Have you ever noticed that all old people look the same? I don’t mean that they are identical. I mean that old people have worn the same styles, carried the same accessories, and chosen the same orthopedic shoes since the fifties. I have often wondered how a woman, for example, can be stylish and youthful for a huge portion of her adult life, and then lapse into knee high panty hose and elastic waist bands for the rest of it. When does this transformation occur? What causes it? I have never been able to figure this out.
Now I am approaching old age, and to my horror, I have begun to slide towards some of the very characteristics that I have decried! It is shocking to me, but I am now coming to understand just how and why old people make the choices that they do. It has to do with fatigue, expediency, and comfort. It is all about skipping steps.
For instance, let’s discuss cosmetics. I am a huge fan of foundation, blusher, and eye shadow. I have not left the house without lipstick on for years. But a few months ago, on a day when I had no plans, I reached for the mascara, sighed, and put it back in the drawer. “Really,” I thought, “Who is going to see me? Why waste the time putting all this stuff on my face, when I could be doing something more interesting and less tiring? Like sitting down?”
Other equally ominous things have happened. I have actually worn sweatpants to the grocery a couple of times during the last few weeks. It just seemed simpler to pull those on. Jeans are so constricting. One day last week, I wore the same turtleneck two days in a row. Why dirty more clothes to wash? Expediency trumped fashion. It seemed somehow virtuous to double-use my clothes.
Good grief. I stopped wearing dresses a few years ago. I told myself it was because I had to wear them every day for years as a career woman, and pants were a declaration of freedom from the daily grind. But really it was because donning panty hose just got to be too much of a struggle. And high heels? I convinced myself they were an evil and sexist invention foisted off on women by people like Jimmy Choo. But really, it was because they were too hard to balance on, and pinched my corns. It was just easier to wear flats.
I used to love to wear fitted shirts. They are smart and make the wearer look svelte. As I have gotten older, holding in my stomach is not as easy as it used to be. Truth be told, standing up straight is not as easy as it used to be. Looser, blousy shirts are much more comfortable, and I find that slouching is more energy efficient. Getting dressed is something that I used to look forward to, plan for, shop for, and dream about. These days, I think the idea of “laying out tomorrow’s outfit” is absurd. I want to get on with things, not loiter around in the closet.
It is all about time. I realize that there isn’t that much left of it. It is all a matter of priorities these days. The easy way is just getting to be too seductive. Why use buttons, when Velcro is so much faster? Pulling on pants takes less energy that buttoning and zipping. Foundation, blush, AND mascara? Too arduous. It is becoming very clear to me:
There is no direct road to old age. Nope. We just follow the path of least resistance.