What to wear?!?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Clothes (May) Make the (Wo)man.”

How important are clothes to you? Describe your style, if you have one, and tell us how appearance impacts how you feel about yourself.

To think of when I first developed a love for clothes I have to flashback to mid-1970’s and think about wine colored gauchos, a leather shoulder bag and a mood ring.  I was just a kid, but I remember feeling “put together” and a general sense of well being when I was dressed nicely, as opposed to my “play clothes”.

Unfortunately, I went through middle and high school and my younger adult years putting way too much emphasis on how I looked and what I had on.  I was influenced, like most of us, by my peers and the current trend in Glamour magazine.  Oh, how I wish I could make young girls and women understand that their heart and what’s inside is so much more important. And that most of what they try to live up to in a magazine isn’t even real.

I even failed my own girls sometimes when they were younger, by spending so much time in front of the mirror second guessing an outfit, or lamenting about a zit or perceived weight gain.  I didn’t fully realize the impact that my self-absorption and self-consciousness could have had on them.

It’s important to instill confidence in our daughters but it should come from who they are, who God created them to be, not how they look or what they wear.  I tried, but I don’t think I hammered this point in all the way.

My current style would have to be classic/feminine.  I’ve never been bullied by current trends.  If I don’t like it, I’m not wearing it.  I wasn’t pleased at all to see high waist-ed pants come back and I’ll never have wings again, wear crocs or spend a lot of money on fake nails.  I’m not interested in advertising for Coach or any of the other logo-ridden accessories, but if I truly love it, I’ll buy it.  Again, it’s motive.  In the past, I would buy something expensive just to flaunt it; now I see the error of my ways.

Modesty is important to me as I want to be remembered as a reflection of Christ and not someone who is overly consumed with themselves.  Do I always succeed in that quest?   No, but I’m learning.

I still love to buy clothes and I try to always look nice but my heart’s motives are different now.  Of course, I am courting 50, and with that comes a strength and wisdom I just didn’t have at 20 (or 30).  As long as I honor God and my husband is happy, no other opinion really matters to me.

Too much stuff

Cluttered Bust

Cluttered Bust (Photo credit: mikecogh)

When my mom was in her forties, although she only survived until 49, I remember her saying, “I’m sick of stuff!”  She said it was time to enjoy people and memories and not concentrate on accumulating more stuff; her nick-nacks started to decrease because she didn’t want to spend the time dusting.  Lately, I find myself sharing her sentiments.  We have so much stuff to take care of that our efforts to keep up with it all cut into the time that we actually spend with our loved ones.

With this in mind, I knew one of the junked up areas in my home/life was my closet.  When you go to get ready in the morning and you continually run into the problem where you cannot find that belt or tank or whatever the need of the day may be, you know it is time to get busy!  I realize I should have done this as part of my annual spring cleaning.  The problem with that is mine never got fully accomplished.

The closet attack started off with a bang and then as per usual, I get hung up in the details.  Which hangers should I keep?  Should I arrange by season or by color?  Will that EVER fit, or should I just give it away and be done with the disappointment?  Should I keep the few shoe boxes I have or get rid of them since I don’t have them all?  This is the type of minutia that impedes my progress no matter the task!

Finally, I got frustrated, headed for my laptop and read some blogs about closet organization.  You would think by 47, I would have figured all of this out long ago, but no, so thankfully I gleaned valuable  tips from some savvy women.

Three bulging garbage bags later, I finally saw the bottom of my closet and everything was on a hanger or in a box.  Oh, the feeling of finally allowing yourself to let go of “stuff”!  But, seriously, if you haven’t worn something in a year, you just aren’t going to.  You probably bought it on a whim, on sale or someone gave it to you .  Let it go and preferably to someone who can really benefit!

Not a moment too soon, my husband came in for the evening and rescued me from further detailing, so I still have the color coding to go, but this girl is feeling accomplished.  Yes, my first efforts in down-sizing to a more manageable collection of clothing was a success and I’m anxious to move on to something else.

When clothing makes the memory

I would be lying if I said I don’t love fashion and enjoy checking out the latest trends.  Thankfully, I do have the confidence to wear what I want and do not feel a slave to whatever the latest issue of Cosmo is sporting in its glossy pages.  Some styles are hideous and it pains me to see how many people will blindly follow for the sake of expected popularity or trendiness.

Clothing says a lot about who we are, about our personality, our favorite styles and colors.  It can express our desire to be comfortable at all costs, or our desire to look our best, be our tallest or for some, show the world more than what is considered decent.

For me, clothing is tied to memories.  Maybe that’s why in my sub-conscience, sometimes I want that perfect outfit for that special event; because I realize there will be memories tied to it.

Some of my earliest memories include black and white patent shoes and purses with delicate flowers and beading attached.  These accessories made me feel special and whimsical.  They were part of my “Sunday best”, so to speak.

I remember one particular outfit; it had been handed down to me by a cousin and I was overwhelmed with gratitude because it was the most wonderful two piece, matching, polyester pant set I had ever laid eyes on, much less worn.  The pants were red with bell bottoms and the top was red and covered with white hearts.  When I put this on, the world was mine and everyone noticed me.   I know, shocker, right?    The way people looked at me probably had as much to do with the confidence I exuded by twirling and prancing and flaunting myself around as it did the actual clothing.  I also remember a green dress with an apple on it, which made me feel especially smart at school.

