Inner Critic: From the brink of middle age, at the crossroads of "Have You Let Yourself Go?" and "Maybe Botox Isn’t Such a Bad Idea", we bring you “When We Were Young: The Fashion Edition”. Our featured returning guest is a recovering attention-seeker who used to frolic in fashion. (sound bite of applause) Hello, Juli.
Me: Hello again, everyone.
IC: Would you tell our readers about your “fashion” story.
Me: I used to love costumes. Like many girls, I loved ballet, and I liked to wear my ballet costumes. Later, I became obsessed with square dancing dresses.
IC: What about ninth grade? I understand it was a pivotal year?
Me: In ninth grade, I was the only person in my class who wore a Halloween costume to school. (Halloween was my favourite holiday.) And I had this dress from the Limited Express. The boys in my English class said it looked Amish. And I wore my ballet slippers—as shoes! (sound bite of laughter)
IC: What happened when you went to college? I mean, really. What the fuck happened?
Me: When I got to college, I went through a long, long, LONG phase of wearing black. With the Madonna bracelets and the leather and the Doc Martens, but with flowers in my hair. (I was a bit confused.)
IC: After college, you tried to wear a nose ring to work. And dreadlocks. You worked for an investment bank. Had you lost your mind?
Me: No comment.
IC: You were seen wearing this on the beaches of San Francisco:
IC: What the hell were you wearing?
Me: It was a bridesmaid’s dress. For a long time I felt like I needed to express my individuality through fashion.
IC: Uh-huh. Well, what are you wearing now?
Me: It’s a typical Saturday night. I’m wearing track pants and a sweatshirt. No makeup. In fact, I’m not sure I own makeup.
IC: Your husband calls you "Pajama Girl".
Me: It's an endearment.
IC: So, can we ask—to help (or frighten) our younger readers—what happened?
Me: After I had a baby, I found I just didn’t have the time or interest I once did in shopping. Or in keeping up with all the beauty maintenance routines. And we really couldn't afford to splash out on those things anyway.
IC: But every day, we see other mothers who, you know, go beyond yoga casual for school pick up. Why exactly can’t you make more of an effort?
Me: I wish I had a stylist to put together "looks" for me. But basically, I don’t see the point. I mean, who am I trying to impress?
IC: Your husband? Your crushes in the village? Yourself?
IC: This has been “When We Were Young: The Fashion Edition”. Join us next time when we discuss "Why Your Mother Looks Younger Than You”. (sound bite of applause)
I haven't cut my hair since December. It hangs to the middle of my back, stringy and shapeless. I think I'm daring myself to see how long it will grow. It gets stuck in my armpits. I just put in in an ugly ponytail/bun thing.
Until I go out with some friends. Who are usually younger than me. And hipper. And more fashionable. And then I'm that woman they can't believe is 40. (Because my hair looks like a 4 year old's).
Speaking of beauty maintenance routines, I (ahem) HAD to wear a granny looking swim-mini skirt thing to the pool when invited by my bikini wearing girlfriend.
I think I've said way too much...
You sound pretty secure and natural looking to me. But what do I know, I am a leftover hippie and I am bare foot and braless.
Your writing is brilliant, never mind about the dress sense! But it all sounds like healthy growing up, normal exploring and finding oneself (oo er) kinda stuff (except for the piercings & dreadlocks whilst working as investment banker - how long did that career last?! x)
I'm usually in my P-jays by 6 every night (gasp!).
I continue to were these battle fatigued army green capris that I got from Old Navy 'round about 2004 because no matter how fat or how thin I might be, they seem to get grandfathered into the wardrobe.
My daughter stopped reminding me a couple of years ago that capris are a fashion Don't for short women.
But for some reason I still put on lipstick every day. It's my one reminder of the old days, I guess, when I actually showered before noon and put on "real" clothes.
And I meant wear not were. whoops.
Speaking from my end, even we hippy-girl-loving guys like it when the girl is taking care. My love wears very little makeup, keeps her hair long, is big on comfortable clothes and often chooses function over fashion. But that's way different than looking like she just wandered in from the bedroom and is looking for her first cup o' joe.
It boils down to sex, I think. We both like it and we both continue to do things to attract the other.
Perhaps that's too personal, but I truly believe that sex is directly connected to how we supposed adults present ourselves.
I'm going to go now. I just got the feeling like I accidentally walked into a room full of women, tried to tell them their business, and now it's deadly silent and one of them is holding a knife.
I'll come back when I can behave better.
I remember that! I remember thinking, "I wish that I had thought of wearing a costume!" I also remember being mercilessly mocked by friends when I told them that. Oh, well.
Living the single life and working at home as I do can also wreak havoc with one's personal sense of style. Add living on a farm to that and, as you can imagine, is isn't pretty.
When I do go somewhere and do the whole hair and makeup thing, it feels like going to a costume party.
Casey, don't feel threatened. I greatly enjoyed reading your point of view. I do tend to take off the makeup, put up the hair, and don comfy clothes at home. My husband doesn't see me dressed for work/outings.
Last night we went to a big outdoor get together. He bought me a pretty summer dress, I did my face and hair; I felt so beautiful. Sex/attraction is related to how we present ourselves! Long married, we are often too sloppy in appearance.
Thanks again for your post. And thanks for the reminder...
You were ahead of your time with your long dress.
They call them 'maxis' now. Last night at a friend's party in a very hip enclave of Denver, I saw at least four women wearing toe grazing maxi dresses.
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