Friday, July 14, 2006

Dress you up in my love.

I have issues (surprise!) with my wardrobe.

I hate all of my work clothes. I basically have two pairs of black pants that I bought from H&M that I wear over and over. I have plenty of other pants; before I moved to Chicago my mother made me to go the mall (Virginia Center Commons! Word up, Ashland!) to buy work clothes. Of course, my mother is from the school of work fashion where double-pleated khakis are hot shit! We don't really see eye-to-eye on this. I broke down and bought pants from H&M because, unlike Dockers, that's a brand that actually fits me. When you have skinny legs and don't really have an ass, Dockers just look like khaki-colored tarps. With pleats and tapered legs. There's absolutely nothing attractive about that, and for someone as vain as I am, this is an issue that I find very, very frustrating.

My mother has similar feelings about the shirts men should wear in dressy situations. Usually the shirts she recommends have sleeves that are about a foot and a half in circumference. If the shirts in question are short-sleeved, then the sleeves usually come down to the elbows. When I buy a shirt that actually fits, one that doesn't look like I bought it from Structure in 1997 (remember when we all wore shirts that could fit whole families?), she fusses about them being too small.

This is the woman, mind you, whose wardrobe from the years 1985 to 2002 was essentially the same. She finally bought some straight-leg jeans after I told her that if she continued with the Mom Jeans I would put her on What Not To Wear. I think the fear of being embarrassed on television was a good tactic.

I digress. My main concern is that I hate all of my work clothes. Also, I have this issue with the business casual policy in my office, because looking at everyone else, I don't think I understand how casual we're allowed to be. Everyone else wears khaki pants and collared shirts, but they don't look dressy; instead, it's kind of like the dress code for retail pharmacies or something. And then here I am, dressed in black pants and button-up shirts. Well, not today, because it's Friday, and we get to wear jeans. Thankfully, Fridays are when I'm able to dress normally and remind people here that I don't dress like a square all of the time. TGIF.

When I come to work and see people wearing sneakers (black ones, of course, because black equals dressy, right?), it kind of reminds me of when we used to go to Sunday School when we were little. My mother would always make us wear those stupid dress clothes, because it was church and everything. And then of course, there were kids who showed up in jeans and Redskins jerseys. I actually don't even know who the kids were; there was one woman who never got to bring her own grandchildren to church, so I think she drove around town picking up ragamuffins and carting them to worship away their sins. (This is the Episcopalian church from my mother's side of the family I'm talking about. I'm not even going to get started on my father's family's Southern Baptist church where a few kids may have crawled out of dirt holes in the parking lot.)

Because I didn't care about church (kind of like how I don't care about work...), I basically would spend the hour figuring out WHY those kids were allowed to wear jeans and Nikes when I had to wear those goddamn Dockers and Bass shoes (shoes, which I should add, eventually went to my mother; yes, my mother wears my hand-me-downs sometimes).

I still notice this when I go home for holidays and am dragged to services. There's this one kid who my whole family has a general dislike for, and I promise it's not just because he goes to UVA (even though for generations we've all had a general dislike of UVA students, which, I realized lately, mostly applies to male UVA students). We actually don't like him because he's an asshole. My father always tells this story about how he asked the kid about college parties (you know, he was just trying to be the "cool" fifty-something dad), only to receive the answer, "Oh, we don't drink at The University." My father replied, "You're one-hundred-percent full of shit." (This happened in church, by the way.)

Sorry, I digress again. Once when I went home for the summer and went to church with my parents, I saw Dudester there wearing what my parents call The Uniform: blue Oxford shirt and khakis and loafers. Only, instead of loafers, he was wearing flip flops. In church. Jesus wept.

I guess the point of all of this (hey, it's Friday, and I enjoy...reading the writing of my voice? nevermind, it doesn't work with blogs) is that I am trying really hard to not feel guilty about not looking my best all of the time, because, honestly, who am I trying to impress? If every Chicago woman's idea of professionalism involves gaucho pants and the most uncomfortable looking wedgies I have ever seen in my life, I shouldn't be concerned about occasionally wearing a sweater with a hole in the sleeve.


Steve said...

I'll only work in non-profits for the rest of my life, I imagine, because I prefer a pretty lax sense of what is "business casual." I wear a polo shirt, khakis, and brown shoes just about every day of the summer. I wear a sweater, corduroys, and sneakers (I don't know if that flies here yet) all winter. It's fantastic. Why not work in something you are at least relatively comfortable in?

Anonymous said...

I remembered this when you brought up UVA guy. He actually liked Boys State. Never would have guessed, huh?