Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dressing Up/Dressing Down

It's a good thing I'm not as modest as I used to be.

To digress a little, I've turned over a new leaf on office dress. I finally got tired of my docker style pants and mens' shirts. Watching so much of How Not to Look and How Do I Look? has taken its toll. I started feeling very out of style, not to mention dumpy.

In my younger days, I was accused of being a clothes horse on more than one occasion. I went through a few years there when I bought designer labels and dressed chez Liz, Pierre, Perry, Ralph and Christian. I had a lot of business dinners and meetings and client presentations and I enjoyed dressing to fit the scene. As I gradually moved out of the public aspect of our business and into the crawling on the floor finding the ethernet plug aspect, it made more sense to dress in a more casual style that allowed freedom of movement. I wore a lot of Bill Blass jeans in those days. I had a collection of designer jeans in every color imaginable.

Then the edict came down from the top, "No more jeans!". I had to find an alternative that was still comfortable, but that looked nice. Hence my conversion to twill pants. That's been my style for several years and until recently I thought I looked fine. Now I feel dowdy.

To add insult to injury, menopausal hormone shifts led to mood swings that led to borderline binge eating and I packed on a little more weight than I normally carry around. I'm still working on getting that issue corrected, but the bottom line is that I was depressed about my weight and didn't care much about how I looked.

Suddenly the hormones are shifting again, I feel better, and I'm getting that itch to dress nicely once more. On Sunday afternoon I skipped off to Beall's and decided I was going to buy myself some new clothes and lie to myself about what size I was buying. (Everybody knows that they are making clothes to fit snug these days, so if a gal wants to be comfortable she has to buy a size larger to compensate. Right? )

I found out I can still shop well. I located dress pants with matching jackets that were marked down in preparation for the incoming cold weather clothes. I found some Levi's that actually fit me. (A miracle in itself. When will the jeans manufacturers realize that most of us women have hips?) I left with 3 pair of dress pants, 4 jackets and 2 pair of jeans. A good start to a new wardrobe.

So today I wore my first pair of the pants to work. I paired them with a blouse that had been hanging in my closet unworn because I didn't have a good pair of navy pants. I looked nice in the mirror. I felt a little like my old self and began making plans for another shopping foray in the near future.

Pride goeth before a fall. I spent the lunch hour at Tuesday Morning, looking for some non-clothes bargains. I had been there about 5 minutes when a button suddenly popped off my blouse. Of course I had no pins or sewing repair kit on hand. But I was careful and managed to finish my shopping without embarrassing myself. I intended to do something about it when I got back to work.

An hour later, the missing button completely forgotten, I was sitting in my office chatting with the director of operations. I turned to get something behind me and button number two zinged across the room and landed at his feet. One missing button you may be able to do without, but two missing buttons? He handed me the button, pretended he had seen nothing, and left me clasping my blouse closed with my left hand and rooting around my desk for something, anything, that would hold the gap closed. A good samaritan co-worker coughed up two safety pins, thankfully.

So my first attempt to dress in a more appropriate manner has disintegrated into a look somewhat akin to Jed Clampett. I have a row of safety pins down my front, a red-faced boss, and a sense of gratitude that I wore my nice bra today. Somehow I think the world would have been better off if I had worn dockers and a man's shirt.

(By the way, the blouse was not too small. And my boobs are not big enough to put stress on the buttons. The thread holding the buttons on was just that rotten.)

Ah, well. The fashion world requires a certain amount of sacrifice of comfort to attain style. Not exactly the sacrifice of comfort that I was anticipating.


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