Tag Archives: Trousers

On the Passing of a Friend and Fashion Inspiration

11 May
angels, art, images

Image courtesy of angelfire.com.

He may not have known it, but my late friend and former colleague Tom Cole lifted me out of the fashion doldrums when we started socializing (we taught English at a local community college). I was floating along, on post-divorce auto-pilot, happy to be working and paying my bills but not thinking much about my appearance. This was about to change.  A classically natty dresser, fond of Ralph Lauren shirts and assorted neckties accompanied by trousers and sports coats in neutral colors, Tom had a degage elegance that emanated from within and was merely emphasized by his smart clothing. He was equally classy in jeans and a polo shirt.  When we started going to Rattlers’ games and out for drinks afterward, I figured the usual team t-shirt and jeans outfit was woefully inadequate. To solve the problem, I wrote in my journal about what I needed,  then hit the stores.

Building a Better Wardrobe

As I  have indicated in other posts, I have peripheral neuropathy and other foot problems which restrict my choices in footwear. In 2004, when I was diagnosed and Tom and I began our semi-regular outings,  I developed my “uniform” of black pants with a variety of tops, or dark-wash jeans for casual occasions. For games, I chose tops in team colors that looked chic enough for a sojourn to a downtown bar after the game along with jeans or black casual pants.  For dinner and movies, I substituted somewhat dressier tops and pants. Phoenix is casual, so these outfits were appropriate.  If I hadn’t become friends with Tom, there’s no telling what I might be throwing on my body now!  His effortless style made me analyze my own and attempt to rise to his level, disability and figure type notwithstanding.

The History

Intriguingly, Tom had a fashion muse years ago. I asked him how he had learned to dress so well, and he credited a former girlfriend from the 1970s. “I was walking around in leisure suits, and she said, ‘Oh no you don’t!’ ” he recalled. Leisure suits on him? Incredible. I can’t even imagine. I applaud that woman, whoever she is, wherever she is; Tom’s taste never wavered, even when I suspected, near the end of his life, that he wasn’t feeling well.

The Legacy of a Friend

The most important legacy, of course, is not Tom’s clothing choices, but his friendship, masterful teaching of English, and love of family. An intensely private person whose kindness and high intelligence became evident after one got to know him, Tom was a natural gentleman who lifted up those around him. The overall tone of any setting improved just from his presence, and I don’t mean that in a snobbish way. He had an inherent courtesy and consideration that flowed, unpretentiously, from every pore. Hundreds of students benefited from his subject-matter knowledge and precise planning; I was fortunate enough to enjoy his friendship for the past nine years.  Thank you, Tom, for your gentleness, intellect, humility, and loyalty. In your case, the terrific style on the outside really did represent what was on the inside.

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Post-Holiday Blahs? Clothes Can Lift Your Spirits

19 Jan
art, clothing and mood, wefly2, Calvin Charles, Ladies' Home Journal, disabled women, disabled shopping

From exhibit at the Calvin Charles Gallery, Scottsdale.

Maybe the excitement of the holidays has left you feeling a bit hollow, like the fellow in the photo (no disrespect to the artist). Perhaps the weather is draining you, leaving you with a winter virus or aggravating your disability. I hope not. But if you need a simple pick-me-up that won’t drain your wallet or require one more social engagement, you need look no further than your closet, according to writer Sarah Hepola in a recent issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. A self-confessed yoga-pant aficionado, Hepola discovered that slipping on a nice dress and pair of shoes, just because she felt like it, made her feel special and perked up her whole day in a way that schlepping around in yoga pants and an old tee shirt did not.

The Mood-Fashion Connection

No doubt, we live in an ever more casual culture. Hepola brings up Casual Fridays in the workplace to illustrate this point.  But just because we can dress casually, she says, doesn’t always mean we should. In fact, a friend of mine, Kevin, openly rebelled against Casual Fridays. He wore three-piece suits and various tasteful combinations of sport coats, ties, trousers, and pocket watches to work. He was among the few contractors to obtain a full-time position with his company, and his dapper appearance was not lost on the ladies, either!  In a social setting, the lobster effect can occur, with peers thinking their friends should dress the ultra-casual way they do: sometimes my retired friends put on shorts and tee shirts for happy hour, and ask me why I am “so dressed up” when I don trouser jeans with a nice top and makeup. My usual answer is “Why not?” but I like Hepola’s friend’s answer better: “I’m dressed up for me!”

While my outfit of trouser jeans and top hardly qualifies as “dressed up,” it appears that way to some. The point is that wearing snappy clothes that flatter you flips an internal switch somewhere. Your attitude, your confidence, climb. Whether it’s a dress at work or well-fitting jeans at home, the clothing makes you feel good about yourself. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Confined to the House? Cozy Up in Your Faves

Feeling under the weather? Unfortunately, it is common this time of year. No reason you shouldn’t be as warm and comfortable as possible. If you are strong enough to bathe or have a caregiver help you do so, washing up and slipping into your favorite nightgown, pajamas, or lounge wear before going to bed is a definite mood enhancer. Soft, clean-smelling fabric against your skin may not reduce your fever or eliminate your aches and pains, but it can help you relax and rest more easily. Comfy pajamas, your favorite hot beverage, a good book, TV show, or friend, and you’re set. Right now, how your pj’s make you feel definitely trumps how they make you look. You can think about that later.

Feeling Just Right

You don’t have to follow the crowd in your clothing choices to dress appropriately or feel great about what you wear, although the occasion often shapes our outfits, and most of us don’t want to be ridiculed. At the beginning of the year, when I attended a fundraiser for HALO, a local no-kill animal shelter, I intended to wear the purple cowl-necked dress the Spashionista chose for me (see earlier post) with black tights. Well, I had both a wardrobe and disability malfunction: the tights (my only pair) had a hole in them, and my calves were swollen, a side effect I can’t predict. At the last minute, I threw on trouser jeans, my CABI jacket (see Christmas post) and a brown cami. My ensemble fit right in with the rest of the attendees’, and my swollen calves were out of sight!

Whether the post-holiday portion of the new year finds you tired of shopping, nursing a cold, or raring to explore new lands and stores, keep the clothing-mood connection in mind. You may not have to spend a dime to lift your spirits!