April 1 is a distant memory and I'm just now getting around to realizing I have been practicing this experiment for THREE WHOLE YEARS. Every day for every occasion, I have worn a black golf skort. I've sure enjoyed the mental and emotional space created when I stopped feeding my "what am I going to wear?" beast. If I hadn't simplified my closet (and my life), for example, who knows if I ever would have finished my book? But I did! (Beyond Mama Bear: How to Survive the Balancing Act of Parenting Teenagers, available now on amazon!) Here at the ripe age of 48, My Friends, I am content never being the best dressed belle at the ball. Feeling comfortable in my own skin--and certainly in my own clothes--is the best weapon I've found to combat the never ending chaos of middle age. We all shine on!
Here's to Year Three!
For two entire years I have worn a black golf skort every day, for every occasion, no matter what (not the same skort, Silly; I have several). Below, my top four reasons to do such a thing. Today--as I enter my third year of the project--I declare success. I stopped feeding the "What Shall I Wear Today" beast, and it really has changed my life for the better. My brain is calmer. My pathological need for approval has shrunk considerably. My worry about how I look has taken a serious backseat to my concern about how I feel and what my body can do. Getting dressed in the morning is practically an automated process. And I've never once regretted my choice--through all weather, for funerals and weddings and job interviews and public presentations, for stand-up paddle boarding and yoga classes and riding my bike across town--the black skort serves me very, very well. I can't imagine turning back anytime soon. Here's to Year Three!
Four Reasons I Love a Black Golf Skort (and Why You Should, Too):
1. Skorts are the new black. Face it: a well-fitting skort feels a little sexy. The flirty swish of the not-too-long skirt, combined with the abject comfort of shorts underneath, can be intoxicating. Audrey Hepburn said the happiest girls are the prettiest girls. Who isn’t happier when her thighs don’t rub together in the supermarket? Ah, the luxury of being held in without Spanx. The contentment of pure modesty should we happen upon a Marilyn-Monroe-inspired subway grate! What is more, you can wear a skort anywhere. In the humble golf skort, you can look polished and perfect for any occasion, while secretly enjoying the happy relief of total comfort.
Lately, I have donned a black skort for business presentations, a posh evening wedding, a Broadway play, two funerals and a cocktail-attire fundraiser. I promise you, no one was the wiser; I looked great. Think about it, Ladies: add a flattering black tank to a well-cut skort and you’ve found it: a simple, comfortable, versatile Little Black Dress! Fashion’s Holy Grail. Add a sparkly wrap and some strappy sandals – who’s to say you’re not dressed for the swankiest affair? Change it up with a smart jacket and a pair of pumps and take on the boardroom. Throw on some tights, leggings, leg-warmers: the skort is all-season apparel.
Of course, that same skort (and that same comfort level!) works just as well for less-glamorous occasions, such as hiking, yoga, doing dishes, running errands, stand-up-paddle-boarding, bicycling, watching baseball and maybe even a round of golf. When I rush from the dog park to a meeting, deftly exchanging flip-flops for nice boots and my windbreaker for a twinset, I think of Clark Kent ducking into his phone booth. The black golf skort is so versatile it gives me super powers.
2. Tights are not pants. If you’re over 30, cut-offs, Daisy Dukes and even Bermudas have started to lose their appeal. Capri pants seem like a good summertime option until we admit their inherent frumpiness. As we seek the ideal balance between form and function, between showing and covering the right amount of skin, the skort wins every time. It is cooler (both in terms of temperature and style) than capris, allows more freedom than a maxi skirt, and is more flattering than any pair of shorts will ever be past the age of innocence.
During colder months, it is impossible to resist the allure of leggings for both warmth and our beloved comfort, but let us all vow not to be That Woman: the one with the booty uncomfortably on display. Do we have the right to wear whatever feels good to us? Of course. But let us not confuse self-expression with unwanted attention. Even a flawless figure, when dressed scantily, raises eyebrows and incites gossip. No matter how fierce you feel in your outfit, it’s possible to cause the wrong kind of stir. Once again, we turn to the unassuming skort. Transform from scandalous to suitable just by tugging one over your tights. You’ll still feel like you’re in your pajamas, but you’ll look so appropriate the world will never know your secret.
