Too Casual?

“Clothes allow you to see yourself in a different light. They can transform you instantly and have a very real, visceral impact. Clothes become symbolic of who we are.” – Stacy London

 

Jeans. Most everyone loves them and they are probably one of the most commonly owned pieces of clothing by Americans.

Here are two interesting facts about jeans:

1.  In 1873, Levi Strauss and Company received a patent for blue jeans.  A durable pant was needed for gold and silver miners and so they were created.  The material was called “dungarees” (which is what my grandfather used to call them!) Later on, mostly Cowboys wore jeans working the cattle ranches since they lasted much longer than cotton pants.  Since then, jeans have evolved into many different cuts including boot cut, low waist, skinny, boyfriend, straight leg, etc. Everyone in America owns a pair of jeans.

2.  Elvis Presley could only afford dungarees when he was a child because his family was so poor. As an adult, he rarely ever wore them because of that.

While jeans are great to wear for comfort or working (as originally intended), I think we have gone a bit overboard on when it is appropriate to wear jeans and there are times when more formal attire is appropriate.

 

This is totally my opinion, but I really don’t feel that jeans should be worn if:

1.  You are attending viewing or funeral.  Yes, I have seen it. To me, it is terribly disrespectful that the time could not be taken to dress up to honor a person’s life.

2.  You are attending a wedding. I don’t care if you have a button down shirt and tie on as well.  Unless the invitation states that it is very casual, a wedding is not the place to sport your Levi’s.

3.  You are a teacher – Now, wait. Don’t get angry! By all means, participate in dress down Fridays and Jeans Days (I always did!), but please do this only on Fridays. I cannot tell you how many teachers I see wearing jeans during the week. And the ones I have seen wearing jeans pair them with sweatshirts, dingy sweaters or t-shirts and old sneakers. After being in education for almost 20 years, I can say with certainty that dressing too casually affects how students treat you and perceive you as a teacher.  It can affect the whole mood of the class. If you are going to wear jeans, remember two things – you are not going to be working outside (wear nice jeans and shoes) and you are not going clubbing (lose the hoochie-mama tops and skin tight skinnies).  You are still a teacher and a professional who deserves respect. You are a role model for your students and reflection of your school. Dress like it!

4. If you are the first person a customer/client/patient sees – You are making a first impression of the office, store, doctor, etc.  I remember taking my mother to her orthopedic therapist one time and the receptionist was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. And it was a Wednesday. I immediately questioned my mother about what  type of office this was and the credibility of the physician. It did not seem very professional to me and I immediately thought negatively about the doctor, whom I had not yet met.  As it turns out, I did not care for the doctor, but my mom liked her and she got better, so I might have judged her wrong. But I did judge her and I have not forgotten that. Most people do not easily forget first impressions…

5.  If you are going to church – I know some churches say that it does not matter what you wear, as long as you are there, but I just don’t think it’s right to wear old jeans and sweatshirts to church.  Black or colored jeans or corduroys with a nice sweater and boots – yes, but not old, faded, ripped ones.  And don’t even get me started on those wearing SWEATPANTS to church! AHHH!!  I think that God deserves more!

People form opinions about us based on our appearances.  We can’t help it. It’s human nature.  And clothes are usually the first thing people notice, even before your face. Doubt me? Go to the mall and people watch.  The clothes that we wear are more powerful than we might think.

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It Happened…

As I opened up my blog today, I took a look at the categories on my page.  I was scanning down when I saw the one titled, “Since I am going to be 40.” Well, it happened. I am now the big 4-0. And yes, life IS a little different than when I was in my 30s.  I didn’t wake up that morning feeling any different. I didn’t do anything special that day (I had to work), but I did look in the mirror to study my now 40 year-old face.  I didn’t notice any new wrinkles (thank you, Mom, for starting me on a moisturizing routine when I was in my teens), no dark circles under my eyes. Yet. No sagging skin. Yet.  But I know these things will come slowly but surely over the next decade and I sighed. Where had life gone?  It seemed only yesterday that my friends through me a surprise party when I turned 30 and now, here I am 10 years later. Ugh.

