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My Love Affair With Clothes

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's true. I am a clothes horse and I have been since I was about 2. I remember being so utterly proud of my blue and white checked suit that I wore to church. It was just like what grown up women wore - and I felt like I looked like I was at least 22 years old. So proud. there's even a photo of me wearing it somewhere around here.

then there was that green voile dress that was my Dress Up Dress when I was 5 years old. I remember weeping into my mother's lap when I realized I'd ruined it by filling the skirt with blackberries on a visit to some unfamiliar relatives. She stroked my hair and said "Don't worry honey. You were outgrowing that dress. That's why I let you wear it to play in".

There was another voile dress - this time in a delicate orange print with a crinoline pettycoat that itched around the waist. The itching was worth it, though, because the skirt puffed out like a bell - it was a real princess dress.

And then came the teen years - oh my. My father, who had superior taste in clothing and loved all well dressed women, bought me my first Seventeen magazine. It was the one with Twiggy on the front and it was decades before that first impression of the fashionable body was finally expunged from my consciousness.

I learned to sew when I was 12 and was a natural. The teacher saw it at once and instead of making me plod along sewing aprons and a-line skirts she let me free with a matched gingham plaid dress with set in sleeves that had plackets and a button on the cuffs. This demonstration of applied geometry was soon followed by a passionate delight in the algebra of a mix-n-match wardrobe of separates in 3 neutral colors. Wow. Imagine owning only 7 items and being able to create 21 outfits! Cool.

Sadly I wore a uniform to high school - and an unfashionable one at that - saddle shoes and bobby socks when the style was mini-skirts and Papagallo flats. But I drooled and dreamed over having a massive wardrobe and my last year in high school I transferred to a public school and as I remember - I went 30 days wearing a different skirt every day - one, of particular horridity was made of brown fake fur. the 1969 version of fake fur - that felt more like a rug than fur. (But remember - a mini-skirt for a teen used maybe 3/4 a yard of fabric and the zipper only cost 35 cents. I made each and every one of those 30 skirts)

The ladies who ran the fabric shop next to the department store where I worked in my way early 20's would hold special fabric aside for me and got half my paycheck every week. I made a polk-a-dot pant suit that looked like the one Katherine Hepburn wore when she was a newspaper reporter. I had a pair of wide legged trousers I made, inspired by Goldie Hawn in that movie Dollars (a.k.a. The Heist). I made a bunch of prairie dresses in my Mother Earth stage and there was a weekend when I made a fully tailored suit, a pair of lined wool trousers and a silk blouse to wear to a library convention being held at a fancy schmancy resort.

And I read the books. Oh yes. I read Color Me Beautiful, by Carole Jackson (and learned that my mother's artistic sense of color always picked the colors that worked with my skin and hair). And Always In Style, by Doris Pooser - and the wonderful Dressing Rich by Leigh Feldon. Recently, Stacy London - of the TV show What Not To Wear has written a marvelous book, The Truth About Style - wherein she spiffs up women of all sizes, shapes and ages. Check it out. From your library! LOL

But as I began to put on weight in my early 40's, I didn't want to get to know that body. And clothing began to become cheap while fabric and zippers got expensive. Eventually I traded in sewing for Other Things. When I graduated to the Plus sizes I could still find something nice to wear ... even if I did look matronly in them.

Up to a few years ago I could outfit any woman from size 10 to size 18W from my attic but lately I want a leaner existence. I'm winnowing out everything, from magazines to dishes to the attic clothing shop. I want to own only what I wear and what fits into my wardrobe space - which is about 3 feet of closet space and 6 dresser drawers. I lugged 3 Lawn-n-Leaf bags' worth of clothes to the Goodwill last fall, and one LnL bag of the really good stuff to a shelter for battered women. This was after letting my cousin go through the heap and pick out things she wanted. A week ago I pulled out more Good Stuff which I took to my sister, who is not insulted when I offer her things I don't wear any more.

This doesn't mean New Clothes won't be coming into my life. Here are the flowered skinny jeans I bought on Monday.

But the action plan is - one new thing in? 2 old things out. Till my wardrobe is just like that algebraic dream wardrobe of 21 outfits from 7 garments. Well. Maybe 41 outfits from 14 garments. LOL. You get the picture.

I will always love clothes - but I am only giving them expensive real estate in my bedroom and attic if I actually wear them.

