If you’re not a worrywart, maybe you don’t stress about weighing comfort and how you spend your time against what it requires to look your best. The older I get, the less patience I have for wearing anything that feels less comfortable than pajamas and shearling slippers.
I have paid what it cost for my first used VW to own a couple pairs of jeans that look pretty good and have some stretch for comfort. Yet, I’ve worn each pair once, because if I go to dinner and blue jeans are squeezing my stomach, it feels like there’s no room for my next bite of pork loin that the waiter promised would be both pink and safe, which proves a worrywart can have a risk-taking streak.
As for the time it would require to gussy up, my inner hedonist always opts for something more fun to do, which is anything from riding my bike to going into the basement with my hand in a plastic bag and picking up the sticky traps dense with crickets. At least then I get to cross something off my to do list.
And shopping? Oy. I remember shuddering when my wasband first announced he was running for congress and someone came up to me and said, “Dresses, you’re gonnna need dresses!” and all I could picture was claustrophobic dressing rooms and gagging after getting spritzed with a scent by the manicured finger of one who was dolled up in a red sheath dress and lipstick to match.
The other day I went to Eileen Fisher with my friend Rhoda, who knows how to shop. To the hangers of clothing she plucked from the racks I responded with a string of objections: I can’t wear a jewel neck, I don’t like shawl collars, I’d be too hot, I look sallow in gold tones, $178 for a scarf are you kidding?. . . . You get the idea.
I hated being so annoyingly negative. She, on the other hand, remained tolerant, patient and goal-oriented. I ended up with a dress that cost what I’d spent on each of the aforementioned dungarees and looks like a black elongated v-neck sweater. It has hung in my closet ever since (new things are similar to favorite things, avoidance-wise). As for shoes, I’m afraid nothing higher than a New Balance sole will ever again grace my feet.
The best advice about dressing I ever received was “You don’t have to look different each time, you just have to look good.” The lofty goal of looking good aside, that remark gave me permission to own just one uniform for each occasion. That way I never have to think too hard.
So what’s with trying to fade into darkness with my wardrobe? I’m not shy, I don’t mind drawing attention to myself and anyone who reads this blog will know that I am unafraid to expose some of my innermost thoughts. When I was in my twenties, I wore flashy vintage clothes from a thrift shop, like my threadbare Sgt. Pepper-type jacket.
Maybe the inclination to get all doodaded up skips a generation or I’m still rebelling against my mom, who always wore pretty colors and dresses, like a lime green shirtwaist that matched her eyes. My kids have an interest in clothes and will sometimes nag me not to wear my faded black jeans (with elastic waist of course) to go to the theater. They don’t agreee with me that those pants “read” as black slacks.
Funny, one of the things I don’t worry about is that Mr. Right/Mr. Wrong (wherever he is) and others might look askance at my plain, boring, comfortable, low-stress, limited wardrobe.
Read an excerpt at susanorlins.com