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Dress to impress – I don’t think so…

SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – I’m hot, sweaty and my arms feel like I’ve just scaled Mt. Everest. No, I wasn’t doing push-ups or lifting weights at the gym; those activities would have made sense. What I did was waste 35 valuable never-to-be-recovered minutes trying to make my hair look like I’d never bothered combing it – like I’d rolled out of bed and done nothing more than haphazardly pushed it around, then randomly shoved a clip in it. But the more I worked, the more I fiddled, the more I brushed and gelled and sprayed, the smoother and neater and more well coifed it looked and the more frustrated I became.

What prompted this insanity was a recent visit to the hair dresser where I dropped enough money to pay for a plane ticket to Europe. During my visit I perused a number of women’s magazines and discovered that I’d thrown my money away because the well coifed look has been replaced by the current disheveled, I-just-woke-up look. Not only is messy hair fashionable, it seems that men think it’s sexy. I would love men to view me as sexy, but do I really have to look like a Lhasa Apsos to accomplish that? It’s been my experience that most men don’t need anything in particular to turn them on. Just grabbing a beer from the fridge, or watching ants crawl over a rotten apple core can accomplish that.

I wish that messy hair had been in style when I was growing up. It would have saved me so much time and pain. I spent the first half of my life going to bed with a dozen hard tin curlers digging into my head. I still have residual dents in my scalp from that nightly assault.

Watching an in-depth TV debate between six politicians the other evening I was struck with the realization that women are not the only ones participating in the messy tresses look. All six otherwise professionally dressed men were in dire need of haircuts. The look was incongruous to their prominent positions.

It seems that the casual, slipshod, free-and-easy fashion trend has permeated our culture in ways we would never have imagined when we were young. Kids wear baggy, tattered, holey jeans, T-shirts with obscene slogans, and expose their midriffs. Office attire has gone from business suits to running suits and sneakers appear to be acceptable foot wear for every outfit, including wedding gowns.

I remember when we use to dress up to go shopping, to the movies, to restaurants, and to travel? Back then we felt it was important to always look nice because our parents told us we only had one chance to make a first impression.

As a young woman I use to shop in a suit and narrow, two inch high heels meant for women lucky enough to be born with only three toes. I would take the bus from Union to downtown Newark and hobble from Orbachs, to Kleins and to Hanes with swollen, aching feet and it never occurred to me that comfort was even an option. In fact, the sloppiest thing I owned back then was a pair of dungarees, (remember that word?) worn for play or chores that threatened to soil my good clothes. And the waist band of my dungarees was worn at my waist and didn’t hang precariously over the middle of my derriere, with elephant sized pant legs dragging tattered on the ground.

My first plane flight was back in 1954, when I flew from Newark to Boston for a Harvard college weekend. The flight was so choppy that I filled three barf bags along the way, but because I was smartly dressed in a brown tailored suit, white gloves and Spectator shoes all eyes were on me and I could rest in the knowledge that I’d made a respectable first impression.

We’ve come a long way from days of corsets, crinolines and fancy hairstyles. For that I’m grateful, but I hope I’m around when the pendulum finally comes to rest.

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