Proper Representation

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Never go out of the house in anything you don’t want to be seen in if by chance you bump into your ex.

I always say this, I always preach this. Today I didn’t follow it.

Today I took off work to get some really thrilling things accomplished (taxes, take the car in to be repaired, get spring clothes out of the attic). After dropping off my car, my husband and I (and Emerson) stop by the neighborhood barber shop so Mr. Allie can get a trim.

I only thought we were going to drop off the car and head home, so I threw on a navy jersey sleeveless dress, some flip flops and put my hair (that was in much need of a shower) into a ponytail. Silver hoops and cuff bracelet are standard; I did take a moment to put on some tinted moisturizer and mascara but it was hardly visible.

We walk in, my husband sits down next to this man in a green shirt and says, “Hello friend.” The man looks up… and well it’s not my ex but it is a very old friend. A friend I considered my best (or one of my best) friend for the majority of my childhood and adolescence. He was on of the first boys I ever kissed. He taught me how to drive stick. We went to college together. I was a bridesmaid in his wedding. When my father passed away, he was the rock I needed to get through the situation.

We lost touch about a decade ago. I never really knew why. And now I see him and I am in a pilled, faded dress that could pass for a shortie nightgown or beach coverup and a greasy ponytail.

While my husband got his hair cut, we went outside with my daughter to catch up. We discussed how we lost touch and what is new in the past decade plus. I joked to him about my mantra about never leaving the house looking the way I did; he mentioned one time he ran to the gas station in an old tee shirt, khakis and black Crocs and bumped into an ex he hadn’t seen in over a decade so he could laugh with me. But I still wish I had taken the time this morning to pull myself together. It will take additional meetings to properly let this person know the person I have become in the past 12 years – a person I think is pretty fantastic.

Your wardrobe is your armor – a tool to help you feel confident, feel beautiful, feel strong. Caring about your appearance isn’t superficial or selfish; caring about your appearance is just as important as caring about your health or your education. Your appearance is the first thing that people see – it is your first voice to the world. The way you dress should properly represent the amazing person you are. Today I did myself a disservice by dressing in a manner that did not properly represent.

So yes, do dress in a manner that will not embarrass you if you bump into an old flame… but dress in a manner that properly represents your fabulous self. This doesn’t mean designer labels or trendy styles, it means shopping with care and thought. Slowly building a wardrobe of items that you love and love you in return. Buy as you would for your home, your child, your job. Buy things slowly, searching for the best price, value, quality. Think about what is already at home, and how this item will work with that collection. And always have those last minute outfits at the ready for when you do need to get gas, drop off the car, buy a quart of milk. For you never know who you may bump into.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. GREAT advice! I have a 10-month-old and I’ve really been struggling with this lately. Seems like I’ve adopted a schlubby uniform of jeans, a t-shirt, and a ponytail. By the way, the ponytail shows off my terrible at-home dye job. I haven’t plucked my eyebrows in months. One word: ick!

    Call me vain, but I’ve started to realize that how I look (or at least, my perception of how I look) has an enormous impact on how I FEEL. So no more jeans with t-shirts (okay, not really, but I will be dressing them up with fun belts and accessories), and tomorrow I’m going to the salon for a much-needed bob and eyebrow wax. Since I can’t seem to stop wearing my hair in ponytails, I’m just going to chop it all off so it’s more manageable! I also plan to dye my hair anew. I always feel so much better after my appearance overhauls! And after tomorrow, I won’t worry if I run into that old flame, because I’ll know I look good.

  2. For me, the best way not to be caught in something embarrassing is to completely discard embarrassing items. Do not save them for “around the house” because they won’t stay there.

  3. This exact situation is one of my worst nightmares. And I even live 2000 miles away from any of my old boyfriends.

    This post has inspired me to do another closet purge this weekend. I never want to run into anyone wearing my ratty college sweatshirt.

    Thanks for sharing, Allie!

  4. Such a great post. I need to remember to not embarrass myself when I open my front door to the postman…I’m very lazy. Having a couple of planned casual outfits (and maybe getting rid of all the really bad stuff except for painting projects…) sounds like the way to go. Thanks for a brilliant post.

  5. I hear you. I remember one time when I was really broke, I was waitressing at the local IHOP. Who came in that night to graduate his college graduation was a boy who had had a crush on me through all of high school; here I am pregnant with my third kid and never graduated, working as a waitress and wearing a tent at the IHOP, and he’s graduating from a prestigious university. I hid in the kitchen the entire time he was there. I quit that job right after baby number 3 was born, and got my act together (for the most part, anyway!)

  6. This post is right on target. I decided that 2010 would be a ponytail-free year because I hate the way they look on me and I know how lazy they are. So far, so good–the only time I’ve worn one is one day when I went to the doctor to get an IV of fluids when I had the stomach flu! This is a good lesson for everyone, and something we should all try harder at.

  7. I loved this post!I
    It is right on the spot…. I TRY to think this way every time I leave the house, it’s a way to force myself to make an effort.
    Note: please get rid of that dress.

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