I get it. As we move through our phases of life, our personal styles change – mostly because our bodies, preferences and moods seem to shift like the wind. And, at some point we reach a time when “age appropriate dressing” is a thing. Obviously the clothing I wore in my 20’s would in no way look good on me thirty years later, and I have begrudgingly accepted this. Although I do from time to time see other women out there who didn’t get that memo, and more power to them. Perhaps they have a magical mirror in their home which I lack.
There are of course other factors at play that influence our ever-changing closets. Careers, social activities and hobbies can cause us to make fairly drastic edits to our bodily adornments. This past weekend I was shopping with a friend, and she was explaining that they were instituting a revised dress code at her work, encouraging an overall movement to look more corporate and dressy than many of them had in the past. While she looked at suits, I looked at business casual. She would hold up a cute blouse and say “I suppose I could wear this on weekends” and my response was “I could wear that to the office.”
Beyond our jobs, though, is what I’d call Situational Style. When I was younger, I had reasons to dress up fairly often for events like graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and special parties. Now that I’m older, most of our activities are more casual – outdoor events, BBQ’s, gatherings at the homes of friends… very rarely do I need something dressy. I haven’t needed the infamous “little black dress” in years.
But once in a while, there is the need to take it up a notch. I have attended two parties this summer that required a dress, and this weekend we will be attending the wedding of the daughter of dear friends. Being a typical girly-girl, I look forward to dress-up moments. The men in my life, however, not so much. When my son was a baby and toddler, I had great fun dressing him in all sorts of adorable and snazzy outfits – because he at the time had no say in the matter nor preference. But times change.
Since we are on a budget, we try to make do with what we can find in our closets, and add accessories as needed. In an effort to avoid last minute panic, earlier this week I asked both my husband and my son to look at what they have to determine what they can wear to the wedding, and to determine if we need to make a Kohl’s run for new shirts or pants. Here’s how some of that process went:
My son: “Well, like what should I wear? A dress shirt and nice pants?”
Me: “Yes, like a pair of dress slacks or khaki’s and a button-down nice shirt – but you could probably do short sleeves.”
Son, with sharp intake of breath. “Uhhhh, khaki’s would be tough. The ones I have don’t fit anymore.”
Me, inwardly thinking this is why I’ve asked you to clean out your closet: “Ok, do you have other nice pants?”
Son: “Umm… maybe…. I think so. But what should I wear for shoes?”
Me: “You have those nice tan shoes, do those still fit?”
Son, my teen fashion-forward young man, making a face: “Oh, those wouldn’t match my dress pants at ALL….”
Me, sighing: “Well, sort through what you have tomorrow so if we have to go get something new, we’ll still have time.” Clearly knowing, of course, that this process has only just begun, and a solution will only happen shortly before we have to pack to leave on Friday.
Next I moved into our bedroom, and had a similar conversation with my husband about what would be appropriate to wear. I know he has pants to choose from. The issue for him may be shirts. He put on a nice short-sleeve shirt. “Do you think I could wear this one?”
Me: “Possibly, if you wear nice navy slacks with it.”
Him: “What would I wear for a tie?”
Me: “You wouldn’t. Not with that kind of shirt. But I think that’s ok.”
Him: “I don’t know what else I have that would be good….”
Me: “Well, you have time, you could run out to get something.”
Him: “But how do I know what size to get, like neck size and stuff?”
Me, sighing: “If you aren’t buying a long sleeve dress shirt and aren’t wearing a tie, you won’t need to know your neck size.” Then, repeating myself word for word from 15 minutes prior in my son’s room: “Well, sort through what you have tomorrow so if we have to go get something new, we’ll still have time.” Still knowing, of course, that this process has only just begun, and a solution will only happen shortly before we have to pack to leave on Friday. Seeing a pattern here?
This morning, it was my turn. I pulled two dresses out of the back of my closet, in an effort to find something else to wear instead of the dress I’ve already worn to two other events this summer. Because, well, variety is the spice of life. Good news, they fit. Sort of. I’ve had both dresses for quite a while, and both were purchased before my menopausal weight gain and the addition of Poochy, my pet name for my over-50 stomach. Looking face-on in the mirror, with a good bra to keep the girls in place, I looked pretty good. Back view, although wishing my butt was about 3” higher like it used to be, not too bad either. Side view however, ugh. The amazing thing about over-50 weight gain, is that no manner of “sucking it in” will help. It just hangs out there for all to see. Hence why so many of us wear loose flowy things. These dresses are not loose and flowy. Undecided, I hung both dresses back up and went rummaging around in the rarely-worn part of my underwear drawer to determine if I still own spanx.
In the end, I will likely choose the dress I’m more comfortable in, whichever one feels more summer wedding-ish, and to whichever one I can best match existing shoes and jacket. Because that’s the other thing that changes over time. When selecting a great outfit for an event, two key requirements bubble up to the top: ease and comfort. Gone are the days of taking hours to prepare, and spending hours not being able to breathe and move.
After the wedding, we will come home, get our fancy duds cleaned and hung up, and we will probably not see them again for some time. Long enough, I’m sure, for my son to outgrow the pants again, and for my matronly shape to no longer look right in the same dress. But that’s all right. Because we have shorts, jeans and t-shirts that fit just fine in the meantime.