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She walked into the coffee shop wearing the uniform of so many young women on the go. Tight jeans, boots, a form-fitting shirt, scarf, with a wide smile and sassy, bright-colored hair. She was exactly our type.
I leaned in and whispered, “Boots to your right.”
His eyes perked up immediately, his head swiveling to catch a glimpse. August in Florida isn’t exactly boot weather. A sighting would be a nice change of pace. When he slumped back, disappointment etched in his forehead, I smiled.
“Give her a minute. She moved to the right.”
We shared a conspiratorial grin, knowing we’d never speak to her, but everything about her, from boots to sassy hair spoke to us. I hadn’t mentioned her round ass, but I didn’t need to. His eyes would move from the bottom of her boots to the top of her head and miss nothing in between.
We listened to the thick clomp of her boots on the tiled floor, watching her through our eyelashes and out of the corners of our eyes as she sashayed (yes, really) out the door.
We love people watching and also people lusting when we’re out together. It builds a different kind of connection and always gets us thinking.
That 30 second encounter from afar started a conversation about my own aesthetic and how I present myself to the world. My work-from-home uniform is decidedly sloppy. It’s a look that says, “At least it’s clean.” My going out uniform leans towards graphic tees and stretchy pants but also veers into dressing-exactly-like-my-mother territory.
That’s not even an exaggeration. When we visited my mom over the summer, three of the shirts I packed were hand-me-downs she gave me. We went shopping together, and she tried to buy me a pair of pants…the same pair she chose for herself. There’s nothing wrong with dressing like a 57 year old grandmother…unless you’re not a 57 year old grandmother.
I want to dress the way I feel — a bit sassy, sometimes feminine, and always babygirl. (Yes, that can be mutually exclusive.) Of course that means nothing in terms of fashion. The look I want to pull together has no clear identifiers in my mind. It’s an I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it kind of thing.
John Brownstone and I chatted about how I could go from worn out and sloppy (or, alternately, 57 year old grandmother) to the me I want to present to the world. What does that uniform look like?
Up until then, it wasn’t a question of “what will it be” but always “can I pull it off? Will I look right?” I knew what I liked but I questioned it. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s a growing comfort in my own skin, but I’m caring less about whether I “should” do something. What makes me feel good when I wear it? What makes me happy? That’s what matters most.
We all have our own “uniform” — a look that we go back to time and time again. I’ve worn the literal uniform of restaurant server, retail employee, manager, and office desk jockey. For a time, I fell for the stereotype that being a freelance writer and working for myself meant sloppy, ill-fitting, and comfortable.
Post-divorce (several years ago) I sassed it up a bit. Big earrings, slinky dresses, and wedge heels. I adored that look.
But I’m tired of uniforms that identify me by a single trait — where I work, my age, motherhood. I want a look that speaks to me as a woman.
I need a new uniform, one that fits both my body and my mind. If it happens to catch a few glances when I walk into a coffeeshop, even better.