I used to care how I presented myself to the public. For 22 years I worked in a high school guidance office, where I directed students to their counselors, greeted visiting parents, and assisted faculty and staff. I wore career clothing, make-up and jewelry, fancy shoes, and a hairdo fresh from my hair dresser. Something unfortunate has happened since I retired in 2020. Each year I take another step down on the sartorial ladder.

I live in a rural area, don’t get out much, and often don’t have contact with anyone but my husband, who thinks I always look great. He’s the only one who matters and his vision isn’t very good any more. These days I’m more interested in comfort and function than style. But it’s a slippery slope from the look of career woman to that of a homeless bag lady.

The first to go were the pointy-toed high heel shoes. I’ll never wear those torture devices again. Don’t shoe stylists and manufacturers know that my big wide feet are not shaped like triangles? They’re shaped more like the boxes the shoes came in. I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t have liked it if I’d worn the shoes boxes around the office instead of shoes. It certainly would’ve been more comfortable.

Next to go were the pantyhose. My student aides had been telling me for years that my pantyhose were out of style. I’d answer, “Do you know what else is out of style? Pasty white legs covered with so many varicose veins and spider veins that my legs resemble a road map of Kansas City.” Out they went in the trash, along with the slips and the Spanx, and most of the bras.

Then the career clothing got boxed up and sent to charity. I first tried to “shop them out” at a consignment store, where I was told, “Sorry, Ma’am, we can’t use them. I just don’t think they’ll sell, with so many office workers working from home. Even those that go to an office don’t really dress up any more. It’s casual Friday every day.” Ouch. It’s painful when your best clothing gets rejected by a second-hand shop.

I kept just a couple of dressy outfits for weddings and funerals, and kept the bare minimum of make-up and jewelry for those occassions. It wouldn’t take much for me to abandon those standards as well. After all, as my late mother used to say when we questioned her retirement wardrobe of all-comfort and no style,”I don’t care. I’m not looking for a man or running for office.” I’m not looking for a man either, since I already have a great one. If I were, I wouldn’t be dressing myself up to find one at weddings and funerals. I consider a man dressed in a tuxedo or a suit and tie to be very attractive, but the groom is already spoken for and the corpse wouldn’t be much fun at parties.

I may show up at the next wedding or funeral dressed like I often do around the house post-retirement. Would anyone even notice if I showed up in a ratty bathrobe pinned shut with a rusty safety pin and a pair of bunny slippers? I’d smell like last night’s saurkraut and sausage instead of the expensive perfume I used to wear to the office. If I wore dentures, I’d remove them and leave them at home. And just how important are good foundation garments anymore? So what if I just tuck my bosom into the waistband of my sweatpants like I do at home? I just may take up cigarette smoking and swilling brewskies just for the effect. After all, remember what Mom said. I’m not looking for a man or running for office.

I feel a little guilty about the photo appearing with my social media accounts. It was taken four years ago by the photographer who came to the school to take pictures for the school yearbook. There’ve been some changes in my appearance since then, and not just my current lack of make-up, jewelry, and proper foundation garments. I’ve stopped coloring my hair and it’s mostly white now. I’ve also gained a few wrinkles as well as ten pounds a year in the three years since retirement. That’s 30 pounds, in case you don’t want to do the math.

But those are my accounts and I can put whatever picture I want up there. Few of my readers see me in person, anyway. So here’s what I’ve decided. Each year I’ll substitute a picture of me five years younger. In no time my high school graduation picture will be up there. In a few more years, readers will see me as a second-grader in my Girl Scout uniform. Not long after that, as a six-month-old infant. Eventually, I’ll photographically regress until I appear above my social media accounts as a sonogram of me in my mother’s womb. My readers will be heard to comment with admiration, “Wow! For a fetus, that girl can really write! I wonder how she got her laptop in there?”


2 thoughts on “Post-Retirement Beauty Standards (There Aren’t Any, and It’s Great!)

  1. I actually had a two students (adults) come to class yesterday in super cute outfits–skirts, boots, and faux fur coats. Like, did they not know decent attire went out with Covid lockdowns??? I’m the teacher and I ain’t doing that business again! 😉 God made leggings, loose tunic tops and flats for a reason, you know!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I quit wearing pierced earrings. I’ve pierced mine maybe four times since I was 13 – and I am 69. I never wear them often enough to keep the holes open on my lobes and then when the lobes sag over time, it hurts to try and pierce them in straight. I only wear them on special occasions – church, speaking engagements and that isn’t often enough to keep my holes open. Now it’s tough to try to find clip-ons. When you do, one seems to always fall off because it is not tight enough.


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