On my way home from visiting my mother I drove past The Pennywise Consignment Shop in Greenwich (pronounced green witch) NY. I felt a tug. But I knew Jon had lunch waiting and I was hungry.
After we ate, Jon and I were thinking about how to spend the rest of our Saturday when I told him I was thinking about going to Pennywise, I had a feeling there was something there for me. “Go”, he said”go”, all but pushing me out the door, “it’s about time you spent some money on yourself.” You see, I don’t often go shopping for myself. Mostly because I don’t enjoy shopping but also because I have my favorites, that I find myself wearing even when I do have something new. I’ve been wearing the same 3 or 4 dresses for over 10 years. I wear them in the winter too, just with sweaters over them and leggings under them. (My pants don’t last as long, but lately, I find I’m much more comfortable in dresses than pants). But they’re wearing out. I sew most of the holes and replace the buttons, but they’re also fraying around the edges.
So with Jon’s encouragement (I can always depend on Jon to encourage me to do something I want to do, bless him) I got back in my car and drove back to Greenwich.
I was there for an hour, looking through the racks, trying on clothes, and searching the basement which has stuff other than clothes. I’m still not used to my body the way it is now. I weigh more now than I ever have in my life and although I still fit into most of the same sizes, my clothes feel different on my body than they used to. My stomach presses against even loose t shirts and sometimes, when I try on a dress or shirt that I think should fit me, I can’t even get it over my shoulders. But I also think differently about styles too. I’ll be fifty in January and for the first time in my life I’m asking myself, “Am I too old to wear this?”
So as I approached the counter to pay for my booty, I was comforted to find three woman behind it, my age or older. I pulled out the dress that I was uncertain about and held it up in front of me. “Let me ask you,” I said “do you think I’m too old for this?” The smallest of the three (she turned out to be the owner) looked me right in the eye and said “Are you kidding, you’d look adorable in that.” Hmm, I thought to myself, but didn’t say out loud, so am I too old to look adorable. “This is a great dress,” she went on, “and I have another one that’s perfect for you.” She led me to the wall of dresses and pulled out a black jumper-type dress with a lacy bottom. I liked it, but, once again, looking at it made me feel old. As if she were my best friend for years, I blurted out to her that I was going through a transition when it came to clothes and my body and I wasn’t sure about what I should and shouldn’t be wearing. She waved her hand dismissively at me and said “Wear what makes you feel good. Look at me I’m 65 and I wear whatever I like” (She had on black leggings and a brightly colored silk blouse and looked great). She looked me up and down, “You dress funky, you can have fun coming up with different combinations for a dress like this. A tank top under it in the summer and leggings and cowboy boots in the winter.” She looked at the dressing room and seeing it was occupied, she pointed me in the direction of a door that lead to a closet under the stairs. She pulled an overhead chain to turn on the light. It was a storage room, the walls lined with mops and brooms and from behind them she pulled out a floor length mirror. She closed the door behind her and I tried on the dress. It dress fit great, was comfortable and something I never would have picked out by myself.
I spent $86 (they were having a half price sale on all summer clothes) got 2 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, a small bag made from zippers, a handmade rag rug, 2 skeins of yarn and some lace trim (for my quilts and scarves). But more important, I got the encouragement and advice that I really need to hear. I won’t soon forget that spunky, gorgeous 65 year old woman telling to me to wear what makes me feel good.