Opinion

Charles: Wardrobe dysfunction

On a recent weekday afternoon, I scoured my closet in search of something to wear to work. I have a grownup job here. I do not wear grownup clothes.

As I searched through the closet devoted almost entirely to one particular type of top, I realized that I, a “middle-aged” woman, have the style sensibilities of your average teenage boy.

I love hoodies.

There, I said it. I have more hoodies than any other article of clothing. Except maybe socks. I love socks, especially ones with really funny patterns. But that’s another dysfunction for another day.

But hoodies, the wardrobe of choice for most teenagers — and just about every recent stick-up guy — are comfortable, and when worn during bad weather, negate the need for a separate hat. And I confess, my ridiculous obsession is starting to be so much of a problem, I have to rotate them in and out of my weekly choices to give every one a chance. I have hoodies from just about every place I’ve ever visited, and some I haven’t. I have souvenirs from my own hometown (who does that?), my adopted hometown (again, really?), places overseas I’ve visited, places my husband has been without me, from any and every occasion, in various colors. I’ve got sports teams (not from here, I’m not a native, I only wear my hometown teams’ gear), clever sayings, affiliations I support, hobbies I enjoy — you name it, I’ve probably worn it.

But there’s a reason for this lack of grownup clothing, and many in my age bracket will agree with me. After a few years, you just have to dress for comfort.

In my younger, salad days (do they still call them that?), my motto was food and fashion should hurt sometimes. So I went for the spicy food that made me break out in an unladylike sweat, consumed the hot dogs that I loved, but didn’t love me back, and wore high heels most days of the week. They were only 3½ inches high, but I wore them to work so often people thought I was much taller than I am.

Then, as I got a little older, a podiatrist told me the heels I loved were killing my feet, and not doing much for my Achilles tendons. He told me he wanted me off of heels in a year. I stopped wearing them pretty much right away, unless I was going somewhere fancy. But I still had a good amount of sit-down heels. Those are the ones that are gorgeous, make your legs look fantastic, and have you strutting like you’re on a runway. But you only wear them when you’re going someplace where you can sit down and take them off. Shout out to Nancy Pelosi, who talked for eight hours, standing in four-inch heels. I couldn’t have done that on my best day, and she’s got me by a few years.

Well, once I got off the heels, the dresses had to go. I saw no reason to wear flats with dresses, unless the dresses were long enough to hide the now-less flattering gams. So I switched to leggings. And long tops. Remember that look, about two decades ago? Yeah, I’m still sporting it. Not necessarily rocking it, but then, like I said, I’m dressing for comfort pretty much all the time now. Mother Nature made Spandex leggings and elastic waistbands for people like me, who no longer have the intestinal fortitude to fight into a pair of skinny jeans, lie down on the bed and pull the zipper up with a pair of pliers (and don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about).

And once I had my child with my husband, I went further down the rabbit hole. I could finally let myself go. We both love our daughter, and as long as we were raising her, he wasn’t going to leave me.

But now she’s away at college, and we’re back to just the two of us. It’s time to step up my game again.

We go out on dates, we have long conversations, sometimes about things other than our child. I like going out to dinner, movies, theaters, etc. But I really can’t kick the hoodie habit.

An oversized hoodie, paired with a pair of sweatpants or leggings is my go-to look. Yes, I know I’m being ridiculous. I’ve always hated shopping for clothes, even when I thought I looked good in them. When you need something nice, you can’t find it in any store; or when you find something nice, it’s too expensive, the wrong color, not your size, and you have no place to wear it. So it will sit in your closet for years as you gain and lose the same 20 pounds, hoping for an occasion to wear it when its size and the number on your scale match up. And of course when it does, it will be out of style anyway.

Know what never seems to go out of style, especially if you have no style? Hoodies. Yes, I know it’s stupid. I know I should wear grownup clothes to the office. But no one really sees us night workers anyway, we’re the elves who cobble the shoes in the middle of the night.

One of these days, I might wake up and check the mirror (it still works, so I know how foolish I look) and decide that I’m too old to keep dressing like a 15-year-old boy. I might even start rocking business attire and two-inch heels with nylons.

But don’t count on it. By the time I’m that old, the eyes will be going too. I’ll be able to convince my 90-year-old self that oversized hoodies and leggings still work. I hope someone out there still loves me enough to make sure that I finally get help.

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