Then there were the handmade, look alike dresses my mom would proudly adorn my sister and me in.  This bothered me because how in the world could I be the center of attention dressed in look-alike clothing?   (Note:  Prior blogs will reveal my failures in personality and character as a child)

Fondly, in some cases, I remember the clothing of others as well.  I say in some cases, because I remember cringing when we would be on vacation and my dad would don his swimming trunks and accompany us to the pool.  I know this was wrong, but I promised I would always be real and transparent here, so the truth wins!  My dad was and still is a very handsome man, but never ever wore shorts, so maybe it was just the oddness of it (although it could very well have had something to do with his pale little bird legs too).

I remember both of my grannies and even my great-grandmothers in their starched looking dresses, embroidered with small flowers and often with pleats.  My sis and I were both just remembering yesterday a yellow shift style dress my Granny Byrd wore often.  She looked pretty in it and when I think of her, I think of her in that dress.

Grandpa Byrd and Poppy Goff wore their work pants, either khaki or dark blue, both being fishing guides.  They both always sported a hat to keep the sun off.   Grandpa Byrd preferred a cap and Poppy always had a big straw hat, sometimes with the green sunshield across the top front.  I remember the smell of the straw and the salty sea water left on the green.

My mom had unruly hair, much like mine and I remember her scarves and kerchiefs she would wear, especially if we were on the boat, which was often.  In one of my favorite pictures of mother, she had on a floor length dress and her hair in the bouffant style, ready to go to a Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty concert in Miami.  I thought she far outshone any princess, movie star or fashion model I knew of.

I could go on and on about people and what they wear.  The things I remember about them somehow relates to the way they were attired.  So you see, clothes don’t make the person, but they do speak much about them presently as well as in our memories.

Black shiny shoes and a floppy purple hat



When my daughter posted this picture today of my granddaughter, my first reaction was this huge smile, followed by out-loud laughter, and then of course the missing her. I made some quip about someone having dressed herself again. I’ll be the first to admit that I feel somewhat obligated to match and dress seasonally appropriate and somewhat stylish (at least enough not to embarrass my children).

This precious image stayed in my head as I put away the left-overs and took a shower. She had obviously dressed herself and was sauntering along outside, looking very content with her choices. Oh, the innocence of children!

It made me wonder. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be so nonchalant about how we look? What if we were confident to choose what we wear with reckless abandon, never a thought about what others opinions may be and no wondering if we are committing a major fashion fax pas?

My mom used to refer to the poem “Warning”, by Jenny Joseph, more widely known as, “When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”. She would say, “When I get old, I’m going to do, say, wear whatever I want”. My mom didn’t get the chance although she was never swayed by public opinion and said pretty much whatever she wanted to.

My mom went to heaven at a mere 49 years old. I think if she had something to say on the topic she would most definitely say that her great granddaughter, Ayda, has it all figured out.

It’s okay to wear black patent shiny shoes, sans socks and tights, with a Disney dress and a floppy purple Easter hat, and strut like you own the world while you’re doing it!

No to stripes and plaid; together that is

English: capri pants 1960. Deutsch: Caprihose ...

English: capri pants 1960. Deutsch: Caprihose von 1960. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have I ever said I love my forties!  Oh, I have?  Many times?  Well, excuse me for repeating myself.  I think repeating myself is coming right around the corner too so I might has well have a little practice.

I cannot help but ponder all the things that used to vex me daily.  Mostly about how I was perceived and how I looked.  It’s always been the little things that get me.  I would call myself a perfectionist in some areas, but then not at all in others.  And, I’m not over all of my little idiosyncrasies by any means, but I find myself happier and more at peace with myself every day.  Oh, the absurdities I’ve allowed to plague me!

Just today, I was telling a friend how that I’ve always had to match, even with sleepwear.  I’m not one of those people who can run around the house with stripes and plaid on.  Now, I’m not saying this is the way to be, but it is what it is at this point.  In high school, when the Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache and Sasson (I am really dating myself here) jeans were in style, my shirts had to match the thread on the jeans.  I have harassed girlfriends when they wore white shoes in the winter; which is not a fashion faux pas anymore, by the way.  The fact that my toenail polished is chipped has often caused me to wear closed toed shoes in the heat of a blistering Florida summer.

Like I keep saying though, things they are a changing.  This morning I had on a below the knee nightshirt and this FL girl was cold in this frigid 53 degree weather.  Let’s take a moment until the laughter from our northern friends dies down.  So, I decided to add a pair of sweats, but all I could find was Capri length.  Then I realized my feet were the coldest thing on my body so I was strolling by my daughter’s room and caught a glimpse of her ankle high leopard print slipper/booties.  I’m really not sure what they are.  She wears them out of the house; I would not.  I slipped them on.

So, I walk by the mirror and had to laugh.  I looked ridiculous.  But no one knew (until now of course).  This admission, sharing it with all of you is success in itself as far as I’m concerned.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone would have knocked on my door, a mad dash for the closet would have ensued.

Maybe I will end up being one of those little old ladies with a mismatched outfit and lipstick in the wrong shade feathering into the creases around her wrinkled old lips, and a winter shoe with a summer outfit.  But, you know what?  Who cares, as long as I’m happy? J

Mitch Teemley

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