At 6:00 each morning as the alarm broke the peace this summer, I rolled out of bed, grabbed coffee and threw on my not so stylish outfit. The center-piece of my wardrobe was a drab brown plaid flannel shirt. One pocket is ripped a bit, two buttons are missing and it has a stubborn coffee stain on one sleeve. I originally got it at a rummage sale in Virginia, knowing it would take the chill off an outdoor Massachusetts morning. I love this shirt.
Now mind you, this shirt is not pretty. Some women can sport a man’s shirt and come of as pretty, even sexy. Remember Annette Bening in The American President? Michael Douglas almost gave up an election for the love of her in his crisp not-so-virginal white shirt. I don’t think she would have had the same effect in flannel.
Flannel is almost a genre. Labels like Pendleton, Woolrich and L.L. Bean have made a classic out of its comfort. And then there’s red flannel hash, that staple of New England church suppers that makes little children gag. It is a traditional corned beef hash with beets added for color and it is definitely an acquired taste. I guess it probably derives it ‘s name from the Red Flannel underwear that our Dads used to wear in the winter when they went out to shovel snow or hunt deer or some other freezing New Hampshire endeavor.
Each day this summer, I had chores to do and two hours to do them. Under the flannel shirt, bleach spattered jeans and a t-shirt completed the ensemble. Loosely pulling my graying hair back in a twist-tie and lacing up sturdy hiking boots, I headed out for the morning’s honest work, stylish in what would best be described as a rumpled-crumpled look. I never wasted a moment this summer thinking about what was stylish. Clothes were as practical and as honest as the work.
Now, summer has passed into fall and the chores are done until next spring. Tonight, I dress up for dinner. As I squeeze into a dress, I will spend a moment though, imagining the hug of a familiar flannel shirt and the tug of jeans. I miss my summer style already.
One rumpled-crumpled July morning, as I headed out for chores with my sweet husband I turned to him and jokingly said, “Why don’t you ever tell me I’m pretty anymore?” We looked at each other and just laughed. I snuggled my flannel shirt around me and off we went to do our chores, caring less about what is stylish.