Back in the 1970s, some clown decided that men were overdressed and need stretchy, comfortable clothing. And thus they invented the polyester leisure suit and to his immense embarrassment, Garry had one. I never saw it, but I know he bought it because he said so and what man would lie about a thing like that? He wore it to work, but I never saw it.
Maybe that is just a well.
Except Garry is such a clothes horse, he rarely admits it.
Leisure suits came in slightly stretchy polyester (throw in the wash, hang it and wear it) fabric. Light blue was very popular and some were truly indescribable.
I owned some clothing that was more than a little embarrassing, but I can honestly say I didn’t buy it. My mother made it for me. It was exceptionally well-made clothing, elegant clothing, but when I wore it I looked like I came from another planet. It didn’t improve my fragile popularity in high school, though it had a certain something by the time I got into college.
I never owned a leisure suit because, for me, a leisure suit means a pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt. That’s what I’m wearing now. It’s what I wear. Most importantly, it’s virtually immune to dog hair.
I need to start out by pointing out I will not wear anything that isn’t comfortable. Gone are the high heels, tight anything (skirts, pants, sweaters, forget it!) and in is anything elastic. Even my jeans are elastic. If it doesn’t stretch, I don’t wear it.
I hate “dressy” events because I don’t own dressy clothing. I did, back when we were both working and Garry had events to which we were required to go, but now? I have some dresses, but I can’t wear shoes to go with them. And pantyhose? Seriously?
We’ve invented telephones that rule the world, but we can’t do better than pantyhose?
In my life? Color is important. Not so much in my clothing, though. I wear grey, black, tan, taupe.
Occasionally red or orange … and navy. Not a thrilling palette. But the house has color — in pictures and statues and pottery.
Q2] What is most favourite colour to wear?
Q3] Is there a colour that you wear that brings the best out in you and in others – in so far as compliments?
Q4] Are you a person who likes to overdress for the day or are you a follower of the credo, less is more?
I don’t OWN fancy clothing anymore. I can’t wear dressy shoes — and I can’t balance on high heels.
So overdressing is unlikely. If it requires that level of dress? I probably won’t go.
PQ5] What are five of your best items of clothing that you simply couldn’t be without? [and l don’t mean underwear/socks]
Sleep tees in the warm weather and flannel nightgowns in the winter. And don’t knock socks. I have the world BEST sock collection.
Q6] Do you dress for the season, as in colour wise, or just throw on whatever is warm and practical?
We live in New England. I have hot weather clothing, warm weather dress, cool and chilly weather clothing, cold weather clothing, very cold weather clothing, brutally cold weather clothing, and arctic-level clothing.
PQ7] If you were going for an evening out and the dress code was ‘smart casual’ what is your ideal outfit and why?
I tell them I was sick and not go.
Garry might go alone, but if he had to wear a tie, I doubt he’d go either.
Q8] If you were having to attend an important meeting or appointment and the dress code was smart – what would your outfit be then?
At my age, I don’t have those meetings or appointments. If they are my age, they are also wearing sweatpants.
Q9] How many pairs of shoes do you own, and what is the breakdown [as in casual, smart, evening, leisure]
I have maybe 20 pairs of shoes, 10 of which are really old and I don’t actually wear them but they aren’t worn out, so I keep them. Mostly, I wear sandals in the summer and Uggs in the winter. In between, I wear SOCKS.
Q10] Do you have classic clothing or classic items in your wardrobe that you have had for years and never go out of fashion if so name three?
I consider it classic. Others might say I’m a slob. Sweatshirts, tee-shirts, and jeans. I’ve been wearing this same clothing since I was a young teenager. Oh, and I have not one but three Navy Peacoats.
Q11] Are you into plain colours, wild colours or outlandish designs or a mixture and which do you favour more?
Plain. Elastic. Washable. Dryable.
PQ12] Do you have a favourite quote with regards fashion or design – if so what is it?
Q13] Knee high socks, ankle socks, shin socks or no socks?
Ankle socks with sticky bits on the bottom when I’m in the house. Knee high in the winter and if that isn’t warm enough, it’s too cold to go out.
Q14] Can you see the connection between colour and music and if so does it influence your dress code for the day in any way?
Not really. I wish I could say yes, but really, no.
PQ15] If you are going out somewhere special and want to listen to some music to put you in the mood whilst getting dressed up, what do you listen to? [Provide link please]
I don’t think I’ve EVER done that.
Q16] How often do you buy new clothing for the season or the year?
