One of the problems with working where I do is that it has, shall we say, a slightly lax dress code. When I first hired on I dressed the way I did in California for work - suits, heels, even (gasp) tights now and then. A week or so in I realized that I was dressing more formally than everyone around me up to and including my boss and her boss. The problem was I had a sort of polarized wardrobe. I had nice work clothes on one side of the closet and stuff suitable for walking dogs, mountain biking, child-wrangling etc. on the other. Which meant that when I decided to dress down a bit I basically went from black pumps and silk shells directly to jeans and tennis shoes.
In my defense, they were always, always clean. And comfortable - yup, all about the comfort. However one day in December I found myself looking at a pair of comfortable, utterly tatty and completely hideous boots and happily contemplating wearing them to work the next day and I realized: I'm dressing like a college student. Not just a college student, but a senior in final semester, a week away from finals. I was one step away from showing up in my flannel pajama bottoms and a pair of fuzzy slippers with yesterday's mascara melting slowly down my cheeks.
So come January, I decided, I was going to try to dress like a grown-up again. I bought some real shoes (ones that didn't live in the "slip on" category or feature elastic anywhere upon them) and ordered three new skirts. I went through my drawers and discovered I no longer owned a pair of intact non-off-black tights and resolutely overcame my dislike of purchasing something that I know will not fit (A's creep down, B's end up about six inches above my navel), and finally a couple of weeks ago I left the jeans and the t-shirts at home.
It hasn't gone entirely smoothly. The first day, for instance, when I changed out of my commuting shoes and slid on my brand new, beautiful retro, peep-toe, black pumps and headed down the hall to fill my water bottle I found myself walking with a clear, loud squeak with every step. I noticed that the shoes weren't quite as comfortable as I'd hoped either - seemed that the edge of the toe dug in a bit or something. Still, one must suffer for maturity. Besides, they're new shoes; it'll pass. I squeaked through the next hour or so. It wasn't until I slipped them off to give my feet a rest that I realized I had been walking around all morning with the cardboard shapers still stuffed down inside.
They feel much better now - and they don't squeak even a little bit.
Then there were smaller incidents like leaving a hanger at the gas station and having to tear back and retrieve it while the three nurses in line to buy their lottery tickets sniggered. Or realizing that while I'd commuted in exercise pants and jogging shoes I'd forgotten to change to a sports top and so would be walking through campus in yoga bottoms and a nice red silk button-down shirt. All in all though things have gone reasonably smoothly. The only problem is that I have a recurring fear of leaving something vital at home and ending up spending the day hiding in my office half dressed so I tend to squirrel things like shoes, tights and non-wrinkle-prone tops in all sorts of places.
So last weekend the Male Child and I rock-climbed to the top of a dry waterfall and sat for a moment looking down the canyon. The Male was kindly carrying the backpack into which I had thrown water bottles and a handful of slightly stale Christmas candy (WHAT!? It totally counts as valid trail snacks) and as we sat catching our breath it reached to the bottom of the compartment to fish out a Twix bar.
And pulled out a pair of classic, 3 1/2" black leather half-boots and gave me an incredulous look.
"What?" I said. "Haven't I always told you to be prepared for anything on a hike?"
Education of the young. It's so important.