March 21st, 2021 / posted by paularath

Photo courtesy Jerry Mayfield

This safari skirt may look like something I wore when living in Botswana and visiting the elephants in the Okavango Delta. Far from it! In those lean years, my ex-husband and I didn’t have enough money to buy gas to get to the Okavango Delta.

This skirt has a different story.  It joined my wardrobe much later, in 1987, on my 40th birthday.

My son, Duncan, was 12 years old, and he wanted to give me a memorable gift for this special birthday. Duncan and I had some fun times shopping in the original Banana Republic store in Ala Moana Center. It was a different experience to shop there in the ’80s. Before it was bought by GAP, it was a relatively small family-owned company. The visual merchandising was reminiscent of a thatched hut in, well, a banana republic. Lots of raffia and rattan and “old family travel photos.”

Duncan has always taken pride in the fact that he was “made in Africa.” (I spent the first seven months of my pregnancy in Nigeria.) So it felt natural for him to go to Banana Republic for my gift.

At the time, Duncan was doing some acting and landed a couple of commercials and a full shooting day as Tom Selleck as a child in “Magnum P.I.” This meant he had his own money to spend on his mom. (Although, sadly, the “Magnum” footage ended up on the cutting room floor.)

When Duncan stepped into the store, he knew exactly what he wanted. He described an A-line, long safari skirt with a pocket. He had scouted through my closet to find what size I wore.  Green was always his favorite color, so he preferred a khaki skirt that skewed toward green.

The surprised sales people showed him the skirt pictured above and Duncan said it was simply perfect. He added that he needed a belt that would coordinate with it, and he gravitated toward a brown leather belt in a distinctive asymmetrical style with an interesting faux horn buckle. It was my favorite belt ever! (Sadly, the climate in Nuuanu destroyed it a few years ago.)

(Note: The reason I know this story is because the sales people at Banana Republic were so taken with Duncan that they called me a few days after my birthday to tell me about his shopping experience with them. They said he was a charming young gentleman on a mission to make his mom happy.)

And so he did. This skirt is still one of my favorite garments and I love pairing it with my safari jacket and a Uniqlo white T-shirt!

Paula Rath


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