Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One More Lesson We Can Learn From "The Greatest Generation"

Allow me a few minutes to rant, if you will. First, let me remind you that I am a stay-at-home mom. Yoga pants and t-shirts are my uniform, most days. And yes, there are days that I go to Wal-Mart in my post-gym workout clothes and no make-up. But if I'm going to have to "see" people and have other people "see" me, I'm going to try my best to look presentable.

Monday afternoon we had an appointment at Children's Hospital. Settling into my seat in the waiting room, I got to partake in an activity that I'm quite fond of: people watching. I realize that I'm getting older and more "old-fashioned" in my opinions, but I could not believe how some of the parents had dressed themselves to come and see the people who operate on their children's brains. (Disclaimer: You don't have to have a lot of money to dress "presentable." However, I'm afraid that what someone might consider "presentable" and "appropriate" is up for debate. And this is where my ranting begins. Go ahead and have a seat. This might take a while...)

We live in a society that has reached it's MAX in all areas of living casually. This is a good thing, to a degree. I've always boasted that our house is a house you can feel comfortable in and live in. No fussiness around these parts. Come in, and put your feet up! If my kids haven't destroyed it, you can't either! Having "casual" decor and clothes for working in your house saves a lot of mental frustration for yourself, especially if you have young kids (and even if you don't!). But it is my humble opinion that we have lost a little bit of our pride in ourselves as the majority of us have taken living so casually to the extremes.

You know who I'm talking about... like the lady who wears her slippers to the grocery store. C'mon. I know they are comfortable. So are tennis shoes. House shoes, as the name implies, should be relegated to the house, ladies.

While at Children's, I saw a woman who took it one step farther. She looked as if she were wearing her pajamas! Not the matching set, mind you, but her holy knit pants and stained, mis-matched t-shirt. Her her hair was disheveled and looked unclean, to boot. She literally looked as if she had just rolled out of bed.

Then there was the rather rotund lady who was wearing a camisole-type tank top with no bra and skinny jeans. Ladies, if your "girls" are large enough to protrude from your chest, a bra is definitely in order. And if your shirt cannot cover your waistband, let's try a longer one, mmmkay?

Though the women had them outnumbered by a long shot, men made the "offenders" list that day, too. In tank tops. That were supposed to be undershirts. If I'm lying, I'm dying, friends.

I also saw a grandmother in cut-off jean shorts... a GRANDMOTHER!... and more than one person that I wanted to take a bar of ivory soap and a stiff brush to. These were just the people who were wearing underclothes as outer garments and the dirty ones. I could write a whole other post about the absence of "modest" clothing. And these were the PARENTS. Oy vey.

Let me give you a mental break and take you to the local DMV a few months ago. There in line before me was a little elderly couple getting their car tags. The man was in slacks and a button-up shirt (shirt-tail tucked in, belt on) and the lady had on pants and a nice top. Her hair was fixed and her make-up was on (I noticed because I liked the shade of her lipstick). I guess I payed so much attention because of the way I was dressed: jeans, baseball hat, no make-up. Though I was a far cry from the perps at Children's Hospital the other day, I felt slovenly. I wasn't proud of the way I was presenting myself to the public.

And then I'm reminded of my grandfather... the man got up and dressed every day, even as he was dieing with cancer. He continued to get himself dressed until just a few short weeks before he passed. He, of all people, could have laid around in his jammies. I mean, he had cancer, after all. No one would have blamed him. But he didn't. My mom said sometimes it would be in the afternoon when he got dressed, but he did get dressed. It was important to him.

Take a look for yourself the next time you are out and about. Most of the time, the older generation is the ones who are the best dressed. They might look dated, sure, but they are a sharp, put-together bunch of folks. They are the ones taking pride in themselves and their appearance, something we could learn from them, if you ask me. Pride in your appearance is different from vanity. It's about self-respect and putting your best foot forward... for the people you meet and for yourself. "Why does it matter what I look like?" you ask. Because people will treat you accordingly. Sad, but true. And when you look good, you feel good. Think about the last time you were dressed up. Didn't you stand a little taller? Walk with more confidence?

I'm not talking about wearing your pearls when you are scrubbing toilets... unless that what you want to do. ;) Stacey and Clinton from TLC's "What Not to Wear" always claim that it takes just as much effort to put on a nice sweater and pants as it does to put on your sweats. And if the sweater is cashmere... it'll feel better than those old sweats! Save the sweats and undergarments (listen up Children's Hospital parents!) for the house. Or get crazy and buy yourself some aprons to save your nicer clothes if you get a wild hair to get "dressed" at home!

Above all, "cleanliness is next to Godliness," or at least that"s what I've always been told. Should grown-ups have to be reminded of basic hygiene? You'd be surprised. And as for the clothes, if it's dirty and stained, just throw it out. Or only wear it to do yard work.

Some people have noticed that I am taking the initiative to get "dressed" more often these days and have commented accordingly. It really is a confidence booster. Thanks to all who have noticed! . My apologies for the last decade or so where life as a wife and mother had me putting myself last on the list and my appearance showed it. I'm taking my cues, now, from "the greatest generation." Isn't it funny that the older we get, how much smarter our elders become?!?


  1. I know exactly what you mean by this post. I may go out to the store in jeans, a t-shirt and no make-up. But I have seen the exact people you are talking about, and i'm just like "what are they thinking" I know alot of people's excuse is "I don't care what other people think about me" but really, it's just, ridiculous. I don't even know what to say about people who are very dirty looking when they go out.

    But I too have noticed how alot of the elderly dress the best. :)

  2. Whew! SO glad I'm not the only one!!! LOL!