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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Role models and skirts

In the middle of the night I thought of two things to add to my ageing list. 

One was prompted by the thoughtful responses to my post; the other just made sense at 3:00 a.m.

It is interesting how many of us refer to the great examples of our mothers.

Add that to the list. 

Do a good job of ageing so our kids will have some points of reference when this is their life stage. Think of the people you know who are really proud of their mom/dad/relative who is off doing things and very busy, they speak of them like legends. The real unspoken thing they are telling you is "old age, my old age, doesn't have to be scary, look at them."

I think we have an obligation to do what we can to have other people take heart and to show our children how not to be afraid when we can. This is a real gift to give them.

My second thought it that you have to devote, devote, yourself to being creative. Being alive is about creativity isn't it? There is nothing more age-defying than continuing to create. 

It's about the adding to, not the taking away of life. 

Craftspeople of any age are age-irrelevant. I have a friend whose 80 something mother was up Christmas Eve knitting dishcloths on order. Beats being the old dear sitting in the living room while they talk in the kitchen "someone go talk to Grandma."

See, I knew in some way this was all going to justify me buying more fabric.

On another subject I marked a paper last night from an interesting student who was supposed to do an organizational audit. Instead she did a project on behaviour in the military (she is in the reserves) and one of the things she looked at was the wearing of skirts by female personnel. 

You see they have the option of wearing skirts instead of pants in the military when they are in dress uniform or doing office, not in the field, work. 

I, of course, was fascinated. 

What she discovered from interviews was that the skirt is a "gendered garment". Men don't wear it, so some of the women wore it in a male environment because when they put on a skirt they felt they got some of their identity back. This is interesting because other women said they had initially worn only pants to fit in or to be taken seriously, but that once they were more secure they liked wearing a skirt.

I had never thought before really about skirts and dresses as being a gendered garment, and I then thought of the pants I was wearing (fly front) and wondered at how I wear things that are unnecessary and male.

I personally find skirts and dresses the most comfortable garments to wear (and yes thanks Carolyn the easiest to sew too) and I wonder about the transference to pants wearing in the work place and in home life. 

There are many occasions when pants are best - cold weather and some kinds of work but tights and leggings have extended dresses and skirts here too - and when I just will always wear them.

But the question is does wearing a skirt or dress change how you feel about yourself?


Jodie said...

It sounds like an interesting paper. I really prefer skirts for my working wardrobe, although I live in jeans at home and for casual wear. Some of it is that they are easier to sew and fit...I think. However, I'm a teacher and I look VERY young. Which I'm sure I'll appreciate into my 40s and 50s. However, 10 years ago, in my 20s, I needed to develop a fairly conservative "working" wardrobe that helped add to my authority in the classroom. Now, that I don't need the extra help, it's a uniform that is comfortable for me. Even in Alberta winters! So you'll find me in a well fitting dark skirt, solid tights, bright knit top and cardigan/jacket in the winter. Combined with warm boots and my long coat, the winter weather doesn't bother me too much. And I feel more "put together" and capable/confident. And since I teach jr. high (students aged 12 to 14) sometimes I need all the "confident" I can get!

BetsyV said...

I feel very different in a skirt or dress than in pants/trousers or jeans.

When I was working, I favored skirt suits and always wore pantyhose in the office. Many/most of the young women wore pants suits, and I believe I would have, too, if I had their traveling jobs and spent the time driving to clients that they did. I find skirts problematic in the car.

Now, I wear skirts/dresses in the hot weather. I never favored tights, even in winter when I worked.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Dresses and skirts make me feel feminine, well put together and classy.

I only wear pants in the winter and then I hate to have to move to them. I'm going to try tights, a longer coat and trying to get to the bus stop as late as possible so I don't have to stand there as long this winter, to lenghten the time I can wear a dress or skirt.

a little sewing on the side said...

Your student wrote a very interesting paper and I am not surprised at her conclusions.
I am wearing dresses now for the first time in decades, thanks to sewing my own (could never find RTW dresses that fit). To my surprise, I found that I am more comfortable in pants. My upper thighs are rounded to the extent they rub together. Various food sensitivities seem to provide me with an almost constant case of bloating. Waist-high pants give support and feel better (maybe the same way support hose feel better on a leg with varicose veins?)
I love the swishy feel of a dress, and I wear Spanx if I am going bare-legged. Spanx are comfortable if you buy them in a larger size. In the winter, for me, tights or leggings are great with a skirt.
As always, comfort comes first :)

When I was in early adulthood, I swore that when I got older, I would NOT bore others with talk of my health issues. I thought old people were so boring when they discussed their bloating problems!!
LOL! Well, I do refrain from the topic when talking to the kids :)

Another interesting thing to think about is "What were the things I swore I would never do?" and how do I feel about that now?

Great post, as usual!!

Uma Preve said...

I was in the military for 10 year before moving to Sweden. I can tell you that in all that years, I chose to wear pants. reason being, I was bossing men around and one way to be taken serious is to be in pants yet show the feminine side.. It is difficult to explain but I learnt it the hard way. However when I was off work, it was a lot of dresses and skirts! :) Nothing will change the way I feel about myself regardless of what I wear! To me it's just clothes....

Thanks for the interesting post!