Slacks ‘n Standards

Yes, I do this…only not in wedges.
(ie No, this is not me.)
I loitered in bed in one of those mass thoughts mornings, but what my mind kept U-turning back to was the simple question, “What will I wear today?” We’d be celebrating my awesome mother-in-law’s birthday and wasn’t quite sure what the appropriate attire for the restaurant would be. So, I asked my husband what he’d be wearing.

“Oh, I dunno. Probably khakis. Khakis and maybe a polo shirt. What about you?” Grr. No gauge there. No help.

I love my husband dearly. Obviously. And, for the most part, I love his clothes (which I am pretty darn good at shopping for). He has a great, classic sense of style, and 95% of the time leaves the house looking better than I do. When we meet up after work (since I tend to throw jeans on immediately upon getting home…sometimes even sweatpants, but never worn in public), people must say to themselves, “What’s the news guy doing with that bag lady?” I try, but his job dictates that he has to appear more professional, and a goal of mine was always to have a job in which I could wear jeans. Every. Single. Day. I haven’t found such job (I do my best to dress appropriately, although my assistant is damn near a fashion plate), but I’m comfortable and professional-looking enough to not get fired for my appearance. Let’s call it Katharine Hepburn chic. Without the chic. (Slacks. Mostly black. All the time.)

On days that I’m home in the morning to see Dave off to work (vacation times, mostly), he asks my opinion on colors that he should wear, if something is appropriate for the season, etc. But, really, he doesn’t need me. He’s got it down to a science. Now, if only I could keep up on the laundry so that his science doesn’t come to a screeching halt on any random Wednesday…

ANYhoo, back to my original thought. Khakis. More specifically, khakis with a polo. It’s a classic look, re-shot year after year for every department store catalog that exists. Father’s Day is coming up, and what’s in the ads? Several pages of on-sale polos and khakis. I get it, I do. It’s their equivalent to our “Little Black Dress”. It’s their casual-yet-appropriate version.

And that’s the issue. What is a lady’s equivalent? I mean, a lady who wants to avoid that horrible stomach-falling-out feeling of walking into any environment not dressed-up enough. (Some ladies simply don’t care. Do I wish I could have that much confidence? Sure, but it comes down to the fact that my mama taught me better. She instilled just enough insecurity to care what others think.) Entering a place where you’re a tad over-dressed is still a hell of a lot better than being under-dressed. In such an occasion, you can make the other person feel insecure in an instant; such power!

Okay, so back to the situation at hand. The funny thing is that, while I’m in a towel agonizing over an outfit and trying to get us out the door at such-and-such time, he’s asking me which color polo to wear, stripe or solid, buttoned up or not. Can’t you see I’ve got a bigger challenge here, plus hair still to be dried and makeup still to be applied? I do believe it’s true; marriage turns men into helpless, sweet-but-slightly-annoying children. I love that he needs me, I do. But, God, man, I know you could handle this before we got together! (Not to say, sweetie, that I won’t take a moment to help you decide in the future. It’s part of my wife-ly duties, and I accept them graciously…albeit with a slight sigh. Kind of like how, when I’m one day pregnant, you’ll have to clean the cat pans. It’s life’s ebb and flow.)

I considered the “LBD” (see above), but it just seemed way too formal. After all, I didn’t know what the birthday lady would be wearing, or my sis-in-law. (Damnit, why did I JUST think to text her? That would’ve solved everything.) I looked at making jeans into the “modern dressy” outfit, but to no avail. Only classy city-folk can pull that off (and have to use that “I don’t give a flying you-know-what” attitude, re: above). I even looked at my own khakis, but thought that we’d look a little too matchy-matchy, or perhaps a little like a lesbian couple – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m a Hepburn fan, after all.

So, I settled on wearing a dressy black T-shirt with my “springy” (literally, it kinda bounces – lots of non-natural materials in that sucker) black skirt, a royal blue short-sleeved sweater, and black flats. Still a little overly dressy, but went well with both ladies’ outfits.

Ladies, help me out here. Am I the only one who’s ever faced one of these situations? Guys, are we just crazy? (Evidence to back up opinions, please.) Even before “boys” were part of my vocabulary (well, without the word “cooties” being used in the same sentence), this was an issue. As a child, my only “dress up times” included school concerts, All-County concerts, summer piano recitals (get the point? Music was pretty near everything)… And we didn’t have much by way of disposable income around the ol’ McCoy household, so my sister and I generally waited until the night of the performance (man, can I understand my mother’s frustration now that I’m old and gray) to dig through, yes, our mother’s closet for juuuuust the right…no, juuuuuust THE most embarrassing outfit for our awkward, gangly frames to jut precariously out of. Mom was petite, and I was taller than her by 4th grade, so you do the math. (I didn’t fit in her wedding dress at that age. Ouch.) Plus, two words as far as Mom’s 80s fashions: tapered leg. ‘Nuff said.

I would have died to have just one LBD. The perfect, cute outfit that I could wear whatever shoes were lying around with. That I could have worn as-is in the spring or with a cute shrug in the fall and winter. If I’d been smart enough, I could have told my mother: “It’s perfect for a funeral.” One thing she did train us on as we grew older was proper funeral attire. We McCoys are well-versed in disaster, tragedy and funerals. Weddings were foreign until I took control of mine (probably to avoid the aforementioned three calamities that it could possibly turn into).

Since childhood, I think that I’ve, well…not quite mastered…perhaps I’ve simply “learned” the finer points of dress, especially in a modern world. I have two particular dresses that I LURVE; a well-designed LBD with a belt that pulls in at just the right spot and cap sleeves that reveal a playfully polka-dotted lining (which is appropriate enough for a funeral, yes, but also fun enough for a wedding or other fill-in-the-blank sort of event), and an awesome magenta-purpley shift dress that I ordered online from Target that just happened to fit perfectly. Here I am modeling it with Mr. Khakis himself:

Having something to wear to special occasions makes a girl feel like Cinderella or, better yet, Kate Middleton. Yes, you’d rather be in everyday “commoner clothes” but a girl needs to know she can throw on a tried-and-true outfit to take her from average to noticeable. Honestly, it makes you remember the occasion all the more when you’re feeling your best.

So, c’mon, gimme (and other female readers) some suggestions. What would (or DO) YOU wear when your guy says khakis?