I’ve had a longstanding rule at my lake house. The house, located in the muddy armpit of Lake Oconee, is designed to be an oasis. Nothing stressful is supposed to happen there. We have no television access, so you can’t watch the news to find out who was brutally murdered or who was maimed in a tragic accident. We have no internet access, so your cousin’s Facebook posts about whatever political topic makes your hair stand on end are invisible to you. Only if you stand the right way in a certain place and wear an aluminum foil hat do you even get cell phone reception.
On top of all that, I have a very strict “no pants and no restrictive undergarments” rule. This is not to say that we run around unclothed. At all times, all the parts that you’d like to see covered up are, in fact, covered up. Rather, this rule means that in the summer you should be wearing a bathing suit or pajamas or, if you absolutely must, shorts with an elastic waistband. Nothing should poke you, or restrict you, or leave red lines on your skin from where you’ve been squeezed for several hours. The point of this rule is that you should be comfortable. This is a hedonistic place: if it doesn’t make you happy, we don’t want it here. Uncomfortable clothes make you crabby. Crabby is the opposite of happy.
I’m lucky. I can take an actual photograph of my happy place, and I own the deed to the land it sits on. Lucky me.
So, given all that I have and what I know, you’d think that sometime before my forty-fifth year on the planet before I realized the secret to happiness is not contained in a rickety house bordered by a chocolate milk brown lake. You can have this kind of happiness anywhere. The key to it all? The secret that I could sell for a fortune, that I’m giving you right here, right now, for free?
It is this: Pants that fit, and shoes that are shaped like feet.
That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s why men seem happier than women most of the time – their pants are designed to fit. Their shoes are wider in the front and don’t shift the center of balance. Our pants are designed to look good, our shoes are designed to look cute, to lengthen our legs and engage our calf muscles. Comfort is usually somewhere around 27th or 28th on the list of the priority list.
Recently, I discovered that there are a number of brands of jeans (none, sadly, of the discount variety) that are designed for, well, grownups. My favorite, as much for the clever name as the fit, is a brand called “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.” Isn’t that brilliant? Because the truth is that even though I weigh roughly the same as I did in the early 90’s, my shape is only vaguely related to my shape back then. (I am still, thank goodness, taller than I am wide, and my head is still on top of my neck. Beyond that, it’s all different.) Just like a 100 pound lead weight and a 100 pound sack of feathers aren’t going to be anywhere close to the same size or shape, I’m neither the size nor shape than I was at 18. I’m curvier now. Gravity has made me bottom heavy, and things droop that didn’t used to.
My body has been through a number of transformations. I’ve been thin in my lifetime. I’ve been squishy, and I’ve been buff. I’ve had entire human beings crammed in the fetal position (ha ha) in my belly. There is no way that even if we weighed the same that my daughter and I could be shaped the same, or wanting to highlight the body parts.
I like Mom jeans. I like not having to worry about my pants slipping down like a plumber’s. I like a little roominess in the back. The last thing on this planet I want is a hard denim seam sneaking its way into the seam God gave me. I like fabric that doesn’t try to fight me when I lean over. I like not feeling the irresistible urge to say “oof” every time I have to bend something more than 90 degrees. I appreciate a pair of pants that can accommodate a lunch buffet or the occasional bloating that occurs when you accidentally eat an entire jar of pickles.
So who’s with me? Let us over forties dress like over forties, not millenials. Let us be happy because we can take a whole breath in without worrying about a button popping. No matter what I do I can’t fight the fact that I was born in the pre-Watergate Nixon era. I’m not going to fool anyone by wearing low rise skinny jeans with an intentional rip in the knee.
You can have your fashions. I am not wearing my daughter’s jeans.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.