lesson on how to wear makeup for black and white photography. My hairstyle is the result of a giggly classmate twirling finger-twists all over my head and pinning them into place. Wacky but fun! The original photo is a tiny tattered proof, just an inch by two inches. It was a mess, but I had it digitally restored as best as could be done. At the time I weighed 95 pounds. That’s hard to imagine now.

Carolyn Hansen’s was right next door to I. Magnin. It was traditional for the short girl and her tall future-famous friends to window-dream over the luxury designer dresses we couldn’t afford, before going our separate ways for the evening.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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