When I try to put on the nightgown and my finger goes through the fabric, I figure I probably need a new one. Also, as I get older and everything droops, I have to buy different sizes.
I’m also getting shorter (we shrink with age), so that’s a factor. But otherwise? I have winter and summer clothing. This is New England. It’s all about the weather.
Q17] Remember tie-dye from the 70’s was it a thing you followed, bought into or worse, how do you feel about it now?
Nope. Byt the time tie-dye was in, I was a mother working full time. I missed that whole dressing thing.
Q18] What is the brightest coloured item of clothing you have in your wardrobes/drawers?
I have an orange dress.
Q19] What is the most expensive item of clothing that you have in your wardobe? How often do you actually wear it?
I have a deep winter coat from Land’s End that cost me about $250. I wear it when the temperatures fall significantly below zero (Fahrenheit, NOT Celsius).
PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?
Q21] Is being ‘fashionable’ important to you, or is being comfortably attired more so?
I like not looking like I just crawled out of a ditch, so clean matters. I only wear the hairy, dog-hair covered stuff at home. The dogs do not care. And anyway, Garry is similarly attired.
I could live easily with being too rich, but I have been too thin and it was not lovely. People were alarmed and frightened when they saw me. Of course, there was good reason for it because I was starving to death from a bad surgery that left me unable to absorb food.
When I hit 95 pounds and I had the distinct feeling I was actually dying — and I had no insurance — before Mass Health was functioning — somehow, I found a doctor who took me into the hospital and repaired me, told me to gain 30 pounds, preferably 40 — which took longer than it should have, but I’d forgotten how to eat. And no one sent me a bill.
Then I got cancer. They stuffed me full of chemicals and I put on 30 pounds faster than you can say FAT, FAT, FAT and there I have remained. Oddly, pretty much everyone said “You look SO much better! You looked ill before.” When size zero is too big, you probably need to put on few pounds.
I was not designed to be skinny and I was not built to be huge. I was built to be solid, which is what I currently am and probably will be. It has been a long time since my size changed.
The current belief that beauty and thinness are the same are an advertising thing. The clothing that comes out of design houses is built not only for thin women, but for tall ones. I’m short. I’m solid. I used to have a waistline but with age, it seems to have fallen down and become part of the top of my thighs. I didn’t know that could happen.
We need fewer Barbie dolls and clothing that looks good on real, live women who do things, like go grocery shopping and take walks with their dogs. And who eat a normal amount of food and even — AN OCCASIONAL DESSERT!
You can be too thin.
But too rich? I could probably live very nicely with too rich.
My cameras are downright trendy. So is my computer. My Kindle is getting old, but it’s so much better than the new ones, I think I’ll keep it until it finally died completely. Even my telephone — which I pretty much never use — is relatively new, though I’m pretty sure this model (Samsung) was never especially trendy.
Our car is what people buy when they live in super Snowville, U.S.A., in this case a small, 4-wheel drive Jeep — but it was 4-years old when we bought it “new.”
Otherwise? Fashionable? Garry was fashionable — once — and he has always been a snappy dresser. But he hates the new clothing that men are wearing. Too tight and unflattering. He can’t understand how people who have the money to buy anything will buy clothing that makes them look like they found their poorly fitted suit on a clearance rack at a sleazy mall.
As for me? Hah!
I have never been fashionable. Never the right shape. Even when I was thin enough, I always had shoulder that were too broad and breasts that were too big. Fashionable clothing is designed for women who look more like boys and the shoes are for women who like pain. Stylish clothing was never me. Too tight. Too pointy. Too bright. Too striped. Too, too.
I never even tried to be fashionable. As a twenty-something, I wanted to look like Joan Baez. She was stylish, in her own way, if you liked the east Village hippy concept. I never liked wild patterns or very bright colors (on me — they are okay for foliage and flowers). Early on, I found shops in Greenwich Village where they designed my idea of fashion. I continued to buy the same style of clothing everywhere. I still do … and it is a lot of years later.
Jeans with anything. Tee shirts and turtlenecks. In black, taupe, gray, navy, and occasionally, mauve. Jeans became yoga pants. Once you go stretchy, you’ll never go back. Long, loose dresses because I have a stupid itchy rash and often can’t wear elastic waistbands. Denim jackets. Baseball caps.
Chicos for special occasions — if they have a sale. Three sizes fit all.
