Twenty Pairs of Black Pants

March Break - AMc - 2005

March Break –  2005

          March really is the cruelest month.   The daffodil stalks are peeking up optimistically through the thawing ground, but the temperature is still in the negative.   The bone-chilling cold of January has been replaced by the raw damp winds of March, interspersed with a few bright sunny days, a tease of warmer weather to come.  There is always that one last snow storm or bout of freezing rain to crush your expectations of spring, when it is a relief to wake up in your cozy bed listening to the sleet against the window and know you have no place to go.   Now that I’m retired I have more days like that, in fact I don’t even have to get dressed at all.  I can stay in my PJ’s all day if I want.   And that is the dilemma with retirement clothes.  

           Just what do you wear when you are now longer working, or maybe like Cinderella you toil at home, not necessarily scrubbing the scullery floors, but looking after wee ones or freelancing or blogging.  (Does anyone else have writing clothes?)   If you have been a career person who lived in business clothes most of your life you may find after a period of social inactivity that your wardrobe has sadly deteriorated into a sloppy mess of old sweatpants and t-shirts, with perhaps a few dressy items for going out.   Even the last few years of my working life, my wardrobe had dwindled into a collection of black pants, of which I must have at least twenty pair (there might be more I’m afraid to count), and an assortment of tops which have lived in my closets for years.   Yes, I shop in my closet.

            A recent report on the CBS (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), said that the average Canadian buys 70 new garments per year, and we spend 400% more on clothes than in the 1980’s, all due to Fast Fashion which allows us to buy more for way less.   The report went on to describe how most of the old clothes we donate to charities end up in the landfill, either here or in African countries, as they are not needed, and urged people to hold swap meets and to buy less.  For once it seems I am ahead of the game, but not necessarily for the environmental reasons they suggested.  (see Sears RIP blog for the death of style). 

           Is it possible to look stylish and comfortable on a limited budget? Scraggly old sweats and stained t-shirts are fine for a few hours relaxing on the couch or doing laundry, cleaning or gardening but I’m not sure I want to live in them all the time.  There must be more attractive options – it’s time to hit the stores. 

             And the stores are full of black yoga pants and black leggings.  I have finally gotten used to skinny jeans but I hate yoga pants and leggings…worst thing ever invented.  All that spandex, and the material doesn’t breathe, and most of the time they are way too tight, your legs end up looking like sausages or toothpicks depending on your weight.   If they fit at the waist then they are baggy in the legs, or the legs are skin tight, and how attractive is that, unless you prefer the boots/hooker look, and really what MAW (mature adult woman), looks good in that?   Even Madonna is too old for that look although she doesn’t seem to know it, but then neither does Beyonce and she is still young.    I did manage to find a nice pair of comfortable black Puma sweatpants at Winners for $25, half price.  (When you are retired, you have to be frugal).   The material was thick too, not Lulu Lemonish, so they will be good for walking in cold weather, which is all we are having right now.    I also found a nice comfy pair at Reitman’s, under their Hyba brand, soft and minimal spandex.    Both had a drawstring waist, an important feature, if you plan on eating in them.  (When you are retired you tend to go out for lunch a lot.)   And because Reitman’s had a BOGO 50% off sale, (oh what suckers we are), I got a soft blue sweatshirt….did I mention it was soft.  Of course even the small was too big at the shoulders, but the saleslady assured me it should be worn off the shoulder with a tank top underneath, kind of like that old eighties movie, Flashdance.   I also bought some black fleecy long johns (top and bottoms) at Mark’s Work Warehouse, for $30 each….very warm and cozy, and great for winter walking.  I have worn these under my old sweatpants, and have been quite toasty even in minus thirty degree weather.  Now if they only made fleece for your face, I’m sure I would venture out more.   I also bought a pair of lined (T-Max Heat) black pants at Mark’s Work Warehouse for $40 half price, which I have worn shopping or running errands, and they are nice too, so we have the winter wear covered….oops forgot about the hat. Got a nice thick red and brown knitted hat to match my red parka, at Winners…$12.  It’s hard to find a decent hat unless you want to look like a Gap ad with a pompom on your head, maybe attractive for fifteen year old models but not MAW.  (I could do a whole separate blog on hats.)   Oh, and because it is Canada, boots are an essential item – practical boots, $62 with a $10 gift card (oh what suckers we are), at Marks Work Wearhouse 50% off sale, black suede with fur trim, mid calf, good for snowdrifts and shoveling the driveway, not so good for walking in, but they probably need to be broken in…did I mention it’s been too cold to walk lately?

