I admit I've never been much of a fashionista. I spent 1968 through 1971 in what I suspect was the same pair of bell bottom jeans and two black T-shirts that I wore in rotation. In fall, I topped it with a black baggy sweater and in winter, piled on a navy peacoat. Yes, of course I laundered everything. I might not have any fashion sense, but I've always believed in good grooming.
And now along comes First Lady Michelle Obama, who gives us many reasons to click the Like button in general, but is scoring high marks for one thing in particular of late: She is rewearing some of her clothes. This, the pundits say, gives us all permission to re-wear our clothes.
Now at the risk of being mistaken for the 200-year-old relic Volkswagen in Woody Allen's 1973 classic movie, "Sleeper," did I somehow miss the memo where it said we weren't supposed to wear outfits a second time? Seriously, when did it become bad form to grab the outfit you wore last Thursday and put it on again this Tuesday -- or is this just another one of those generational differences things?
I do believe that the only dumb question is the one you are afraid to ask, but nevertheless I was a little embarrassed to seek an expert on this matter. I decided to keep it in the family, figuring the scorn level would be minimized if I just went to a co-worker. Here's what Anya Strzemien, the executive editor of HuffPost Style had to say: Yes, people seriously do not re-wear outfits.
"Particularly famous people who are photographed a lot, which is what makes Michelle doing it all the more of a statement," said Anya. "As for the non-famous, it kind of depends on financial circumstances. I think others just try to not wear exactly the same thing too close together."
Anya and me? We travel in different worlds, but probably not as different as you might think. Every generation has its uniform. Mine in the late 1960s were my bell buttons. You saw them -- and my long hair parted straight down the middle -- and knew my politics instantly. You looked at my makeup-less face and knew what music I likely listened to. The black T-shirts told you what I read, what movies would appeal to me, and my guitar-strumming bearded boyfriend was as much a fashion accessory as a cup of Starbuck's is today.
Anya, too, has a uniform. Her accessories pop, she has a "go-to" outfit that doesn't involve an elastic waistband, and when she leaves her house every day, she has a put-together look that I wouldn't begin to know how to achieve. I've always envied women who knew how to combine stylishness with comfort, but deep down I suspect we all sacrifice one for the other. Four-inch heels will never be comfortable, no matter how much you beam your pearly whites at me and claim you could run a marathon in them.
It also occurred to me -- as I looked down on the skinny jeans I'm wearing for the third time this week -- that for the first time in my life, I may be ahead of a fashion curve. Michelle Obama has made it OK to re-wear your clothes -- something I have been doing my whole life.
And now if FLOTUS could just do one more thing for me: Make it OK for us to wear flats for every occasion. After that, we can tackle world hunger, peace in the Middle East and cure cancer once and for all.