3. You’ve got stuff to do. You need pockets. Forget bra-burning in the pursuit of attaining our pure potential; who wants the unflattering silhouette? Let us burst that glass ceiling by finally claiming something our men rarely go without: pockets. If you feel frazzled by your frantic schedule—or, say, middle age—embrace the joy of always having your keys (your credit cards, your phone) on your person. The skort is really a prettier take on cargo shorts. Feel like a slick magician as you reach into your well-placed pockets to produce the needs of your situation: dog treats and poop bags, business cards, a screwdriver and tiny measuring tape, pacifiers and tissues, a wallet, receipts, even a small notebook with pen (I am never without it). Relish the fruits of a slightly calmer brain when you lose fewer pairs of reading glasses, I’m just saying.
Lucky for us, the noble pocket is the darling of the fashion industry at the moment. Beauties on the red carpet stick their hands coyly into voluminous skirts, where clever designers have stashed deep pouches. At last we at home can stop worrying about where they keep their breath mints and touch-up mascara! This elegance in design has happily trickled down into the sportswear department. Have you seen a good golf skort these days? It doesn’t come cheap, but it is engineered with the ingenuity of the Roman aqueducts. The best designers have achieved some slimming sleight-of-hand: fabrics skim the body without gapping or hugging, and the cut flatters the waist without suffocation. And the pockets! Three of my skorts hold my iphone in the front zippered pocket without a terribly unsightly bulge. There are snaps on pockets, side-cut pockets, stacked front pockets, and the ubiquitous low-back pocket. Yes, there where the tramp-stamp might otherwise dwell is the most perfect pocket of all. Your phone stays secure there while you run (or run errands); your license, key and credit card hide there at a concert when you need your arms free to dance; you could keep an energy bar or a pet mouse or a weapon stashed in that pocket, always at the ready. Every wise woman knows to be prepared; an abundance of pockets helps you get right on doing your skortalicious thing.
4. You really are smarter than everyone else. I was taught better than to bask in others’ misery, but it’s a struggle these days. Since I have discovered the freedom, function and fashion possibilities of the skort, I stand back and marvel at my friends. When it takes Xanax to pack for a trip, when contemplating outfits for a class reunion sends one into therapy, I think our wardrobes have the better of us. I say this is the revolution: if we are comfortable in our clothing, we will be comfortable in our own skin. If we stop worrying about what to wear, we make time for so many other good things. In a skort, you will never be the best-dressed girl at the party, but you will always look perfectly appropriate. People will treat you exactly as they always have, but your outlook will change. You’ll watch other women fussing and struggling with their clothing and smile smugly to yourself. You’ll stroll confidently (without your thighs rubbing together, without provoking untoward commentary) in the direction of your dreams, enjoying the cool, comfy, sensible satisfaction of knowing exactly what to wear. A certain swagger develops when we discover a secret and pity those around us.
So let us embrace the skort! Let us throw our heads back and laugh at the mental gymnastics of getting dressed every day! Let us scoff, I say, and kick up our heels and get on with the living we have left to do in our singular, precious lives! In a skort, we can do all the kicking—and all the living–we want, and we’ll feel good and look good doing it. Total fashion freedom.
With apologies to my actual human BFFs, a black golf skort gives me everything I need in a companion. My daily uniform is reliable, super-forgiving and no matter what, it never fails to cover my ass.
I am warning you. This post is not for the faint-of-heart. If you are squeamish, under the age of 45, or unfamiliar with basic human biology, turn back now.
If, on the other hand, you are surprised every few weeks by a brand-new variation on a hormonal theme, read on. If you are careening toward what Amy Schumer and the girls call our "Last F***able Day," lemme tell you all about my new best pal.
1. A black golf skort is reliable.
As the Stones sing, "What a drag it is getting old." There is so much I love about my later forties (wisdom, perspective, a socially acceptable I-don't-give-a-damn attitude), but every day is a fresh new hell. As if living amongst capricious teenagers and their agitated fathers weren't enough, our bodies keep showing unexpected little chinks in the armor of youth and vitality.
You can count on a good skort. It will make you feel comfortable and supported, without restricting you or pinching your skin. It will support you in more abstract ways, too. It's like an affable girlfriend in your closet, telling you how fantastic you look, helping you put great outfits together. The black skort goes with everything and gets along with everyone. It mingles well, like a great party guest--never drawing attention to itself, making everyone else look fabulous--always appropriate, never flashy.