         On the days when it’s so cold, you don’t even feel like getting dressed, pajamas are important, so two sets, both navy, one plain navy with white piping, (I call them my Rosemary Clooney White Christmas pajamas only hers were red), and one with a thin-striped navy top and navy bottoms, both from Winners.    I find I am spending more time sleeping, nine hours a night, (for the first time in my life people tell me I look good….what they mean is I don’t look tired), and they are both great for lounging around in the evening.  Both are very soft cotton material, although a bit warm for the winter nights when it’s minus thirty below and I have the heat cranked up so the pipes don’t freeze.  Then I wear my summer PJ’s.

             Before Sears closed I bought a navy blue with white trim (I sense a nautical theme here), designer one piece bathing suit for 60% percent off, at $25, a real bargain.   It was for those water aerobics classes at the sports complex, but I have yet to wear it.   It’s too cold to go to the arena but I’m sure my bone density test will love it someday.   My last purchase was a new rose/brown sweater, again end of season half price $42, for wearing with jeans or black pants for lunches/dinners out.     And there you have it….retirement wardrobe covered, total cost, approx. $400.    I could use a few more casual tops for the sweats, but before you know it,  spring will be here, and I can switch to t-shirts and start my annual hunt for Capri pants that fit.   Is there anything more enticing than stores full of colorful spring clothes in the last dregs of winter – such promise of summer days ahead.   Or maybe next winter, I’ll just skip the whole thing and wear that bathing suit down south. 

         I wrote this wardrobe update summary the first year of my retirement, but in the year since then I have bought even less, (three more pairs of black Hyba pants, two summer tops, and a mint green Columbia spring windbreaker jacket), so obviously I am not the typical consumer the CBS based their poll on.  It does seem excessive to buy so much, not to mention expensive.   I remember spending more money on clothes in my younger years because I loved to shop and people dressed up more back then.  (see vintage blog)   Maybe younger people are happy with the available Fast Fashion.   But I am older and fussier now too – it must be of good quality, fit well, look good, be comfortable, practical, needed, a reasonable price and also bring me joy – a tall order for any poor garment.   No wonder I am buying less.  I have been reading about all things Parisian for future blogs, and the French seem to be perfectionists when it comes to clothing, which may be why they have such great personal style.   A French woman will shop for months for the perfect article of clothing.  I think I would do well there.  Vive la France!  

(Disclaimer:  I do not own this Paris picture, it was from a box of note cards but it is so elegant I just had to share it.) 

Postscript:   The snowdrops are out, the first sign of spring. Snowdrops

27 thoughts on “Twenty Pairs of Black Pants

  1. rhc55 says:

    You have reminded me how much I love TS Eliot; I must find my old anthology and have a good read, I haven’t read ‘Prufrock’ in years. Do Canadians really buy 70 new garments a year? I don’t think I’ve ever bought that many in a year. I sympathise with the dilemma of what to wear in retirement. When I retired 21 months ago, I kept 2 suits (both skirt suits – I never wore trousers to work as when I started work women just didint; waer trousers, and somehow it stuck), my favourite beautiful tailored one for sentimental reasons and my black one for obvious reasons, the rest went to charity. I have been fortunate in being able to pass on the bulk of my surplus clothes to my two daughters, who are happy to give them a new lease of life.I agree I no longer have need of an extensive wardrobe (and mine wasn’t that extensive as I only worked three days a week) and spend most of my days in skinny jeans, T shirts/shirts and jumpers. Good blog…

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      T.S.Elliot?? Sorry I am not a poetry person? The 70 new garments per year seemed excessive to me too, but then they may have based their poll on people living in Toronto working in the fashion industry! Certainly even in my prime shopping years, I might have bought one item per week, but of better quality than most of what is available now, although we do not have good shops where I live, so if I lived in a bigger city I might buy more. I never wore trousers to work either, (it was expected you dressed up) until I switched jobs in 2004 then I started wearing pants because everyone else did. I do miss wearing beautiful clothes, but it is nice to be comfortable too. I love that British term, “jumpers”!

      Like

  2. thehomeplaceweb says:

    T.S.Elliot?? Sorry I am not a poetry person? The 70 new garments per year seemed excessive to me too, but then they may have based their poll on people living in Toronto working in the fashion industry! Certainly even in my prime shopping years, I might have bought one item per week, but of better quality than most of what is available now, although we do not have good shops where I live, so if I lived in a bigger city I might buy more. I never wore trousers to work either, (it was expected you dressed up) until I switched jobs in 2004 then I started wearing pants because everyone else did. I do miss wearing beautiful clothes, but it is nice to be comfortable too. I love that British term, “jumpers”!

