Mack was not a fashionista. Most of her life, she lived in basketball shorts, sports t-shirts, and sweats. She preferred flip-flops, Chucks, and athletic shoes; and mismatched socks were always good enough for her feet. By the time she was old enough to dress herself, she rejected dress codes and event-appropriate attire, she rebelled against dresses and skirts, and except for Nikes and American Eagle blue jeans, brand names did not impress her much. Dressing up to Mack meant stretchy skinny jeans and a plain t-shirt or tank; and a golf club never collapsed when she walked in wearing sweats or flip flops. She was happy and cozy in her casual skin and with her personal anti-style style. I am at a complete loss now to understand why I worked so damn hard to impose a sense a fashion on that child, because back-to-school shopping with Mack was always frustrating for the both of us. I wanted to dress her up cool; and she just wanted to wear the faded tees she already owned. She hated everything a junior department had to offer, and she had no interest in keeping up with the fashions of her peers. Even when I successfully cajoled Mack into the selection of a flattering blouse or a stylish pair of flats, she just humored me at the store and then stuck those purchases (with the tags still intact) in the back of her closet so neither of us would ever see them again.
Mack’s relationship with clothes annoyed me when she was a teenager, but now it is my inspiration for a little change I am making in my life. Recently, I have grown tired of chasing fashion and maintaining an up-to-date closet of shoes and apparel that I now rarely wear. Working from home has dampened my enthusiasm for clothing trends. As well, since losing my Mack, I simply care a whole lot less about what my clothes look like and much more about what they feel like. With Mack very much in mind, I am also a new convert to the idea of a capsule wardrobe—a system in which you choose simple, season-specific groupings of garments that easily mix and match, wear well, and simplify your life. Garanimals for adults, I guess you could say. Mack is my cheerful and sensible spirit guide in my project to rid myself of unnecessary, uncomfortable, and unwanted clothing, especially from the stuffy, professional side of my overflowing closet. All special-event items are piling up for removal, and stiff dresses and fancy shoes will all soon be goners, as well. A brocade dress, a tight wool skirt, and a glittery pair of heeled Mary Janes went home last weekend with my fashion-loving, twenty-year-old niece; and more purging will continue over the course of the coming weeks. Mack will be ever present to cheer me on as I remove from my closet and drawers every item that pinches, squeezes, scratches, and keeps me from lifting up my arms. Mack did not tolerate crisp, button-down shirts that kept her from lifting up her arms!
The Great Stacy Closet Purge of 2016 is underway, and Mack assures me I am now on a happy clothing path many miles removed from the frenzied fashion highway I have traveled for the past thirty-five years. Although I am not trading my tailored dress pants for over-sized basketball shorts, as Mack would have me do, I am, basically, adopting my daughter’s comfort-first, style-not-really-even-second clothing philosophy. Most importantly, though, I want to reduce my dependence on clothes to boost my confidence in the world. My sweet girl never believed that clothes make the woman. She was always comfortable and confident in what she wanted to wear. She was always content to let her personality and her character, not her clothes, represent her in the world. And right now in my life, this seems a very appealing philosophy, indeed.
Mack Memo #2: Clothes do not make the woman. Dress for yourself. Be casual and comfortable, and you’ll have confidence to face the world. Keep it simple, because fewer choices in the morning means extra sleep. Don’t ever buy a stupid shirt that keeps you from lifting up your arms! And always be yourself and not your clothes.
Casual, comfortable, confident Mack…