In my twenties, I always dressed up. I could be going to college classes, starting a new job, or running out to get a cup of coffee, and you could be sure to find me in full-coverage makeup, a dress, and high heels. Basically, it was a production any time I left the house. And I was pretty much that way into my early thirties, even when my whole life transitioned to working remotely and spending more time at home.
Then, there was a shift. Somewhere along the line, I got really comfortable in my own skin. As an only child, I like a lot of alone time, and I am perfectly capable of entertaining myself. I consider myself secure in who I am and what I bring to the table. However, when it came to what I presented to the outside world, I felt like I had to show my best self, and that usually entailed a lot of makeup to hide my not-so-perfect skin. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I grew tired of putting together outfits and spending time (and money) on makeup that nobody would see. Eventually, I got so comfortable in my skin that it now feels like a job to have to get done up to go out.
But this past weekend, my old self and my new self collided. I took a quick day trip upstate with a friend and packed only a few comfortable items to get me through the time in the car and some things I might need during the day. The old me would have packed for a 24-hour trip like I was relocating. But the new me packed light, and was proud of it. Until I realized that I had made a dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant upon my return, and there wouldn’t be enough time to stop home and pick up an outfit. So, what’s a girl to do? A part of me felt like just showing up in the yoga clothes I had traveled in. The other part of me was in awe of how little I packed and horrified that I forgot to bring anything that would be remotely considered an outfit for this dinner. With time running out and it becoming clear that I would definitely not have time to stop home, I did what any rational woman would do—raid your friend’s closet. I should add that we are both the same size in clothes and shoes, so it makes operating a raid much easier. Fortunately for me, I packed a black fitted tank top, so it was at least a start toward creating a look. Next, I found a long polka dot skirt in my friend’s closet and thought, bingo, halfway there! The other problem was that I also forgot to pack footwear that would work. All I had on me were a pair of Skechers sneakers, and while that vibe might work for some people, it is definitely not a look I can pull off. Thankfully, my friend whipped out a cute pair of strappy wedge sandals to complete the ensemble. Here’s to having friends who are the same size as you—and who let you raid their closet in a pinch.
As I was scrambling to assemble an outfit and get ready, I thought about how much times have changed. I used to keep a dress, an extra pair of shoes, and a jacket in my car, because you never know what could pop up. But after the craziness of the last couple of years, I prefer a simpler look these days. Part of it is that I’m much more comfortable in my own skin (I actually dread putting makeup on when I have to go into the office). The other part is that my lifestyle has changed so much since my early thirties. My priorities as a caregiver take a front row seat, and to be honest, nobody cares what I wear into a nursing home. I’m more comfortable in leggings and sneakers than I am now in skinny jeans and stilettos. Sure, it’s fun to get done up once in a while, but I love noticing how much my skin has improved without being buried under a pound of makeup, how much better my back feels without the pressure of standing in heels all day, and how my feet feel less sore in more sensible shoes.
The moral of the story? Fashion isn’t so much wearing what looks good on you, but rather what feels good to you.