    Like

    • rhc55 says:

      I do apologise – I assumed it was a deliberate misquote of Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’, which starts: ‘April is the cruellest month…’. I studied him at school for my ‘A’ levels (exams we take around age 18), I don’t read a lot of poetry now. What I miss about smart clothes is not the clothes, but wearing pretty heels. I have/had a bit of a shoe fettish and still have a modest collection of lovely shoes (all bought in sales), but as I dress up so rarely now it almost kills me to wear heels for more than a short while. How do you call ‘jumpers’ (which we also call sweaters, pullovers or woollies)? Thinking about it, it is a silly word and I can’t imagine where it came from.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        Oh so that’s where the expression came from! I did not know, just thought it was one of those old sayings. I have a degree in science so my love of literature is not based on any formal training. Re heels yes I remember wearing heels every day at work, now it’s only flats. Jumpers are sweaters here, but I was familiar with the term as I have read a lot of Joanna Trollope/ British novels over the years, although I do not think her latest work is as good. I will have to research The Waste Land – I very vaguely remember it from high school – I did a blog recently on the Robert Frost poem Snowy Woods, and it morphed into a post on song lyrics, so you never know what might take my fancy! Thanks for explaining. (the blog is called Music and Poetry for a Snowy Day and at the end of it I describe how a lecturer tried to set a poem by Yeats to music but it did not translate to a hit song. I wonder if TS Eliott would work?!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Chomeuse with a Chou says:

    The French where I live (not Paris admittedly) don’t mind so much about high fashion. I blend in well enough with the rest of them most of the time, and as a stay at home mum I’ve forgotten how to dress elegantly. Jeans and t-shirts rule here!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rhc55 says:

    I have just read your excellent Music and Poetry for a Snowy Day – what a clever idea and what a lot of work you must have put into researching it. As I’m new to blogging, I haven’t read many ‘old’ posts and shall clearly have to work my way through them. For a scientist and someone who says they are not a poetry person, you have a lot of knowledge. I enjoyed reading the Robert Frost, which I don’t know. Paul Simon, of course, is a genius and ought to be in line for a Nobel Prize for Literature if Dylan can get one. I read somewhere not so long ago that the Byrons/Shelleys/Keatses etc were the rock stars of their day. Perhaps we should start reading lyrics without the music (selectively) fully to appreciate the poetry? I stopped reading Joanna Trollope as her novels started to deteriorate and then I read one where she started the book with the word ‘Because’ – unpardonable sin. In my opinion her best were ‘The Choir’ and ‘A Village Affair’. If you are interested in reading Eliot, try ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, which I think is his best and isn’t too long. ‘The Waste Land’ is very long.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Robert Frost is an American poet so not likely you would know him. I don’t believe we have any famous Canadian poets – maybe Leonard Cohen who I never cared for, other than the Hallelujah song. I agree those famous poets were the rock stars of the day. Glad I’m not the only one disappointed in J. Trollope! I will check out Elliot.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. fatdormouse says:

    Rather like Chomeuse, I smiled a little at your comment “the French seem to be perfectionists when it comes to clothing, which may be why they have such great personal style. ”
    Round here, personal style (and the myth that “Frenchwomen don’t get fat”) is something that hasn’t reached us out in the back of beyond. Most young women are of the jeans/T-shirt combo, and the older women mostly wear saggy, baggy skirts and overalls. Or jogging bottoms.
    I live my life in jeans, fleeces and pullovers mostly. I have some good jeans, for when I’m teaching, and some, er, let’s say “less good” jeans for when I’m not. A couple of smarter jumpers for work days – although I’m not working at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Ah, so it must be a Paris myth! Thank you for the comment and the information. I have never been to France or Paris so I am ignorant of these matters, other than what I have read in books. Your wardrobe sounds much like mine, including my “less good jeans” – I hate shopping for jeans, and I’ve grown to dislike shopping period. I wish you well with your chemo sessions, and will send some prayers your way. Joan

      Like

  6. avwalters says:

    I have never been a clothes horse. I remember when the recession hit in ’08, business reporters were bemoaning the hit taken by retailers in clothing. A study had revealed that, based on their closets, most consumers could go 7 years without buying clothing (socks and underwear excepted.) I’ve gone nearly that, easily. Indoors, I live in sweats. Outdoors I usually have up to 3 pairs of jeans (good, everyday and okay-to-paint-in.) In warmer weather, I wear white, long sleeve t shirts (limits sun exposure.) In winter, cotton turtlenecks and sweaters. Sweaters last forever. I don’t do fleece–not since I read an article about its environmental cost. I haven’t yet fully retired, but at this pace, I don’t expect to do my part supporting the economy and that’s okay with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. lindasschaub says:

