By June Mathews
Jimmie and I lead a casual lifestyle — perhaps overly casual at times — and nowhere is that fact more evident than in our wardrobes. His favorite weekend ensemble is a work shirt and tattered overalls; mine is a T-shirt and jeans. Because neither of our jobs require that we get much more gussied up than that, we both live in a near-continual comfort zone.
Oh, we dress up every now and then but nothing like we used to. For one thing, dressing for church is a more laid-back proposition than it used to be, when no matter what we wore the rest of the week, we dressed to the nines on Sunday. While we certainly don’t dress for church these days like we’d dress to work in the yard, Jimmie hardly ever wears a tie anymore, and I never wear the dresses, high heels and matching jewelry I also almost daily donned in a previous work life.
But about a year-and-a-half ago, when Jimmie and I learned one of the nephews would be getting married the first weekend of May 2015, we knew that, like it or not, we’d better be prepared to put in an extra- shiny appearance at the wedding and associated festivities.
You see, this particular nephew is a member of Jimmie’s side of the family. Yeah, the fashionable side of the family. While I don’t come from a line of total slobs, expensive clothing was never the number one priority in our family when my brothers and I were growing up. Mama knew fancy duds would have sooner or later been ruined by us riding mud bikes or ponies, playing in the river that ran at the back of the pasture or rolling around in the grass with one of the dogs.
On the other hand, Jimmie’s mom enjoyed shopping for and dressing her family in nice clothes, and she didn’t mind spending a lot of money to do it. She also had great taste, and Jimmie’s sister and niece inherited that gene.
Even Jimmie got a bit of his mom’s sense of style, but I fear that living with me all these years has dulled it. So when we realized an expensive stint of shopping was in our future, we viewed the thought with equal dread. Thus we avoided the boutiques and shopping centers until three weeks ago, which was probably longer than we should have waited.
Though we found appropriate clothing in relatively short order, we put off gathering the accessories until the last minute. So while I was frantically pawing my way through the jewelry department of a local department store two days before the wedding, Jimmie was hunting a belt in the men’s department.
But I’m here to report that we did it, folks. We survived the retail ordeal. I had to get my brutally honest mother involved in making my selections, and Jimmie relied heavily on the dapper gentleman at one of the local men’s stores. But we each purchased what will be our wardrobe of dress-up clothes for years to come — sparing less expense than usual — and we lived to tell about it.
Furthermore, the wedding was last weekend, and nobody asked us to leave for lack of proper attire. So our choices must have been acceptable. But — and this just occurs to me — though we each had a nice comment or two on our shiny appearances, nobody seemed especially bowled over by our pricey new garb. And that’s okay. We bought new clothes more out of respect for the happy couple and their special occasion than for ourselves.
But the next time a family wedding is in the offing, and we start to panic about what to wear, I’m going to remember this: It’s not what you wear for such occasions that counts; it’s the fact that you care enough to show up and show support.
But truth be told, I could be a whole lot more caring and supportive in a T-shirt and pair of jeans. I’m just saying.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.