My Suburban Life On The Edge

Almoose but not quite dressed
Almoose but not quite dressed

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been invested in my appearance. Some might call it vanity. I call it self-respect, and my mother insisted upon it. We were not allowed to leave the house wearing inappropriate clothing. We could follow the trends of fashion as long as we were adequately covered, and our clothing was age appropriate. This meant my parents did not buy me high heels (3″ wedges) until I was about 16. As a teen I wore the requisite four layers of preppy era clothing, ensuring my parents did not have to worry about my leaving the house in short shorts and cropped tops like I see so many young girls wearing at the bus stop today. In college, I never once went to class in sweatpants. My ironing habit is legendary among my friends, most of whom have declared me insane for bothering with ironing when I don’t work outside the home. Perhaps ironing is not the best use of my precious time on this planet, but I can’t seem to get that monkey off my back.

This morning I woke up tired and not exactly at my best after last night’s bottle of Barbera. I desperately needed caffeine to wash down my Advil. Since my coffee slave had plans to ride his bike with a friend, I hopped in my car and headed off to Starbucks sans make up and sporting an entirely unkempt outfit comprised of a sleep tee, pajama pants with moose on them, and my flip flops. I was going through the drive-thru. I knew the Starbucks barista would overlook my slovenly attire. I’m probably not the first person ever to show up for drive-thru coffee early on Saturday morning in pajamas, right? It would be our little secret.

As luck would have it, though, the drive-thru line was approximately 96 cars long, extending out well into the parking lot while parking spots directly in front of the store remained wide open. Sigh. Apparently I was not the only lazy person in Littleton attempting to stealthily access pricey, espresso-based caffeine in pjs. This would not do. I had to get home before my coffee slave went for his day-off ride. I did the unthinkable. I pulled into a spot directly in front of the door and jettisoned any attempt to maintain the persona of a respectable, 45-year old woman. I entered a business establishment in my pajamas.

I know that many people won’t understand what the big deal is. So what if I stepped out in totally age-inappropriate moose pants, right? Who cares? There are thousands of families in Colorado who are currently homeless due to the recent flooding. In the grand scheme of things, this is less than nothing. I understand that. But this was one of those “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” moments for me. I put myself out of my comfort zone. I stood there in my pajamas and ordered and waited for my usual tall soy latte while striving to appear wholly comfortable in my moose-laden pants. I practiced what I readily preach to my sons and I tried not to take myself or life too seriously. This is not easy for me as I was raised to be decorous…especially in public. Thanks to little moments like these, though, it is getting easier to relax in the pajama pants I’m in. Take that, pride! Today, expedient coffee won out. Now I just have to convince myself that I’m evolving rather than simply becoming a bigger slob. One growth moment at a time, I guess.

Always Bring A Buddy

The dress that stressed me out.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been engaged in a monumental battle. I have been trying to figure out what to wear to a wedding. As I’ve mentioned previously, fashion is not my strong suit. When it comes to fashion I’m like a politician: I know just enough about it to sound knowledgeable, but in actuality I am utterly clueless. This marked lack of the female fashion gene makes doing simple things, like buying a dress to wear to a wedding, a veritable nightmare for me.

Humor me while I prove my point. A couple weeks ago, I steeled my nerves and stepped foot into the dress department at Nordstrom. My goal was to find a dress that relayed that I have the style, class, and confidence befitting a 44 year old woman. Yes. I wanted a dress that would lie. I wanted a magic dress. If Cinderella could have magic shoes, certainly I could have a magic dress. I brought with me only two things…a knowledge of what I like and a knowledge of what looks good on me. I had no idea what constitutes appropriate attire for a fall, evening wedding in Boston. I had no idea what size I wore. I had no idea where to start. I took a leap of faith.

I spent a little over an hour in Nordstrom’s dress department that day, trying on approximately 14 dresses, and eventually leaving the store feeling fairly confident that I had made a good choice. I brought the dress home, put it in my closet, and began staring at my shoe collection (which is really more a flip-flop collection). That was when I realized I had surmounted the terror of dress shopping only to land myself smack in the middle of a worse problem. I now had to buy shoes to match my dress. Holy hell. Being the fashion dolt I am, I spent the next week shopping for shoes to match my beautiful dress. I visited four stores to no avail and ultimately ended up ordering four pairs online to try on and choose from. When they arrived and I decided I needed help determining which of two pairs of shoes to wear with my lovely dress, I texted a few of my fashion savvy friends some photos to get their opinions. It was, I thought, the final step in my shopping process. I was wrong. Two friends liked one pair of shoes. Another liked a different one. Momentary confusion. But, wait…majority rules, right? It was fine. I took a deep breath. And then, just when I thought the decision was made, the unthinkable happened. The waters got muddied.

Rebecca: For an evening wedding, and it might be cold, I would wear tights.

Tights? Tights did not figure into my equation when I was shoe shopping. I had purchased only peep toe pumps to try on. While I know it’s now a widely accepted practice to wear tights with peep toes, my head began to throb. I found myself short of breath. I went looking for a paper bag.

Me: I want to cry. I can’t picture that dress with tights. I’m stressed out.

Rebecca: Don’t cry. You totally have time to figure that out.

Me: I thought I HAD figured it out. That’s why I want to cry. It took me a long time to pick the dress. Then I had to order shoes. Now I see I went the wrong direction.

Being the wonderful friend she is, Rebecca held my hand (all the way from Illinois, mind you) through my mental breakdown. I told her about the other dress I had considered buying. She thought it might be a better way to go. So, I ran back to Nordstrom, tried on the dress, and texted her a photo. It was a go. Next stop: shoe shopping. Over the course of three days, I texted Rebecca about 10 photos of booties and pumps. She helped me choose a couple suitable pairs, one that could be worn with tights and one that could be worn without. I would no longer have to freeze if it was a cold day in Boston. Today, a full two weeks after what began as a simple trip to buy a dress for a wedding, I finally feel like I have an appropriate outfit. Finally. Now all I have to do is find jewelry, a purse, and a wrap. Insert eye roll.

The point of this whole blog, and I do have one, is that the old rule “always bring your buddy” is crucial. Most things in life are better executed with a friend along. Fashion, apparently, is no different. All these years I have been shopping incorrectly because I’ve been going it alone. Big mistake. In the future, I will try to remember that sometimes my independent streak needs to be tamed. Sometimes I need to accept that it’s okay to get by with a little help from your friends. The buddy system was created for a reason. It’s good for safety, sanity, and shopping. Who knew?

(PS…My darling husband said I should keep both dresses. I agreed.)