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Why women have nothing to wear: Rationalisation #1

February 5, 2011

“I have nothing to wear” goes the refrain, but is it true?

The common wisdom is that after “a certain age,” it becomes even more important to look good, if only to compensate for what you’re losing elsewhere (this is the real reason older women look more put together, if not actually fashionable—we’re clinging to what we’ve got left).

You have a better sense for color, you have more choices (because you’ve accumulated more stuff) and you have more experience fitting your body, recognizing what looks good on you. You’ve learned discernment, what goes with what. Also, you’re bolder, putting interesting, diverse colors together that you wouldn’t have had the guts to wear when you were younger.

At least, that’s the theory.

You might, in fact, have lots of great stuff you never wear. Why is this? I think the answer is based on how tired you feel when you look in your closet.

I have days when I don’t care very much how I look. I wish that weren’t true, but it is. I have lost the will to make a huge effort, largely because it takes too much work. These are not mere words; they are an over-50-year-old Truth. It takes a half-hour to do my face, and that’s only if the surface has been prepped for the necessary layers of shellac and paint. If the canvas has not been adequately prepped, it takes an hour. My hair requires coloring, because going white at the age of 51 is not an option; white granny hair would not match my face, but I will save that discussion for another time. I inherited that hair. It’s not my fault. It then takes the will to deal with my legs. It takes even more will to go to the nail salon to get a pedicure. I think we’re looking at a minimum of four hours at this point—not every day, of course. Good lord. I’m sure there are women who are that high maintenance, but I will never be one of them.

Hair, legs, face, nails. Then there’s exercise, which is necessary, and not something I willingly avoid. Only after all of this is done, do we deal with clothes, and by this time, we are tired.

Taunted by glamour, we choose jeans

You come to your closet, exhausted by the preparation of simply getting ready to get dressed. What do you see? You see piles of clothes, all demanding a decision.

Instead of making yet another decision, you go with what you know: a pair of jeans, a shirt, maybe a sweater, and comfortable shoes.

Anything more than this requires real effort most days, but if you don’t make the right decisions, you’re settling for the old lady look which leads directly to old age and those weird shoes old people wear because they have to.

You start settling in, you will look older and older before you ever get to the home and start gumming on the tapioca.

Prior to real old age, of course, is now, when we still have some choices, but that means we have to make decisions. The real problem with getting dressed is making decisions. For complex reasons, (and no, not because of incipient Alzheimers) making decisions is its own challenge.

Then there’s another factor involved, which I probably learned from my grandmother. I fervently wish I could unlearn it, but I suspect it’s in there too deep to get it out now. My grandmother always put nice things away “for good.” She saved fancier clothes made of delicate fabrics, or anything that looked like it was for church, weddings, or funerals, in its original packaging, in a drawer, or in the closet, protected by mothballs. Nothing was ever worn new, straight out of its box or off the hanger. What she did wear was practical, nothing fancy, the uniform of her generation: a dress in an indestructible material, sensible shoes, stockings, garter belt (yes, I know, you don’t have to say it); a touch of rouge and a little lipstick.

So certain things do not change; I save a lot of my clothes “for good,” but too often end up wearing clothes that make me feel more like my grandfather, who worked in a coal mine, than my grandmother, who did not.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2013 4:00 AM

    Thanks for listing my blog in the related articles and for sharing the other side of the story. Perhaps I should have said “clothing is way easier for guys” – I remember the sturdy outfit my grandmother wore, exactly as you describe it with the addition of a pocket on that dress. She was all about being prepared for the task at hand and felt that dresses without pockets were useless.

    • November 25, 2013 9:53 AM

      Oh wow, I completely forgot about the pockets! You’re right!! Yeah, pockets were crucial. Now that I think about it, I remember the crumpled up ‘hankie’ she always had in one of the pockets. Plus she wore a cardigan, so there were *those* pockets as well. Her clothes were utilitarian, but she *never* wore pants. I never once *ever* saw her wear pants. Now that I think about it, it’s kind of interesting.

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