Recently, our youngest daughter Pauline came home from college for the weekend. She was traveling light and cheerfully asked if she could borrow some pajamas. As you might imagine we have a real surplus of clothing in the house, so whether it’s PJs or anything else, I really don’t think twice about lending. Sure. Take whatever. But when I walked into her room at 10 the next morning and found her still asleep in a peach-colored, silk charmeuse slip, I was taken aback. This long, beautiful slip of a nightgown has traveled over and over with me to so many different apartments and then homes… but it has stayed tucked in the bottom of a drawer. Always. My first thought was – wait a minute - oh my goodness – I have never worn this. How is it she is wearing that? It was a wedding gift to me – I am pretty sure from my friend Lisa who is just the kind of person to consider a silk slip a mandatory part of every woman’s wardrobe. And though I appreciated it and marveled it, I just never once put it on.
There are two takeaways from this:
1. What a waste.
2. What a pleasure it can be to enjoy feeling feminine.
Bravo Pauline. Good for her that she grabbed that gown. I can assure you she had to dig through at least a dozen other cotton nightgowns or menswear style pajama sets (which I love and wear often,) but she must have known what she liked. But there she was, looking like SHE had just woken up on her own honeymoon morning. Except for her retainer. Her youthful perfection blew me away - as it always does. A sleeping daughter is a thing of beauty. I used to love it when they would stay home from school with a fever. Not a high one – just that perfect spot of about 101. They would nap on and off all day and be so grateful when you would show up with a cold drink and some toast. And a popsicle from the freezer would take it over the top. So sleeping beauty, yes – but she was sleeping in my honeymoon (though not honeymoon) nightgown.
First came the surprise, and then I suppose a laugh. What was I thinking, letting that perfect, feminine slip go to waste at the bottom of a drawer for 35 years? I suppose the original intent of the gift from Lisa was for how the gown would make me look…. But what Pauline was experiencing in her childhood bed, was how it made her feel. I do feel plenty feminine in most things I wear (including boyish things) whether I am sleeping in them or dashing around work. But the feel of this type of silk, cut on the bias, just screams ‘woman’. To look at – but even more importantly, to inhabit.
I was crazy about the series the Fabulous Mrs. Maisel. The theme song for the show was “I Enjoy Being a Girl”. The lyrics are a bit much… and they kind of go on and on… but the idea is right on. Midge Maisel is a girl’s girl by anyone’s standards – and she really does enjoy it. She’s all about makeup and shapely dresses; she does her exercises and ‘keeps herself up’ for her husband in a very stereotypically 1950s way. A highlight of her summers in the Catskills is the annual swimsuit competition… which she usually wins. But as a comedian in the male-dominated world of stand-up, she comes through as a total feminist. She wants to feel like a girl, but not be treated as a “girl” in the sense of being limited. It is a treat to watch her character develop and impossible not to fall in love with her.
I have always been more of a tomboy dresser (thus the silk slip at the bottom of the drawer) but at times, I too, ‘enjoy being a girl’. Which leads me to the point of this post. There is a skirt on our line this fall that is cut on the bias and really does the trick. Cutting the fabric this way – diagonally – totally changes the way it drapes and moves around your body. Even in the menswear-ish houndstooth fabric… it makes you feel like a girl. The thing I really love about this skirt is the physical sensation of wearing it. The material kind of swishes around your legs and there is a smooth elastic waist… you just pull it on and go. In that way, it is sporty and modern – a feminist sort of femininity – not unlike Midge Maisel – or actually – like Pauline, who just last semester, successfully campaigned for her school to offer free menstrual products on campus. (Sorry to brag – I had to make up for the retainer mention.)
In addition to feeling good, this skirt also looks good. I find it incredibly easy to style. I personally like something trim on top – a Rosie Cardigan, a slim turtleneck, a cashmere polo sweater for in-between weather. Heeled boots would be super chic. The silky animal-ish print is really fun, but I also love the small menswear checks. They look very English country to my eye… maybe more Miss Marple than Mrs. Maisel... in a good way! You could also go in the opposite direction with a chunky, oversized sweater and mules or low boots. That sleeping college student of mine might wear it that way and she would look sensational. More importantly, she would feel that way as well. I enjoy being a girl, and I especially enjoy it in this skirt. You may need it.