I’m Thinking I Need a Uniform

15 Mar

I’ve always loved clothes. I like having desperate pieces and the time to put together my look, a mix of sexy, classic and funk. I’ve never liked suits, but I will rock a Chanel (look-alike) jacket with leather skinny jeans. I’d never wear matching anything– earrings with a necklace, never. Ever.
Today I have an important meeting with a publisher who’s interested in buying my book. I’m excited and anxious but not about discussing my book. I’m anxious because of my previous experiences with such meetings. They, the publishers, have wanted to see how I look, how I present, how compellingly I can talk. It’s like looking at a horse’s teeth.

I spend most of my days in yoga pants or jeans. Today I’m wearing my favorite Comptoir des Cotonniers waxed skinny pants, a black Gap t-shirt, a pin-stripped Narciso Rodriguez blazer and my Italian biker boots. It’s 35 degrees and, at my daughter’s suggestion, I wear my vintage wheat-colored mink pea coat. I feel good about what my outfit says, cool, but not trying too hard, youthful but not like something out of my 18-year-old’s closet.

The idea of looking like a middle-aged suburbanite is worse to me  than matching jewelry. I think I’d rather never leave the suburbs, however, pulling the look all together has become increasingly exhausting. I realize as I ride the bus into the city, that getting dressed this way is taking up too much bandwidth. As my brain crashes way too often, overloaded with too many demands, thinking up outfits is going to have to be relegated to the pile of things that I no longer have the energy or interest in doing: going to galas, getting regular pedicures and watching the news, although I do still read the Times everyday often yelling curses at much of what I read. (Isn’t that what old people do?)

By the time the bus pulled onto the highway, I’d decided it was time for me to start wearing a uniform. Now, I don’t mean khakis and a workshirt. I mean one or two things go-to things like a sheath dress, pants and a blouse, that look good and pulled together. I’d always resisted looking put-together, again thinking this was the provenance of women of a certain age: Jane Fonda comes to mind. But here’s the thing, if I’m not that certain age now I’m in that neighborhood. And really, this is not an age thing (well, it sort of is, but indirectly so). It’s really about making my full, sometimes too complicated life, easier.

There’s a store, Max Mara, that I used to pass back in the days when I used to go to the mall. The clothes displayed in the windows were lovely and simple with clean lines and rich fabrics. I’ve only entered the store once or twice, but I thought back then, when I was in my early 40s, that here was where I was going to shop when I got older. The store is expensive, but I figured I’d only need a few pieces, which is probably true.

As I inhaled bus fumes, walking out of Port Authority and  into the city that I love, where I became a woman, I exhaled, put own my city swagger and came to grips with the fact that I’m just not a black slacks and blouse kind of  woman.

As much as I acknowledged that a uniform would make these presentations easier, after I scanned the Max Mara website, I know that I’m not that woman, not now and probably won’t ever be, even at a certain age.

What’s the lesson? You’ve got to show up as you are, as my friend Carmen says all the time. Your style, your personality, your preferences, you.

“Most of us are more comfortable being impostors than we are being ourselves,” Carmen said, a few days ago during one of our bi-monthly 90 minutes phone sessions.

She doesn’t remember where she’d read the quote, but both of us have decided to memorize this sentiment, to constantly remind ourselves to be ourselves.

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One Response to “I’m Thinking I Need a Uniform”

  1. Eleanore Wells March 17, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    When the day comes that I find myself with a “job” job, I, too, will want a non-uniform uniform.

    Carmen’s comment: “Most of us are more comfortable being impostors than we are being ourselves,” reminds me of a line in Diddy’s song, “I’m Coming Home”, where he says, “It’s easy being Puff, it’s harder being Sean.” He knows…

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