Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Praise of Skirts

First, a moment of silence for my electric teakettle, which has shuffled off this mortal (electric) coil. It apparently sprang a leak, as I found large puddles of water under and around it on the countertop. I don't have a lot of expectations for an electric teakettle, but holding water would be high on the list. Plus, there are safety concerns with boiling water escaping its container (on the upside, my counter is now thoroughly clean and probably sanitized), and the water seemed to be leaking into the area where the heating element is, since it was leaking out of that area onto the counter, and electricity and water are not a happy combination. However, all is now right once more in my tea-making world, as I picked up a new kettle at Target last night on my way to choir practice, and I inaugurated it this morning.

It may say something about my life that this was the most memorable/exciting thing about my day yesterday. See why I haven't delved into Twitter yet?

My life seems to have come full circle lately, as I have rediscovered the joys of skirts and dresses. I was a terribly girly girl as a child and didn't wear jeans to school until I was in fourth grade. I resisted wearing pants (trousers, for those of you who speak British English -- I don't want to give any scary wrong impressions there) until we moved to Oklahoma, where we had more cold weather and snow than we'd had in West Texas. I even wore a dress to my kindergarten's "Hobo Day." (It was a cute little denim number.) But I did give into the cultural mainstream eventually, and once I left the day job, my wardrobe became focused on jeans, shorts and sweatpants.

But this summer, I rediscovered how comfortable dresses can be. I started wearing knit sundresses or t-shirt dresses around the house, and they were cooler and less restrictive than wearing shorts or jeans. Then a couple of weeks ago when the weather took a turn for the cooler, it was too cool to wear the sundresses but not quite cool enough for sweatpants, and I dragged out an old knit skirt. For those of you who remember the 80s, this was a Units skirt. For those who don't remember the 80s, Units was a short-lived line of lightweight knit clothing items that you could mix and match and put together in a variety of ways. I bought this ankle-length circle skirt for a costume when I was in college, then ended up using it a lot for ballroom and swing dancing. I used it again in my 20s when I messed up my knee because it hid the knee brace nicely before surgery and hid the swollen knee and bandages after surgery. I hadn't really thought of it since then, but it was perfect for wearing around the house, keeping my legs somewhat warm but not too warm.

The weird thing was, wearing this skirt that swirled around my ankles as I walked made me feel really good about myself. I felt prettier and more graceful. I kept wanting to dance around the house. I never feel this way about myself when I'm wearing jeans.

Then this weekend, I had a similar epiphany. I was running late to get to FenCon Saturday morning because of needing to put air in my tires, so I grabbed something that was quick and easy to put on -- a jersey knit red dress with an attached sash that can be tied in a variety of ways. That dress may join the Infamous Red Stilettos in my fashion reputation, as the Infamous Red Dress got me a lot of attention at the convention. People thought I'd really dressed up, but the thing was, it was more comfortable than jeans. It was like wearing a nightgown all day. I'm not sure where this idea that casual automatically = comfortable came from, but it seems to be part of the cult of casual in our society. Maybe it's the things that generally go with dresses, like pantyhose and heels, or maybe it's the fact that we feel more comfortable at the kinds of events where we can wear jeans, so we think of jeans as comfortable. Or maybe it's that men's casual clothing really is more comfortable than their dressier clothing, so our male-dominated society has deemed casual to be more comfortable (I can see ties and stiff collars as being uncomfortable, but dress slacks seem to me to be less binding or restricting than jeans).

At any rate, I may start going with what's comfortable for me. I like dressing up. I like wearing dresses. I really like those long, swingy skirts, although the ankle-length ones aren't a great look for me, as I'm already not too tall and they make me look shorter. I decided that even if I couldn't go with that look in the outside world, it would be fun to have a nightgown like that, but an online search hasn't found anything. I may have to borrow a sewing machine from my mother and make some nightgowns and around-the-house skirts. If I look overdressed for an occasion, remember than I'm dressing in a way that makes me happy, so deal with it.

But for today, I have on my long knit circle skirt and I'm ready to settle down to a long day of serious writing. (Come to think of it, my current views on this could possibly be influenced by the main character in this book, who is relentlessly feminine. When I write something different, I may feel another way and go back to my jeans.)

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