I’m a fashion failure. Yes, it’s okay to nod your head if you know me personally. I’m resigned to the reality of my situation. My husband accepts me. I’m over fifty and I don’t think I’m going to change unless one of my daughters begs Oprah to include me in her next “makeover” show.
I think about this personal flaw each fall and spring when the new fashions are displayed on every magazine cover and the “fashion divas” appear on television. I have absolutely no desire to change my wardrobe each season to comply with what the “hot new fashion” is in New York or Paris or even Oklahoma City. Oh, I’ll buy a few pieces that are “in” for the season. I’ll try a new color or a new skirt length. However, my basic wardrobe is always green, blue, red, brown, and orange. My favorite clothes are practical, comfortable, cheap, and casual. I haven’t worn pantyhose since 1996. I won’t wear anything that has to be dry cleaned (unless it’s a coat). I won’t wear anything I have to “worry about”, i.e., Is this too short if I reach over my head? Am I going to have a million wrinkles after I sit in my car for an hour? Will this stain if my students hug me or splash paint on me? I won’t wear anything too trendy. I don’t have one of those shiny purses or those weird plastic clogs.
I blame this flaw on my parents. If they had had just one more girl I might have been saved. But no, they had to raise me with four boys! How is a girl supposed to learn about fashion when she’s working in the fields and playing Army with her brothers? I remember my fifth-grade best friend getting a manicure set and I didn’t even have nails to manicure!
My hands are still a source of disgrace. Half the time I work in the garden without gloves. I forget to use hand lotion. I use that drying, anti-bacterial gel in my classroom. My nails are brittle and usually chipped. I had a nice manicure for about twenty minutes last week! Then one nail chipped. Then another. I tried a set of acrylic nails once when a friend talked me into getting a real manicure. My hands swelled and turned red!
Now that it’s spring the bare feet are coming out of hibernation. Cute sandals and “flip flops” will start appearing on all the best-shod feet. Not mine! I have stubby little toes that have each been broken. Two of my middle toes are crooked because, yes, they have been broken. My heels are always dry and cracked. The ankle that has screws in it always looks puffy and one of the screws is just below the surface of my skin. Vain? No. But I’m not going to call attention to my feet by wearing a skimpy piece of leather between my toes. At least not in public! Canvas shoes will adorn my tootsies for the summer.
Okay, if we’re talking about feet, we might as well move on to hair. I don’t have a “hair style”. I don’t get my hair “done”. I don’t have a standing appointment a the beauty shop. I don’t have a personal relationship with my hairdresser. I have my hair cut at one of those “walk-in” places about twice a year. The rest of the time I trim my own bangs and do the best I can. My hair is so curly that no one notices what I do anyway.
By now you’ve gotten the idea that I’m hopeless, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to you that I don’t wear much makeup either. A little lip gloss, mascara, maybe a hint of eye shadow, and I’m good to go. But from May to September you’ll see me sans everything, because it melts right off anyway.
I used to be a fashion “wanna be”. I have pictures to prove it! I wore trendy outfits complete with makeup and accessories. I tried different hairstyles and colors. I polished my nails each night. I knew all the girls at the Clinique counter. The whole time I felt like a fraud. And I worried, worried, worried. Was my hair perfect? Was my makeup right? Was my dress flattering? Was there a run in my hose? Did anyone notice the spot on my sleeve? I never felt good enough.
As I sit here writing this I’m wearing elastic-waist jeans and a turtleneck top (red of course). My favorite “at home” clothes are jeans, sweats, t-shirts, and cotton gowns. I’m always barefoot if the temperature is over fifty. Tomorrow, for school, I’m going to wear a pair of olive green corduroy pants and chartreuse green mock turtle neck top. It’s my favorite Monday outfit because it’s comfortable and feels like “me”. I won’t worry about how I look or fuss with my clothes or even give them a second thought once I walk into my classroom. I’ll just teach. And I guess that’s why I’m a fashion failure. I don’t have room in my brain to think about my clothes, or my hair, or my makeup. I’m too busy working and thinking and living and enjoying myself. My clothes are just protection against the elements. My hair and my face and even my disgraceful hands are just part of who I am. I’m thankful to be alive and healthy and happy. I don’t need to be fashionable too.