I am not sure why 40 is such a difficult age for women.  Some women fear turning 30 more than 40, but 30 did not really bother me. I still felt young and vibrant and attractive.  I have a few friends a little older (and wiser) than me and they all said that your 30s are your best years.  I have to say, they were definitely the best decade of my life thus far. I had the most wonderful times with my girlfriends, met and married the man of my dreams and advanced in my career. Now, there is a very strong possibility that I killed a few (dozen) brain cells during this time from drinking adult beverages (and lots of them) but I think I have enough left that I will be okay. At least, I hope.

My girlfriends and I got together last night for some drinks and dinner and our conversations proved that we were definitely all officially 40 and above (I am one of the youngest in the group). After talking about how most of us were on medication for high blood pressure, we then went into discussing the increasing number of gray hairs popping up (not just on our heads), acid reflux and the fact that we all have to work out way longer and harder than we did years ago to stay in shape. Yep. These were the topics of our Friday night conversations.

We also gave advice to a 30 year-old (my darling cousin) about dating.  She is recently divorced and has never been on the dating scene.  She was with her husband since high school and has NO CLUE what is out there.  We all chimed in and gave her our advice since we could write a book on the horrific and comedic dating experiences we’ve all had (some of us had been dating for 20 years before we met the right man!)  Here were some of our best tips:  Don’t sleep with him on the first date. Don’t only get to know him through Facebook or other social media.  Make him take you out and talk face to face. Don’t sleep with him on the first date.  Don’t settle for less than what you want.  Don’t get drunk on the first date.  Make sure he has a job.  Don’t sleep with him on the first date.  Remember, pictures can be posted anywhere and have lasting effects on your reputation and even your career. (Thank God there was no such thing as Instagram and Facebook when we were in our prime!) Don’t sleep with him on the first date. Watch how he treats his mother and other women in his life.  Don’t sl…you get the picture…

I just hope that she listens to her elders (dear Lord, that’s what we are now) and enjoys her 30s as much as we did. Well, actually, since she’s my little cousin, I hope she enjoys them just a little less than we did… 🙂

We Stood Up…

Today, I was in an elementary school to coach teachers on instructional strategies. In case you are unaware, schools are going through tremendous changes right now to meet the very challenging Common Core State Standards and new teacher evaluation systems (at least in NY and NJ).  Teachers are expected to work miracles with students who are coming to school with less and less basic skills. They are forced to teach classes of heterogeneously grouped students with huge discrepancies in terms of ability levels, non-English speaking students, severe behavior problem students as well as dealing with (and almost having to answer to) overbearing parents who continuously blame the teachers if their child is not succeeding.  Or behaving. Or not doing his homework.  Speaking from experience, teaching is more difficult now than it ever was.  Period.  And it’s not getting any easier.  I taught for 16 years and truly empathize with what our teachers are going through. Student test scores (in NJ) have become a part of each teacher’s end- of-the-year evaluation, so it is weighing heavy on each educator’s mind.  State testing, coupled with the new evaluations systems, have ultimately led teachers to “teach to the test” and as many have told me, “taken the fun out of teaching and learning.”

Driving to the school, all of these things were on my mind and I was feeling a little sad as I entered the building. I signed in, met briefly with the principal who wanted to talk about test scores, and then went into a third grade classroom. The teacher is a fabulous one and has the patience of a saint.  Out of 20 kids, she has 12 who are special education.  Two more should be classified, but their parents will not allow  it. The teacher told me how frustrated she feels but comes to work each day with a positive attitude and smile on her face – for herself and her students.  I admired her perseverance and dedication  and thought about all of the other teachers I know and work with who are unhappy with their roles and limits in the classroom.   

As I watched the tiny third graders noisily hang up their backpacks, talking with friends and vying for the teachers’ attention, a voice came over the loud-speaker and asked us to stand for the pledge of allegiance.  Everything stopped and we stood up and faced the flag.  As I crossed my hand over my heart, I saw eager little faces with tiny hands on their hearts and with their squeaky voices, lisps and slight mispronunciations, the students  loudly recited those famous words that American school children say each and every day. Pledging allegiance to our country and our flag. Putting our faith and trust in the leaders of America to do the right thing.  And suddenly, my heart grew warm, my eyes got misty and I smiled. There is something about seeing a group of children with hope in their eyes and determination in their voices that is uplifting and inspiring.  And right then, right there, I felt like things in education and our country will all work out.  It has to.  For our students. For our teachers. For our futures.