Because I no longer know what's going to happen with my body, I take comfort in the reliability and consistency of my wardrobe. My period may come at any time, last for any number of days (or even weeks), accompanied by a never-ending host of other bodily delights. My breasts might swell and hurt more than they did when I nursed my babies. Or they may not. I may have searing cramps or migraines or inexplicable crying jags. Or not. Hot-flashes, night-sweats, swollen ankles, numbness in strange places . . . I just never know what each day may bring. I do, however, know what I'm going to wear and how I'm going to look and I really don't worry about that anymore. My good old friend the skort has been quite a comfort during these uncertain times.
2. A black golf skort is super-forgiving.
Not that I'd know personally, but in a black skort, you can spill coffee directly into your lap and not have to change for your meeting. The best golf skorts are made of some space-age gossamer that breathes, dries quickly and is almost impervious to stains. Practically anything you drop will wipe right off (please note: it's not magic--acrylic paints, epoxies and open flame will cause permanent damage). A skort forgives you for being in a hurry or trying to multi-task or for just being a walking disaster. I love that in a friend.
A skort also forgives you and your endocrines for your natural (sometimes, super-natural) variations in size. Many of us at this age fluctuate in the mid-section during the course of a month. The skort--with its cushy elasticity--will never tell. It moves with you, effortlessly accommodating your shape, never judging, never pointing out the obvious. (Honestly, I'd have to gain or lose a good 15 pounds before really needing a new size.)
3. A skort covers your ass, no matter what.
We don't talk about the details, but here's the truth, Ladies: everything leading up to menopause is (quite literally) a bloody mess. Perhaps you've been there yourself; I know I'm not alone. Otherwise, consider this fair warning for what may be ahead. Usually, it happens in some bathroom stall, often at an event at which you are having a perfectly good time. You duck into the ladies' room to freshen-up, and your evening takes a ghastly turn.
With the efficiency and detachment of an old pro, you clean up what looks awfully like a murder scene. You take a few deep breaths and convince yourself you are not, in fact, hemorrhaging or dying. You consult the electronic period-tracker on your phone to confirm just how unexpected the timing is. You might check in with Dr. Google, too, who assures you clots the size of golf balls are perfectly normal. And then--especially if you are wearing light colors--you start planning your escape, careful to map a route that keeps your backside hidden from public view.
A black skort will not shield you from such nastiness, but it will shield you from total humiliation better than most clothing. First of all, it is black, of course. It is also two layers of fabric, even if you opt to go commando. And in the most dire circumstances, the quick-dry feature of the golf skort might be most important. It may indeed be possible, with sink and electric hand-dryer, to do a quick load of laundry right there on the spot. (Unlikely, I know, but nice to have the option in case the floodgates open right before a big presentation or your kid's graduation ceremony.)
Yes, my buddy the black skort covers my ass in many ways. For modesty (because leggings are not pants) and self-respect (because no one needs to know what horrors we face before we put on a brave smile and face the world) and actual coverage when life gets messy, I can count on the skort to protect me. You can see why I'm a devoted friend and admirer.
My experiment began with a pretty Big Idea: maybe if I simplify my closet, I can simplify my life. As I have written about here and there, it worked. The experiment did change me: my reactions to the world, the way I think about myself and my relationships, my feelings about who I am. It changed my bank account and the way I get dressed every day and how I feel about myself when I look in the mirror.
Minimizing my wardrobe has, indeed, made a difference. Getting dressed today takes me 30 seconds instead of 30 minutes. Refusing to think about what I wear has freed space in my brain for thoughts I enjoy much more. Thinking about what I will do instead of how I look makes me happier all the way around.
It was a pretty Big Idea and it created a pretty big impact in my life. But the idea itself didn't make the difference. It was my choice to put on a black skort--no matter how I felt about it--every single day. That's what changed my life. And so,
Three Reasons I Don't Trust "Big Ideas"
1. Big Ideas are nothing compared to little habits. (No idea will change lives unless it is practiced every day.)
2. Inspiration withers without execution. (We all have lots of great ideas--the ones that really count are the ones we manifest.)
3. The difference between having a thought and bringing it to life is like eating the proverbial elephant. We do it "one bite at a time." (Daily, we make choices. We commit to the Big Idea in a million tiny ways.)
As my friends and I seek peace, balance, and ways to make our time on the planet meaningful (and bearable), I think we tend to seek Big Ideas. When our kids are in trouble, when we're struggling with a relationship or bad habits or how to feel okay amidst all the chaos, we look for Big Ideas. We hope something--a new product, friend, prayer, diet, workout, bit of advice--will make all the difference.
