“Happiness does not consist in things themselves but in the relish we have of them; and a man has attained it when he enjoys what he loves and desires himself, and not what other people think lovely and desirable.”
-- La Rochefoucauld
That was Sunday's quote on a blog I follow, The Happiness Project. It is such an obvious truth, but one I think many overlook. I enjoy and love things that many others do not. One of them had been on my mind recently: my wardrobe. I dress for happiness, my happiness, but every once in a while, I have thoughts like, "Do I dress my age?" or, "Maybe I should get a 'real' hair style," or, "I probably would look better with some make up." Basically, those are all a variation of the first thought. It seems like women my age accessorize and do things with their hair. Other than brush it.
It seems like all the marketing and advice out there for middle aged women is that we should attempt to look put together and sophisticated. Don't look old or fat. Don't try to look too young and hip. Don't let yourself go, but don't look like you're trying too hard. Lots of do's and don't's. I even peeked for a bit at a blog devoted to dressing one's middle aged self, but I had to stop because I found it depressing. (I have friends who love it, though, so I know there are people who find that sort of instruction genuinely helpful and, therefore, conducive to their happiness.) I felt harassed by the rules, and got to thinking if every middle aged woman dressed like that, we'd be like stepford wives, varying only in our "personal colors." (How personal can they be? There are only four sets of colors for the entire human population.)
The thing is, my tastes have not changed greatly since childhood. I still love dresses; skirts that twirl a bit; cardigans; t-shirts, no blouses or buttony shirts; thick colored tights; comfy Mary Janes in which I could run, if I was so inclined, which I'm not these days, but maybe one day I will need to chase someone down the street and then won't I be happy I am not hobbled by heels or ballet flats that slip off as I run; and, often, hats. That's for cold weather. In summer it is skirts, t-shirts, flip flops, and a straw hat. (It's okay to run out of your flip flops, because it is summer, and your feet will not freeze.)
The truth is, I'm not sophisticated. It wouldn't matter if I learned how to choose and wear the right colored make up or figured out how to style my hair or wore jewelry or bought new clothes that successfully tread that very thin line of neither young nor old. Those things would be, for me, like a preschooler playing dress up. Fun for a few hours, but not the real me. I love my girlie skirts, and my red patent leather shoes make me happy every time I look down at my feet.
Fortunately for me, I am blessed with a husband who encouraged me to buy those red shoes of happiness, when I was having doubts about their versatility:price ratio. He knows my style, and he has never been unhappy with it. I feel the same way about his. After all, what is cozier on a cold winter day than a man in a flannel shirt?