18 September 2008

How to wear pants: with both of the legs on

My mother said and did a funny thing when she came to visit me most recently. She passed on tips from How to Wear Clothes or whatever the the cable show is called. She suggested little things and brushed off some cobwebs. It was all very helpful, but she caught herself after suggesting which direction we point our silverware in the dishwasher (tines down, to avoid handling them when you put them away). She said, "I should stop. I wouldn't like it if you came over and told me how to do everything." We had a laugh and that was the end of it, no hard feelings.

But the bit about the advice about pants kept nitching at my consciousness. My mom was suggesting, as do the women on the cable TV show, that it's better to wear pants that go all the way to the floor, or come down to your knee (or just below, depending on your knees), but not in between, especially if they aren't close-fitting. I kept circling back around it, not knowing why this advice didn't necessarily sit right. I didn't think it was the usual defensiveness caused by getting advice from one's mother, or anyone really. But this morning when I was putting on some favorite, just-above-the-ankle pants, in white twill with thin blue vertical stripes, I realized what had been bugging me.

I used to dress to emphasize certain features and redirect attention away from others. I had the figure Frances McDormand has in Burn After Reading, but I was only 30. Then I lost 10 percent of my body weight and now I feel more comfortable. I keep track of my eating, getting more and more attentive to the what I eat, and I have the middle-class luxury of being able to attend to my health when I need to, when I'm out of whack.

These days, when I choose a pair of pants, I am thinking of the entire ensemble, of how I feel when I wear them. And today I noticed that I'm not dressing to hide anything. So I don't feel the need to wear only two kinds of pants: ones that end at the knee, or full-length ones that fall to a point always covering the tops of my shoes, to lessen the breaking up of the line of my leg. It's more about being able to walk or ride my bike in them. So today I have my loose capris with my little peg ankles going into my black mary janes, but the white of the pants picks up the white of my shirt, which is sprinkled with bright flowers and makes me happy every time I look down and see it. Maybe I look nice, or maybe I look dorky. I don't know. But I feel great.

Now I'm off to the Regional Transportation District hearing downtown. I'll report back soon....

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