Friday, July 18, 2008

There’s Many a Slip . . .

It is difficult for a woman of a certain age—and a certain girth—to dress comfortably and appropriately in the heat of a Michigan summer. Long sleeves thwart the mosquitoes, but you just can’t wear long sleeves when the temperature is 95°. And if you go sleeveless, you risk the whispered, “Who does she think she is? Michelle Obama?” Shorts? Just possibly. In the back garden. When the neighbors are away. Why are summer weight pants often in dark colors? They look hot, even if they are not. And who was the genius who decided to market “cropped” pants? I’ve seen a few shapely women who look cute in these garments, but the rest of us look stumpy. For many years I made myself cool, swingy sundress-type garments, but my ever expanding hips now require enough fabric to house a tribe of nomadic Bedouin. Besides, those summer fabrics with enchanting names like lawn, batiste, and muslin (Jane Austen and sprigged muslin are forever linked in my mind) tend to require the services of a bunch of downstairs maids armed with starch and goffering irons.

In the last couple of years salvation has arrived in the guise of cotton skirts, often without a waistband, often comparatively wash and wear. I have now bought three such skirts and I love them. They were inexpensive, but quite well made. All of them are lined with matching cotton fabric. “Why”, my daughters ask, “do you wear a slip if the skirt is already lined?”

It’s hard to explain, but I learned growing up that nice girls always wear petticoats.

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