Jan 152014

Dressing up is just not my thing. I’ve never been a clothes horse. Give me a t-shirt in summer and a sweatshirt in winter, add a pair of comfortable jeans washed a hundred or so times and I’m good to go. On the feet: a nice pair of tennies in the summer, and Clark’s slip-ons in the winter!

In my professional life, I’ve worn the uniform for thirty years. You know the one. I have a closet full of tailored suits and the accompanying blouses, scarves, etc  (And in three sizes.)

With oddly narrow feet for a woman of my stature, I bought the same kind of pumps – unadorned leather a with 2-inch heel – for as long as I can remember. I have them in numerous shades, textures, and colors and many pairs of the same color in numerous stages of wear.

My idea of dressing up has changed over the years.

God bless my mother — when I look at our family slides, I am amazed at how beautifully we were dressed.  I know of only one picture of me from childhood (before college) where I’m wearing a t-shirt.  It’s one of those “My grandma went to Florida and loves me” shirts.

That’s the only one.  My parents thought t-shirts were for construction workers and were part of a uniform. (Don’t even get me started on what my father thought about my corduroy overalls I wore in college.  He had to wear them to school when he was little, and couldn’t imagine anyone making a choice to wear them.)

If I’m wearing a pair of nice pants and a decent collared shirt, well, that’s good enough for church or most meetings.  I save the dark suits for board meetings, funerals, and important interviews.

But, I love my tee-shirts. I love my husband’s t-shirts, which he uses for pajamas.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a man wearing a Mister Bubble shirt (that I know is as least thirty-five years old) and a pair of pajama bottoms covered with Colts logos on them?.

We both have lots of t-shirts and unless I’m off to a meeting, you can find me at home wearing one of them.

While doing the laundry recently, I found that a beloved tee-shirt with huge holes in it.  I think it was long past time for it to be turned into rags.  But, I couldn’t bear to do that, so for now I washed it and put it back in the closet where I have stacks of shirts.

This shirt is special because I bought it at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.  We were not there the day it opened in 2004, but the day after. We took our son there on a surprise trip.

Weeks before the trip, we told him we were taking him somewhere by plane. He hadn’t flown since he was a baby and we took him to Florida. We kept giving him clues, and implied through the clues that it was Branson, Missouri.  (I figured Branson would be the last place an eighth grader would want to go.)

I told him we were going to see The Lennon Sisters; he knew who they were from watching reruns of “The Lawrence Welk Show” with his grandparents.

He rolled his eyes.

Then I told him about seeing the Japanese man who plays the violin. I think I might have thrown in Andy Williams and “Moon River.”

More eye-rolling.

A couple of days later, I said, “We’re going to see Ray Stevens.”  I could not imagine that any fourteen-year-old boy would want to see Ray Stevens.  I should have known better. He loved Weird Al Yankovic.

“Mom,” he said, “That’s awesome; didn’t he do Guitarzan and The Streak?”


I can’t throw out that shirt.

A lovely day with my husband and some old friends (da Vinci, van Gogh and Rembrandt) at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. One of my favorite places in the world!

Nor can I throw out any shirt I’ve ever purchased on vacation or that relates to our son’s school days.

My favorite shirt ever was purchased at the Stratford Festival in London, Ontario in the late 1990s and showed William Shakespeare in sunglasses. I wore it until it practically was in shreds. I threw it out because I couldn’t bear to use it as a cleaning tool.  (Shirts from my last employer make a much better cleaning rag!)

I also love a black shirt I purchased at the Saint Louis Art Museum, featuring a subway map of Paris with homes of famous artists.  My Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Arts Club band shirt (The Beatles album cover with famous artists instead of the usual characters) reminds me of a great dinner with friends at the Red Bar in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida a dozen years ago.

So many others — Titanic museum, Martin Luther King memorial, Hoover Dam, and a new purple hoodie from our week at French Lick, where wonderful old friends came for the weekend. The longer you wear a t-shirt, hoodie or jeans, the softer and more comfortable it becomes.

Tomorrow I have a committee meeting, and I’ll clean up.  For now, I’m perfectly happy working on a client piece, watching the birds at my feeder outside my office window, and luxuriating in a pink t-shirt from Saint Meinrad.  A summer or two ago my Bible Study group spent a day up there, and the shirt brings back the wonderful memories of what we saw that day.

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