The “Someday Dress”: Coming to Terms With the Actualities of Life After 40

September 29, 2010 at 2:13 am 2 comments

   Several years ago I dredged up from the depths of my guest room closet a dress, the zipper teeth of which I hadn’t been able to introduce to one another in over two decades. It’s a sleek little number. Fits like spandex through the torso and over the hips, with a hemline that stops a few inches above the knee in a snappy little flounce. A Navy blue flat-knit with a few abstract splashes of red, green, and gold; long-sleeved, v-necked, and puckered just a wee bit above each shoulder, it could pass as a recent purchase. Such are the cycles of fashion.

Well, fashion may be fickle, but I certainly am not. I had collected a baker’s dozen of boxes labeled “Skinny Clothes,” which mocked me from their towering stacks on the shelves in my garage. “Re-use and recycle” is a terrific philosophy, except for the fact that I’d geographically relocated some of these boxes ten times. And then there are my mother’s pre-size-deflation size six White Stag® tennis shorts from the 40s which I wore during a retro mood the summer of my 23rd year. They’re a classic flared, cuffed hem and no-waistband style, surely destined to come screaming back into vogue any time now. I’ve lost track of how many times they’ve crossed state lines. 

The idea had always been to dangle these bits of material inspiration as motivation to return to a set of proportions I claimed for about three-and-a-half years in my mid-twenties. Now, I have a sound intellect; I know that this reasoning is peppered with illogical assumptions. Yet I also sense that there are, out there, multitudes of fellow hoarders – of both size sixes and secret fantasies – who empathize 100 per cent.   

But time does trudge on, and the will to torture ourselves with such tests of reality vs. ego tends to fade in our middle years. It’s also true that, with a few irritating exceptions, our bodies morph over those years in ways we can neither anticipate nor precisely control. (I would swear on my grandmother’s Joy of Cooking that cataclysmic changes have taken place in my metabolism which no amount of wistful thinking or virtual laps on the treadmill will ever reverse.)

Based on these glimmering insights, I reluctantly decided to clean out my closet and award my prize Skinny Dress to my gorgeous, svelte 20-something niece – a girl who might weigh 123 pounds in a soaking wet sweat suit. I would release myself from the torment of having That Dress taunt me from the dark nether regions of storage, accept reality, and give up my illusions once and for all.  

Well, okay. So I didn’t reformulate my whole mid-life perspective based entirely on rational thinking. The truth is that my “someday” dress was, astonishingly, too tight for the aforementioned slenderling. What a revelation. Liberated at last! If this willowy creature couldn’t conquer the zipper on my favorite Navy blue challenge, how could I ever again berate myself for not being able to slither back into it? 

My new plan for the dress? True to my recycler’s instincts, I vowed to make a few (very small) throw pillows out of it – ever-present reminders of my enlightened attitude toward self-delusion. And I purged all storage areas of those looming pillars of brown boxes, banishing all my “skinny clothes” to the clutches of youthful, hip-free shoppers at the local Goodwill Store.

I did, however, hold onto that 60-year-old pair of tennis shorts. Who knows; maybe the Smithsonian will be interested.

Entry filed under: Advice For Life. Tags: , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Keith  |  September 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    ah yes, here i sit in a pair of Levi 501 jeans that i haven’t been able to fit in for at least ten years…. until this past spring when my doctor scared me into really getting serious about nutrition and exercise (if i don’t take care of myself, who will?).

    but what about those “skinny” or “someday” aspirations, hopes and thoughts that we might be storing and continuing to carry around even though we are in middle age and beyond?

    • 2. kirkhams  |  September 29, 2010 at 5:39 pm


      Congratulations! Feeling fitter is a pretty incredible experience, isn’t it?

      As for the “skinny goals,” again (as always), you make a good point. And again, I will ask if I can steal the idea to put in my “seeds for germination” file for a future piece.

      P.S. I actually got into this dress two years ago after having gone through my own physical transformation following my father’s passing. It doesn’t quite fit the same as it did when I was 27, though, so I thought the article still (I wrote the original some time ago) made some valid points. But I really do like your idea and I really do plan to build on it, with your permission and proper credit to its origins, of course. My own “Skinny Aspirations” have turned into my so-called writing career, which, whether or not it ever goes beyond my current small blog readership, still feels exactly like what I am supposed to be doing.

      Sue Anne


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