Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fashion Crisis Anyone?

The other day at the grocery store I noticed a woman who really motivated me to think about growing up.

It wasn't as if I was looking for motivation or anything, but it was next to impossible not to notice this woman. The way she walked with a real bounce to her step and a swing to the back porch was extremely unusual. The clothes she was wearing were the next thing that screamed out "notice me NOW". Skin tight jeans and extremely low cut top (the kind of styles you might see on a 20 year old) covering a somewhat overweight body that most assuredly should have never been allowed to wear skin tight jeans and a low cut top. The next thing about her that demanded attention was her platinum blonde bleached hair, that had seen the bleach bottle so many times the damage was extensive. Along with the way she walked, the way she was dressed and the shocking blonde hair, was the kind of make up she was wearing. Applied in the style that might inspire some might say "painted up like a clown" this lady had on more make up than what would ever be considered normal for any setting, other than a circus. What made her makeup appear even more unnatural, if possible, was the fact that it was clear this woman had to be at least 65 years old.

Bouncing through the grocery store chatting with the lady she was with, this lady appeared to be rather enjoying the attention she was drawing from everyone who passed her (I assure you, it was impossible not to notice her).

Now, I don't want to go down the road as to all the possible reasons this woman was dressed this way, but she really caused me to think about my own appearance and the impression I might give by my appearance. When I was about 14 my best friend and I had a conversation about the way "old ladies" dress. I suspect at 14, "old ladies" might have been anyone over the age of 40, which places me in the category that we once discussed. During that conversation we agreed that we'd never dress like old ladies, but that we'd still be wearing t-shirts and jeans until we were 80. We also once had a discussion about how we'd let our kids do whatever they wanted. Fourteen year old girls say a lot of things that do not always have a basis in reality.

Well, the older I get and the more into "old lady" status I get, I think I finally understand why us old ladies dress the way we do. At least some of us, anyway. Jeans have not been a part of my warddrobe for at least 10 years, since I had child #5. After five kids, jeans just don't fit or feel the way they once did, and life is lived much easier in pants that have a little give to them, if you know what I mean. After kids #6 and #7, it was pretty clear to me that "comfy pants" would be my new best friend. It's still possible that some day I'll lose all this baby-weight and wear jeans again, but I doubt it. In a matter of 10 years I had 4 kids and put on a grand total of 250 pounds. I've lost most of that weight but have never seen my pre-baby weight since, and likely never will. Having seven kids is most definitely not kind to the body. For all those women who've had a small herd of children and DO get back in shape right away, I admire them in gigantic ways. I am not one of those women.

So what about wearing t-shirts until I'm 80? Well, yes, I can see that happening. I design t-shirts, I wear t-shirts, I own tons and tons of them, and I love them. Perfect in the winter under a snuggly hoodie, and perfect in the summer with a comfy pair of shorts and flip flops. They're the perfect all-weather apparel, literally. Over the last couple of years though I've had sort of a fashion crisis though. I really don't want to wear t-shirts exclusively, all the time - but - it's really hard to find tops that work for me.

When I go shopping I see 2 categories: young, trendy, hip and tight and grandma tops with giant floral prints. I wouldn't be caught dead in young and trendy, and I wouldn't be caught dead in grandma floral tops either. Where is that category for me that is "not really old, not really young, keep the floral prints please"? I know it exists because I see other women my age wearing really nice tops that aren't in either category. When I have asked them where they shop, it's quite often one of those stores I can't even afford to buy a pair of socks in, let alone a shirt. I just have a really hard time locating that department in the stores that I can afford (like WalMart), so I tend to resort back to my gigantic supply of t-shirts and wear only those.

So, if you're reading this and you know where that department is in the local stores, would you please point me in that direction? My only other option is to move somewhere that I can go barefoot all year round and wear hippie dresses every day. I'd much prefer that, but I really don't see it happening any time soon.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe