I needed a new raincoat. I didn’t want anything fancy, a simple old-fashioned rain slicker would do. Something I could wear in the summer months that wasn’t overly expensive. It didn’t have to be a name brand, it didn’t have to have a lot of bells and whistles, it just needed to be something sturdy and water repellent to wear in the rain. The bar was pretty low. I did a google search and after looking around the interwebs, I kept going back to this one particular rain jacket, a floral lined rain slicker by a company whose name I recognized as one that was frequently carried at The Bon Ton, the local department store in the town I grew up in. Not a fancy label, but the sort of label your mother purchased as a good, dependable, tasteful, well priced brand. You know the type.
The jacket itself was cute – I chose a lime green one with a pretty floral lining. I’m a sucker for details like that. The price was right – $39.99. The reviews on the website were all positive, and thanks to the information gleaned from them, I took a second look at the sizing charts and ordered a size smaller than I normally do. This perhaps should have been the first warning sign. The second was my fourteen year old daughter taking a look over my shoulder at my order and giving the website I was ordering from a serious side eye. But given that she’s fourteen and generally questions all of my sartorial choices these days, I ignored her warnings that I was purchasing “an old lady raincoat”.
The jacket arrived and I was positively delighted with it. It was exactly what I had wanted with a rather roomy fit. I could have even gone down a size, but decided to stick with what I had. I was quite pleased with my purchase and sat down to look at the enclosed catalog in the package to see if there were any other offerings I may need.
Among the items on display in the catalog from the company I had just made a purchase from was a number of clothing items that I had no idea that were even still made – Elastic waist ‘mom’ jeans. Adjustable waist pants for him and her. Among the undergarments, there was not a belly button to be seen on any of the models – oh no, they were all comfortably covered by fabric attached to elastic that rose up to a woman’s natural waistline, otherwise known as Granny Panties. There were pedal pushers – a term I’m fairly sure I haven’t heard since sometime in the 1980’s. Each page featured a long forgotten fashion gem – the short sleeve mock turtleneck among them. But the pièce de résistance was the “Ponté Palette”, available in 3 lengths, 8 colors with a banner advertising them IN YOUR SIZE. It would seem the Ponté knit pants, shorts and pedal pushers, made of a a polyester knit that resists wrinkles with a slightly relaxed fit in the full elastic waist and hips with stitched creases for a neatly pressed look were exactly the pants my Granny wore that I’m pretty sure had stopped being made sometime around 1979. And yet, here they were, available from the company I had just ordered a raincoat from that now had my home mailing address. I’m doomed to get more of these catalogs.
That’s not the worst of it. The worst of it was when my husband picked up the remaining pile of papers that had come in the package, sorting through before tossing into the recycling bin and noticed that there was an envelope with AARP membership information. OMIGOD, MY BRAND NEW RAINCOAT CAME WITH AN COMPLIMENTARY AARP MEMBERSHIP PACKET. I just can’t even. Wait, I’m not sure I’m allowed to say that, because I now shop with what even my Granny called “The Blue Hairs”.
I don’t know how this happened. I just wanted a rain coat. I admit, it probably was the floral lining that drew me in, but does that make me an old lady who no longer cares about being fashionable? Is this how that happens? I mean, sure, I’ve got aches and pains and gravity has certainly taken a toll on some things and I finally have so many grey hairs I’m starting to look blonde again in certain light, but I didn’t think I was this far gone. I still have a few years before I have to face the reality of being 50. Am I going to have to swap my J. Jill credit card for a Chico’s one? Will my comfortable but stylish clogs and beloved boots be replaced by ComfortEase shoes? Do I have to trade in my signature black everything for pastel everything? I had recognized recently that despite my best efforts, I was really starting to be built like my Granny, but I didn’t realize that meant I had to start dressing like her, right down to the comfortable stitched seam polyester pants.
To be fair, she wore those pants in the 70’s, when everyone wore polyester. She was sassy and had style with her cat-eye sunglasses and red convertible. Even in her 70’s, she made fun of old lady clothes and would make cracks about ‘old farts’ and ‘blue hairs’. The realization that even my Granny would probably poke fun at my new raincoat is a bit sobering, but you know what? I like it. Complimentary AARP membership and all.
(And no, there is no shot of my new raincoat in this post. It’s not entirely flattering on me. But google women’s rain coats under $40 and you’ll see it.)