So…yesterday morning I’m almost ready for work when I open my sock drawer and find six pairs of black socks, two pairs of green socks, six pairs of white socks, and three brown socks- each a different shade of brown. No pairs. Nothing matching the dark brown pants and brown shoes I’ve chosen to wear. I can’t for the life of me remember why I put the socks into the drawer without their mates. I usually put odd socks on top of the dresser as a reminder to search for the strays. I must have been in a big hurry on laundry day! I scrounge around one more time, hoping to find a brown sock mate. Way in the back of the drawer is a pair of tan socks- not even trouser socks- just tan, cotton socks. Ugh! But there they are, and I have five minutes to make a decision. They’re on my feet in a flash and I’m out the door.
As I drove off to work I thought about how much I’ve changed over the years. My younger self would have agonized over my “less than perfect” wardrobe options. I probably would have taken the time to change pants before wearing those socks!
In my twenties I worried about how I looked, if I fit in with everyone else, what someone would think when they saw me. I worried about what matched and what didn’t, if my skirt was the correct length. It was all about “style” and what it was that year and who had it. I was blessed with the ability to sew and a grandmother who sewed even better so I managed to look attractive most of the time. I remember routinely changing a shirt or skirt or even a whole outfit two or three times before going out the door. I could spend fifteen minutes fooling around with “accessories”, another thirty minutes on hair and makeup. I usually hated whatever shoes I was wearing and I never had the money for the right handbag. I made up for that by polishing my long fingernails in a different color every other day.
In my thirties I had children and schedules and more chores than hours, so a few things had to be re-prioritized. My first priority was cleanliness, followed by ironed, then matching or coordinating. I didn’t care so much about style or whether I was wearing this year’s color or skirt length, or something several years older. I wore comfortable shoes, except for Sunday heels, and counted my blessings if I found my handbag among the chaos of children’s bags and equipment. I wore my hair long so I could pull it into a ponytail if I was in a hurry. A little eye shadow and lipstick and I was good to go. I polished my nails with clear polish so it wouldn’t show when I forgot to do them.
In my forties I had a job. I was going to school, working on several personal projects, and taking care of a big garden. Comfortable shoes were my top priority, followed by jeans, and anything that didn’t require ironing. I stopped wearing panty hose. I opted for short, wavy hair. I saved dresses and most jewelry for Sunday. I discovered the joy of cardigan sweaters- soft, warm, comfortable, no ironing. Long skirts were also great. I started carrying a very tiny handbag so I could carry my book bag; besides you don’t need much room for a little money, a hair brush, and some lip gloss.
Now here I sit- the woman who doesn’t even care if her socks are tan and her pants are dark brown. That’s what I realized on the way to work. I truly don’t care. I’m grateful to have socks. And I’m too busy doing what I love, to care much about what I look like while I’m doing it. Now, I did say much. I’m not a slob. At least I don’t think I’ve jumped over that cliff yet. I do like to look clean and well-groomed. I still iron a few things. But I’ve simplified a lot of my life and routine to match my lifestyle. I don’t wear make-up. My hair is natural and curly- perfect for prairie winds. I never wear panty hose- don’t even own any. My shoes are all comfortable, especially the old slippers I wear in the winter. My nails are short. My jewelry is simple- earrings and maybe one ring or bracelet. I don’t wear a watch. I carry one handbag in the winter and a different one in the summer. My socks are mostly brown, black, white, or green. My pants are all brown, black, blue, or green-with elastic waists. Simple. Go to the closet and decide which shirt to wear, grab some coordinating pants, put on socks and shoes.
During my twenties I would check my appearance in the mirror and have a last-minute conversation with myself. “Does that make me look fat? Is that too short? Is that more orange than red? Does that need to be curled again?”
I still check my appearance in the mirror, but the conversation is a little different. “Did the weatherman say I need a coat or just a sweater? Did I remember my earrings? Oh, great that ketchup stain came out…”