Happy Friday to you all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISKECK 3/27/2013 8:49PM

    Wow, you really do have a love affair with clothes! How awesome are those memories! I remember a lot of my clothes too, the itchy crinolines and smocked dresses my mother made...but to be a teenager in the 60's with all those cool clothes - -miniskirts and "mod" awesome was that! I am a few years younger and I remember a royal blue dress with brass buttons and a Nehru collar in '69 when I was 9 and mini-skirts in junior high in wild much fun. But you sound like you have awesome skills, do you ever think about going back to sewing?

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LOTUSBURGER 3/22/2013 9:06PM


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SHEILA1505 3/22/2013 1:18PM

    Oh how I remember that itchy dress that was so worth it - and sewing plackets and invisible zips, mini skirts in all colours, chopping my hair in a pseudo-Sassoon/Quant ....... hmmmmm

41 outfits from 14 garments ... well, let's see - does that include the shoes??

Hugs xxx

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IFDEEVARUNS2 3/22/2013 8:50AM

    Great pic. And I can so relate to your blog. I quite sewing when it became so much cheaper to buy. I'm yearning to get back to it - there was something so satisfying about having an outfit or dress that no one else can own and that is totally me!

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JLITT62 3/22/2013 8:32AM

    Love the outfit -- you look totally spring in it!

I have a lot more space for clothes - I go thru things on a regular basis, but it's all still pretty packed. But I wear what I own, too!

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Clothes Make The Woman (Happy) - Clutter Does Not

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I took Monday off to go to the city and reward myself with retail therapy so you can imagine my emotions when I got up and saw thick wet snowflakes falling onto a slushy yard. Ick. Fortunately it warmed up to a nice raw cold rain - so I went anyway.

First stop was a visit with my mama - the artist - who lives in a skilled nursing home where she is superbly cared for. She hasn't had even a cold now since she moved in. There is a devoted daughter (my sis) who lives closer than I and there is me, the non-custodial daughter. We both bring different gifts to her care and we're never resentful about what the other one is not doing. We just love that cutie pie of a mother with all we have in us.

I took an old diary of hers, written in 1960, and read it to her. That year my big sister was 12, I was 7, going on 8, and The Babies were 2 and 3. My mother's New Year's Resolution for 1960 was to lose 10 lbs. She was horrified that she weighed 130 lbs! I have a loooooong history with the weight issues.

Sister and I met for lunch at a shopping mall where I knew I could look at a lot of clothes. The plan was to not buy but to try on and formulate spending plans. I might have spent more anyway except that I'd pulled out about 1/2 my warm weather clothes on Sunday and realized there isn't too much I need to buy. I have a TON of clothes.

I emoticon emoticon emoticon clothes. Always have. Probably always will. But I own too many clothes - too many for my life and too many for the space I have to put them. And of course, in too many different sizes. I have 6 dresser drawers and about 3 feet of closet space to store my clothes and the goal is to own no more than fits in that space. Last fall I did a major wardrobe weeding and tried to be firm about what I put back into the attic but I still have too much stuff.

I tried on and tried on and tried on clothes - and fell in love with many garments all over again. I sorted out everything that wasn't perfect for me and made a pile of it to offer my sister. It's still too cold to bring most of these clothes downstairs but I kept a few of the brighter, lighter things to cheer me up as the sun creeps higher in the sky. But I know I'll have to do this wardrobe research again with the other half of my warm weather clothes before I do any real shopping. It looks like what I need is a good basic neutral blazer ... and I know I'll need a good chocolate brown slightly longer top to go with some of my favorite flowered skirts. But before I put down the big bucks I want to be sure I know what I need.

Another reason I didn't buy much was because I had such a late start and the weather was getting bad again so I felt hurried - which I know is a really BAD time to spend money. I did find a blazer I liked at Macy's. It fit perfectly and I can always order it on-line.

But lest you think I came home empty handed - fear not! There was retail therapy. I'm really fond of flowered skinny jeans and look what I picked up at WalMart of all places. A perfect fit.

A perfect 10!

Happy Healthy Tuesday to you all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISKECK 3/27/2013 8:38PM

    Cute flowery skinny jeans! I love clothes too and got rid of a whole bunch of old ones -- large and small -- a couple years ago, bought new ones and outgrew them over the past two years. But when I get down 5 more pounds I will be back in them again -- which makes me very very happy! Have fun and enjoy!


