“why are you so dressed up?”

I’ve been answering this question basically my entire life: Why I am dressed up today. People expect me to say that I have an appointment, an interview, a presentation, a recital, an event. They’re usually surprised when I answer with, “Oh, I just felt like it!”

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{An impromptu self-portrait in sparkly slippers. Please delight in the Gilmore Girls playing on the computer. Sewing room perfection.}

I wore this outfit to JoAnn and the grocery store yesterday, and it’s not unusual for me to wear dresses or skirts when I go on errands. This skirt is my charcoal Mabel, and the sweater is one I bought at the Banana Republic outlet last Christmas. The tights I found at Target. None of this is super fancy, yet invariably I’ll get a comment about how “dressed up” I am. And I guess skirts–even comfy, stretchy ones–say something different, but I don’t think they have to. What I want to say sometimes is that really, my skirt is one step away from stretchy pants, that it’s all a fashion ruse to make me look fancier than I actually am.*

That question–Why are you so dressed up?–used to make me really self-conscious. I knew that were I to wear a skirt to high school that I would field that question all day from students and teachers alike. I’d have to mentally prepare for giving the same answer that so many found inscrutable: Yes, I’m wearing a skirt because I really do like it. Yes, really.

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As I’ve gotten older, my friends aren’t so surprised every time they see me in a skirt. A couple of weeks ago I stopped by a friend’s house for a few moments. I was wearing my charcoal Mabel with a ballet pink sweater and gray tights. Again, it wasn’t anything super fancy, but by the general definition of “dressed up,” I supposed I was dressed up. And my friend acknowledged it by saying something like, “You have such a personal style!” And I loved that. I was so flattered by how she said what she did. Yes, she noticed what I was wearing, but she didn’t think it was weird or atypical–these knit pencil skirts are just a part of my style.

So maybe when we see someone wear something that we might not necessarily wear, maybe we should just see it as a part of their style instead of as a lifestyle anomaly. Because sometimes that question–Why are you so dressed up?–sounds almost accusatory, and all of a sudden the true answer doesn’t seem as acceptable as having a “real” reason for skirts and tights and twirly dresses.

Today I have a sick boy, and so I’m staying in stretchy pants, and together we’ll likely watch all the Pixar movies we have. So, no skirts today. But who knows what it’s store for tomorrow? Because when it comes to my closet, a skirt is just a skirt and I wear them whenever I feel like it.

*For the record, I wear my share of jeans and stretchy pants. I don’t wear skirts for all the days, just lots of them!

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