I'm here to tell you, it won't. No Big Idea is worth much at all until we bring it alive with tiny, daily, sometimes simple actions. I asked a lot of my year-long experiment. I wanted simplicity and clarity and peace. I wanted to accept myself and feel confident and happier.
It was a Big, Giant Idea, but I measured my progress in one small way. Every single day, I put a black skort on my body. I followed the rather simple (but oh-so-challenging!) rules I set out for myself, and one danged day (one choice, one outfit, one un-purchased item) at a time, I did the Little Things that made my Big Idea happen. I think a lot of life works this way.
Throwing My Hands up: Succumbing to the Struggle and Learning How to Wait
My second rule for a whole year was NO CLOTHES SHOPPING. I allowed myself freedom to buy a few accessories, shoes, undergarments and outerwear. A couple of friends supplemented my experiment (because they love me and they are awesome) and bought me new garments (a killer leather jacket, for example) for my birthday.
I cheated once: for a filmed speaking engagement, I panicked and purchased a new blouse. (The panic itself bummed me out, and I didn't love the blouse in the final video, so the "cheat" was, in the end, a reminder of why I was conducting my experiment in the first place.)
Other than that, no new clothing entered my closet for 365 days. And it changed my life.
History: Before the Skort
For as long as I can remember, clothes-shopping has ignited in me a certain mania. All the choices, the colors, the panoply of gorgeous materials! A beautiful store can intoxicate me--the aromas of the cosmetic department, the promises of well-cut garments, the clever, precious merchandising!
Since I have never been a girl with unlimited funds, looking at price-tags further disorients me. It's easy to become overwhelmed by all the beauty I can never possess. (I end up thinking bitterly about Gustav von Aschenbach and the fatally beautiful, elusive Tadzio, but that's just me. Old lit students die hard.)
I compensated (at an early age) by devoting myself to the thrift-store hunt. When I began my Skort365 experiment, I had to face facts: decades of second-hand shopping had created a monster. My closet was stuffed to the brim with multiples--twelve long black skirts (!), three red suit jackets, four gently used pairs of Ugg boots--none of which fit me exactly well. A Good Find surpassed comfort or logic as I sifted through piles for ridiculous deals. As it turns out, neither a Ralph Lauren wool coat for $4.00 nor a one-dollar trendy tunic is worth anything at all if it is ill-fitting or I have nothing to wear with it.
In March of last year, I pillaged my wardrobe. I removed anything from my closet that did not fit well and did not go with a black skort. It was heady work, anticipating a year of engagements with the intention of buying nothing new.
My purpose all along was to stop feeding the beast. The beast that made getting dressed every day of my life a struggle of one kind or another. Here is a long-winded list of what I gained:
Seven Things I Learned from My Year of No Shopping:
It was weird, at first, entering a department store. The few times I did so, I recall repeating to myself, like a pathetic mantra: "This does not apply to me."
For a few months, it was emotional and kind of panicky. I practiced a detached stance as I encountered enticing window displays and tantalizing mannequins. Once or twice, I actually had to remind myself I control my own breathing and response to the world. I have enough clothes to last a lifetime. Walking away empty-handed from such bounty felt disorienting in a whole new way. But pretty quickly, it felt like freedom.
I walked away. From each new season's fashions, from a $20 designer blouse that would kill with a black skort, when my companions taunted me, when a silk halter-top on sale at Henri Bendel on 5th Avenue developed lungs and screamed my name. And every time--to my surprise and befuddlement--I swear to you, it felt like freedom.
Somewhere along the way, I heard about Sarah Lazarovic's project A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy. For a year, instead of purchasing, she made pretty sketches of the pretty things she coveted. I appreciated the distance her project created between herself, her emotions, and the stuff she decided to do without.
I started treating every tempting garment as a test of time. I reminded myself nothing was actually keeping me from purchasing new clothes. My experiment exists, after all, only in my own little brain. So when I saw something beautiful, which begged me to break my rules, I told myself I could have it if I waited 24 hours and could still justify the purchase.
I never, ever went back.
Gradually, I realized this practice--of waiting, of breathing, of contemplating and not reacting--is a thing. Buddhists and yogis alike seek non-reaction and mindful presence. Contemporary psychology likewise recognizes non-reactive communication as a tool to cultivate strong relationships. I come late to this bit of wisdom, as I am a perennial (and infamous) over-reactor (to all things, good and bad, difficult and sublime).
