We take a lot of cues from our parents. We look like them, talk like them, end up sounding like them more than we want to. And occasionally we but up against the stuff we admire in them when we’re feeling our way tentatively through our adult lives.
Recently, I’ve been having a problem measuring up in terms of work. I am the product of two people who work really hard. I inherited my attitude about work from the two of them, and, because I’m me, I added some stuff. Which means you get something that makes the Protestant Work Ethic pee its pants and go home to its mommy.
Sometimes my mom and dad think I need to take it down a notch.
These days, I don’t go to work every day, which isn’t great for me. Even worse, I have Wednesdays off. Fridays off I can deal with. But Wednesday? C’mon.
I love going to work and coming home tired. I love offices and typing real fast and hustling through halls that aren’t in my house. I love earning my weekend. So, I take my mid-week day off really hard, like a total weirdo. Because on a day off, stuff gets done, but the plan (which is to do all the things, in an hour or less), never goes according to plan.
When I’m home, trying to keep the house in order, trying to build up my confidence and steam to re-propose my dissertation, running errands, and trying to plan my entire future, I want to be comfortable, but not too comfortable. Because I am damned if I’m going to wear sweatpants. Not in my house, and not on my watch. You earn your sweatpants around this joint (unless you’re a guest, and then you’re welcome to wear them whenever).
It comes down to this: I feel productive in jeans, great sneaks, and layers. If I can transition to my patio table to couch to kitchen to office with ease, I feel able to take on the world. I want style and a comfy waistband, but I also want an outfit that prevents excuses, that hears me saying, “I’m too cold,” and answers, “There’s always room for a fourth shirt around here.”
It’s an unpolished, slightly sloppy look, but it functions on a number of levels. It captures the tousled look I seem to end up with every day no matter what I do, and it also allows me at least some measure of feeling like I got dressed in the morning. It’s flexible, and while I couldn’t wear it in a professional setting, I definitely can wear it to Target once I remember what it was I needed from there.
But most importantly, it reflects my mood when I’m alone with my thoughts and work. I throw on layers trying to make myself comfortable, seeing what works and what feels good. Sometimes, the shirt I liked last week doesn’t fit the way I want it to, so I change it for the one from my college bookstore that does feel soft and comfy. The other layers over it are ones I usually find along the way, happy surprises that I forgot about when I didn’t need sleeves this summer. The process of putting my clothes together until I get something I like feels to me like the self-making I’m working on now, that scares me and excites me. If I remember I’m pulling from the things I have and rearranging them in ways that suit who I’ve been and who I want to be, I think I’ll be okay.
Everything I’m working with is mine, after all.
My friend Abby had this great idea to talk about our clothes and feelings, or to quote her (because she said it better) to talk about the act of “dress[ing] for the day you want to have, not the one that’s having you.”
It’s a pretty cool conversation, when you think about it. If you want to join in, click on the nifty button below. Or join the gang on Twitter and Instagram with the hastag #dressfortheday.
It’ll be as exciting as the time we all taught my friend Brad how to hashtag. I swear.