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KBRADFORD88 3/19/2013 5:36PM

    I'm trying to get rid of stuff. It is so hard!

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KANSASROSE67 3/19/2013 3:00PM

    I'm impressed with the skinny jeans! I can't wear them...too much of an hourglass...they just don't look good on me so I envy those who can.

My mom kept a diary for almost all 40 years of her married life and it is such a treasure now that both my parents are gone.

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JLITT62 3/19/2013 1:25PM

    Funny, I have stayed far away from the flowered jeans trend! I think it's too trendy & can be hard to pull off when you're petite like me. I still remember the pink ones I had in my 20s . . . what was I thinking?

But I'm glad you rewarded yourself!

You know you have too many clothes when you have to try on 3 or 4 different outfits to decide what's right . . . I still can't seem to help myself, tho. Good for you for showing restraint!

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MARPET44 3/19/2013 11:14AM

    I have donated lots of clothes to Goodwill when I sized down. Rule of thumb for me--bring one in and 2 go out. emoticon

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VMASSEY2 3/19/2013 9:27AM

    Bess, your story sounds a lot like mine. But those jeans I could not wear. Too Skinny. It might could be a goal huh. I too need to go through my closets and get rid of the clothes I do not wear anymore. But mostly mine are all the same size. I had done well until Danny got sick and have put on 25 lbs in the last year. I have got to get the weight off. I refuse to buy anything until I lose them. So, right now I don't have much that I can still wear; especially in the pants department.

Anyways, my mother is in assisted living now also and my sister is the primary care giver. I take care of the finances. My sister is better with my mother. We would just argue. Now don't get me wrong. I do love her but I do not put up with her whining very well. So as you said we each have our talents.

I enjoyed the blog. I hope you are doing well.

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NELLJONES 3/19/2013 8:18AM

    How tall is your mother? In 1960, 130 was overweight for women under 5'6". And back then we all had tiny closets so very few clothes. My how the world has changed!!

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MSLZZY 3/19/2013 7:51AM

    Very snazzy jeans! You were very patient to think about weeding through the old before buying new. Cleaning out the closets is a good start. Have a great day!

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MYRTLE811 3/19/2013 7:42AM

  REtail therapy! A woman who has likes that correspond with what I want and need! It's hard not to buy; I can now buy on sale and clearance and get amazing things. Like you, however, my closet is bulging and I don't need anything else. But after years of having to wear whatever would just fit, it is a test on my part to walk buy and leave behind those clothes that not only fit but also look good on me.
Keep having fun. I shop my closet often.

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Listen to Your Mom

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Have you noticed how many things your mother taught you are worth living by? Like:

If you can't say nuthin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all


Eat your vegetables


All things in moderation


You are the most beautiful wonderful perfect angel baby darling in the whole world?

At least, I hope your mama said those last words to you. Mine said them to me and I said them to my son who always had the grace to laugh and give me a hug and I was careful to never say it around his friends.

But something I read today, in SparkFriend NOMORESTALLING's status

reminded me of how powerful and wonderful the lessons I got from my mother are.

Mama never believed in defeat. She insisted that no mater how dark the cloud there was always that one silver thread in the lining that made it possible for you to see something as a win. If she came to a wall she couldn't get over, under or through, she just changed directions and walked along it till she either found a way around it or a better path altogether. And she expected us to do the same. In fact, if you came weeping to her with a trouble she thought was caused by you giving up - she was as unsympathetic as a statue. Giving Up was just not on the list of available options.

And she didn't just hold us to a standard she didn't keep. She demonstrated it all the time - even though, I know her well enough now to realize that inside she often had doubts, fears and wounds. She just didn't let us see them. She showed us how you could change what you were doing till you felt confident, brave and healed.

Here is an example.

This was the last painting Mama ever did. She was in her early 80's and a tremor was in her hand that made it difficult for her to hold the brush. It was for a juried show that was going to be exhibited in the big downtown financial buildings in her city. About a week or two before the judging the word came back from the banks and law offices and stock brokers that they didn't want any nudes in the exhibit. I've seen some very beautiful, but totally-inappropriate-for- the-banking-industry-type nudes, so I actually have a lot of sympathy for people who were going to have to take their clients down halls that displayed this exhibit, but there was a lot of huffing from the art community.

