"A Good Dressing-Down" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)

A Good Dressing-Down

My maternal grandmother never wore pants a day in her life until she was in her 80s and had to go to physical therapy following surgery. They wouldn’t let her wear a dress for that.

Around her home, she wore “house dresses” (dusters) and “house slippers.” She never left the house in these. If she went anywhere–the supermarket, the beautician, the dentist’s office–she put on a dress or a skirt and blouse, stockings, and dress shoes.

When I was in public grade school in the early 1970s, my mother made me wear dresses and knee socks and nice shoes every day. Not just on picture day, but every day. When I got to fourth grade and we had gym class twice a week, I wasn’t allowed to wear my gym suit (those awful blue one-piece numbers) under a pair of jeans. Mom always said, “You’re not going out of here looking like a slob.”

I didn’t even own a pair of jeans. I had pants, but they were generally corduroys that came with a top that had an appliqué made of the same corduroy as the pants. So stylish in 1974.

Right now I’m wearing sweat pants. I work from home, so I can do that. But other than driving my kid to school in the morning when he’s missed the bus, I don’t leave my house in these.

I was surprised yesterday when I read about #leggingsgate: United Airlines didn’t allow two young women wearing leggings to board a flight. They were apparently in violation of a dress code associated with the employee-perk tickets they were using. From what I read, the terms of the dress code were known to the passengers in question.

I don’t have a problem with that dress code. I wish it applied to all passengers. If you’re old enough not to require a car seat on the flight, you’re old enough to get out of your pajamas. And leggings? NOT pants. Put a skirt on, ladies.

Last summer I flew both for vacation and for work, and I saw far too many people wandering around the airport in workout wear and pajama pants. Many of them were also not wearing shoes. Sloppy AND unsanitary!

Over the weekend, the Street Urchins made an appearance. One of them arrived, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, in pajama pants. Those were all the clothes he had–when Hubs took the boys to the diner Sunday morning, that’s what this kid wore.

It’s about time we upped our standards for dress. I’m not suggesting we return to my grandmother’s way of doing things, but it’s time to take a little more care about what we look like when we venture beyond our own front doors.

Image via Flickr by Emma, 2011. All rights reserved. Text added by author.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Fashion Emergency

Little Brother’s in the middle of one of those growth spurts where an already-slender child suddenly gets taller and even skinner.  So his old pants are too short, and the new ones are too wide.  That’s what belts are for, but he doesn’t want to hear it.

Friends of ours from church have a son about a year older than Little Brother.  The kid pretty much skipped size 12, growing straight from 10 to 14 in the blink of an eye.  When they offered to hand off a bunch of nearly-new jeans and pants to us, I was happy to accept, and I offered to look through our bins of Big Brother’s old stuff to see if we had anything that would fit this tall young man.  That trade worked out for everyone.

Yesterday Little Brother and I went through his drawers of clothing and took out the things that are too small for him now.  I put in several pairs of new jeans and cargo pants.  This morning he tried on three or four pairs, loudly discarding all of them as “too big,” “too hard to button,” and/or “too baggy.”

Middle Sister’s attempts at a fashion intervention fell on deaf ears.  Little Brother finally emerged from his room wearing sweat pants.

“Don’t just give up and put on sweat pants,” Middle Sister groaned.

He protested, “They’re not sweats!  They’re Athletic Pants!”

Not So Grumpy

Sometimes you just have to break your own fashion rules.

I figure that I’m not young enough to pull off T-shirts with slogans or sweat shirts with pictures. I make an exception for Notre Dame and any school/team spirit wear associated with my kids, but that’s it.

And I’m not a big Disney fan.

But a few months ago I found a fleece with my favorite Dwarf’s picture on it, along with the words “I’m GRUMPY.” At the time, I joked that I was buying it so that on days when I was feeling grumpy, I could issue a warning to my family.

That’s not how it has turned out, though. When I wear this fleece, my grumpy mood tends to evaporate. The picture makes me smile, and it’s hard to be grumpy when you’re smiling. It’s a weird way to get an attitude adjustment, but it works for me.

I should wear this shirt every day. I’m sure it would never pass the test on “What Not To Wear,” but that’s OK.

The Things We Do For Our Kids

Parents make sacrifices, big and small, for the sake of our children.

Like today: I drove out of town to get the best (yet inexpensive, if I go to this particular store) cold cuts for Big Brother’s lunch. He’s not a fan of the lunch meat at the local supermarket, and my other two sources have gone out of business.

It’s not a long trip (less than 15 minutes) but it is a venture into a neighborhood where fashion sensibilities are quite different. I stood in line to pay for the food, behind a young man whose belt fell far below the place where belts are supposed to go. And unlike many other young men who wear their pants this way, he wasn’t wearing a knee-length t-shirt. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

I hope Big Brother appreciates this.

Cute shoes!

Today I took Middle Sister shoe shopping today to complete her Christmas outfit. Payless has BOGO right now (I love BOGO) so Little Brother came along to replace his basically-destroyed school shoes. I rejected the Silver High-Heel Shoes out of hand.

Not only did they make Middle Sister WAY taller than me, but they are also not appropriate for a girl her age. I did hear her telling Little Brother to help her beg TheDad for them, but I’m onto that trick and ahead of the game.

So she did find these really cute red shoes. I was happy to say YES to those. Although I did say that she can’t wear them with jeans until AFTER Christmas, so that they’ll look nice for the special day.

Meanwhile Little Brother found his black sneakers that he needs for school. But there is a TINY blue line (look really hard and you MIGHT find it) and he was all upset about that.

I told him I’d color the black line in with a Sharpie if I had to, but these were the only ones that were available in his size. He was shaking his head, saying, “My teacher is NOT going to be happy about this.”

I figure that he moves so fast, his teacher will never see the blue anyway. I swear this kid is basically a blur most of the time.

Fashion Rant

Today I ordered some clothes for my Big Kids to wear on Christmas. I’d taken care of Little Brother’s needs a couple of weeks ago. He got a new sweater that he can wear with the khaki dress pants and a turtleneck that he already owns. So he’s all set. Big Brother only needed a shirt, and since he just likes wearing a golf shirt and khakis, his shopping was done in a flash.

Then it was time for Middle Sister. Gone are the days when I could buy any dress with a “twirly skirt” and she was good to go. She’s been emailing and IMing me with possibilities and I have rejected each and every one. A halter dress with net top, or spaghetti straps, or deep V-neck and sleeveless–in December? For a 12-year-old?

For a while I thought it was just because she had outgrown the girls’ sizes and now had to shop in Juniors, but when I peeked back at the girls’ dresses they were not much better. And almost nothing had sleeves. Most of the junior dresses barely hit fingertip length. How do they sit in those things?

And then we’ve got the shoes, because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like above-the-knee high-heeled hooker boots. (She doesn’t understand why she can’t have them).

Fortunately we did find a dress we could agree upon, though Middle Sister insists that she’s not happy with this choice. But it’s modest enough, provided she wears it with some leggings. And she’ll get a new pair of flats to go with it.

It would be a lot easier if she’d just wear pants and a sweater….