I gave myself 24 hours before I decided to feel denied. Often, I spent this time evaluating my closet. My lust for a certain jacket dissipated--even though I could justify the purchase as "outerwear"--when I admitted I loved it because it was very like a jacket I own and adore. Once I realized no one notices or cares if my wardrobe is monotonous, I realized the jacket I already posses is probably enough.
(I came to this conclusion sometime in August, I suppose): no one, in fact, notices or cares if I wear the exact same thing every day.
Once I grasped the enormity of this concept, Dear Reader, I felt like I could fly! Department stores, gorgeous merchandising and slick magazine ads entirely lost their power over me. I discovered instead a power of my own--again, it was a brand-new sensation!--the power of being myself.
People treat me now, in a black skort, exactly as they always have. Not worrying about what I wear reminds me every day that people react to my ideas, my speech and actions and ability to be a good friend. Not my wardrobe.
6. The Power of Waiting
I am prone to respond immediately. I have considered it one of my unfortunate-but-good qualities. I've heard it called "creative fervor" and "artistic temperament," but in general, I get stuff done. I go from idea to execution faster than most people, and oftentimes, it works out for the best.
On the other hand, when I finish a script or an illustration, I tend to beat down the doors of my collaborators at ungodly hours to celebrate. I annoy the same people (much like a yappy dog) when "inspiration" strikes me at inappropriate times. I also over-share and externally process and talk a mile a minute. I am exhausting to those I love, and I am exhausting to myself.
So I decided to try this concept of not reacting in Real Life. Gradually--and then almost exclusively--I made myself wait. When I had an idea. When I had a question. An insight. A solution to a pressing problem. An answer to an argument.
With my own physical and spiritual needs, I allow myself to act immediately. I carry a notebook at ALL times and exorcise some of my tangled thoughts by writing them down. (I do come back to these scribblings later, and sometimes there's good stuff there.) When I am hungry, I eat. When I need to cry--if I am alone--I let the tears tumble, wipe my cheeks, and go on. When I am overwhelmed, I excuse myself, stretch and bend, pray and breathe.
7. The Beauty of 15 minutes
In daily interactions with others, however, I make myself wait 15 minutes. My goal is always 24 hours, but at the very least, I console myself: 15 minutes will not make a difference in the spinning of the world. So I wait. Before I hit "send," before I place a call, before I text or post or express my emotions, I wait.
I live in a house with two teenaged sons and a middle-aged husband (read all about it here). "Another day, another sh*t-show" has become my recent mantra. We live a typical, over-privileged American life, replete with first-world problems threatening to knock us off-course at every turn. We are too busy, too cluttered, too wounded to be kind to each other all the time.
Waiting to respond to adolescents who spit venom at me (because it is their job) trumps all other parenting tactics I have ever read about or tried. Much as I do when a white, ruffly skort tempts me at a mall, when my teenagers encourage me to rant and rave, I walk away.
The whole family is still adjusting. They've noticed a difference in my response, but mostly it just makes them feel wonky. They have grown accustomed to my triggers; they depend upon making me go cuckoo under certain dire cirsumstances.
However. Arguments tabled until the morning-light tend to become conversations. A mom who practices a slow eye-blink instead of yelling inspires a nascent trust. A couple who walks away from the late-night crazy, brushes teeth and goes to bed may find new words at the breakfast table.
My BFF (she of the killer birthday jacket) and I check-in frequently on the fine line between non-reaction and burying one's head in the sand. Between walking away from conflict and becoming a victim. And a fine line it is. We must all, always, be held responsible for our words and actions, or we wither on the vine.
But I have discovered, without a doubt, what we in theory already know: you can't argue with crazy, and heated emotions do not generally produce resolution or peace between human beings. Almost everything--given a little time and space--looks better from a distance. Perhaps we gain perspective only by stepping back and breathing our way to peace in our very own hearts.
Against my very nature, I wait before I respond. I walk away--from purchases of gorgeous clothes and from arguments--and I sense a growing calm. I let shocking emails hit and settle before I decide how I feel or how I will respond. I make lists of technological emergencies and present them to my assistant at scheduled times.