No matter how hard I try to avoid them, there is always a wedding, funeral, or some kind of group event to attend — at least once a year. Sometimes, I can’t find an excuse to avoid it and have to go. I need a dress — something I can wear with flat, comfortable shoes. I hate winter events because all I own for winter footwear are Uggs and Emus.
On the upside of unfashionable, I can wear the same unfashionable clothing pretty much forever. It was out-of-date when I bought it and it will be no more out-of-date five years from now. Periodically my complete lack of fashion becomes fashion. Every now and then, I discover I am “IN.”
Around here, I AM fashionable or as fashionable as anyone is. Yesterday, at the supermarket, I saw a rather young woman who looked just like I used to look. Ankle length skirt from India. Long, flowing blouse. I though only women my age wore that stuff.
Central Massachusetts rural living is anti-fashion. I have come home.
I wasn’t in the marching band or any kind of military or nearly military group. I went to standard state schools through high school — so no uniforms there — and a private college. No uniforms there, either. I haven’t even worn a costume for a play.
If I want to look at uniform in another way, I don’t think I ever did anything in a “uniform way” either. I was always too young to do what everyone else was doing when I was a kid. I never followed the main stream in anything and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t the kind of kid that got swept up by friends. I never joined a party except the Democrats … and they are such a fragmented bunch … no uniforms. Nothing even organized, much less uniform.
Photo: Bette Stevens
I suppose getting together with friends and (briefly) wearing our Serendipity shirts is almost like a uniform. Does baseball gear count too?
So, I’ve never marched and now that I’m 70. I have trouble walking, much less marching, I guess it isn’t going to happen. Not they I ever had a secret yen to become a marcher. Okay, I admit, a marching band was a cool idea, but as a pianist, that didn’t seem likely.
My husband joined the Marine Corps. That probably counts double, so I can claim secondary rights as someone married to someone who joined the Marine Corps. Semper Fi!
As I get older, I’m expecting less from myself, at least in some ways.
I’m less judgmental. My standards have relaxed … some. I think this is good, but I’m not completely comfortable about it. Although I no longer expect myself to look my best every day — yes, I used to need to look “just right” even if all I was doing was running errands. Now, I go days without wearing make-up or curling my hair. I don’t automatically wear earrings and other jewelry. My husband barely notices. He’s fine with a more ‘au naturel’ version of me.
I still wear ‘nice’ clothes every day. I don’t even own sweatpants or a sweatshirt. So I haven’t utterly abandoned my 1950’s, early 1960’s dress codes completely.
I do worry, though. What if being more relaxed and forgiving about my appearance will morph into giving up? Not caring anymore? Am I going to turn into one of those people who goes out wearing pajama bottoms? I don’t ever want to be that person, but I’m afraid it might eventually happen to me, somewhere down the line.
On the other hand, I know that I am way too self-conscious about my appearance. My mother ‘dressed up’, with full make-up, every single day. She was appalled when I went to the supermarket looking anything short of stylish and polished.
“You always want to make a good impression on people,” she said. I thought she was over the top. But some of those judgmental attitudes and standards rubbed off on me and I’ve never been able to entirely escape them.
So I usually believe I’m just letting go of some of my mother’s baggage, but sometimes it feels like I’m just letting go. I prefer to believe I’m becoming a more well-adjusted person, with a better self-esteem. That other part of me feels like I’m crawling slowly down the path to dilapidation.
I hope I’m becoming a more enlightened, confident person. Less fixated on outward appearance. Accepting a modern-day, more casual sensibility about dress and appearance. And still, I hear my mother’s voice in my head saying “You’re going out looking like THAT?”
Changing long-held values is hard. So is silencing your mother’s voice in your head. The change is welcome and overdue. It’s very late in coming. Which, surprisingly, doesn’t make it easier.
It can be nearly white or very close to purple. It can come in a rosy hue, magenta, or riddled with lavender. Babies are pink, but some are brown. I was fish-belly white. My son was blue and they had to keep him in a “cooker” for two days before I could hold him. Blue is not a good baby color.
When I was growing up, my Aunt Kate — who worked at Bonwit-Teller and thought I deserved some “special” clothing — bought fabric and had a suit made for me. It was a very soft wool from France and it was hot pink. It was a classic Chanel-type suit, something that belonged in a fashion show. It fit me to absolute perfection and I loved it. When I wore it, my “mates” looked t me as if I had two (maybe three?) heads.
The moral of the story is high-fashion clothing is not at its best on a 15-year-old high school girl. But oh, what a glorious suit it was! And what wouldn’t I have done to own it a few years later!
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