It’s A Fine Line…

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that fashion is not exactly… okay, fine; just not… my thing.  But every now and then I get a niggling feeling that maybe I should try a little harder.

It usually happens on a day when I’ve been immersed in some project, and I discover that I urgently need a tool/part/ doohickey to finish the job.  So I zip to town, forgetting that I’m wearing my old clothes.  They were clean at the beginning of the day, but halfway through my project they’re decorated with dirt/sawdust/engine grease/paint/all of the above.  My hair is in a braid that started out tidy in the morning, but by now I’m wearing a halo of frizzy tendrils and the braid itself looks as though it went through a spin-washer and then got rolled in twigs (or other bits of work-related detritus).

That’s when I see her:  My nemesis.

Her hair colour, skintone, height, weight, age, and fashion style vary, but she always has one instantly recognizable characteristic:  She’s perfectly put together.

Her hair might be sleek or artfully tousled, but she clearly just stepped out of the salon.  Her makeup is flawless; her nails are polished; her clothing is pristine, fashionable, and well-fitting; her shoes are the stuff of dreams; and her jewellery accents her outfit.

We do not make eye contact.

I suffer a moment of hopelessly envious inadequacy, and then hurry off to buy my much-needed doohickey.  By the time I get home I’ve forgotten the whole episode, which sets me up to repeat it over and over.

All this occurred to me the other day when I found myself resenting the amount of time I spend on personal hygiene.  It was a worrisome thought, because five minutes with the nail clipper a couple of times a month constitutes my “manicure”, and my “beauty regime” consists of showering, slapping on some deodorant and a combination moisturizer/sunscreen, and letting my hair air-dry.  A bit of lip balm, and I’m good to go.

That’s when I started to wonder:  Where do you draw the line between “carefree and natural” and “a lazy slob”?

I realize that my nemesis would probably consider herself a lazy slob if she went out in public with a chip in her nail polish; but that’s not a helpful evaluation tool when the closest my nails have come to polish in the past three decades has been a splattering of blue house paint that wouldn’t come off for a week.

Notwithstanding my occasional sartorial slip-ups, I do usually make an effort to change my clothes before I leave home; and I figure as long as there’s no visible dirt and people can’t smell me coming, I’m doing okay.

Or maybe I’m just a lazy slob.  It’s a fine line…

Book 14 update:  I made it to Chapter 16 this week, woohoo!  I love it when I hit “the zone” and the words just flow.  🙂

Not Dressed Up And No Place To Go

This week, I did the annual dusting of my dress-up clothes.

I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I hate dressing up.  Thanks to benevolent fortune and my own avoidance tactics, these days I work from home and employ other people to represent my computer training company much more professionally than I.  So I have a closet full of business clothes I never wear.  Dust gradually accumulates on them, and every now and then I go in and vacuum it off.

I like it that way.  It’s a good system.

I’ve always hated dressing up.  When I began Grade One, my mother thought it was proper for little girls to wear dresses to school.  She crammed me into cute little outfits and sent me off clutching my tartan-patterned tin lunchbox and my utter disregard for propriety.

The “dress” phase lasted until the teachers gently informed her that I spent most of recess hanging upside-down by my knees from the monkey-bars.

After that came the phase of “dress with matching bloomers underneath”, which rapidly morphed into “fine, slacks it is”.

But it was still slacks.  I didn’t get my first pair of jeans until Grade 5, by which time I had already been labelled hopelessly uncool.  That was probably due more to my personality than to my clothes, but I prefer to cling to my illusions.

I made it through my remaining school years in blissful slobbishness, but when I went to university to take my interior design degree, I decided it was time to grow up and make an effort.  I wore slacks and blazers and sometimes (gasp) skirts and pantyhose.

That lasted about six months, and then it was back to jeans and T-shirts.  Styles changed, and I got rid of the outdated clothes.

The same pattern repeated when I entered the workforce:  I bought sleek business clothes and high heels, which I wore for several months, followed by increasingly casual slacks and flat shoes.

At last I quit interior design (which was a relief to all concerned) and switched over to IT where my frumpy slacks and flats made me look like a fashionplate.  So I got rid of the dress clothes entirely and started wearing jeans and sneakers to work.

When I started my own business, it was back to the stores for more damn dress-up clothes.  Then came the inevitable decline, at which point I decided it was a much better idea to hire somebody else to represent my company.  At least my staff wouldn’t be mistaken for vagrants who’d wandered in off the street to cadge goodies from the networking events.

Which brings me to the present, slouched happily in my home office.  My only human contact occurs at a weekly staff meeting (I wear jeans), the gym, and Friday pub night with friends.  No need to dress up at all.

I’m happy.

But I’m afraid to get rid of the dress-up clothes.  As long as they’re gathering dust and quietly going out of style in my closet, I’m safe.  The instant I get rid of them, I just know the cycle will start all over again.

Anybody else keep out-of-style clothing as insurance?