When I am overwhelmed by facts, figures and time before the glowing box, I put my hands in clay or spend those 15 minutes doing nothing but soaking up the sun on my back porch. I try to trust this is time not wasted, but time spent living and gaining mindfulness. Mostly, it really, really works. Everything is, after all, temporary; everything gets better.
On April 1--because I could--I put on a pair of jeans for the first time in a year.
I strutted around the living room for my husband, did a load of laundry, admired my booty in the full-length mirror, and took them off. I cannot imagine wearing them again. I barely know the girl who once wore jeans every day.
One of my reasons is practical and rather obvious. And it's enough. It's a great reason not to wear jeans on a regular basis.
The other reason is probably weird and unique to me, but it's at the core of the Skort365 project, why I did it in the first place, and why I'm still wearing a skort today.
Reason One: Jeans Feel Uncomfortable.
I am not going to spend another minute telling you why: if we're honest with ourselves, we all know it's true. Yeah, yeah, yeah, miracle, part-Spandex fabrics and all that . . . whatever.
If I'm wearing denim, there is no way I'm going to feel as comfy as I do in a skort. During my one denim hour on April 1, no way I would have: done my morning stretches, ridden my bike, jumped in a lake, thrown pots on my wheel, or been comfortable, temperature-wise, in whatever weather came my way. When I bent to unload the washing machine, the waistband pinched me in a familiar, annoying way--a pinch I have never, ever felt from a golf skort.
So, no. Nope. Dis-qualified. Jeans are banned from my wardrobe because they are the opposite of the go-everywhere, ready-for-anything, feel-like-I'm-in-my-pajamas SKORT. (Read about why I chose the skort here.)
Reason Two: Jeans Look Amazing.
This was undeniable, and I had a witness. Both my husband and I enjoyed the hour I spent in jeans, from a purely aesthetic perspective. Yup. I looked good. The right pair of jeans can do a lot, and we know it, and that's why we love them: they lift and sculpt your butt, lengthen your legs, suck in your tummy.
When I put on my best pair of jeans, I immediately started thinking about which boots look best with them. I imagined going out, looking good, rocking the jeans again. And then, almost immediately, I started thinking about: which combinations of tops and jackets might best conquer the muffin-top, which belt might hold without grabbing, which underthings produce the most flattering silhouette from behind. I remembered the power of a hot pair of jeans to turn heads and make me appear younger than my 46 years. UH-OH.
I chose the black skort in an attempt to STOP this conversation in my brain. In the skort, I know I never look amazing--but I trust I always look just fine. I can get dressed in the dark: every top in my closet goes with every bottom. Everything fits and is comfortable. I have not thought about how my clothing feels in a year, and that is freedom. I have also thought less about how I look, and it has changed my perspective on myself and the world.
No pair of jeans--no matter how awesome they make me look--is worth compromising what I have gained. My experiment in simplicity did, in fact, silence a lot of noise in my over-active, over-critical, over-sensitive brain. And it's a silence I treasure much more than how my butt looks when I go to a concert.
For reasons both practical and emotional, then, I'm sticking to the skort and bidding denim a final farewell.
I wore a black golf skort (NOT THE SAME ONE!) every day, for every occasion, for one whole year.
It was an experiment in simplicity.
Now that I have my technology figured out (knock wood), I shall spend more time here writing about the results of the project, how it changed my life, and what it all means.
In the meantime, I know y'all are just dying to know: what am I wearing NOW? So I will tell you.
I am wearing a black golf skort.
I did try on a pair of jeans--I'll give my full report later--and it was enough to convince me what I already suspected.
I'm liking what this experiment has done, and I'm gonna keep dancing with the one who brought me here.
The crevices in my brow are intense. My wrinkles make me look stern, angry, constipated. I try to cover them with bangs but even when I am smiling, they betray me, like tracks left in powder by backcountry skiers.
Although it is a cliché to say so, I know I have earned them. Of course. There, in the lines on our faces, live our hopes, dreams, disappointments, bad habits, worse choices, fears, joys, struggles, amusements . . . all of it.
And if I accept and honor my life—pitfalls, stumblings, mistakes and all—I should probably try to accept and honor the face that reflects it, too. But these wrinkles I’m talking about are deep, yo.
I realized how serious the situation was last year, while watching Leonardo diCaprio onscreen in Gatsby, floating in the pool at the end of the film. I happened to enjoy the movie a great deal, but at that bleak, iconic moment in the American canon, all I could think about was the wrinkle in Leonardo’s forehead. Just like mine, it makes him look concerned, disgruntled, peeved. Even when he’s playing dead, relaxing all his muscles, clearing his face of emotion.