Mama told me that she knew she was just too old and too tired to paint something new in that short a time so she took origami paper and cut out little bikini pieces and put them on her painting with rubber cement. Then she entered the painting in the show. The local PBS station did a televised tour of the show and when they came to her painting there was a ribbon on it. Mama told me she knew her painting wasn't as good as many of the others in that exhibit but she could tell by the look on commentator's face and the tone of her voice that she got that ribbon for her clever way of getting around the No Nudes dictum.

I have that painting in my living room and I could have taken the bikinis off but I leave them there because whenever I look at that painting I see my mother - and I hear her saying "That's not working? Try something else." and I can see that sometimes, that Other Way is a real winner.

Remember - there is always a way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHEILA1505 3/18/2013 9:15AM

    What a great Mom!
Miss mine lots

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JLITT62 3/18/2013 8:37AM

    What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.

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MSLZZY 3/17/2013 12:40PM

    They always said "mother knows best". I guess she did and I would love to give her a hug for all the times she made me straighten my spine, take it on the chin and learn that life isn't fair. Just deal with it and move on.

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MSLZZY 3/17/2013 12:37PM


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TIME2BLOOM4ME 3/17/2013 10:39AM


WOW, great story.


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CELIAMINER 3/17/2013 10:11AM

    I never met your mama, but I love her just based on your description!

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LASKIE2 3/17/2013 9:26AM

    This is emoticon thanks for sharing!

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ITSMYTYME2SHYNE 3/17/2013 9:22AM

    Great tribute to your mama! I always hear my moms words coming out of my mouth when I talk to my kids. And they will continue as we all do cause anything worth hearing is worth sayin

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KANSASROSE67 3/17/2013 9:06AM

    What a wonderful blog and an awesome story about your mama. The thing I miss most about my mom is her absolutely unconditional faith in me and pride in my one else is your cheerleader in the same way as your mom!

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EVIE4NOW 3/17/2013 8:37AM

  thanks for the positive reinforcement today. i needed it!

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Riding That Roller Coaster Called Life

Saturday, March 16, 2013

This has been a full week - with ups and downs and goods and bads.


emoticon Daylight Savings Time - an anathema for a morning person like me
emoticon Baby Puppy Callie's broken leg
emoticon 4 of my library staff down with bronchitis/flu/pneumonia
emoticon emoticon Tuesday night board of supervisors meeting - had to skip gym and stay out late
emoticon Dear cousin having serious personal issues and wanting lots of time with her head on my shoulder - lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of time.
emoticon Began to feel 'off' Thursday and didn't feel any better on Friday. Actually feeling low down by the afternoon.
emoticon As a result of all above - have not gotten in the exercise I normally do


emoticon Baby Puppy Callie back on at least 3 of her feet again after surgery.
emoticon 2 of my sick library staff were well enough to come back to work by end of week
emoticonBoS meeting didn't last too long and I had good news to share that brought big smiles. Just in time for the budget sessions which start in 2 weeks.
emoticon Got 3 big tasks done at work - three things that had been nagging at me and making me feel guilty. DONE! Yes.
emoticon Had the absolutely most awesome strength training workout Thursday morning ever. Actually did 2 sets of pushups much deeper than I've ever done before.
emoticon Managed to sympathize without getting caught up in Dear Cousin's Drama
emoticon Got to go home early on Friday and slept 11 hours
emoticon Started a new challenge for myself - to determine how many WWPoints/Calories I'm going to eat in 2 out of 3 meals - every day.
emoticon Got to within 2 lbs of my goal weight and no longer have to pay for WW meetings.

What a week! Still, it looks like the good outweighed the bad. And sometimes a week is just like that. Plans had to change and routines got disrupted and most important of all - I had to adjust and adapt. I do regret not getting in the exercise I normally do because I emoticon exercise. But I don't worship it. It is high on my priority list but not at the top. Balance is at the top. And today I do feel better so I'll get in some exercise and some housework - which, around here, in the land of boys and dogs and farms, tends to be very aerobic.

And on Monday I get to go to the city and visit my mama, have l lunch with my sister and shop for myself. That's a triple whammy! What a roller coaster ride!

Happy, healthy weekend to you all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 3/17/2013 11:52AM

    We lurch along from crisis to crisis: you really capture that! And: we have our high points too . . . helps so much to notice 'em!!

