Friday, April 14, 2006

The Story of the Magical Lime Green Linen Pants . . .

In the past 6 months or so, I've found myself addicted to the show "What Not to Wear," so I've been trying to make a concerted effort to buy clothes that aren't black or charcoal grey (mistake number one, apparently). And trying to stay away from things that are bulky and oversized just because I'm not nearly as thin as I used to be. (Turns out I've got a nice rack, apparently, but who would have known under all the turtlenecks and other crap I was wearing!)

But honestly, I think my fashion catharsis all started with a pair of lime green linen pants that I bought last spring. If you'd ever told me that I would own a piece of lime green clothing, I would have laughed, but when I saw them hanging in the store I just knew that I had to buy them!

First of all, let me fill in those of you who didn't know me in my earlier years. When I was little, I was a tomboy. In fact, I still kind of am, but I just don't dress the part as much. I was never happier than when I was wearing some outfit that was handed down from my older brother (which is a good thing, because that was about all we could afford). Dresses were the enemy. I would occasionally put on a mini-skirt in high school, but always with an oversized t-shirt and Keds (hey, it was the 90's), but I mostly just wore Levi's and Umbro's with Stussy t-shirts and flannel shirts. (Yeah, I know how awful that sounds!)

And then came college. Although I did have a few shirts that looked sort of girly, that was about the extent of my fashion sense. I was the girl who always wore flannel pj's to class with an oversized sweatshirt and my hair in a ponytail. For me, dressing up meant wearing a pair of khaki carpenter-style cords (hammer-hanger and all) with a bulky sweater (probably purchased in the men's department). And the day I graduated, my mother was mortified that I had failed to mention that I didn't own a dress or skirt (except a VERY short jean mini). Her embarrassment was tenable when she saw me just before the ceremony in jean cut-offs, Birkenstocks, and a ratty old white v-neck t-shirt that was about 4 sizes too big! After all, even my brother the mountain-biking, tree-hugging, Frisbee-tossing Geology major had worn a tie to his graduation!

Anyway, back to the pants . . . I think, at first, that it was sort of like my fascination with extremely ugly shoes. If I see a pair of really God-awfully gaudy shoes for a decent price, I have to buy them. (This led to the addition of a pair of tangerine orange platform sandals with lime, yellow, purple, and white flowers to my shoe collection a few years ago. I was tempted by a pair of electric blue glitter-covered shoes just this weekend, but opted for something a bit more sensible.)

Quite honestly, I think it was the shock factor that first drew me to those linen beauties. But in a really weird way, those pants represented the beginning of a new period in my life, Shortly after I bought them, I turned 30, buried my grandmother, and ended a 3-year relationship (all within one week). Now, all of these things were inevitable . . . I can't control my age, my grandmother was 84 and had cancer, and not all relationships are built to last . . . but something changed in me when I put on those pants, and I had this new sense of confidence that I had misplaced many years before. And I handled all of those things much better than I would have pre-lime green pants. Those pants aren't magical, but they are a symbol of what lies within us all . . . this hidden ability or strength to handle anything that comes our way, whether we think we're prepared for it or not.

Since the pants, I've been buying other items of clothing that I never dreamed I would, and trying on things that frighten me a bit when I first see them on the rack. Gauzy tops with long flowing sleeves, "Going Out" shirts that show off the girls. And one skirt that is definitely not for the faint of heart. Even things as simple as jeans that really, truly FIT. And with each item of clothing, I have found that my confidence grows. I don't worry about standing out because I look like a reject from the Salvation Army when I go out to DC, Arlington, or Old Town anymore. Yeah, I still stand out, but now it's because I want to. (And as a girl measuring 5'11" it's a little hard not to!)

And because of their significance, I imagine that those pants will probably be tucked away in the back of my closet long after they've outlived their usefulness, no matter how much weight I gain or lose over the coming years.

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