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When Clothes Talk

“Hi, Gran, you look like Dad!”  Micah said.  I’d walked up behind my six-year-old Grand while he played with Matchbox cars on a track he’d made in the dirt.  He turned quickly and looked up to greet me.

             “Micah,” I said, “why do you think I look like your Dad?”  Son2, aka son-in-law, and I are about the same height, and he could wear my t-shirts, but his would be a bit tight for me.

            “What you’ve got on,” my Grand answered. “Doesn’t Dad have a shirt like that?” My t-shirt had a bicycle on it and because Son2 has ridden in many biking events, he often wears t-shirts with a picture of a bicycle.  I shook my head to answer Micah, and realized I was wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes, like Son2 wears most days since he’s been working at home during these months of the pandemic.

            Now, I love Son2, but Micah’s words that I look like him made me think about the clothes I wear. What other time in history would a child’s father and grandmother wear the same type of clothing?  I can think back one generation when my mom wore pants, but not jeans.  Her pants often had elastic waistlines and were made of stretchy fabric, and Mom wore long Bermuda shorts in the summer.  I never saw either of my grandmothers wear pants; even when Granny hoed the beans and pulled weeds from her flowerbeds, she wore a cotton shirtwaist dress. 

            History tells us that in the mid-1800s, women wore bloomers under dresses. By the early 1900s, women’s trousers appeared on high-fashion runways. During World War II, when more women entered the workplace, they wore pants for comfort. It wasn’t until the 1960s that pants became fashionable and popular for women.  And even then, we college students in the late 60s remember that pants weren’t allowed in classes.  I often wore my lightweight knee-length raincoat over shorts or pants to class.  

            By the early 1970s, pants suits, made of matching or coordinating fabrics, were poplar and comfortable.  The long tops were several inches above the knees and covered loose wide-leg pants.  And then the hippy revolution hit, with bell-bottom pant legs and jeans, and women began to wear pants everywhere.

My favorite jeans were bell-bottoms, wide legs that dragged so long that I almost tripped.  Now, like most women, I have several pair of jeans and I’ll keep wearing them.

            Who doesn’t have a collection of comfortable t-shirts?  We wear them to support sports teams, state our beliefs, and show where we have travelled.  But Micah made me think that I’ll wear other shirts when I’m out and about.            

The day I wore a t-shirt without writing or a picture and visited Micah’s house, his mother said, “You’re dressed up.  Going somewhere special?”  I didn’t tell Daughter that I was wearing a plain pink t-shirt because of something her son said, instead I said, “Yes, to visit with all of you!”

When I Wear Something I Shouldn’t

I’ve asked my friends to help me. When I wear something I shouldn’t, now or in the future, I want them to take charge. Take me home and leave me there or find something that’s appropriate in my closet. Or take me shopping and buy new clothes using my charge card and keep whatever I shouldn’t have worn.

I explained that I really don’t want to wear clothes with stains or rips. Things I couldn’t or didn’t see. And I may reach a point that my clothing choices aren’t good so please don’t let me wear a flowery blue and yellow blouse with a red and green plaid skirt or dresses that are too big or small. Or shoes of different colors and styles. (Wearing similar styles and the same color is an honest mistake.) Or pants that are entirely too short or have holes in the knees.

Holes in the knees. That made us laugh. Some of us remember when a pair of jeans with holes in the knees was not worn in public. We wore them playing outside at home or our pants were mended. Mom kept a supply of iron-on patches in her sewing kit, but she never thought the sticky backing kept the patches on well so she stitched them too. It wasn’t unusual to wear blue jeans with patched knees, but if there were holes anywhere else those pants were officially worn out.

With my old-fashion attitude, I wonder why anyone would pay good money for ripped pants. Online, one previously trusted retailer offers jeans with slits and holes, described as shredded & destroyed down the front & back of the legs, for $69.99. The seller states, “The beauty is in the breakdown.” This pair of jeans shows more leg than they cover. Others are available with busted knees for $78 and are exactly like the ones that Mom ironed patches on. I haven’t brought myself to wear jeans with busted knees or that have been shredded and destroyed.

And I’m still holding out on wearing leggings and jeggings. Leggings look like those heavy dark tights, but without feet, that we wore for warmth under skirts forty years ago. On young women and girls, I love the look of leggings with long loose mid-thigh tops so I tried on a pair. But I’d only feel good wearing such pants on my six-foot tall, past-retirement-age body if I wore a top than came to my knees.

Next I tried jeggings, tight-fitting stretch pants, styled to resemble a pair of denim jeans and pulled on like panty hose. A pair was advertised as comfortable as panty hose, which seems like one reason not to wear them. Another reason is on my body they looked exactly like leggings.

So I’m adding to my clothing list that friends shouldn’t let me wear: leggings and jeggings. And if I show up somewhere wearing ripped warrior leggings, take me home and leave me there, but please come visit.

 

From Sweatshirts to Tee Shirts

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Good-bye, fleece pants and sweatshirts.  Hello, shorts and tee shirts.  It’s that time.  Time to fill dresser drawers with summer clothes.  So I asked Daughter in a text, “Can I help with changing out clothes?”  She immediately replied, “Sure!”

Stacks of pass-‘em-down summer clothes, sorted by sizes, were piled on the girls’ bedroom floor.  My three granddaughters, ages 6, 4, and almost 2, jumped over the stacks.  “Let me have Elaine,” I said.  I claimed a corner and sat on a bed where I hoped to keep my constant-moving young Grand corralled.

“These are the size 2’s, but some are big and some are little.  Just slip them on her and you can tell,” Daughter told me.  Elaine held her arms high over her head and lifted her chin as I took off her long sleeve shirt.  She willingly pushed her hand through a white, short-sleeve tee shirt with a pink flower on the front.  “Perfect!”  I said and stripped it off, over her head.

While I put that shirt in the ‘keep pile’ and reached for another, my Grand toddled away and grabbed a pencil in one hand and a Lego piece in the other.  She’s always liked to hold things, and I knew she’d be happier clutching something, but there was no way that I was willing to navigate a pencil through shirt sleeves.  Using my greatest negotiating ability, I convinced Elaine to swap her long pencil for a pencil eraser.  I maneuvered her closed fists through the next shirt and the next and the next.  One was too short.  One too tight.   One was just right.  It was time for me to eyeball ‘just right.’  I stood Elaine on the floor between my knees and laid shirts across her shoulders and guessed ‘just right.’  “Try some of these size 3’s and here’s some shorts,” Daughter said.

“Okay, Elaine, let’s try on shorts,” I said.  I put my hands under her arms to lift her onto my lap.  She slithered to the floor.  How does a kid know how to do that?  She stretched her arms, flat against her ears, straight above her head and slid.  She lay limp.  In a ball.

I sang a silly made-up song, “Let’s try on some shorts.  Let’s try on some shorts.  Elaine, Elaine.  Try on shorts.”  My Grand responded with a smile.  She only had to try on two pairs for me to determine which of the others would stay up and were the right length.  I continued to sing silly songs, and I bounced her on my knees.

“Here’s a couple of dresses to try,” Daughter said.  By now, Elaine wanted to escape.  She ran from our try-on corner to a baby doll bed.  I coaxed her back and quickly pulled a dress down over her head as she squirmed and wiggled.  It fit.  I lifted the dress off and Elaine again slithered to the floor.  Dressed only in her diaper, my Grand lay on her tummy.  Thumb in mouth.

I knew just how she felt.