I don't know, really, what Burberry is or why it's a big deal. I don't know enough about that world to even list a selection of others in the same category to tell you that I don't know why those brands are able to command multi-thousand dollar price tags on their bags and clutches and wristlets. That's not my world. It never will be.
I feel fancy when I spend $25 on a new purse at Target. I haven't spent $25 on a new purse from Target in years, though, because at Christmas each year, my Momma buys me a new purse. I did buy a white purse at Pay-Less to match my white shoes when we went to Caitlin's wedding last summer. I think it cost $12. I carried it with me for weeks after the wedding - all my stuff was in it already, why switch back?
I get my hair cut as necessary. I define necessary as approximately every eighteen months. Before my last cut, I sat aside an entire 45 seconds for styling each morning - that's how long it would take if there was a lump in my first ponytail and I had to re-do it. With the shorter cut, I have to save at least five minutes for applying volumizer and blow drying. I would skip the product, but if I do, I look like a drowned rat at the end of the day.
You can tell if I'm dressed up, because then I wear make-up. If there's no lipstick or eyeshadow or mascara, it's just another day. (When I'm REALLY dressed up, there's eye liner, too, but that's usually reserved for super special occasions, like the annual work Christmas dinner.)
I'm most comfortable in yoga pants and no bra, but that's not acceptable work attire, so most days you'll find me dressed in dark boot-cut jeans and tank tops paired with long sweaters. (my favorite sweater has a hood on it.) My favorite shoes right now are the brown Keen boots Jimi gave me at Christmas, so I wear them almost daily.
I have accepted these facts about myself, and have come to love the freedom they give me.
When I was in middle school, I remember begging my parents for a Dooney and Bourke purse - a seventy-five dollar purse for an eleven year old, can you even imagine!? - not because I loved the style and design of the bag, but because all the cool girls had them, and I wanted to be a part of their world more than just about anything else. Even as I opened the gift on Christmas morning and gave all the expect squeals of delight, I was, in my heart of hearts, sad that I'd made my parents spend all that money on such a stupid little thing that I only wanted so I could fit in. The bag, of course, didn't improve my popularity one iota. Neither did the teased bangs or the short shorts or the K-Swiss shoes. The "I'm not really the smartest kid in class, here I'll show you buy not doing any work at all" approach I took when my nick-name became know-it-all...all that got me was bad grades and no phone for 6 weeks; not the best way to grow your friends base.
I've tried a thousand ways to remake myself into some other version that's more acceptable or pleasing to others. Miserable business, the act of changing oneself. And then one day I woke up and said, "Fuck it." That's it. Fuck it. This is me and I am I and that is all there is. She lived happily ever after...
Except it's really hard to not compare yourself to other people.
Bossman and I took a trip to Chicago over the summer; just a day trip, up and back. I put on make-up. I wore dress pants (some stretchy blend, with an elastic waistband) and a nice top (5 years old, from Lane Bryant and slightly too big, in a loud print) and my knee-high boots (4-inch heels. Stupid). I thought I looked great...until I got to the gate and saw the other business travelers; men with their crisp suits and and polished shoes, women with skirts and hose and heels. They all carried professional cases or bags or folios of some sort - I adjusted the strap on the purse I carried, the purse Momma gave me last Christmas, and wished I'd included foundation in my dressing-up makeup routine; all of these women obviously did. In Chicago, my frumpy, out-of-date clothes made me feel as if I were waving a big red "look at me, I shouldn't be allowed to dress myself" flag - everyone was sharp and stylish and fancy. I wished for the millionth time I'd done something other than let my hair fall loose on my shoulders, and so dug a scrunchy out of my purse and pulled my tresses back into a loop, which I hoped looked fancier than a simply ponytail. I watched the ground as we ate breakfast and waited for our appointment time - how do they walk so fast in those heels? I'd break an ankle!
I worry bossman is looking for a Burberry girl. I worry that he sees me in my day-to-day and thinks "She could never do this." When I made my proposal, he said to me, as if to discourage, "You'd have to get a new car, a new wardrobe..." In my head, I keep hearing him say he's looking for an experienced hotshot or a good looking woman in a short skirt, and I feel my opportunity slipping away because I've spent the last five years taking full advantage of our slack office dress code.