Why What I Wear Matters

In the comments to my post about the time it took us thirty-nine hours to fly to France, Erica noted that I was wearing a dress.

And I was. The same dress the whole time, as a matter of fact, since while WE were hanging out in Toronto, our bags were kickin' it in LA.
But anyway, yes. I do usually travel in a dress.

Today I shall tell you why.

I should note that not only do I dress up for air travel, I also "dress" for things like shopping and going on field trips. Not like these ladies:

but I give it a go.

I've been the yoga pants mom. I've done that. I'm a runner, and there was many a day, as a mom of little kids, that if I managed to get up and put on some workout clothes, it was unlikely that I'd change into anything else all day.

I've been the jeans to church gal, in a former life. If I even went to Mass on Sunday at all in my early twenties, I certainly wasn't going to put on special clothes to do it.

I don't think I was ever the pajamas on a plane girl. But probably only because I don't think that was a thing yet when I was a teenager.

But as my kids have gotten older, and I have a little more time to spend on myself, my perspective has slowly changed.

I still like to get up in the morning and run. I still put on yoga pants to do it. But, then, if I'm doing other things during the day, even if those things are only going to the grocery store or meeting another mom at the park, I change clothes. I put on something I like.

I still go to Mass. In fact, I ALWAYS go to Mass now. But, now, I gussy myself up a bit to do it. I put on makeup and curl my hair. I usually wear heels. I wear a skirt or a dress. Not because some folks say that only boys can wear pants ('cause that's crazy talk), but because I think dresses and skirts are cuter than pants.

And, yes, I also wear dresses on the plane. Crazy, right? I know. But stick with me, I'm going somewhere with this.

The dressing for things started in a reactionary way. I worried about what people would think of me, appearing in public with many small children. So I started putting on jeans and a top to go to the store, instead of stretchy pants. And I started wearing dressy clothes to Mass, instead of jeans. And I started wearing special clothes for special occasions. All of them. Including travel.

I think it does the trick. People pretty much give me a pass on having all these kids once they see that they don't absolutely prohibit one from wearing things that button. So that's nice.

But I've kept it up because, in addition to affecting the way other people perceive me, it also affects the way *I* perceive things.

Yoga pants are great for running. They're probably great for yoga, I wouldn't know. They're good for sick days and getting stuff done around the house days. But, for me, they make everything feel NOT SPECIAL. They make me feel schlubby.

I'm happier and more productive on days I try to look cute. I'm more efficient and more effective. I'm sweeter to my husband. I'm not suspicious of everyone I meet, wondering if they're judging me. In fact, I'm pretty sure now that they're probably not.

I think it's easy to take special things for granted in this day and age. We have so many opportunities people didn't used to have. It used to be a rare and wonderful treat to go to the movies or out to dinner or to fly on an airplane, so people got excited about it and dressed accordingly.

Flying on an airplane, travel in general, is a special thing. I don't want to forget that. When I dress accordingly, I don't.

And if travel is a privilege, what can I even say about church? About Jesus coming to me in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? I may have an eternal spiritual soul that can sometimes appreciate the majesty of my faith, but I also have a temporal fleshy body that doesn't always recognize and appreciate things like a propitiatory sacrifice which is offered for the living and dead, for the remission of sins and punishment due to sin, as satisfaction for sin and for other necessities. Somehow, being in heels seems to help it remember that this is Something Important.

For me, Uncle Screwtape was right, "for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls."

Dressing up isn't an every single day thing for me. Especially in the summertime, when most of my days are spent walking between the house and the pool and the park -- getting kids to swim practices and picked up from day camp. But that makes the days when I wear something nicer to meet a friend for lunch or to go to the mall with my sister in law or out to dinner with the husband, feel that much more special.