Tag Archives: clothing

Silk Stockings and Hot-Pink Gloves


One morning this week I dressed hurriedly, pressed for time, as always. I took one shortcut after another with my morning routine. My goal was simple: I wanted to look professional and at least marginally attractive. This gets harder and more time-consuming every year. I can no longer shower, slap on some lipstick and dark sunglasses, and go with a clean, fresh-faced look. If I forgo the make-up, I spend the entire day fielding questions about my health. People with skin as pale as mine look like we’re going to keel over at any moment without a touch of blush. If I omit concealer, I look like I’m coming down with malaria. I’m not exaggerating.

I miss the days of hour-long bubble baths, experimenting with make-up and hairstyles, and the anticipation of date night. Remember that feeling? By the time I finally walked out the door for the evening, I’d leave behind a pile of discarded outfits I’d tried on before selecting the right one for my mood. That was two sizes ago. Those clothes look like tiny hobbit clothes to me now.

After my kids were born, I considered myself good-to-go if I had on a shirt without spit-up on it—or worse—and I put on the first items I touched when I opened my drawers. On the rare nights when we could afford a babysitter, I dressed quickly. No way would I waste a second of babysitter time primping!

This week I stood in my closet at 6:15 AM dressing for a noon out-of-town speaking event. I had just enough time to finish my morning chores and toss something in the slow cooker for dinner before firing up my GPS. There was no time for waffling about cute outfits.

Breakfast was ready, and I’d packed my kids’ lunches and threatened them with the loss of something precious to them if they didn’t get up immediately and get ready for school. I’d barked out the daily reminders about homework, permission slips, and after-school activities before showering and heading to my closet to ferret out some mythical outfit that would somehow make me look tall, slim, and worth my speaking fee.

Dropping the towel to the floor, I wiggled into no-line panties and began the arduous task of smoothing stockings over my legs with fingers in desperate need of a manicure. I rarely bother with a manicure anymore. What’s the point? It never lasts. My hands are constantly working—dishes, laundry, flowers, and cleaning solutions. It’s a waste of money.

You can guess what happened. I barely got my stockings past one painted toe before snagging them with my rough fingers. Hopping on one foot, peering down over my dollar store reading glasses, and cursing like a sailor, I flung the ruined tights to the floor and opened another package to begin the whole wiggly, sweaty process all over again.

I got the second pair up over my hips—no small feat—before poking a hole in my panty hose that traveled all the way up my calf at the speed of light, blossomed behind one knee, and finally petered out at my control-top waistband. Like a volcano that has been simmering for weeks, I immediately erupted with more colorful language. I have a big vocabulary, and I’m oddly creative when I swear, so I was colorful in several languages.

Then I sat on my closet floor to fume and contemplate my options. It was too early to drink. I’m not an alcoholic. Yet. I was out of new stockings, but I had older stockings shoved in the back of the drawer. The colors were a little dated, but I was no longer aiming for perfection.

I remembered an almost-forgotten piece of Southern lady lore: you’re supposed to wear gloves to smooth on stockings. No snags! I felt like patting myself on the back for remembering that tidbit, and I immediately began rummaging around in my lingerie drawer for gloves.

Of course, I couldn’t find any white gloves. I don’t even remember the last time I’ve seen my white gloves. I did find some hot-pink winter gloves. They were a bit fuzzy, certainly not as smooth as white, cotton, bell-ringing gloves, but they were better than nothing. They weren’t mittens. They had fingers. They would do. I slipped them on and lifted a foot to begin another panty-hose application process.

That’s when my husband opened the door to my closet to discuss some calendar question and got an eyeful of me in my early-morning glory: panties—nothing else—half-mast stockings, and hot-pink winter gloves.

He took his time looking. I could tell he had no clue what to say. He couldn’t figure out what little party was going on in my closet. He looked puzzled–like a toddler who stumbles upon his parents having sex and tries to process a totally alien visual. It wasn’t a Fifty Shades of Gray moment. Trust me.

“Do you need something?” I asked testily.

“Not really,” he said, still looking.

“Do you need help with . . . anything?” he asked delicately, obviously attempting to tiptoe around any hormonal mine fields.

“Nope,” I responded, “I need to finish getting dressed now.”

“Sure. No problem. Absolutely. Carry on,” he said, closing the door with a perfectly straight face and zero color commentary.

He’s a smart man. I really should give him more credit than I do. We’ve been married a long time. My husband knows when to keep his mouth shut. I think that’s an invaluable marital skill.


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Ask Melinda: White Shoes, Wrinkled Linen, and Run-On Sentences

Question: What are the rules for wearing white and black patent leather shoes? What about linen? It’s 2012! Does anybody care about that stuff anymore?

I was gratified to learn this week that a reader in one of my favorite cities on earth, New Orleans, LA, was pondering these weighty topics while mowing her lawn. Even more satisfying was the fact that she decided to solicit my advice on these snobbish, superficial, culturally iconic Southern nods toward tradition. I am, as usual, just dying to tell her what I think.

Here’s how I see it: In the South where this NOLA reader and I live, it gets hot. Really, really hot. Temperatures soar early—March, sometimes—and it often remains hot until Halloween. Linen, traditionally a summer-only fabric, is appropriate whenever it’s hot enough to make it an appealing choice when you open your closet door and peek in hopefully for something cool to wear. And, for the record, linen is supposed to look slightly wrinkled. That’s how you know it’s the good stuff. Linen isn’t just for women, by the way. My favorite: a man in linen pants and a white button-down shirt, untucked, with the sleeves rolled up, and faded Levis, loafers, and no socks. That vision makes my knees weak. Still. Yum.

White shoes are another matter entirely. BO-RING. Unless you’re a nurse, or a child under the age of five, you don’t need to wear white shoes. If you accidently fall in love with a pair of white shoes, you need to call me. I will help you spend your money more creatively. My infamous thriftiness does not extend to shoe shopping. Black patent leather shoes used to be reserved for summer—daytime in the summer, of course. Black patent is not for evening wear. You need satin for that. Nowadays, I say if you find good-looking black patent leather shoes, wear them whenever you like. It’s like hem lines. Wear what looks good on you. You have my permission. Refer any mother/mother-in-law complaints to me. I’ll handle ’em. I’m in a mood.

Bottom line: Real women wear whatever the heck they want, whatever makes them look and feel good. That’s one of the perks of being a grown-up. One caveat: You have to KNOW the rules to BREAK them with style. That’s the secret. My son once showed me a William Faulkner short story to point out a single sentence that went on for a page and a half in an effort to justify his own issue with run-on sentences.

     “Baby, you ain’t Faulkner,” I told him, “when you write like William Faulkner, you can break all the rules, too.” 

Next week: Ask Mel will not be taking questions on Friday. Save ’em up for the next week! Happy Spring Break!

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