Posted by: foodtalker | April 9, 2011

dressed up

Today I was walking down the street in my usual long shapeless tunic, a boxy black diaphanous top, elastic-waisted pants and flip-flops.  Essentially invisible.  Ahead of me was a woman in a tight mini-skirt and stiletto heels. 

Even though I was only a few paces behind her, it was like we were from different worlds.  All the wolf-whistles were aimed at her and she ate them up, flipping her hair and smiling in return.  There was no sharing of admiration.

What I couldn’t figure out is, how did this make her feel good?  I’m all for attention, but I want it to mean something.  Anyone can get a wolf-whistle wearing five-inch heels.  You’re wearing shoes that say: “Look at me”, and then some…..  What I want are a pair of shoes that say: “Hey you, I’m a really nice, kind, charismatic, caring, loving, giving, stable and intelligent person.”  What do they look like?  Because I want a pair in every colour – even if they pinch.

It’s not that I’m jealous or puritanical but I can’t get over what some women are willing to wear out in public to get a gawk, a wink and a whistle.  When I see them wearing five-inch heels wobbling and lurching along I don’t think “sexy”, I think “Dr Scholl’s.”

It’s all about comfort level.  I’d rather reveal myself emotionally.  Some women happily display cleavage, I’d rather display issues.  I’ll tell you all about how I feel, but put me in a sleeveless dress and suddenly I feel overexposed.

My friend Sarah said, “Maybe that’s because you don’t dress for success.”  Sarah has always perfected the sexy secretary look .  Which, after the sexy nurse look, has a kinky suggestion to it and seems more like successful attire for a career in porn.

What does dressing for success mean anyway?  I don’t consider this much anymore because I mostly work from home.  Which means that I’ve gotten used to wearing my pyjamas until I feel like not wearing them any more.  Often the deciding factor being that I can’t wear them out. 

Part of the reason I don’t dress up all the time is because I want there to be some sort of sliding scale.  That gives people the opportunity to say, “Gosh, you look really nice today.”  I don’t want people thinking I look good all the time.  That just establishes an unrealistic precedent.  It makes it hard to live up to oneself.  Some days I just don’t feel like lipstick and earrings and underpinnings.

When I was younger and eager I would make more of an effort.  I thought it was all about feathers and finery.  Now I can’t be bothered.  Anyway, years of being in the food business has taught me that “you wear who you are”, or “you wear what you do”.  Either way, there were too many stains that never came out.  Nowadays anything that has to be dry-cleaned has been mothballed or classified as dress ups.

My friend Elizabeth, who also works from home, considers anything beyond a T-shirt as formal.  “When I have to go into the office,” she says, “I’ll wear something with buttons.  Or maybe a bit of a heel.  If I add a scarf or a belt, people will think I am trying to get a raise.”

Recently I had to buy an outfit for a formal affair.  The sales woman who worked with me pointed out the many possibilities and variables.  But why would I wear a fancy dress during the day even if I could downgrade it to “casual” with a pair of flats and no jewelry.  Jammies work just fine.


  1. Love this column. These days dressing up for me means wearing something other than sweats or jeans.

  2. Wish we could all walk around in mumus with nothing underneath…….that could get the imagination going, and oh so comfy! lol

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