Day 3 was another super hot day, so I decided again to ditch the cardigan and just wear the white tee shirt, gold necklace, jean skirt with the frayed hem and Birkenstocks. Until I did a quick check in the mirror and remembered an aspect of my wardrobe I forgot: it is definitely a fashion faux-pas for a women in her 40s to wear a white tee shirt that is a tad see-through without a tank top underneath. Nobody wants to see that!
I was starkly reminded of this when our family joined close friends to celebrate a birthday at the Harlem Globetrotters. Part way through the show (can you even call that a basketball game?), a woman was unexpectedly called out of the audience to the center of attention as part of the players’ schtick … she was wearing a cream-colored drapey top without a tank underneath. All I could think was, “poor woman, if she knew what she looked like she would have made different decisions.” In the lights you could see every trophy that comes with bringing sweet little ones into the world and life well lived. That view was something to be left at home with your loved ones, not for public spectacle. I was not going to say anything, because I have been called out before for being the fashion police, but my friend leaned over to me and said “poor woman, I just wanted to run up there and help her.” Moral of the story: I caved and added a much needed tank to the wardrobe for self-preservation.
Later on in the day, Tim watched the kids while I prepped for Easter. I don’t have too much prep since packing will be a breeze and I already know what I am going to wear, but I did need to take care of some basic maintenance (mani and pedi). I picked out a really cute purple for my toes and fun heat sensing finger nail polish (it’s so cool! it changes depending on the temperature: coral at room temperature or below, but when it is warm my nails are light pink). It is so much fun, every time I wash my hands (which I do a lot) my polish color changes. I do think this freeing up of brain power thing is working, because after my toes dried and I looked down I realized the color I chose for my toes looked great with the different iridescent colors in my Birkenstocks. I was excited because I did not labor over my color decision at all (partly because the pedicurist was watching me and waiting and I felt the pressure to move into the pedicure station). I just grabbed the first one that looked halfway cool and sat down, and what do you know it was perfect, even the adorable woman next to me commented and changed her color.
The more people I talk to the more I realize there is a need for the static wardrobe. I see the most need for the woman who does it all. She wakes in the morning having spent 30-40 minutes the prior evening optimistically laying out her clothes, just to feel in the morning the dread of putting on the slacks she picked out the night before because she “feels fat” in them every time she wears them, so she spends another valuable 15 min in the morning trying on three different pairs to find the right one, frantically runs down the stairs to make sure everyone else in the family has their ducks in a row, before shooing them out the door to bust a move toward the bus that is rolling down the hill. While all this is happening she is giving reminders in a high volume from the direction of the dish washer which she is unloading from the previous night’s dinner. She realizes she is cutting it close to get to work on time, but on the way out the door looks down to find the slacks she picked out in the dark of the morning are actually navy not black, and clash with the rest of her wardrobe. She doesn’t have time, so she runs of the door feeling disappointed, less confident and frustrated. The cycle continues, over and over again. Time spent every day (15 minutes? 30? More?) more prepping clothes, picking out clothes, not to mention the brain power and space involved in this. This is why so many women are resorting to athleisure: it’s comfortable and they don’t have to think about it. But here’s the thing with athleisure: I always feel like I am wearing my PJs, I worry that I don’t look good in it because I am not a size 4, and I feel the urge to apologize for my appearance (and that affects my confidence). Maybe that calls for another fashion experiment.
No matter what stage of life a women is in, she still spends a significant time prepping and laboring over her wardrobe because she is kowtowing to the social constructs of a fashion industry that encourages your self-worth being tied wearing the “in” thing, for fear of social stigma. I am not saying we should all be robots and wear the same thing as everyone else. I am saying thinking differently about what we “need to wear” can be freeing. And also this: what if you were not tied to the unceasing consumption that the fashion industry promotes? Would people focus instead on who you are as a person rather than the intentional distraction of the messaging of our clothes? (Radical thought for a fashion girl, I know….)
The How-To of it all is going to be different for every person, and you have to work out the formula that fits your life style. I chose über casual pieces because most of the time, I am at home working on the computer, running around with my kids or in casual meetings. I did choose a darker skirt with a finished hem, a white oxford and a blazer for the times when I have more formal meetings (like Monday, when I have head shots), but I am super thrilled I do not have to labor about what I am wearing for the head shots: it’s already in my 7 piece static wardrobe. That will give me back the better part of a day trying to figure out what to wear. If you’re a career woman, you probably want a skirt or pants you love, and a blouse (don’t forget your tank!) two different necklaces and a cardigan and a blazer. Remember to buy two or three of the same item depending on how much you choose to do laundry. Then you may have one outfit you wear on weekends: jeans or shorts, and a cute top and an extra-dressy necklace and shoes for when you go to dinner or church. Go ahead, try this experiment with me and let me know how it goes!