Leonardo-Gatsby looks downright pissed-off, floating in that water as the boats are borne off ceaselessly into the past and whatnot. And so would I.
So, Botox, of course. Surgery. I have thought about it. I have many friends who have done it, with varying results. In the best cases, it’s undeniable: it does rejuvenate and restore a certain youthful verve. In the worst cases, it is ghastly. But of course I have thought about it.
Then one day, I apologized to my face and just said NO. My face! Unique among all others, able to communicate without effort the infinite subtlety of my emotions! My face, which I have never adored, is everything I’ve got. It is the image that comes to mind when loved ones think of me.
My face! I am sorry, Face, I said, for thinking of cutting into you with a scalpel, or sticking poison into you, in the name of erasing exactly what you are: a topographical map of my singular life.
Right then I made a vow to myself. I’m not doing it. I’m not sticking needles in my face or surgically altering it. It just seems mean, somehow, to tell my poor little face there’s anything wrong with it. I don’t disparage anyone else’s decisions, but this is the choice I am making.
Brace yourselves; it’s not going to be pretty.
I have the luxury of a husband who loves old ladies. He loves to hear their stories, flatter them, tell them old-school jokes to see them laugh. He once said, about a woman we know, who looks all of her 80 years and has clearly never done a thing about her prominent wrinkles, “I just think Helen is so pretty.”
Helen is pretty. She laughs easily and often, with her mouth and with her smiling eyes. She seems to greet every moment with delight, almost surprise. Helen is pretty, but she is no beauty. No Sophia Loren, no wonder of nature, no well-preserved freak of genetics. She’s 80. She looks it. She is affable and genuine and happier than Pherrel Williams’ song. You meet Helen, you’ve met the Real Deal. And if that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is. You can see why I married my husband.
We know there is very little perfection to be found, anywhere. We even know that in imperfection is all the good stuff. Everything fun, every genius invention, every impromptu caper, every relationship, every work of art we cherish—they are all based squarely in imperfection. And yet we seek perfection. I think we’re probably hard-wired to do so. But it’s always when I give myself a little break from the pursuit of it that I breathe the deepest breaths of happiness.
Audrey Hepburn said the happiest girls are the prettiest girls, and she should know. Can I be happy about the double canyons being carved deeper into my forehead with every passing day? I can’t imagine it. I can’t imagine looking at pictures of myself as I get even older and loving all that is dropping and sagging and wrinkling.
The only solution I can find, for now, is to concentrate on the happy. The inside happy. The scan-the-horizon-for-goodness, attitude-of-gratitude, live-your-life happy. I’ll try to trust the alchemy which translates happiness into beauty, and I’ll try to stop worrying so much about the beauty itself.
I believe it is standard practice for those of us contemplating this aging thing to realize how precious—and how brief—our time is here on the big blue marble. I’ve got a lot of things I want to see. I have a lot of stories I want to tell, things I want to try, and people I want to enjoy.
Wasting one more minute of it worrying about the natural, normal condition of my wrinkled face seems foolish indeed.
[I am (sadly) paid nothing--by nobody, never!--for any of my observations or endorsements. It's a shame, too -- Jamie Sadock should pay my salary. This is enthusiastic endorsement #2 of her products. Because they're that good.]
3. Best for Travel: Jamie Sadock's Zen Pull-On Skort
FORM: Practical and pretty. This skort is stretchy, a little shiny, and totally wrinkle-proof, whether you wear it on your journey or cram it into your carry-on.
It is so light and comfortable, it's easy to forget you are wearing it at all, which is a feature I most enjoy while sitting for hours at a time. Best of all, this little number falls right into shape when you stand up, keeping you looking fresh and fabulous, no matter how long or eventful your trip becomes. It's actually pretty (and "dressier" than your average athletic bottom)!
FUNCTION: Stretchy and shiny. Perfect for vacations, especially if you enjoy a good brunch or buffet line: the wide elastic waistband is comfortable and stays put, no matter how much you indulge in local cuisine.
I usually wear a thin pair of leggings underneath for airline travel, because I get a little chilly on planes (also that extra layer makes me feel a little less exposed to the mysteries of public furniture). My beloved zippered pockets allow me to stay somewhat organized as I dash through airports to make my connections.
