Monday, May 19, 2008

About the fashionable flexibility of Midwesterners

Consider my wardrobe of last week.

The office has been freezing, with both a brisk breeze flowing from the north, a chill undercurrent slithering in the south, and a turbulent east/west convergence around shoulder level.

The great outdoors has been undecided, with a day of summer sunshine and 75-degree temperatures interspersed between rainy cold fronts. Emphasis on cold. (Remembering at this time of year, 60 degrees seems cold and anything below that downright frigid.)

Part of the office's problem is that once the furnace is off, it's off 'til winter; the air conditioner kicks on, and I don't think it goes off 'til winter, either. Come to think of it, it might stay on all winter, too.

Anyway, if on the warmer days I wore Bermudas and a t-shirt at home in the evening, on the cooler days it was jeans and sweatshirts. At work it was pants, with sweaters over my short-sleeve summer shirts. And, well, my feet were a little cold, because I simply had to wear those cute little high-heeled sandals I found at Shoe Show.

I refuse to keep my winter clothes out beyond May 1. I. Just. Can't. So I freeze a little.

As I was out and about last week, on any given day regardless of temperature, I noticed the same kind of wardrobe confusion -- nay, I mean, flexibility -- among my fellow Hoosiers. A trip for errands at lunchtime found shoppers attired in any number of ways: Senior citizens might be bundled up with jackets and head scarves. College students in wind-suits, or some in khaki shorts. There's a certain hardy cohort, mostly male, who wears shorts no matter what. Ladies compromising with capris. I saw winter coats, no coats, light jackets. Young girls in what one might call Daisy Dukes or hot pants, depending on one's birth year. Little kids in flip-flops, or rain boots (prob because those are easy to put on!). And everything in between.

And I got to thinkin', it's expensive to be a Midwesterner, because we need so many different kinds of clothes. I know I have two entirely different wardrobes. When you live in a place where the temperature might be -10° in January and 100° in July, 50° in April and 70° in September, it's no wonder our closets are stuffed with everything from fleece ziptops to cotton halter tops, Carhart snowsuits to bikini bathing suits. We have to be ready for anything.

It's these transition seasons that are tricky--if we know that in January it's winter coats and long underwear, and in July it's cotton tops and sandals, we're left guessing May and and October.

But we Midwesterners, spending our tax incentive dollars on extreme fashion, survive despite and because of the weather. As I said, we're a flexible people.

Even if there are some of us who really shouldn't be wearing those Daisy Dukes, any time of year.

How about you? How's your fashion flexibility?

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