It's late July, and by this time in my hometown in Florida the charm of summer is wearing thin. On a "cool" day, it's in the high 80s. The sun beats down, unless the rain is beating down, and then when it does, instead of cooling off, it creates a steam like a sweat lodge, covering the entire town, opening our pores and sending the sweat streaming down our faces.
The charm of fashion also wears thin by this time in the season. I have two young kids and still about half of the baby weight, and I don't feel comfortable in public wearing shorts. While many people have religious or ethical reasons for avoiding shorts, for me it is a practical concern -- I spend the whole time that I am wearing shorts trying to make sure I don't bend or move in the wrong way to expose midriff, cellulite, this or that stretch mark. While taking care of my son or daughter, it is impossible to avoid the improper motions, and I just feel uncomfortable all around. This does not even take into account the difficulty of keeping ones legs shaven with 15 maximum minutes of shower time per day.
I try to address this by buying new jeans. I am losing weight slowly but surely, and am in between sizes -- to small for my "big" jeans, but still much too big for my smaller ones. So I take a trip to a thrift store and find three pair that fit me pretty well.
And yet still I feel uncomfortable. Jeans keep me covered well enough but they are also very hot. There is a reason I wear them all winter, and it means they are not suited for the summer. Maybe it is not even the weight of the cloth that bothers me, but the tyranny of fashion and sizing. A pair of jeans wants to be form fitting, and in order to be comfortable, it must fit in a dozen different places -- waist, hip, upper thigh, lower thigh, leg length, and rise. And on top of that it should be somewhat fashionable, not stick way out in the back when I sit down, be tight enough to stay up but not so tight that it makes a muffin-top. And for all of these different elements of fit, ladies get just one number. One number to explain a small waist and ample hips, legs shorter or longer than the manufacturer expects, the fact that I like or don't like the fabric to cling too closely or be too loose in this spot or that spot.
One fateful morning I have to leave home before I have done my laundry, and I reach for the only thing available -- a big flowy three-tiered skirt that I bought two years ago on sale. It is a revelation -- not too tight, not too loose. Cool and comfortable, but modest. Feminine without being silly. Neither juvenile nor matronly. I can bend down to pick up one of my kids or to tie someone's shoe, I can sit in a restaurant chair without everyone being able to see down the back of my pants, and I still look like me. In fact, I look even more like me.
So I declare a revolution. Down with the tyranny of finding jeans that fit. I keep the jeans I have, and I will still wear them, but only when I want to. I stalk through consignment and thrift stores and fill the length of my closet with lovely, long, floating skirts. I don't worry about what I look like when I leave my house, not because I don't care, but because I know the long skirt has my back(side).
Sometimes, modesty just makes sense.