    This blog post could have been written by me Joan – exactly to a tee (or a tee-shirt) … and exactly what I was saying with buying all the black pants and brown pants – you are always going to be in style with black pants and a nice top. The quality part as well. I can close my eyes and remember my mom telling me when she graduated from Shaw’s Business College in Toronto, they encouraged the young women to buy only basic pieces to build up their work wardrobe. My mom told me she had a navy box-pleated skirt and a black straight skirt (no pants for women back then in the workplace) and blouses or sweaters to wear with them – and she encouraged me to buy quality, not quantity, as to anything in your wardrobe and it would be around. The quantity of black pants in my possession, just like yours seemed to not abide by that rule, but still, they were on sale for a good bargain and who can resist a good bargain. You will not believe this but I also have a mint Columbia Spring coat. We have Burlington Coat Factory here in Michigan and my mom and I went in there just to walk around one time and it was in the Fall of 2008, which would have been around the time I bought all the ill-fated dress pants then never wore them either. Burlington was stocking all their Winter coats – they have fantastic deals all times of the year, but at change of seasonal clothes on the rack, you get the best bargains. We must have come home with 8 lightweight Spring coats – they were a steal – I am sure the mint-green Columbia coat was $79.00 to begin with and we got it for $15.00. My mom said to me (like the black and brown pants) … take care of these clothes and you’ll have them forever. I’ve not worn it yet -our tastes are so similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Re similar tastes – yes it’s true. I think we could be sisters! My Columbia mint green jacket was $56 (on sale from $85) at Winners, which was still enough, but I loved the color and get lots of comments on it. I have been reading several lifestyle books lately – the Madame Chic series and one another blogger recommended – and they all talk about a capsule wardrobe of ten or so quality pieces. When I look back at the amount of money I wasted on trendy stuff over the years it makes me sigh…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I know how you feel about the clothes and not using them now – believe me. I look and all around me I see things and I try to imagine how much of those things I can repurpose into my current life … not too many, sadly. I do wish I had all that money back too, and the first law firm I worked at had a strict dress code, so I was building a work wardrobe since I hadn’t done a lot of that at the ad agency, and wool skirt suits hang in the cedar closet downstairs, and all-year-around pantsuits in the closet upstairs … ten different pieces and look how much easier it would be to stay organized and not have to deal with finding space. When my mom and I got the Columbia mint green jacket, they had all those Spring jackets on sale and we really indulged ourselves since they were literally dirt cheap – Burlington Coat Factory is a regular department store, but they specialize in coats and all deep discounts. My mom was big on top so she required a large and I am tall and I like to have room in my clothes/coats and I always bought a large for the sleeve length. So, there are all these windbreakers downstairs under plastic … I know I don’t need a Spring coat the rest of my days. It is an usual color so no wonder you got compliments on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I must have at least five classic wool straight skirts from the 90’s for wearing with suit jackets and those little floppy bow ties on the blouse….they are all in my vintage 80’s closet and probably don’t fit now….but who would want them? The vintage store here in town is so stocked up with old clothes even they are picky about what they take.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I have some floppy bow blouses now too Sister – and back in the day, it was stylish to wear bows that were tied like the bow blouses, or even smaller and narrower ties, which you tied in a little bow with your shirt blouse and seeing this I remember I wanted to read your Vintage post. I got very behind as I was walking this weekend and taking alot of pictures – still haven’t finished uploading all of them … now I am horribly behind here. And it’s late again – where does the time go?

