31 March 2017

When I thought it was temporary, in that limbo between a radioactive pill taking it all away and my own amazing body bringing it all back, I thought having spare hair was fun. I never called it “a wig.” That is what my mother wore in the 70s, when she didn’t feel like streaking her hair anymore and thought that permanently streaked, non-growing hair was the solution. She didn’t even make it a month.

I made it for two years. At first it was fun, having more hair than I’ve ever had, and cute hair. I could toss it. It could fall into my eyes. It moved! As Trent used to say, “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.” And I got hurt. First by the spare hair device itself, elastic cutting into my scalp, especially that part behind my ears, digging a groove that I would sink my fingers into at night, trying to rub in blood and feeling. It was fine in the morning, okay at noon, uncomfortable by four, and by eight I wanted to rip the damn thing off. That was on the outside. On the inside, I felt like a plastic rabbit. I wasn’t being real.

When I went to Florida in January of 2017, to visit two of my most wonderful friends, the second thing I said to them was, “I don’t want to wear this thing anymore.” Ginger, ever honest, said, “It’s about time.”

Back in January of 2015, there had been a conversation with someone whose opinion I valued:

Me: I’m going to have to take a pill and it’s probably going to make all my hair fall out.

Other: But it might not. You don’t know that.

Me: Actually, the doctor is very certain that it will, because of the dose they’re giving me.

Other: You’re going to get a wig, right?

And I quickly said yes because even though I hadn’t been sure of what I would do I was suddenly sure. And all that was fine–and even fun for awhile–until it wasn’t any more. My original plan had been to wear spare hair until my real hair came back. But only about half of it decided to make the return trip.

I knew my friends would support whatever I did but I wasn’t sure about work. Because I was in the middle of a transition between jobs I asked both of my bosses. The former boss said, “I want you to be your authentic self” and the new boss said “Amen.” So I took off the spare hair, rubbed my hands over what was left, went to a barber shop for a buzz cut with a #2 blade, and called it good.

I like the way I look. It’s different than the way most women look but it works for me.



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15 October 2016

Last Friday night I went to the mall, which is something I do not typically do, standing out among the high school kids traveling in packs and the young families with their mighty strollers, looking for a place to park them in the crowed pizza restaurant.

I went to the mall because I couldn’t stand my work clothes any more, my man suits. After my last clothing post I had gone to the fabric store and purchased two and three-quarters yards of 100% worsted wool, 60″ width, $22.50 a yard. The wool sits in the bottom drawer of my dresser because I cannot bring myself to cut out the pattern for the dress because I know that it would always look homemade.

Shopping for clothes for myself has never been enjoyable. It started when I grew faster than all my friends and had to shop in the misses department when they were still in juniors. Or maybe it started when I shopped with my mother, who never asked me what I liked. Or maybe the real issue was that I felt ugly and awkward and that I didn’t belong. It was complicated by all the things that there are in the department store, racks and racks of cloth and colors and styles and it all blurs together in my head and I want to leave.

However, last night was a successful shopping excursion, followed by another one today, and now I have clothes for at least five days of work. The shopping expedition was successful because:

  1. I felt like and acted as if I belonged in the store. I accepted help, and at one store it was from a young, tall, slim blond man and I said to myself, “Jule, maybe you’ve never before encountered a male salesperson in a women’s department but since he’s here he must really like clothes and he will be able to help you.” And he did.
  2. I told the salesperson (Devin) what I wanted–longer tunic jackets to wear to work. We agreed that they could be knit but they needed to have some structure, some heft. I started to tell him what colors I look good in and as I watched his smile start to spread across his face I could tell that he already knew.
  3. Because I now understand so much about clothing (I told Devin this, I told him I have been studying clothing), I was able to waste no time looking at things that weren’t right for work or weren’t right for my body. I wouldn’t even look at a floral.
  4. Because I told myself that I deserve to look nice and have nice clothes, I spent time trying on everything Devin said I should try and I was open minded about everything.
  5. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I really looked. I took my time. I asked myself how I felt and I paid attention to the answer.

After I bought the shoes, I took the escalator back upstairs to show Devin, to make sure they would go with what I had bought. He said they were fine and the pair that I liked better, he did too. As I was taking the escalator back down, Devin called out, “No more suits!” and I hollered back, “No more man suits!”

Because Friday night was so successful (2 jackets, 2 pairs of pants, 2 blouses to wear with the jackets, 2 pairs of shoes), I went out again on Saturday and repeated the process, this time sort of on my own, testing out what I had learned the night before. I did ask the salesperson (Danielle) what she thought as a safe guard. She told me the dress was not too small and that I should not go up a size. It was another productive expedition (2 dresses, 1 jacket, 1 vest, 1 skirt, 1 top to wear under the vest, 1 pair of pants, socks, tights).

It feels good to know what I want, to know what looks good on me. It makes me feel powerful.


PS: I wrote for 2 hours today.


354: Chesting My Cards

September 30, 2016

 30 September 2016 As you know, I lost heart for writing about professional dress in the conservative workplace and simply stopped writing. I was glad to have turned my posts from a few years back into Sweet Baby Lover; I’m still in love with that cover and I’m still proud of that book. But I was not at […]

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353: New Headshot

July 9, 2016

So here it is. Let’s break it down, first, checking to make sure it meets the professional dress criteria: Two things on top? There are three. Check. Focus on the face? The face is the only skin that shows. Check. Equal power? It all looks respectable, nothing looks cheap, tired or dingy. Check. This was an […]

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