(Sometimes I need to look at my older adult life from a lighter side. Today seemed like one of those times, mostly because the news cycle can seem so heavy. So serious and anxious, too. Perhaps you could find your own lightness?)
I’m reading an English best-seller written by Angela Kelly, Personal Advisor, Curator and Senior Dresser to Her Majesty the Queen (The Queen’s Jewellery, Insignias and Wardrobe). The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe details the day-to-day inner workings of this profession, and offers a wealth of full-color photos showing some of the queen’s sense of both fashion and propriety.
This is fascinating reading for me—I am doing personal research to find the fashionable and proper attire that may be required in this country should we be invited to a king’s coronation. Also possible: By its title this volume becomes an easy segue into a totally different subject.
First, hats off to the queen for allowing this book to be written honourably. (Please note perhaps-British spellings throughout this entry.) And may I acknowledge with admiration the photograph that shows Her Majesty’s other side—the queen in her down-home duds, the kind of non-finery she wears when she’s gardening, walking her dogs or just relaxing. To Her Majesty’s credit, she also favours comfortable, ordinary clothing when off-camera or not required to exemplify the majesty of Majesty. The other side of her coin.
I am not quite as old—or as majestic—as Elizabeth II, which means that my attire trends less toward jewels, medals, furs and crowns. Those would be my other side, clothing-wise.
“So, Bob,” you ask, “What DO you wear, as an older fellow with down-home sensibilities when—though lacking Pembroke Welsh Corgis—you are festooned in your non-finery best?” A good-but-lengthy question, and an easy transition into what I really want to write about here.
The usual side of my clothing coin includes some ordinary older-guy sensibilities. Customarily I wear the same pair of jeans for about a week or so, a flannel shirt—which I try to keep clean while eating or playing in the dirt—and a baseball-style cap. My feet are cushioned by hiking socks and shoes. I wear sunglasses outside to preserve my vision, and hearing aids to improve my earlobe strength. Maybe a light jacket or fleece. My wardrobe’s underlying flavour is both familiar and simple.
By these wardrobe choices at this time in life, I am free from the requirements of the workplace, forgiven for overlooking much of current fashion and admired for my insistence on remaining bald. I wake up every morning, knowing that in my ordinariness—here reflected in clothing that doesn’t change its basic format for many days—I can sidestep choosing how to be fashionable and proper. Can you guess? I really enjoy this part of the retired-guy lifestyle!
As I look around, I notice how many other semi-elderly gentlemen favor the same approach to covering themselves with cloth. Not necessarily the same as my admittedly L.L. Bean orientation, but still simple and useful. (We older guys are always ready to be useful—pushing cars out of ditches, rescuing puppies out of trees and concocting four-course meals from what we find in the fridge.)
As I write this entry, I am grateful to God that I’ve come to this point in life where no-frills is acceptable and perhaps even expected. Comfortable inside of ordinary, I can move through life, living simply and fully.
And I will continue reading to find more about Her Majesty’s coin’s other side!