Rules to Ignore

Recently, I went shopping at one of my favorite retailers, St. Bernard. 

It’s a Dallas mainstay for winterwear appropriate for any locale from Breckenridge to St. Moritz.

I love their Patagonia parkas, but what I really adore are the casual dresses they carry that are perfect for daily errands or dinner with friends.  

My latest purchase put me at a crossroads. While standing at home in front of my full-length mirror, I immediately noticed the new fit and flare was shorter than it looked when I slipped it on at the Lovers and Inwood boutique.

As a woman past her “sell by date,” I had to return it. Right? How could I ignore the social conventions assigned to women of a “certain age”? You know, the implicit North Dallas “No Nos” like no dresses more than two inches above the knee, no locks longer than my neck, and no shorts above my thighs.

Over the years, I’ve heeded other fashion customs forbidding white shoes after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. But those rules apply to everyone.

At that moment, I felt singled out as a woman and because I’m old enough to have had a crush on Greg from The Brady Bunch. 

If my husband doesn’t feel pressure to change his wardrobe as he ages, then why should I? My attire desires ignited my inner Muhammad Ali. I was suddenly fashion “woke.”

I went through my closet. I pulled my “youngest clothes” and began trying them on. Other than a few pieces that were too snug — thank you, Father Time — the young clothes looked pretty good on this old woman.

No, my legs are not as svelte as they once were, and my cleavage is not as close to my ears as it was in the ‘80s, but I liked the way I looked.

On Tom Ford’s life, I swore from the black bootie section of my closet that going forward, when it comes to clothing, I am firmly pro-choice.

For dinner out that evening in mid-September, I straightened my hair to hang past my shoulders (until the humidity got the best of it), strapped on a pair of white Jimmy Choo sandals, and swept off in my new short and sassy dress. And, when I went to bed, I said a prayer to St. Bernard.

Michele Valdez

Michele Valdez, a slightly compulsive, mildly angry feminist, has been an attorney, volunteer, and The Mad Housewife columnist. She has four demanding adult children and a patient husband.

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