10 Apr

THE EVIDENCE: That is me on the right, with the pink slacks.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post called My Zen Closet.  I have not written on the topic of clothing since then, but I feel compelled to address it once again.  Sometimes, I lose that Zen Closet feeling and I need to shop.

Recently, while standing in a dressing room trying on Far Too Many Shirts (none of which I bought), I happened to overhear a stranger in the next dressing room speaking to her shopping companion.

She mentioned a particular designer name that I happen to like, and described the clothes of that brand as “conservative”.  She meant it in a negative way.

Coincidentally, while listening to this assessment, I was trying on something by that very brand.

The brand actually occupies at least four hangers in my closet, a significant number considering how few clothes I actually own.

I started to think about the word conservative.

Are the designs of that brand conservative?  They are simple, they are solid… unique, yes, but probably also conservative.  Navy blue merino wool.  Olive linen.  White cotton.

I wondered to myself, Do I look conservative?  Do I dress conservatively?  If so, how do I feel about being judged as conservative?

These are pretty introspective questions to consider while trying on Far Too Many Shirts, or even one shirt, really.  Having missed lunch, I was not prepared to delve too deeply into my sense of identity.

There was a time when my closet held things like shiny, stretchy, hot pink pants.

That time has passed.

My clothes are more conservative these days.  It’s true.

I believe my hair would be considered conservative, with its touches of gray.

Some of my conservative clothing. The two items on the right are from the brand in question.

Am I conservative?

You might say that my politics are a little on the conservative side.  I try to conserve money, when I can.  I conserve natural resources.  I definitely try to conserve space.

Sometimes my blog posts are short, because I like to conserve words.

I like classic styles.  I like to buy clothing that I will still want to wear in ten or fifteen years.  Whether I can still fit into the clothing after that time is another matter…

So, go ahead, call my clothes conservative. Call me conservative.

I don’t mind.

27 Responses to “Conservative?”

  1. bigsheepcommunications April 10, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Just be glad that your closet no longer contains shiny stretchy hot pink pants!

    • acleansurface April 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      I actually really liked those pants, Big Sheep, and they looked better on me than that picture shows. I would never buy something like that now, of course. For everything there is a season…

  2. jmlindy422 April 10, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Well, there’s conservative and then there’s classic. Classic you buy once and wear forever and never feel out of date because you can dress it up, down, trend it, etc., etc., etc. I had lots of trendy clothes once and lots of debt because of it. Now, more classics because, frankly, my daughter needs clothes more than me.

    • acleansurface April 10, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

      I think parenthood made a big difference to my wardrobe as well. My husband and boys all have more clothes than I do!

  3. Frankie Ortiz April 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    You know it’s very interesting when the word ‘conservative’ gets tossed around. Working in the fashion industry, one would think that being conservative would be a bad thing. You always want your brand to stand out, to have an ‘outside of the box’ sort of style, but in all actuality, I’ve noticed that normally the ones who use the word ‘conservative’ are mainly the teens. Nothing against them, or their sense of style, but at that age, you’re still developing your identity. I’m only 26, but I had to grow up at a very young age, and many find it strange that I really am an old soul, who loves vintage clothing, handmade couture, and the occasional Sinatra, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a vast variety of underground hip hop that keeps me running from dawn till dusk. To me, being conservative can also mean having class, it means you don’t get sucked in to the trends that change daily, rather, you find quality pieces that you can love forever, sort of like a Chanel purse…it says so much about you, but it will never go out of style. 🙂

    • acleansurface April 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

      Frankie, I wanted to see the woman I had overheard — to see what she was wearing, at the very least. I didn’t get the chance to see her, but she didn’t sound like a teenager to me. I think I was older than you when I bought those pants, but it probably was an identity issue. I think you are so right about that.

  4. oldancestor April 10, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    What do liberal clothes look like?

    How about libertarian clothes?

    I guess dressing one’s age is conservative.

