When I was 16, I was briefly friends with this super-cool punk girl who went to my high school for a semester. I don’t even remember her name, just that she had the pop punk look down and was immediately popular among all the punk and alternative kids. I kind of hung out with those kids and kind of hung out by myself, but for some reason, she deemed me cool enough to be buddies with. One time we were sitting in the courtyard at Heights High School, talking about clothes and how people dress and she said to me: “You dress like you don’t care.”
I wasn’t brave enough to ask whether that meant I dressed like I didn’t care what I wore, what other people thought or me, or something else. I still dress like I did then–jeans and sneakers and T-shirts and a sweater or sweatshirt if it’s cold. Sometimes it’s a band T-shirt or it has something ironic or revolutionary printed on it, but mostly they’re just plain old clothes. I guess I still dress like I don’t care.
My child has told me that I dress “boring.” Granted, she’s a kid and favors bright colors (we let her pick the paint and her room has two walls in Crack Whore Flamingo Pink and two in Bordello Purple). but yes, I tend to wear blues, dark greens, blacks, and purples. What one friend called the “bruise palette.” It seems to be a look favored by Humanities majors.
This evening, I took my daughter to dinner at the local Indian restaurant because we were both hungry and my husband wasn’t. We went on the spur of the moment, throwing on shoes and coats and fleeing the house in eager anticipation of some serious spice. We had a great dinner. She told me about the day-long Girl Scouts event she attended today. Near the end of the dinner, we both went into the bathroom–two stalls, no waiting. It wasn’t until I sat down on the toilet that I noticed I was wearing two different shoes.
On my left foot, I had the brown loafers I wore all winter, and on my right foot I had the brown docksiders I generally wear all summer. Mix them together, and I guess you have a spring ensemble. This is what you get when you dress like you don’t care.
Sometimes I think I ought to look more like other women, like other moms. You know, maybe color out the gray hairs that are starting to spring up, wear a bit more makeup, wear something other than men’s jeans (which are like eight dollars cheaper than women’s jeans), find some shirts that don’t, you know, hide my light under a bushel. I actually do have clothes like that, I just don’t wear them very often. In the never-ending battle between function and form, function will always have the upper hand. I do care, but I also like to be comfortable. I like to do things–run, jump, cook, bake, garden, hike. It seems that you’re more free to do things and do them with abandon in clothes are functional. I suspect that when I am an old woman, I’ll still be tramping around in my hiking boots and men’s jeans and hoodies and minimal makeup. But yes, I will check that my shoes match before I leave the house.