Dress for success

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You are what you wear. Our whole lives most of us who live out of uniform — and arguably those who DO — spend our days focusing on our clothing and what it says about us.

From the onset, the question of gender of a coming blessed event and whether the baby is a boy or girl is more about the clothing than anything else. Go to any baby shower and the number one gift is adorable clothing items.
Even the venerably iconic baby garment, the onesie (which is basically underwear), will elicit “oohs” and “aahs.”

Undergarments won’t receive this much acclaim by ladies eating tea cakes again until a bridal shower, and then only if you run with a certain crowd.

Unholy hole

Recently my Honor Roll, Straight Arrow, never-say-boo- to-anyone son decided to become an activist over the most unlikely of things: torn jeans.

For the record, my child has a closet full of perfectly  untorn jeans. His school has a strict “no visible skin via holes in your britches” dress code and, being rule followers, we’ve always abided by them. It seems a reasonable request to not to wear clothing that appears to have been shredded by wolves.

Somehow, however, this one pair of jeans with a quarter-sized hole just below the knee made way into weekly wear rotation. Our son would report that he had worn the jeans — again — and that a changing cast of teachers or administrators had pulled him aside to warn him about wearing those jeans.
His response was to nod his head respectfully and then WEAR THE PANTS AGAIN the following week.

Before he gains credit as a closet activist, let’s be clear that his refusal to stop wearing them likely stemmed more from failure to pay attention than deep thought. Every morning without fail he pulls on a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and, a pair of jeans. At least once every 5-7 days it would be the pair with a hole.

He noted, correctly I might add, that while his high school administration was worried about a well behaved student’s quarter sized glimpse of lower male knee cap — some members of the cheer squad were showing up in skirts well suited to double as belts.

Beautiful young ladies, but I had to concur that if I had to watch one of them tug on her skirt to try to get it below her underpants one more time as she walked into school, I was going to be tempted to throw a coat around her waist myself.

I agree with my son’s assessment of the situation. The “tiny holes are the devil” rule seemed unwise in lieu of the other fashion faux pas that go unchecked (note to all: Leggings are UNDERWEAR — not Pants. Pass it on).
I said that I understood his position, I can even applaud it somewhat, but that if he eventually received a detention or other discipline from the school he would accept his punishment like a man. There would be no support or input from his parents.

You fight the good fight, son, but you will fight alone. This is not a hill I’m willing to die on.
I was stunned earlier this year when Mr. “Fight for your right to be sloppy” suddenly morphed into a kid standing in my living room TYING A TIE as he dressed for Homecoming. Who are you Mr. GQ?

I’m pleased to know that when necessary, he can understand the need to toe the line — and tie a tie. I have since seen him dressed for a number of formal occasions and am heartened to report he knows the difference between when to stand up a little straighter and wear a jacket and tie — and when (untorn) jeans and a T-shirt are appropriate.

Age appropriate

As we age, we learn that a certain uniform is expected for certain work environments. If you are permitted to wear lounge pants (aka pajamas) or shredded clothing to school you will learn that this level of casual comfort is permitted only through high school or college.

A chosen few may be permitted to carry this into adulthood, but only if you work for one of those fun internet companies where everyone brings their dog to work and the CEO roams the halls on a skateboard. Even there they may require cargo shorts or perhaps a pair of dress flip-flops.

In the real world what you wear — how you present yourself — sends a message about who you are. Sometimes you are going to be perfectly comfortable in torn jeans — even if no one else is — and sometimes you are going to have to dress for success — or at least wear a full pair of pants.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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