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I’ve given up on trying to keep up with the Reader this time of year…..just do what you can. I still have some of those silk bow tie things in the basement some where – they were so pretty I kept them in an accessory box with scarfs and old jewelry and stuff….I should dig them out in January again….might be useful for a movie set if anyone wanted to remake When Harry Met Sally!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        And you know what I heard on the news today and was thinking of doing a post on this til I got busy with looking for my boss’s phone electronically. Do you remember the ceramic Christmas trees that were popular in the 70s and 80s? People are selling them on eBay for hundreds of dollars! A friend of our family took a ceramics class and made a tree for us, plus I have one my mom bought me of all Boyd’s Bears climbing on it. Next year I’m going to put it up and take a picture of it. You don’t happen to collect stuffed bears do you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I think I saw some ceramic trees advertised somewhere in a store? recently and wondered why anyone would want one of those old relics! They must be back in style.
        My mother had one in the 80’s that my SIL had made and given her for Christmas…..I’m sure it’s still in the closet with all the Christmas stuff. I should ask her if she wants to sell it! No to the stuffed bears. My weakness is Christmas decorations but I have so many, mostly old ones, that I dare not venture into the stores after Christmas lest the sales tempt me to buy more.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        This house is done in country motif and my mom and I used to get a lot of ornaments that were country inspired – they are all in Rubbermaid tubs downstairs and I did not take anything out at all this year … I feel bad after all the decorations we used to have. Well, we finally found something we don’t both do. I was allergic to stuffed animals as a child and when I was years into my shots, my mom and I were at a store one time around Labor Day and there was a bear if you bought a certain amount of purchase and we did and it was available for a small amount, so my mom got it for me … his name was “Boswell, the Teacher’s Pet” … it started off a chain reaction. I don’t like the ceramic trees with the snow they feature here. Ours was just plain but is a large size. My grandmother had a smaller one. This is the story – now I am totally caught up – and I wish it was your time, not mine. I have to get caught up on sleep – I am done mixing and mingling with crowds though having done my chores – no stores, etc. but still need to stay healthy and rested as the cold and flu season is here. Yesterday the store finally got their clementines in – I love them so am set for staying healthy with all that Vitamin C. https://www.today.com/home/are-vintage-ceramic-christmas-trees-worth-lot-money-t144848

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        My mom’s was just plain too. I’ll have to dig it up this weekend when I put her decorations up….she doesn’t like too much up anymore and just has a small 2 foot tabletop lighted tree and a few strings of greenery over the mantle. It must be the nostalgia angle because those ceramic trees always were kind of tacky, or maybe they just look tacky now as Christmas decorations are so nice. I read a blog this week where the lady had a lighted white birch garland down the centre of her table and it looked gorgeous. It seems they are always coming out with something new and nicer. The first clementines I bought a few weeks ago were horribly sour…..maybe it was too early or just all the wacky weather in the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. lindasschaub says:

    P.S. – I come home from walking, get cleaned up and am in my Winter “work clothes” – two piece polar-fleece PJs and I am here at the kitchen table working in blue-striped PJs. When I get ready to go to bed, I take them off and put on lightweight polar-fleece PJs. I used to at least wear light sweatsuits in the house … nope, PJs now … elastic waist 100% of the time (as I wear sweats to walk or elastic waist shorts in the Summer) … not good for MAW. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Dear Sister – I have owned blue striped PJ’s too! Although currently I am into navy blue. I often will edit my blogs in the mornings in bed in my PJ’s, only getting dressed around noon…..and then it’s trackpants or straight yoga pants (not those clingy ones). When I think of how my wardrobe has slipped…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I love my blue-striped PJs and they are polar fleece so nice and cozy and they are actually my mom’s and I wear them all day – good thing no one ever comes to the door. I had to let the hems down in the sleeves and pants because my mom was only 5′ 2″ tall and I am 5′ 9″ tall. But just the Spring coats, there are enough PJs to last forever as well. My mom liked the smock-type flowy PJ pants rather than the button-up straight style because she was big on top (unlike her daughter). So when her roomy PJs began getting a little threadbare, we had been looking for several years for a similar style and none were around. She did not like the traditional PJ tops as they constricted her so I went to the store and they had all these polar fleece boxy-style styles on sale for buy one-get one half price, so I bought five pair for my mom, and five pair for me. I bought one set of five in mediums, and the other in extra large, so she could have room on top and the smaller bottoms, and I had the bigger bottoms which gave me some length and took the medium tops. So, it worked and I have enough PJs to last the rest of my life now. I used to at least put on a sweatsuit in the house and wear jeans outside – I have not had on jeans since I started the walking regimen – I only wear sweats outside (except in Summer). Like you Sister, my wardrobe has slipped. I never even wear jewelry anymore and bought a cheap watch to wear out in the morning – the thing is downright ugly but don’t want to wear a nicer watch. Sometimes I wonder what I am keeping everything for? I’ll be 63 in April.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I sometimes will stock up if I find something I like esp in different colors, and esp shoes. I bought 3 pairs of cheap Keds when Sears closed just because you can never find 5 1/2’s. I think the problem with throwing things out is you stop and think you paid good money for that….I find it is easier if I can give it to someone who wants it or needs it. I will be 63 next summer too. I graduated in 1979 a year behind you, because we still had grade 13 here in high school. I think we were the only province in Canada who still had it….which made us older when going away to college/university.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s