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How important are clothes to you? Describe your style, if you have one, and tell us how appearance impacts how you feel about yourself.

What I wouldn’t give for style. I swear, some people just have it, and some don’t. In college I had a roommate. She could throw on a scarf just right, have some little accessory that just made an ordinary outfit classy. I was so envious because I just never had that flair.

My daughter has a friend (they’re 30), and she has the same ability to put things together, she layers things, mixes it up, and nothing’s ever expensive — just the right choices, and she looks great and unique.

When I go shopping I always revert to black and white. My two favorite non-colors. That accounts for 50% of my clothing — my next favorite color is khaki/tan with subtle color-mix tops. Sometimes I splash out an wear turquoise, or a black and white top with another color thrown in. Pink, red, yellow — never.

My concern is what my choice in clothing says about me. First, I’ve never been thin. Acceptable to chubby and back to acceptable, but never thin. I guess I’ve never been confident enough about my body to draw attention to it, and I’ve always believed in a reasonable amount of modesty.

The lack of confidence isn’t just in my body image; I’ve had to work on self-esteem issues and by middle age realized I had to “grow up” and become a more fulfilled and contented person. It takes work, but I think there are a lot of people out there who don’t feel quite good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, and they tend to hide, or accept other people’s opinions (and their own) of themselves. There are many people who fail to reach their potential because they don’t have enough faith in themselves.

I have all kinds of jewelry — but never have the nerve to wear it — it always makes me feel overdressed, or like I’m trying to copy someone else. Colorful and showy jewelry looks great on my daughter and my daughter-in-law, so why not me?

I actually do dress better than I used to. I think I’ve come to terms with my body and dress in ways that suit it rather to wear clothing to cover up or hide. One of the worst things that can happen to many women — in terms of style — is having children and staying home with them. You start dressing like a kid’s playmate (which you are), rather than a husband’s wife, or all the stylish women going to work. Don’t get me wrong, I think a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful thing, but it does often spoil any clothing choices she might have had.

There’s also that issue women have when they decide to be full-time moms: since they’re not getting a paycheck, and money gets tighter, they feel guilty when they spend money on themselves. Believe me (I’ve been there); there are endless ways to spend money on kids, and mothers tend to put their needs first — or those of the husband. (I do know men who are stay-at-home dads permanently or for a while — I don’t know if they feel the same way.)

So, I like to look nice. I suspect I now ever wow someone with the clothing choices, but when I put effort into it, I can look pretty nice for a special occasion. I buy clothes when I need them, but rarely spend large amounts on items. As a teacher for many years, I rarely buy clothing that needs to be dry-cleaned because it’s a profession that requires get down on the floor at time, or on your knees, or making a mess — clothing that’s washable has always suited me best.

I think my personality says more about me than my clothing, and that’s fine with me. I care more about what I think and say than what I wear.

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