I ran into a lovely gal the other day at the mall. I was there to pick up a couple of things after my exercise class, so I was in my usual uniform of black gym pants, grey exercise top, black puffy jacket and old boots. Even my purse was a black nylon rag-bag affair.
In other words, I was about as exciting as a turnip.
I was rushing past the food court when I heard my name. This same woman, who also goes to the exercise class, stopped me to say hello. While we exchanged pleasantries, I was distracted by how lovely she looked. This wasn’t a Saturday night. How come she looked so put together only a few scant hours after doing jumping jacks?
She had makeup on, and her hair was just so, and she was wearing lots of shiny jewelry and bright clothes, with a colourful scarf around her neck. She looked like I might look if I was being given an OBE by the Queen, but it was a Thursday afternoon at the Mayflower Mall.
I finally blurted, “You look fantastic. Do you always dress up when you go shopping?”
She laughed. “I take after my mother. She always made an effort.”
And that got me thinking about my mother. She always looked like a million bucks, in a classic, elegant way, even when she was on the beach. She was a beautiful woman with a slender figure, so clothes always looked great on her. And no one wore shoes like Mom. She had a closet full of fine Italian leather shoes. The sort I couldn’t get past my big toe.
I was spectacularly jealous of her ability to look like royalty, but always so proud to introduce her as my mother. I think it was the way she held herself. Always straight and tall, with her long legs striding forward with purpose. She was definitely a lovely hare, who ended with a tortoise for a daughter.
I was always the exact opposite of her. Clunky and chunky, with a hippie sensibility. Happiest in a wool poncho and Birkenstocks. My mother often despaired over my lack of fashion, but she didn’t harp on it. Except for the moment when hubby proposed to me. I ran into the kitchen to tell her and the first thing she said was, “Oh, Lesley! Look at your shirt!”
The fact that he asked me to marry him while I was wearing an old, oversized red flannel shirt, let me know that he didn’t care what I looked like. And neither did I, obviously.
Mom would be happy to know that while her stylish genes may have skipped a generation, they have been passed down to her granddaughter. My daughter puts me to shame with her stylin’ self. She’s another one I’m spectacularly jealous of. Her ability to look freakin’ fabulous amazes me, but then she’ll turn around and be a slobby tortoise too, which is a comfort because this is the state I’m familiar with.
All that said, as I left the nicely put-together woman at the mall, she did give me pause for thought. The fact that I noticed she looked lovely, means that most of us do pay attention to how other people dress, and if that’s so, what kind of an impression am I leaving, as I schlep through the mall in my horrifically drab and dreary outfit?
It obviously says I don’t care about myself and that’s not true. I should be taking a few moments to spruce myself up, not to make other people happy, but to remind myself that I’m important and I need to feel good about myself too.
So, the next time you see me in my blah clothes, I do hope I’m wearing a pair of bright red dangly tassel earrings and neon blue eye shadow!
I said I’d be stylish. I never said I had taste.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband. Since all her pets have now died, she's very cranky. Her 11th book, Are You Kidding Me?! Chronicles of an Ordinary Life, (a collection of her various columns over the past twenty years), will be available in book stores in September 2019.