I was in third grade, and for some reason my mom was out of town (visiting a relative maybe? I don’t recall), and my dad was tasked with taking care of my sister and I in her absence. I imagine it must have been a tough few days, seeing how my mom stayed home with us when we were kids and my dad tended to work long hours, so he must have been challenged by this jaunt of domesticity. It must have been especially challenging since I was an anxious child, and tended towards bouts of crying and stomach aches whenever anything was amiss.
One of the mornings when he was in charge, I remember my 8 year old self crying to him because I didn’t know what to wear to school (you know, because that’s apparently important to 8 year old children). It is strange because usually I didn’t have a problem, so something must have been going on that day (misplaced anxiety that my mom was away?). My parents had always let me pick my own clothes and wear whatever I wanted, and there is boundless photographic evidence of these “outfits” that I would put together. Most remarkably is the underwear-turned-hat I wore in spring of ’89, the handmade-no-sew tee shirt and electrical tape romper that I wore to family Christmas in ’91, and that couple of years in elementary school when I would accessorize with ace bandages around various limbs (sans injury).
For whatever reason that morning, I didn’t know what to wear, and I was upset about it. My dad has always been a stylish kind of guy. In fact, we used to joke that he was “metro sexual” before that term was even invented in the 90s. So, when I came crying to his door, distressed about my outfit choice, I knew that in some way, I was talking to an expert.
He looked at me, seriously, and said in a voice reminiscent of parents giving the type of sage advice that parents tend to give: “Claire, you can never go wrong with a pair of jeans and a white shirt. It’s a classic choice that is always in style”.
Twenty (+) years later, I keep thinking back to that moment and how right he was! It’s such a versatile combination that you can wear to almost any event. Whenever I have trouble picking out an outfit be it for a night out or while packing for a trip, I always rely on this piece of advice.
As an adult now, I recently told my dad that this was the one bit of guidance from him that I remember from my childhood. I do not remember any advice about saying no to drugs or healing a broken heart or anything about changing the oil in a car, just about what to wear. He found it funny because he did not remember me crying about my outfit, or talking to me in such a “serious” way about jeans and tee-shirts. But he did remark that it was excellent advice and he still stood by it.
Today’s outfit? Casual boyfriend-style jeans and a white and orange striped tee shirt. Tomorrow’s plan? Dark skinny jeans with a white oxford button down. Thanks dad!
(although, this does make me worry about what random tidbit my future kids will remember out of all the “wisdom” I will pass on to them…)