Monday, January 2, 2012

Work clothes

Work clothes -- what does that word mean to you?

When I was a little girl, my first “job” was a volunteer opportunity at my grandmother’s church, preparing catechism materials for the diocese. We’d walk down up and down rows of tables assembling loose-leaf booklets, picking up a page at a time and setting it on top of the others. My work clothes for that first job were whatever I’d brought with me for my stay at Grandma’s – perhaps shorts and a top, maybe a dress.

Later, as a young teen, I babysat. Those work clothes were my jeans and a sweater in the winter, shorts and a t-shirt in the summer.

'Real' jobs, 'real' work clothes

At sixteen, I started my first paying job, and I had to wear a uniform – a nearly see-through light green nylon dress with big white buttons in the front from top to bottom. It was the sixties, so it was short. The stockers in those grocery stores never seemed to complain about their female coworkers’ garb.

That uniform later gave way to a series of smocks, none as flattering to a youthful figure as the green dresses, but able to hide a multitude of unwanted curves and bulges on an aging, out-of-shape bod.

During those years, I wore a number of other work clothes, too, as the store where I worked had themed promotions a couple times a year or so. I was a movie usher, a clown, a bearded prospector and more. It was fun hitting the thrift stores looking for things like bold plaid slacks and Mork-style suspenders for my costumes.

When I began working in corporate America, my work clothes changed. I wore business attire or corporate casual, often tending to go on the dressier side, wearing a blazer or jacket over slacks, in leaner years wearing dresses and in frumpier days, a sweater and slacks.

Today, I work from home, so my work clothes are whatever I feel like wearing. Believe it or not, even though I could spend the whole day in my smiley-face flannel pjs, I do get dressed – usually in jeans, yoga pants or sweats and a comfy long- or short-sleeved t-shirt.

'But, I want them -- really, I do!'

There were a couple of items of work attire, I’d never owned, though, and long desired. I wanted a sturdy brown-twill lined jacket and bib overalls. You know, the kind the linemen for the power company or farmers or tradesmen wear.

Sounds silly for a woman, you think?

Not when there’s six inches of snow on the ground and you want to use the snow blower, but don’t want to have wet jeans in 15 minutes as 30-mile-an-hour winds blow the white stuff back at you. Not when you want to go out for firewood when it’s 10 degrees outside. Not when you’re heading to town on ice-packed roads in the middle of the winter.

Not when you want to lay down to work at making snow angels with your grandkids in the middle of the winter.

“Happiness is found in simple things,” says E.B. Michaels.

My new “work clothes” make me happy.

© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012

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