  5. mysoulforsale April 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Don`t feel bad about this. I, too, dress “conservatively“, but this has to do with my age and with the fact that I`m not employed at a roller rink or night club. I`m always kind of amused by people who dress per the trends, because these are the same people who will be rolling their eyes and laughing about how they look in their current pictures twenty years from now. Fashion is fickle, whereas classic pieces are timeless. Also, for the record, I think the items you`ve depicted in your post are lovely. You go girl!

    • acleansurface April 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      Aww, thanks, mysoulforsale. I don’t feel bad; I love my clothes. It is odd, however to hear these things in the dressing room… I wish people wouldn’t do that. I also wish they wouldn’t talk on their cellphones in the dressing room. Once, I heard a young woman breaking up with her boyfriend by cellphone inside a dressing room!

      • mysoulforsale April 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

        Yes, our private-public boundaries have very much dissipated with the widespread use of cell phones. As much as I hate to see everyone with their eyes glued to their phones, texting, it`s preferable to HEARING them all the bloody time!

  6. Angel April 12, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    I’m more conservative the older I get. Just call me meemaw.

    • acleansurface April 12, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      I think it is a natural process of change, Meemaw. =)

  7. fornormalstepfathers April 12, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    I have a problem of clinging to my favorites…Keep the pink pants just in case you are ever in mood to wear them again 🙂

    • acleansurface April 12, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      Funny that you mention moods. I used to have a very eclectic wardrobe because I dressed according to my mood. Over time, I became more even-tempered. Now my clothing style has become just as constant as my mood.

  8. notesfromrumbleycottage April 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    I equate conservative with office appropriate considering I work in a law office. My work wear is not my usual wear and needs to be covered up conservative. Outside of work it is wrap dresses and bright colors.

  9. Dianna April 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    I think conservative = classy!

    Thanks for visiting my blog today and commenting. It’s been a thrill being “freshly pressed”, and something I never dreamed would happen.

    Hope you’ll visit again soon.

    • acleansurface April 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks, Dianna!

      I have to warn you about the post-Freshly Pressed graph syndrome: the scale changes, so every other day, week, and month looks like a speck next to the tall bar of the day you were Freshly Pressed!

  10. April 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Fun post! Also love the word ‘classic’–I use it so much my daughter rolls her eyes. What I don’t need is faddish, or uber-trendy. I finally learned after 50-odd years that I need fitted clothes. I’m envious of my friends who can wear flowy things.
    Oh–and aren’t those dressing room conversation the best? I was in one last week and the young female voice I heard picked up her cell and said, “What do YOU want?” in the foulest tone. I wondered who I could say that to and get away with it!

    • acleansurface April 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      Thanks, Reelingintheyears. Yes, it takes a special kind to wear flowy things, doesn’t it?

  11. Bee April 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    I like the idea of being “classic” rather than “conservative”, both in my clothing and my thought processes. I recently did a Grand Sorting of my old clothes, saving only a few of the ones from smaller sizes that I hope to some day wear again. I was pleased, though, to see that the very favorite clothes from the smaller sizes, although several years old, still look like things I would wear. There is something about a linen skirt that never quite goes out of style.

    I’m kind of curious about libertarian clothes, though … 😉

    • acleansurface April 29, 2011 at 11:10 am #

      Agreed, Bee, I love my linen skirts, and “classic” is a much more appealing word than “conservative”.

  12. Big Al May 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    It’s just possible that you look 10 times better “conservative” than those ladies in the dressing room do “trendy”. I’m from the “eye of the beholder” school myself.

  13. Rosa June 4, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I just came over from a comment you left on my blog and clicked on this post because I was curious about the title! I never imagined it would be fashion related! I love it! To me, conservative clothing means ‘stuffy’. And the four pieces you showed don’t look stuffy at all. In fact, I might say that they look classically trendy! They have a bit of that bohemian look that is popular right now, without being over the top. Way to be hip!!


  1. January: Your Pants or Your Life « A Clean Surface. - January 3, 2012

    […] enough times to know that I am supposed to dress for the life I want, and the body I have. Those shiny, stretchy, hot pink pants I used to wear would not work for me now. I am a decade older, I am a size larger, and I go out […]

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