April 22, 2021

COLUMN: Fashion conundrums

By Kelly Marcus, guest columnist

I’ve always wondered when I’d transition into older lady clothes. Right now, I’d like to think I’m still kinda cool. Honestly, I’ve been wearing much of the same style since I was about 18: jeans, T-shirts, nothing too fancy. I’m a casual woman who shines up when needed. However, it seems like when women get older they adapt a certain look.

Take my grandmother for instance. She wore slacks. Not pants, slacks. Usually black or brown slacks (only jeans if she was going to an Illini game or working in the yard), and always a busy blouse. Not a shirt. A blouse. Grandma always had on a necklace too. It seemed like the women of her generation wore a lot of that type of clothing: slacks, busy blouses, necklaces — oh! and a scarf around her head on windy days. Grandma had short curly hair, so I just don’t know why she used the scarf, but she was practically devoted to it.

My mother is a jeans lady. For a bit in the ’80s and ’90s she flirted pretty heavily with floral and tiger print shirts to wear with those jeans, and I’ve got to tell you my sisters and I were mortified. Yet now, in her late 60s, she’s moved onto her signature look: athletic turtleneck shirts with a zipper. Sometimes three-quarter sleeve, sometimes full sleeve. Always jeans. Sure, she has fancy going out clothes, but any other time you can find her in jeans and an athletic turtle neck top in the colors of gray, light purple, or red.

So here I am, at the age of 43 on the edge of my signature-look years. I’ve got to tell you I don’t know what to do. First of all, I’ve got a lot of tattoos. I don’t regret them like my parents said I would. No, I love my ink. The problem is that some outfits just don’t look good with the tattoos. So, there’s an issue. Another problem is that I am a curvy woman, so I can’t wear some of the outfits that I think “that would make a nice statement signature look for me.” Example, I’d love to have a severe haircut. Like that one fashion designer from The Incredibles movie, and wear tight black dresses. I cannot do that. I’d look like a sausage with a thimble on its head.

I don’t want to just keep wearing jeans and T-shirts with denim jackets. I mean, yes. It’s easy and fun, but I feel like I need a transition. Something new and different. Enter pantsuits. And I’m not talking like the traditional powersuit kind you could be thinking … I’m talking coveralls.

Yes. Coveralls. The kind Rosie the Riveter wore. I am tall, mostly legs and an obnoxiously large grin, and one thing that I can wear is a jumpsuit/pantsuit/coverall outfit. I look like I was born to wear them. Like I belong in them, and honestly they’re really comfortable. BUT is the world ready for me to wear this all the time?

Can I be an older woman rolling into my trainings and business meetings wearing this outfit? Someday I’ll be a grandma, and will that be a comforting grandma thing or will I look like the grandma that’s going to change your oil? (I’m not doing that by the way). Will I look cool or silly? Well, I think I’d look cool, but sometimes I think I look cool and I look really silly. Like when I went into my green eye shadow phase back in 2006.

Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m going to try this whole pantsuit/jumpsuit thing out and if you see me around you can either give me like a thumbs up or thumbs down and I’ll know what you mean. I’ll keep a running tally and then reflect.

I never thought I’d be faced with this dilemma. I wonder if my mom just went no holds barred into her signature look. I wonder if she knows she has one. Huh. Maybe she doesn’t. I’m not asking.