Saturday, May 19, 2007


I’m a jeans and tee-shirt kind of girl and have been ever since I climbed out of my flounced and frilly school dresses and into a pair of my brother’s cast off denims. There are things a girl can do in pants that she can’t (or shouldn’t) do when she’s all gussied up, like running fast, sitting cross-legged, climbing trees, and clambering over rocks. I had forgotten just how confining skirts were until the other day when I put one on for work.

My biggest problem initially was finding a skirt. I’d long since packed them away in a closet, replacing them with the more accommodating slacks and jeans. I pulled a few from their hiding place and looked at them with a critical eye. The calf-length maroon with the swirls of paisley was my favorite but it had a set-on waistband with no give. I found that I had grown a good inch between the buttonhole and the button. I tossed it aside and rummaged for one with an elastic waistband. I found two—a short, sedate charcoal gray with pinstripes and a slinky little tan number with a slit in the back that I couldn’t remember buying. I took them downstairs and set them on the bed, then stood in the open closet door looking for a top to match. No matter how much I looked, I could find nothing that would look good. Back up I went to search the boxes for a blouse. I found one that would do, and after spiffing it up with a warm iron, proceeded to dress for work.

Halfway through my toilette, the phone rang. I took a quick stride and came to an abrupt halt. Something was gripping my knees. I looked down in surprise. The hem of the skirt was taut around my outstretched legs. I shortened my step and minced my way to the telephone. Used to moving about unimpeded, I kept forgetting to ‘walk like a lady’ and tottered through the house gathering keys and pocketbook and mail and eyeglasses. I lurched out to the car and wriggled under the steering wheel. The skirt slid halfway up my thighs. I gave it fierce tug and drove off, thinking longingly of my blue jeans.

I stopped at the post office to mail a package. Opening the car door, I tried to swing my left foot out but it got caught mid-pivot. Immediately, I heard an echo of my mother’s instructions for skirt etiquette. “Ladies always swing both legs together when getting out of a car.”

“Well, that’s fine,” I grumbled to myself, squirming out from under the steering wheel, “if you’re in the passenger seat and it’s pushed all the way back but,” and I gave another yank on the skirt hem, “one cannot SWING out from under a steering wheel.”

I finally emerged, skirt and hose askew, shook myself into some semblance of order and marched, head high, into the post office. My next stop was work. No one there had ever seen me in a skirt. “You’re all dressed up!” exclaimed one co-worker.

“Just a skirt,” I said casually, feeling suddenly overdressed.

“You have legs!” exclaimed another and I beat a hasty retreat to the ladies room before he could remark on any other body parts he hadn’t thought to notice.

I spent the rest of the day alternately tugging my hose up and my skirt down. How I survived my childhood in dresses and skirts I’ll never know. Tomorrow I’m reverting to slacks. “Ladies always…” my mother’s voice will start to whisper but I’m plugging my ears.


Crafty Green Poet said...

I love skirts, but i usually wear trousers for work for exactly the reasons you outline here, less can go wrong with them!

Roberta S said...

I like skirts but hate nylons. I would love to wear them always (minus the hose) but when I wear them out and about, yes, other people make comments that make me feel too dressed up. I can't even wear them in my own kitchen without comments from neighbours who casually stop by. No comments if I'm in pyjamas or a housecoat. It's amazing that the dictates of fashion have softened enough to wear dull-colored, faded, patched, sloppy, wrinkled, ill-matched, casual pants, shirts, and overalls. Anything is good as long as we look and feel comfortable -- as long as it isn't a skirt or dress. When old women can't even wear them, you know they are pretty much history.

That's the part that tees me off, the comments and the broken-down social attitude toward dresses.

Pauline said...

Ah now - a dress is a different matter. I love sundresses and wear them all summer long. It's too warm for hose, sundresses are actually cooler than shorts and a tee because the skirt part is never made to constrict, and I don't get as many "you're all dressed up" stares in a casual sundress. But I agree - we're all about comfort now. The only time I dress up is for weddings or funerals whereas when I was a child, women wore dresses and sometimes heels even while cleaning house!

Barbara said...

This is all so true. I get annoyed that the zippers always seem to work themselves around so that the slit is no longer where it is supposed to be. Then there's this matter of remembering to sit like a lady, which is never a problem in pants. It is fun though to hear the reactions of people who as so accustomed to our wearing pants. Fortunately I never had a job that required me to dress up every day!

I loved your description of the search for an "ensemble"!

Mother of Invention said...

Since I haven't been teaching,I have no reason to ever wear a skirt or dress, although I really like wearing them, especially the long, flowing Hippie-trippy ones. I can't even imagine tring to extricate myself from a regular car without the Jaws of Life, let alone with a tight skirt on! We have a really high car so it's not a climb or even a swing, but my mom told me that too!

Mother of Invention said...

Mt mother was like June Cleaver and would never even go to the store without a dress and white gloves on! She would cringe if she saw someone out with rollers in their hair!

Hann said...

he he he , what a great read P!
I'm the same I live in my trousers, jeans and trackie pants as we call them here, but the trackie's are only for home and exercise. I wear skirts for work or going out sometimes, have found a nice denim shin lenght one and love it, nice and wide and quite comfy!

Marion said...

No matter what, I can't find comfort in a skirt...things always feel askew! My legs feel cold, too, when they aren't covered by my favourite jeans.

Loved your description of finding your skirt and blouse.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh, this rang bells P. I also gave up wearing a skirt. Trousers for me. And hose? No thankyou, ghastly things!

mm said...

Totally agree with you on this, both as regards trousers and sundresses.

This was fun. I'm glad I'm not alone!