I was in a clothing store recently, and a man held up two items to a woman that worked there and asked, "Do these go?". Yes. They go. And I thought to myself, "Self, this is your quandary."
I am forty-five years old. I love being forty-five. It's really fun. But what goes with being forty-five? I can still cartwheel, but I'm not going to wear a leotard. I'm a big fan of Virginia Tech (my daughter is a student there), but of the 47 different styles of tees they offer, only one suits me (it has a retro applique). I watch the programs that show what fashions are appropriate and flattering on women my age, but I don't have need for heels or blazers in New Hampshire (or rubberized underpants, though I admit to wearing them on special occasions). Black may be slimming, but it's contradictory to my personality.
I knit, so I need to wear knitwear. That I know. I sew, so I like to wear at least my own homemade shirts. I love vintage clothing and accessories, anything before 1970. But at what point do I start looking like I won the blue ribbon at the 4-H show? Or like a character in a play? What I really want is to show that I love being my age. (Incidentally, I did win that blue ribbon).
Flashback, February 14, 1996, 10pm: My husband is on business in Miami, invites me down. I fly down in my Mom Jeans, white turtleneck (Rich's department store, senior citizen discount if I go with my mom) and my hand knit Lopi Icelandic sweater. Contact lenses have been swapped out for my thick glasses in flight. "Let's go cruise South Beach", he says as we load my bags into the rental car. We creep down the well lit streets teeming with tall-haired women in black cocktail dresses and $400 shoes who have been working out, waxing, and tanning for this very evening. And I think to myself, "Gee, I liked these clothes when I put them on ...".
Flashback #2, 1986: I'm in the restroom at a fraternity pledge dance, wearing a high waisted calico dress I sewed for the occasion. My date's old girlfriend comes out of a stall sporting super tall hair, a strapless black cocktail dress and expensive shoes. She says to me, "Did you make your dress? It's nice, very understated ... but my friends and I thought you should know you look like you're expecting." And I think to myself, "Gee, I liked this dress when I put it on ...".
Self, here's your answer: Get over it. Break the rules. Wear the stuff that sings your name. Delight in your Becky-Homecky shirt and second hand coat. Do Your Thing. It (almost) always works for you. And be thankful you'll never have to go to another pledge dance or to South Beach again.