Thanks for your great comment on my "Waht I Like About Maintaining" blog . . . particularly re combatting that overcompensation for the censure of others. Yeah!!

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FORBANDE 3/16/2013 9:52AM

    You are exactly right - it's all about balance! That has to be the top priority because life is always going to happen. :)

I love your attitude and these blogs. Keep up the amazing work!

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MSLZZY 3/16/2013 8:01AM

    All in all, a pretty good week. Enjoy your trip to the city and have an awesome day! HUGS!

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So What's Next - setting new goals + a giggle-inducing NSV

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy Me - I reached a milestone goal this week and now weigh within 2 lbs of my goal weight. I am pleased and proud and thrilled with this achievement. I'm so happy I really have been doing the Happy Dance, all week. You know, that little skip you take when you're walking down the street because you just feel good. The sudden shimmy your body gives when you glance in the mirror and think "Is that ME?" Best of all - now that I'm within 2 lbs of my goal I no longer have to pay to attend WW meetings - which I truly enjoy - and that extra savings can be poured into Other Things, preferably sartorial. Yep. Feels great to be within 2 lbs of my goal weight -

My original goal weight, set in (and achieved) 2003 when I was just 50 years old and stood 5'6" tall.

Uh. Yeah.

Now I am 60 years old and 5'5".

Yeah - I've checked. Had the bone density test. Now take calcium daily. So all along this journey I knew that being within 2 lbs of my goal weight was just a stopping place. A very wonderful destination - like staying in Paris for a while when you're on a European tour. But there are other destinations I want to visit and I thought I'd list them here today - along with possible rewards for getting there.

The other destinations on my itinerary are:

Reach goal weight of 150 lbs --- New spring makeup
Reach what I think will be new goal weight of 145 --- new outfit - top to toe
Optional final weight goal of 140 --- Spa Day
25 full pushups and a pull-up --- a 2 day mini-vacation at the beach plus a new beach outfit.
Each month I stay within 2 lbs of goal --- $30 reward in a spree fund
6 months I stay within 2 lbs of goal --- Day off from work for the spree
1 year within 2 lbs of goal --- ???? Something wonderful. LOL

Since I am an inch shorter than I have been my entire adult life - I am not sure what weight I want to be. And since I'm 60 (!!! how did this happen!?!? - oh yeah. 1 day at a time) I don't have the firm skin I had, even at 50. While I want to be fit and slim, I don't want to be saggy. Hence the optional weight goal. I know I would like the proportions I'll have at 145 better than the ones I have at 150 - I'm not sure I will like them at 140. It's a minor detail - but it's something I want to explore.

And now for the giggle-inducing NSV.

I live in a very small town where 50% of the citizens are 'kin'' to my husband. I have lived here almost 40 years and been the County Librarian since 1978. Yeah. I mean - everybody knows me - or at least knows who I am. Wednesday I was at the front desk when a man came in to return a DVD that belonged to a different library system. He looked about 40 and was very talkative. I suspect he had also already begun to imbibe in liquid courage - since the DVD was quite late and he was feeling guilty. I answered his questions about how to get the DVD back to the library that owned it and how bad the fines might be and then he said "Hey. You're cute." and picked up my left hand and said "do you want to have lunch with me?"

To which I answered, somewhat laughingly, that I was flattered by, and deeply appreciated his invitation, but, alas, I was married and though I don't wear a wedding ring, "everybody" knows that there's a MrBess. If you live in a small town - you get to understand what "everybody" means.

But wow. It's been a long time since I've been hit up and I confess, it felt pretty durn good. LOL

Happy Healthy Friday to you!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 3/15/2013 8:42PM

    Now that was a compliment, if ever I heard one. And I am sure he is right!

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SHEILA1505 3/15/2013 11:42AM

    :) It's great for the morale, isn't it!

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PIXIE-LICIOUS 3/15/2013 9:44AM

    Wow, I bet that made you feel good to be asked out on a lunch date! emoticon

But even be within 2 lbs of your goal!! WOW! I'm so happy for you, that is fantastic! Keep up the good work! I'm doing a happy dance for you!!


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CBLENS 3/15/2013 7:53AM

    Congratulations on having made it to 2 lbs within goal and not having to pay for WWs.
Keep doing that Happy Dance and you will loose that 2 lbs in no time. emoticon

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