Better: 'Tis the season for clothes that truly make the woman

These days, time seems to pass so quickly that it feels the seasons, holidays — even the end of the year — can sneak up on me.

Take Halloween, for example. In late July, stores stock up on bags of trick-or-treat candy. Around the same time, the usual trickle of Christmas catalogs in the daily mail turns to a steady stream ... then a torrent ... and finally, by early October, a tidal wave of marketing savvy and temptation. It almost makes me think that somebody wants me to start Christmas shopping before Dec. 15. Bah, humbug! Where's the fun in that?

I'll admit it: I enjoy looking at catalogs. I like unwinding after a long day with 64 pages of Harry & David gift baskets filled with cheeses, sausage and exotic crackers that taste like dust. So rather than directing the flow of catalogs toward the recycling bin immediately, I wade into them first.

This week, we received a catalog filled with clothing and accessories that spoke to me in a deep and personal way.

Besides reminding me of the good old days, they seemed to express the "real" me better than the motley collection of jeans, T-shirts and sweat pants I currently call a wardrobe. I like the idea of communicating who I am on the inside by what I wear on the outside, like we did back in the day.

From the tie-dyed bell-bottoms wide enough for a small child to hide inside the leg, to the headband made of a daisy chain, to a crinkly "poet's shirt" that could only be described as "delicious," this catalog had me at "hello."

I looked at my checkbook (so I wouldn't be lying when I told Doug that I'd consulted the budget first) and began whittling down my long list of "wants" to three "gotta haves."

It's a wonder I managed to place the order online, what with my hands trembling so at the thought of some duds that would feel like a real second skin.

Now when I go to the grocery store, people will know who I am just by looking at my outfit, I thought. I wished I'd found this collection sooner — it would have saved me from years of hum-drum business suits, boring jumpers and blah slacks.

When Doug got home, I had to show him my new clothes right away. I went through the catalog, looking for the pages with dog-eared corners, and pointed out what I'd ordered.

Doug usually isn't shy with his opinions regarding my fashion statements; but this time he stared at the photos in silence. At the end of my giddy-as-a-school-girl presentation, Doug cleared his throat.

"You do know," he said slowly, "that this is a catalog of Halloween costumes ... right?"

OK, so I'll express the "real me" for one day a year. It's better than nothing.

And afterward, I'll dutifully go back to my jeans, T-shirts with diner logos, and hot-pink sweat pants.

But I don't care what anybody says — I intend to wear the black ballet flats with the glow-in-the-dark skulls all over them all year 'round. Because I'm a grown-up, and nobody can stop me.


Email Cathy Drinkwater Better at

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