Today I ended up taking my older son, Guy, shopping for some new clothing at Men's Wearhouse and at Dillard's. It seems lately that I have been doing this activity a lot with both boys, and not because they are growing in size or stature. More that their lives are growing in complexity and their needs are becoming larger.
I was thinking philosophically, as I so often do, about the amount and variety of clothing that is required for modern life in America. It's not exactly the unisex jumpsuited future the science fiction writers ( or maybe the movie costumers) predicted. There have always been jokes about the number of pair of black shoes and for that matter black pants or skirts, that women need just to cover routine activities and events of life. I personally own at least ten pair of black shoes- all of which I wear-and need, for different occasions. Probably six black skirts and three black pants.
Guy and Reid are heading off soon for a family wedding in California, and of course that brings with it rehearsal dinners or gatherings in addition to the actual wedding, which I hear is "casual," but I'm sure that is like nice business casual, not Hawaiian shirt casual. The term casual dress can be such a nightmare, can't it? I think it is a real art to dressing appropriately in our society. It is so easy to be underdressed or overdressed, and feel out of place. I'm not sure why it all matters so much, and why we feel so scrutinized when we don't get it just right, but I am terribly guilty of taking long looks (hopefully unseen) at those who egregiously fail dress standards of either event or good taste. I try to be kind to those who just have unusual styles; I appreciate artistic statements. The human body is interesting and so varied, and one size does not fit all in any sense of the meaning.
Still, I see some very bizarre things. Yesterday it was a family of tube tops on three women who "needed a lot more support," if you know what I mean. And there was more below the tube top than inside the tube top. Picture that... Beyond that, though, is the tube top really your best choice for almost any purpose?
I would like to feel that there is a proper, comfortable balance somewhere, between needing endless amounts of clothing to fit all of life's occasions, vacations, sports, business meetings, and outings and recognizing that people and relationships are what is important- not their clothing.
It doesn't help that period clothing, costuming for many purposes, and sewing (hence an obsession with fabric) are all hobbies of mine. It would be hard for me to live in a jumpsuit world. Aside from the tube top faux pas, the hospital is a great equalizer in many ways. The professionals are all in scrubs, and the patients are all in gowns, and it helps us treat everyone the same. All we really know about you is that you are in a gown and in a bed and that we are there to care for you. Likely we will get to know you and your family, but you will get the same standard of care no matter what.
One thing I was thinking about was how much I enjoy buying clothes for my sons when they are with me. I'm just as happy buying them things as buying myself something. Actually, I enjoy it more these days. It's just one more of those things I notice as I get older. The simple joy of watching your children try on clothes and look pretty smashing, and being able to provide those things they need, when you know that so many young men do not have these things. It is a shame that lack of proper clothing should ever limit anyone from getting a job or attending an event, but right now in our world it is a fact of life. I can say this- I will accept the space-age jumpsuit world should it ever arrive, even though I would miss the vast variety of clothing so much. But I would not complain about something that would benefit so many on this planet. Just to be able to feel there is one less thing holding them back from all that they can be.