“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”
I grew up loving fashion. The bolder, the flashier, the better. I used to have at least three dozen pairs of candy colored heels in every height and toe shape. You wouldn’t find me in anything but heels. The fussier, the more high fashion, the better. The only flat shoes I owned were running shoes and rubber boots and you’d only find me in those at the gym and during a rainstorm.
So why now, at the age of 40, do I only want to buy oversized sweaters, jersey everything and the flattest of flat shoes and sandals possible?
I blame my Mother. When we’d go shopping together while I was growing up, she would pick me out clothing in a size or two bigger than I wanted to buy. I wanted things to fit snug and striking. She warned me that I would be uncomfortable. I didn’t care. Stuff that fit a bit loosely looked sloppy to me. I wanted to look like I just stepped out of a Vogue editorial. She once told me, “Someday you’ll prioritize comfort. You are the only one that you should be pleasing with your fashion choices.”
And she was right.
It took a few decades, but slowly the uber fitted clothing stopped feeling natural to me. I enjoyed being able to move and lounge in my clothes. It no longer felt sloppy to wear something that was loosely fitted. It felt good. The clothes I bought that were high-style would hang in my closet while I wore the comfy outfits over and over again.
And the closet full of high heels I loved? Slowly they went to consignment and the Salvation Army and were replaced with Tom’s and loafers and the flattest of flat sandals I wear religiously. Sure, I still look longingly at those strappy, sexy stilettos, but as soon as I think of wearing them, my feet ache. I still have a few pair of dress heels, but they only come out occasionally and I always carry a backup pair of ballet flats.
I name my heeled shoes by their time-wearing tolerance. I have 2-hour and 4-hour heels. I bought a stunning pair of white platform heels a few months back. They were a work of art. Completely architectural and sexy. When I put them on in the store, I temporarily forgot my penchant for comfort. Plus, they were on sale. So I bought them and dressed up that evening to hit the town with a girlfriend.
These once-worn works of art just got tossed into the Salvation Army pile. I call them Shredders for what they did to my feet for that 2 hours I wore them that night.
As I type this, I’m happily donning a jersey striped knee-length shift dress. I could wear this dress every single day. It stretches with me and I never have to tug at it or adjust it or loosen it. And I certainly don’t feel the instant need to rip it off when I get home. Sure, it’s a bit ‘dowdy’ compared with my younger standards, but I don’t have to think about it. In fact, my favorite outfits are the ones that I don’t have to think about at all. I don’t feel zippers or scratchy fabrics or linings that have shifted or hems that are climbing. I just wear them and feel…comfortable.
I guess that’s part of the ‘getting wiser with age’ bit. What my Mom was trying to tell me was that wearing something uncomfortable doesn’t make me a more interesting person. I make me a more interesting person and as long as I’m wearing something I feel comfortable with, I can focus on the good stuff I offer. When I’m not thinking about what I’m wearing, I free up my mind to think about being the best me I can be.
Thanks Mom. And in the timeless words of my favorite fashionista:
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”