Are you one who enjoys presenting your best side to the viewing public? What I mean is, do you spend time fixing your hair, pants, shirt, purse, shoes, the whole bit? Not that you strive to strut your stuff down the Chanel or Yves St Laurent runways ― it’s just that you want to be presentable. Most women who take care of their heart and/or soul take care of their appearance, too. What I’d like to know, then, is why is it when we are away from the public eye, we look like hobos from Hoboville?
I have gone full swing with fashion through my life. There was a time that clothing meant something more than tennies with mud and jeans with holes in the knees. Power suits and tailored dresses (with shoulder pads, of course) were the trademark of the 80’s, especially in downtown Chicago. Working on Michigan Avenue, there was a plethora of boutiques, department stores, and cutting-edge shops to keep even the weary well-dressed. I might not have kept up with the big-time dressers, but I did my best to look clean, chic, and, well, presentable.
Eventually I left the sparkle of the big city, choosing instead to become a mother and part-time sales clerk, and my wardrobe change again. An elastic waistline took the place of leather belts, and casual pants and sweaters replaced the soldier-woman look. Of course, once I became a mother, anything comfortable became the name of the game. After all, who would want baby spit on a Liz Claiborne blouse?
Now my kids are either in college or married and on their own, and I’m at the point where the words “casual Friday” get me excited. Back in the office after years of the “momma” mode, I am leaning towards a more crafted, uncrafted look. Flowing, easy going, with a bit of bling. These days women have their own version of dress up, running the gamut from jeans to capris to dresses. Business suits (do they even exist anymore?) are kept for meeting clients, and people wear sweatshirts and jeans to office Christmas parties.
But here is the crux of my story. I live in the country, and not long ago was co-owner of one old, crusty, buffy rooster named Rocky. Left over from my husband’s desire to be a “country farmer”, Rocky was the last of a few generations of hens and roosters. He had a little coop all to himself, and, when the evening was pleasant, I would let him out to roam the grass and field around his abode. Well, one evening I went back outside to close his coop door for the night, and when I looked down, took notice of what I was wearing: pink slippers with Christmas socks, a long, flowery nightgown, and a faded purple housecoat. What a fop I had become!
What happened to fashion sense? Why is it so easy to resort to horror story glamour when no one is looking? I thought about other rendezvous I’ve had inside my four walls when no one was looking: stained t-shirts, orange socks and green pants, nightgowns and chuggy boots. Did I lose all sense and sensibility when no one was round? Most will say that when we are home we are free to be who we are, and if that includes wearing plaid boxer shorts and paisley t-shirts, that’s just fine. This is true. I don’t mind skipping a shower on Saturday if no one is coming to visit, or wearing yesterday’s St. Patty’s day shirt because it’s got a little beer on it. I like to be comfortable, and I like to be practical. And, after all, if the shirt is already stained from yesterday’s dinner, why not wear it while you’re making spaghetti sauce tonight?
That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the feminine side of fashion. I love shoes that fit, earrings that dangle and bracelets that sparkle. I love a comfortable pair of khakis as much as a flowery summer frock. I shop at Good Will as often as The Boston Store, and bargain is my middle name. I wear whatever I want whenever I want. Having suffered through girdles, garter belts and shoulder pads, I have earned my place on the fashion ladder. I like to think my fashion sense falls somewhere between fashion runway-itis and poverty chic. I am not embarrassed by who I am; I revel in the fact that I can go with the flow and feel comfortable in any setting. That is the beauty of being a woman.
But I also admit that I’d be totally embarrassed if anyone outside of my dogs saw me tread out to the chicken coop in unicorn slippers and a ski jacket with a furry hood.
I’ve got to get a little common sense here; I need to find the balance between beautiful and bum. I can never let anyone see me walk around the house in some of the getups I let myself get away with.
No one should be put through that kind of pain.