by Sandie Lee
When I was younger fashion was my middle name. I would look for the latest trends worn by the hottest movie stars, scour magazines for outfits I could duplicate, or just combine them all for my own look.
Now all the “fashion” I have is plucked from clearance racks, then washed until it is threadbare. I’ve even been known (on more than one occasion ) to root through the dirty laundry or pick up a discarded item off the floor (sniffing for cleanliness, of course) and toss it on without further thought.
As horrifying as this may sound to most of you, it comes with working at home and not having to impress anyone with my daily attire. The delivery guys hardly ever flinch anymore when I open the door.
My fifty-ish-age also doesn’t help. It’s like the clothing manufacturers have completed disregarded this category. Most of the clothes on the racks are either young-hard-body or old-granny style—I have an elderly mother, and I don’t care to shop out of her closet.
My problem is I like the younger fashion—they’re colorful with funky designs and look adorable on the rack or those teeny-bodied mannequins. I start with such enthusiasm, too, thinking how cute I’d look in one of these spaghetti-strapped numbers or tight-fitted jeans, but my bubble is soon burst.
It usually starts with the salesperson—some young thing with her perky breasts and fresh skin—and the look on her face that says,
“I think what you’re looking for is on the other side of the store, Grandma.”
However, ignoring her, I anxiously take my cute clothes and pick out a dressing room (as far back as possible), shut the door and await my transformation. I quickly shed my bargain bin attire, careful not to look in those full-length mirrors, which would kill me instantly. Why are they so unflattering? Then begin the struggle.
Hmmm, the label says it’s my size…
As I wiggle and pull the tight little number into place, it’s usually at this point that my muffin top rebels; why are those zippers so short? And realization dawns on me. Actually, it doesn’t just register it screams; “You’re not twenty anymore!”
But being a sucker for punishment that I am, I still have to look in the mirror hoping it’s not as bad as I think.
Wrong! It’s worse.
My middle age spread is oozing over the top of the jeans like melting ice cream, and the top is so stretched across my chest, I fear I may lose an eye when the buttons begin to fire off like hot popcorn.
Hmmm… perhaps now would be a good time to call the snooty sales girl over.
With one more glance in the mirror to make sure my self-esteem is entirely shot, I quickly peel off the offending outfit, get dressed and get out of there – only to be greeted with the smug look and voice of the salesgirl asking me, “How did it go?”
If the previous screams of horror and my face completely drained of color didn’t tell you, then nothing will.
So what am I supposed to wear? Do I just throw on a pair of pajamas and wait for old-age so I can shop from “the other side of the store?” Or hole up in my house so I can safely wear my bargain-bin finds?
No! I stand proud and march myself right back into the cute section of the store. So what if I’ve gained a little weight? That’s a sign of my ambition as a writer. So what if the styles of today make me look like I’m trying too hard? That’s a sign of confidence in who I am.
Middle-age is a state of mind. Wear it with pride and be happy with who you are. And if a snooty sales girl has to lose an eye to a flying button in the process, well that’s just years of experience showing the younger generation that fashion be damned! This middle-aged woman won’t be ignored!