Wednesday, December 11, 2013

*Focus on the Feel, Not the Look

My fashion sense has never been that great, as is evidenced in the above photo, but the older I get, the less my clothes have to do with fashion, and the more they have to do with comfort.  Obviously. No self-respecting slave to fashion would be caught dead in this get-up. I must say, I was comfortable on that blistering hot day in Utah's Dixie. Between the cooling neckerchief and evaporative cooling cloth draped around my neck and shoulders, and the hat to shade my eyes, and the lightweight clothing, I may not have looked that great, but I felt refreshed, despite the broiling sun.

Being a slave to fashion has never driven me, but I have fallen prey to some of the trendy fashions of days gone by...bell-bottomed, hip-hugger jeans, chambray denim, crinkle skirts, Gunne Sax dresses, tunic tops with leggings, business suits, cowl neck sweaters, jelly shoes...I have dabbled here and there, trying to find my own personal style.  Be assured that it takes me years to join any fashion craze, so that by the time I'm wearing it, everyone else has moved on to the next new thing.  I've always been slightly out of step with the masses when it comes to clothing.

My friend Jennifer says that if something doesn't feel as comfy as pajamas, she doesn't wear it. Hmmm...I guess that guideline would rule out ever making the mistake of wearing SPANX, A SIZE TOO SMALL.  Or nylons that creep down my legs so that my knees are bound together, causing me to walk like a kimonoed-Geisha.  

My friend Lesia says that she gave up nylons years ago. I took her advice to heart the day my pantyhose refused to stay up. About the fourth time that I slipped into the restroom at school to remedy the problem, I simply removed them, tossed them in the trash, and went commando the rest of the day. 

Slowly, I am learning.  I am one of those wretched souls who has not a monkey on her back, but a blasted teenager who always hisses the most dreadful things when trying on clothes in dressing rooms.

I've had this critical teenager with me almost all of my life.  When I pick up a particularly colorful blouse, I hear her..."Oh, you're wanting to look like your mom, huh?"  I put it back.  

When I try on shoes that pinch just a bit, she makes fun of me, "You only have to wear them for a little while.  You'll look more professional in a pair of heels.  Don't buy another pair of  boring ballet flats!"  

"You're not going to buy a size TWELVE are you?  Buy the ten; you'll be able to wear it ONE of these days." 

"This skirt will work if you wear a long enough jacket over it.  It only pinches your waist a little. The next size up is so LARGE." For years, I've bought shoes that pinched my toes, pants that were unflatteringly tight, blouses that gapped slightly, and "goal jeans." Hardly anything fit well. Consequently, whenever I went to the closet, there was literally nothing that fit me well enough to make me feel good about wearing it.

Now, here I am at 53, and I've learned to ignore what the tag says. I ask myself, does this FIT, or do I need something looser?  I don't focus on the numbers, I focus on the feel.

My other weakness was finding something on sale.  I would buy several of the same boring thing if it were a good deal, not even caring that perhaps the item weren't the best style for my body type.

That annoying teenager's voice can only hang with us for so long. Eventually, I believe, that critical voice leaves us when we own who we are and know what we truly want.  I am a "mature" woman (ha ha ha ha ha...that term still gets me. Maybe I'm not as mature as I'd like to think). What I want, more than anything, is to be comfortable.  I want to be comfortable in my own skin, with my own thoughts, and in my own clothes that I selected by myself.  

Now there is only one rule that guides my purchases.  The clothes in my closet have nothing to do with trends.  I own no chevron-patterned maxi skirts. You will find no patterned leggings.  There is not one designer item hanging there, unless it were seriously reduced in an off-price discount store, and it fit me perfectly.  The only rule I have now is COMFORT, ABOVE ALL ELSE.

I am so thankful for the wise women who guided me to this place in my life.  My closet now invites me to snuggle into the softest hoodies that soothe my skin, denim jeans that have a touch of Lycra, yoga pants that are long and soft, and shirts that feel like my favorite old t-shirts.  

There is one pair of heels that survived the purging.  They are new. They are Cole Haan.  They were 20% of (not 20% OFF, one/fifth of) the original price of the Cole Haan Nike fit dress shoes I longed for several years ago when Oprah touted them on one of her shows. I will wear them with the comfy long skirts when I am forced to dress up again, whenever that occasion shall arise.  

All of my life, I have admired women who wear hats because although I inherited my Grammy's love of hats, I did not inherit her self-confidence. I'm catching up, slowly but surely.  I now own SEVERAL hats.  I have my friend Margaret to thank for that.  

When we decided to turn our high school girlfriend's reunion into a Red Hat Society gala affair (okay, that may be stretching the descriptors a bit), Margaret made each of us a wonderful hat, customizing the hats to match the individual. I wore mine all day long.  I wore it when we flew back home.  It is proudly displayed on my nightstand, reminding me of who I am becoming.

Maintaining an active lifestyle has desensitized me to feeling self-conscious about headwear.  Between bicycle, skiing, and motorcycle helmets, doorags, and ball caps, I no longer worry what people think of the top of my head.  Now that I wear hats more often, I have a great excuse to not even bother doing my hair.  How cool is THAT?

Today, I am the antithesis of fashion, as I lounge about the house in my old yoga pants and this
ratty old t-shirt from Jamaica. As you can tell from the softly gathered folds of fabric, it is extremely ill-fitting and very voluminous.  What the picture cannot tell you is that it was selected by feel only; I ran my hand over the shirts hanging in the closet, and chose the one that spoke to my skin. This lovely ensemble is the result of my number one fashion rule: COMFORT, ABOVE ALL ELSE.  When you focus on the feel, comfort will follow.

Get it. Got it? Good. It is so liberating; I hope you will arrive at this stage of enlightenment soon, but take your time. I sure did.  Enjoy the journey as you develop your own style, and find what is most comfortable for you.


  1. Your friend is right...there is nothing as comfortable as pjs! I would wear them ALL THE TIME if I could get by with it. I have no fashion sense what so ever. I go for comfort most days, and the teenage voice yells at me now and then. Funny, how we turn into our mothers...I'm finding it's not such a bad thing after all.

  2. I have the same philosophy on clothing ... and being an art teacher I could get away with anything I pleased! It's all about the COMFORT, baby, for sure!

  3. My son chides me about my taste or lack of in clothing. Well he used to when he lived at home. He'd ask "why do you dress so old." Huh? Anyway, I wore a long leg cast for 14 years as you probably know. Initially I tried to wear skirts but split many a seam attempting to get into a car. Jeans were a big problem. I'd get trapped in the dressing room unable to get them off due to my mobility issues. So I went to dress pants (which I refused to replenish every time they faded) and or comfortable casual wear. I'm not turning back. Not now and not ever. Although I did finally buy a pair of jeans with Lycra this summer (on clearance) since I can actually get them on and off. Ha!

    We've got a few things in common.

    You look really cute in the hat, btw. And always, always you look beautiful to me dear friend.

    1. Thank you, Melinda! I honestly didn't know about the 14 year long stint with the leg cast. Remind me never to complain about the occasional ache or pain again! Love you.


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