Lapse in Judgement

Walking with Cake: Anthropologie Petaluma Skirt

(My dream skirt, once upon a time.)

I’m turning 36 soon, which is a number technically closer to 40 than 30.  And while I’ve never been hung up on my age before, I have started to think about what it means to get older.  This is largely influenced by my decision to embrace and grow out my grey hair, an experience that has proved to be less painful that I first thought.

A few weeks ago, I received another birthday coupon in the mail, this time for Anthropologie.  I haven’t actually shopped there since January, but the new Petaluma Skirt caught my eye when I spied it in the current catalog.  I read the reviews online, looked at the pictures for a while, and in a moment of poor late night judgement, I ordered it.  I had no idea where I might wear such a fancy skirt these days, but it looked like me, I thought, and I just had to have it.

As I was getting ready for bed that night, I was struck by the sudden realization that the skirt was all wrong for me.  Once, perhaps in my twenties and before I had children, that lovely skirt covered in pink roses would have been my ultimate statement piece.  But now, as a mom quickly approaching middle age, as someone who cares about fair trade issues and making responsible consumer choices, I just didn’t think I could make it work.  I tried to cancel the order, but it was too late and the skirt shipped the next day.  It arrived Monday, and by then, I was already prepared to send it back.  I did try the skirt on and it was very pretty, but it looked like something a bridesmaid might wear.  I could pull it off, but it would take a lot of effort, and the right thing to do was to return it.

Since I started growing out my hair, my style has changed a lot, too. I’ve always favored feminine (frilly?) clothes in pastel colors, and now I’m drawn to simpler colors and lines. I’ve minimized my wardrobe significantly over the past few months, and nothing would look more out of place on me these days then a pink midi skirt with ribbons and roses.  I think I didn’t fully realize this fact until this week, and it feels really good to finally acknowledge it.

I had an email conversation with my sister, and she asked me to explain why I felt too old to wear the skirt.  It was hard putting that idea into words, but I understand it now.  The skirt represents a different part of my life that is over, a time of youth and even innocence. When I put it on and looked in the mirror, I didn’t even feel like myself.  To me, that says it all, and I was happy to send it back so someone else can enjoy its beauty.

When my refund arrives, I might find a different skirt or dress more fitting for my current style and age.  I’m proud of myself for returning the skirt, because once, I would have left it unworn in my closet. It’s definitely a skirt that deserves to be worn, and I hope it can find the right owner.