Friday, April 13, 2012

Feelin' Flannel

The change in the overall context of my life is mirrored by the contents of my closet.

The nutsiness of the final five months at the café coupled with the subsequent physical inactivity of not working loaded me up with extra baggage that could not be packed into clothes that I could wear a mere eighteen months ago. Once upon a time, my post-Weight Watchers body was too tiny to fit even a ladies’ size S. I was forced to shop in the juniors’ departments; which, while it was quite an ego boost, wasn’t great for acquiring age-appropriate stylish clothing. (I have since come to the conclusion that there is, at my price point, no such thing; but that is a different rant.) Unfortunately, those days are gone; can’t say I’m in love with the size tags inside the clothes I wear these days, but at least they are styled for a post-adolescent female physique.

But there is more than just the size difference in play, here. The clothes I wore every day to work, even if they still fit, were basically trashed. There wasn’t a pair of pants, t-shirt, sweater or jacket that I had worn to the restaurant that wasn’t smeared with grease stains or spattered with pink bleach-out spots. I didn’t feel bad about sending that stuff off to the Goodwill. Let some other domestic engineer figure out how to make them presentable again.

Yet, once I had sent away all the clothes that either didn’t fit or looked like they had been through a war, what I had left was still somehow…not okay. Business attire that I currently do not need and for which I do not foresee a need before it goes hopelessly out of style. “Occasional” wear that I no longer find the occasion to wear. My retirement from the daily grind, and the more opulent diversions that counter-balanced it, has required a general dumbing-down of my wardrobe. I may even still like some of the prettier things I own, but they don’t do much more than take up space that could be occupied by a sturdy pair of gardening jeans or another old, soft sweater that I might actually wear.

So I’ve rediscovered the delights of “gently used” when it comes to re-filling my empty hangers. It’s an unfortunate fact that I am a clothes-horse. I’ve always been so, and I’m not likely to change this late in life. At least when one’s clothes are acquired at Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, Value Village and the like, one can come home with two or three bags of good stuff for $60, instead of one brand new pair of on-sale designer jeans(which you know you won’t wear until you hem them, which you don’t get around to doing until two or three months later.)

I’ve noticed, too, that the clothes that catch my eye at any given season of my life tell as much about what’s going on inside my head as they do about the physical conditions governing my wardrobe choices. These days, I’m drawn like a magnet to fabrics and forms that almost whisper, “Snuggle. Relax. Kick back. Enjoy!” Knits and fleece, long shirts and stretchy, skinny jeans.

And flannel. Big and plaid and soft and homey, flannel doesn’t ask me to go out and conquer the world. It begs me to rest, to nest, to kick around in my own little house and my own little yard. Exactly what I’m all about, right now.

Someday, my eye might again stray to the business-y tweeds, or the satins and crisp linens. But right now, just wrap me in a big flannel shirt, set me in a chair by the door of the greenhouse, and leave me be.


  1. Flannel and cats go together much better than crisp linens or satins.

  2. Some of most favorite clothing is gently used! Less so of my recent acquisitions, but much of what came before. I'm about to get rid of a bunch of stuff I never wear and can't imagine wearing again...

  3. Lisa, I loved this! I'm a hopeless clothes horse too, and although I'm still working, my experience in my closet is similar to yours. We're allowed "business casual", which means for me, lots of khaki or black or in summer white pants, with comfortable tops and of course, in Dallas, sandals for 10 or 11 months of the year.