This skort is made out of some crazy micro-poly material which also happens to be stain-resistant; it is actually slippery to the touch. You can drop your bagel face-down on your lap and the cream cheese will scrape right off. No one will ever know. The black-on-black pattern likewise helps disguise coffee or wine spills. (You are probably not as clumsy or messy as I am, but just in case . . . this is good stuff to keep in mind.)
FASHION: I promise you, in this skort no one will know your secrets (how comfortable you really are, how many meals you have spilled, how many hours you've been cooped up in tiny spaces). You will look like a smartly dressed woman in a nicely draped black skirt. The shine factor will also take you into evening, as they say -- paired with a sparkly little black tank, you're ready for a club or a Broadway play or a sumptuous, romantic dinner!
Because it is constructed of space-age fabric, this skort also dries quickly. I think you could conceivably wash it in a public sink, wring it out, dry it with the restroom's hand-dryer. I have not personally tried this--yet--but it seems entirely plausible. Which means, of course, you could wear this baby several days in a row. You'll look right and ready, no matter the occasion (and no matter how filthy your travels become).
FEE: ***This just in!! ON SALE for $45 at www.6pm.com !! *** (Lots of other Jamie Sadock also currently on sale -- go big or go home, Ladies!!) :-)
$95 at Jamie Sadock's online store and other golf retail outlets. Yeah. Expensive, again. The fact is, wearing a skort every day of my life means I am willing to pay for the best I can find . . and Jamie Sadock is the best skort designer out there. Her garments are fabulous, functional and fashionable. They wear well. In my mind, they are worth the steep cost -- and the Zen Pull-On is no exception, especially for globe-trotting.
After ten months of painstaking, daily research--and many, many golf skorts--I have mastered the art of comfort while playing on the beach.
[If you are a sun-bathing beauty who enjoys the solace and solitude of a lounge chair, this post is not for you. A skort leaves a funny tan line and looks odd amongst teenie-weenie bikinis. If, however, you see every body of water as a chance for Big Fun (like I do), read on . . . .]
I am rather clumsy on dry land, but in the water, as sure and graceful as a mermaid. I enjoy jumping, diving, swimming, boogie- and paddle-boarding, waterskiing and big, wet slides. When I am lucky enough to get to the ocean, I don't waste one minute of daylight lounging on the sand. I'm really only having fun if I am snorkeling, body-surfing, or paddling a kayak. All of which are way, way better in a black skort.
This one is my favorite so far [I am (sadly) paid nothing--by nobody, never!--for any of my observations or endorsements]:
2. Best for the Beach: Athleta's Swagger Skort
FORM: Short and sweet. It is shorter than my daily skort, and stretchier. This skort is light as a feather, stretchy, and made of cool-to-the-touch micropoly/Spandex. It weighs practically nothing and dries lickity-split. This miracle material also wicks and breathes and performs well in the washing machine, dryer, chlorinated pool and saltwater.
FUNCTION: Better than a bathing-suit bottom, because no designer I have found makes a tankini with a mid-thigh mesh short. And this, my friends, is vital. In this skort, I get way less sand in my crotch and between my thighs!! THAT is the indelicate but gorgeous truth, Ladies -- the shorts part of the skort is a revolutionary experience on the beach! Can you imagine??
The wide waistband is comfy and stays put (so do those built-in shorts, thanks to the no-pinch silicone leg grips!), and the fully-adjustable drawstring at the waist means you'll feel confident diving into the deep end or riding the roughest wave.
One small zippered pocket keeps a key and ID secure at the small of your back. You shouldn't be swimming with your phone, anyway, so that one little pocket is perfect.
FASHION: Easy-breezy-lemon-sqeezey. The triple ruffles keep it modest, but 'beachy' enough to make me feel like Annette Funicello. I wear it with a nice, coordinating bikini top--a halter is my forever fave--but you could pair it with the top half of any tankini or similar suit. As we see above, this skort comes in plenty of summery color options (although I would never recommend white anything for the water!).
It dries so quickly, you can throw on your flip-flops and a nice top and go right to a nice summer dinner. I have also been wearing mine this winter with substantial, wooly leggings and long boots. Darling! Truly, 'tis a skort for all seasons.
FEE: $54 at Athleta. Not too shabby, considering the effortless comfort of this beauty allows you to run along the beach, pondering your own personal horizons, without annoying sand or painful rubbing killing the moment.
Other Entries in The Skort Report: