Ahhh, the unofficial start to summer is unofficially here. In New England, this means packing away most of the cold-weather clothes and breaking out the summer wear. And for those of us more mature Real Women, that also means once again facing one particularly dreaded wardrobe element: shorts.
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny warm day, and my husband and I, along with many other families, attended an outdoor concert performed by our kids at a local family entertainment center. Shortly before leaving for this event, I pawed through the handful of shorts I have that at this point “sort of” fit. After all, this mamma bear put on a few pounds over the winter, so the available selection has diminished. Not thrilled with my options, I opted for a basic pair of navy shorts and a flowy shirt to hide as many flaws as possible.
During this enjoyable afternoon, as so often happens, I had two fascinating real woman coincidences happen. As I chatted with two separate R.W. friends, they each, without provocation, brought up the same topic: shorts. One friend was wearing jeans. She shared with me that the jeans were her only option that day – she too, like me, had apparently gained a few pounds over the winter, and her available shorts stock was depleted. She had attempted to go shopping the day before, and after a couple of hours returned home chagrined and empty handed. Every pair she found in the stores was short. I know, ironic to say that, but I mean really short. We both agreed that except for maybe a handful of freaks of nature, no woman over the age of 40 looks good in short shorts. Honestly, after scanning the crowd that afternoon, I’m willing to say very few women of ANY age look good in short shorts. That style is designed for 16-year old girls who weigh perhaps 85 pounds. No one else.
I concurred with my friend’s frustration, as I have only just begun the hunt for new shorts, and I too have seen styles that I would not even dare to try on, let alone purchase. A few minutes later, my other R.W. friend sat down next to me and she too told me the sad tale of going on a search for decent, wearable shorts. There had to be a happy medium somewhere between the pairs with a 1-inch mid-seam, and… well…. “mom shorts”. You know the style I’m talking about, because we all have them hidden in our drawer somewhere. Generally khaki in color, landing just above the knee, plain, no frills, built with the “comfort waist” to accommodate the muffin top. Let’s face it, Mom Shorts are as bad as Mom Jeans. My friend made her confession that in order to come out of the store with something wearable, she had settled on – she leaned in to whisper to me — “Gloria Vanderbilt’s”. Has it come to this? Are our days of fun and funky fashion and comfort in the hot sun over forever?
Men, we know you get weary of seeing the woman you love in capri’s. In all honesty, we get weary of wearing them. But there is a reason. Anything shorter is just…. too much of a challenge.
Speaking of men, they are not immune to the great shorts debate. Once they reach a certain age, some styles no longer work well on them either. The big difference is, they just don’t care as much as we do. If they are comfortable, that’s all that matters. Yet my son has begun to get a bit more vocal about his father’s taste in shorts. First of all, my husband has always loved, and will always love, jean shorts. He was shocked when my son and I tried to gently tell him over dinner the other night that he may be the last man in the country who still wears them.
The other morning, my husband had the day off but was up early, so we both roamed outside as my son was heading out to catch the bus for school. I was in my usual pre-work scary mom wardrobe of some form of sweatpants, tshirt and garden clogs. My son has long since given up on my early morning look, hoping that I simply won’t be in view when the bus arrives. His father this particular morning was preparing to do yard work, so had thrown on one of his oldest, ill-fitting tshirts, old paint-spattered shorts, and work boots. Now, for some reason, for teen girls, short shorts and combat boots is an acceptable, even encouraged style. However, translated to my husband, not so much. As the bus pulled up, my son cast a sleepy, teen-angst glance at his father and quietly said “Dad. Ya gotta get some longer shorts.” His father said “there’s nothing wrong with these shorts.” Then he glanced at me with an “is there??” look on his face. I have to admit I laughed, not necessarily at him, but for him. Because what choices does he really have? If he tried to wear the long basketball shorts the younger boys wear, he’d look ridiculous. So, like me, he’s faced with two choices: inappropriate, or old man.
We have a family vacation coming up in about a month. I have great hope that within that time frame, both my husband and I will find some summer wear that not only fits, but allows us some modicum of non-dorkiness. If we succeed, our son will be less embarrassed to be seen with us. If we don’t succeed, we can at least take comfort in knowing others of our kind will be in the same predicament. Perhaps we’ll start a club.
And of course, I’ll pack my capri’s.