Why I Wear Ugly Clothes

Posted by Liz Jasper | 12:30 AM | 12 comments »

Not all the time. I feel I should make that clear. I will don appropriate, professional clothes for work. I won't wear my favorite ratty sweats to see the symphony. If I'm going to a nice restaurant I will wear something figure-flattering (or figure-concealing, depending on how much of a pig I plan on being. I believe in being prepared.)

I am not colorblind.

It is important to make all this clear because if you ever saw me in what I wear around the house, you would never believe any of these statements.

Don't get me wrong, I like dressing up. It's fun. I enjoy putting on a tailored suit and heels on those days when I actually have to make an appearance in the office. I feel like a professional, striding around in my professional attire amid the other professionals. I also like dressing up to go out. I like the added bit of picking out just the right jewelry and walking through a spritzed cloud of perfume on my way out the door.

What I like even more is coming home, ripping off those pretty, matching, carefully selected items of clothing and puttin' on mah sweats. They are orange. Not a pretty pale orange that would complement my skin tone, orange orange. They are enormous. And they are thick and nubby and very warm. A gift from my sister, who understands the unremitting, bone-chilling cold that can afflict some abodes in northern California.

She made me promise I would never, ever, wear these orange sweats in public. I don't. (Except maaaybe out to get the newspaper or the mail.) And, frankly, as ugly as these sweats are -- and they are quite ugly (the neighbors to the south avert their eyes now, automatically, even when I'm wearing normal clothes)-- the problem isn't so much with the sweats. It is what I wear them with. Because, as I've discovered, layers are important in staying warm. So I layer. With abandon. My favorite ratty pink sweatshirt, over which, as it's grown thin with washing, I often wear a striped cardigan. Purple, with blue stripes. And really ugly snowflakes. (It's a Christmas reject that lives on the rest of the year.) I'm not sure I should horrify you all with my footwear choice, so I suppose I shouldn't admit to wearing Birkenstocks with wool socks. Not always of the same color. (Socks and shoes. I have lots of Birkenstocks.)

Now, I'm sure some of you are saying, "Oh, she's exaggerating," or "It can't be that bad. I mean, she's got to wash those sweats and she can't always wear them with the striped cardigan." The latter is true. For wash day, I swap out the orange sweats for a pair of red plaid flannel boxers-style pajama bottoms. Yeah, the ones with the butt that manages to be both giant and saggy. I like to wear them with my blue Patagonia pullover with the floral motif.

The big question here is, "Why?" Why would anyone who is capable of wearing…well, anything else…choose to wear outfits she knows are horrifically awful? Clashing color combinations that hurt even her own eyes?

I do it because I can. Because when I am dressing for the business world, or the symphony, or the fancy restaurant, I am dressing to fit in. To humor others. Sure, I like dressing the part to some degree. I like to fit in—or stand out in a good way—as much as anyone else.

But when I wear those orange sweats that no one but me could love? Pair them with horrible tops that make me giggle when I catch sight of myself in the mirror?

In those times, I'm not dressing to please another person. Or to fit in. Or to send a message. I am only dressing to please myself. (Though why those sweats are what pleases me, I admit, is a troublesome issue of its own.)

And the right to not have to please another person with what I am wearing is something I will defend with boxer shorts over the orange sweats with the floral Patagonia on top if need be. Don't make me got there. My neighbors beg it of you.

Liz Jasper is the award-winning author of Underdead and Underdead In Denial. You can read excerpts at her website (and find links to her various social pages, at which she is always appropriately dressed) at www.lizjasper.com.


  1. Mary Marvella // June 22, 2009 at 1:52 AM  

    Liz, I so understand. Pajamas are for lounging as well as sleeping. I also have pants and sweat shirts or t-shirts I wouldn't wear outside, even to run to the PO or bank and drop things in the mailbox or make a deposit at the drive through.

    I definitely don't leave bra-less! Might get stopped for a broken tail light or turn signal

    Funny post.

  2. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 22, 2009 at 2:03 AM  

    Liz, I can so relate! It's summer, school's out and I don't have to dress at the teacher! It's hot here in Georgi, so the sweats have mostly be put away. But the pj and favorite stretchy pants are always at hand! Somedays I don't even change out of them! Go outside to water the tomatoes in my jams! Love it!


  3. Judy // June 22, 2009 at 7:27 AM  

    I love getting up in the morning, going for a walk in something I slip on (shorts and tee) and then staying in those comfy things while I get to work at the computer. It shocked me to realize some neighbors have hardly seen me with my hair combed!! LOL

  4. Edie Ramer // June 22, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

    I have my favorite comfy clothes, too. As for the pants and shorts I wear around the house, elastic is my friend. And I love the ones with pockets.

  5. Nightingale // June 22, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

    I have my writing clothes as well. Around the house, I'm pretty much mismatched unless I'm in my lounging PJ's.

  6. Liz Jasper // June 22, 2009 at 12:28 PM  

    Clearly, we should start a movement. W.A.C.C (Writers Against Constraining Clothes) or WFWWTW (Women for Wearing Whatever They Want) or...
    Glad to know I'm not alone...
    : ) Liz

  7. Beth Trissel // June 22, 2009 at 4:21 PM  

    Liz, this was hilarious. I think it must be a writer thing. I love my comfort clothes.

  8. Liz Jasper // June 22, 2009 at 6:18 PM  

    So, Beth you're voting for
    WLCC (writer's love comfortable clothes)
    May I suggest
    (writer's love comfortable clothes, dammit)
    : ) Liz

  9. Mona Risk // June 22, 2009 at 7:29 PM  

    Good for you Liz for suiting yourself. I hope my mother doesn't hear me. If I dare visit her, and I stay with her every day now, I have to be perfectly matched with nicely combed hair. But when I write I like to be comfy and wear my pjs.

  10. Barbara Monajem // June 22, 2009 at 10:58 PM  

    Liz, you are a woman after my own heart. I love my mismatching clothes, and the more they clash the more fun they are. And layers, yes!

    I do dress up a little to go out, but I never, ever wear suits. They're just too uncomfortable for me.

  11. Mary Marvella // June 23, 2009 at 2:00 AM  

    Good job, Liz! We seem to agree on comfort for writing!

  12. Joanne // June 23, 2009 at 8:11 PM  

    Hurray, Liz. Dressing to please yourself is the only way to go.