I need help.
Is this bag cool-Indiana-Jones-Anthropologist-Montanan-fly-fisherwoman bag or is it fits-nicely-in-my-minivan-and-full-of-Werthers-Originals bag?
If you know me, you know this purse:
From formal wine and cheese functions at the President of the College’s house:
To Last Day of Classes at WM (aka Blowout. That bag may or may not have been used to conceal a bottle of rum and coke. Or champagne. Or both.)
To my last night in Williamsburg.
To the San Diego Zoo. And no, John and I don’t have a secret child. That’s his baby cousin.
Also note the Sperrys. Told you I wore them everywhere. P.S. I decided against the Toms. I swear I used this bag nearly every day in JVC, I just have no pictures of it for some reason.
It’s perfect. It’s big enough to hold my water bottle, an extra pair of shoes or a sweater, a book, all my medicine and anything else I decided I need that day. The strap is long enough that I can put it over my shoulder and bike, or go for a walk without constantly having to adjust it. One of my college roommates sent it to me while she was studying abroad in France years ago and it’s gotten plenty of compliments ever since.
But if you compare the first picture (taken this spring) to the second (taken 3 years ago), you can see the bag has taken some beating. Sun, rain, mud hasn’t been kind to the poor bag. It’s faded considerably, the little reflective mirrors have fallen off, the tassels are wearing thin, the seashells are barely holding on. And it’s just plain dirty.
I know I could use a new purse. But I don’t want a new purse. I want that purse. I don’t like most other bags like it:
See that? That’s not me. I have no need to advertise that I am all for ideas of peace and love with the words “peace” and “love.” Most of these type bags are too hippie for me, and coming from someone who makes her own granola, that’s saying something.
I also feel like I should get something minutely more grown up. Something like this bag on Etsy:
Or back to the more-hippie style with this one:
Or I could sew my own. Which I’m not sure would be any cheaper than buying one of those off of Etsy. I browsed the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, and while I saw some cute (and cheaper) ones, I didn’t find any that could really fill the role that my purse has played in my life for the last 4 years. Maybe when we head to Portland this summer (the hippie Mecca) I can find a suitable replacement.
I’m over here today, at Angela Barton’s My Year Without Spending. She joined the Compact, a group that commits to not buying anything new and decided to blog about her experiences. I started following her blog when I was in JVC. She does a feature called “Thrifty Threads” where she invites people to submit pictures of their thrifted outfits. A couple months ago she said she was running low on submissions, so I decided to give it a whirl. Her blog is great, go check it out!
All photos courtesy of Enigma Productions.
So, everything was good to go, all I needed to do was get dressed.
I like to be on time. I prefer to be early. So instead of the frantic hour before the wedding, I just kinda waited around for everyone then finally figured I might as well get dressed. That half hour right before the wedding slowed down. It seemed like 2 o’clock would never come.
A few words on dresses. I was pretty adamant that neither I nor my bridesmaids would wear strapless. I figured since I wouldn’t do it normally in church, why would I do it on this most important day? That being said, I realize our dresses aren’t super modest either. Well, I tried. At least there were no awkward pulling up the dress moments!
First the girls got dressed.
The girls wore J. Crew Sophia dresses. I wasn’t too worried about what they would wear, but I did want it to be a cotton sundress. Navy was an easy color that looks good on everybody, though I did really like the champagne color, too. That got vetoed pretty fast. I think navy falls into the “it is possible to wear it again” category, but I don’t know if any of them have since.
Every bride has their dress hanging up picture. And I think mine is pretty cool. We got dressed in the church library because no one was there to meet us when we got there, and it was the only room unlocked. Apparently we weren’t supposed to. *oops*. Anyway, it drives me quite crazy that a) it’s hung on an ugly plastic hanger, and b) the the straps are slouched down like that. Why didn’t I just fix it? I think I was a little too unfocused on the details. Maybe you can be too relaxed on your wedding day!
Time to get in the dress.
Apparently it was really hard to get me into my dress. The photographer wanted that “moment” where they all help me into the dress. Unfortunately, the snaps were clear and it created a tense moment of my mom and sister trying to convince me there were no snaps on my dress, and everyone wanting to give it a try. Can you see how many hands are trying to go for it?
Finally I convinced them to just let me do it. I mean, I was the one who had been trying it on all this time anyway!
A few last make up touches. My little sis bought me some lipstick before the wedding because she knew I was a poor former JV and wouldn’t have done it myself!
I think this picture is kinda awesome. I remember the photographer saying the dirty mirror was “killing him.” But I like the effect. It makes it look like a rainy window. Maybe its just me, but its one of my favorites.
My little sister decided to help me with my earrings. I don’t think it ultimately worked out and I probably did it again myself, but it makes for a darling picture. Especially the way my flower girl/cousin is looking at me. I smile every time I see this picture.
But that reminds me. Earring drama. Years ago, when I left my college apartment, I drove myself home in my 2 door car. Not everything fit, and I left 3 boxes at a family friend’s house. His son would be coming by my parents house in a few weeks and could drop the boxes off then. Plans changed, and I didn’t see those boxes for 2 years. The friend was a Deacon, the one who was marrying us in fact, and he promised to bring the boxes with him for the wedding. I don’t know why I left the box with some of my most precious things at their house, but I did. One of the things in the box was my favorite pair of earrings, ones that my grandmother had given me when I graduated from high school. Simple, elegant drop pearl earrings. I knew I would wear them on my wedding day before I had anything else picked out. Unfortunately the box didn’t get dropped off until the day after my wedding. I ended up borrowing some simple pearl earrings from my mother. Not quite what I wanted, but I had my something borrowed.
I just look so pretty now, don’t I? I remember feeling very pretty. Fun times.
One last word on my bouquet. I don’t have a good picture of it, but my something old was a handkerchief that my Godmother gave me for my first communion that she had carried in her wedding. My something blue was a rosary that my mom had lent me. I had trouble wrapping it around the bouquet though, and so this is what we were trying to figure out here!
Okay, finally we were all dressed. One more thing to take care of before we head down the aisle, though!
I’ve been thinking a lot about clothes lately. Post JVC, my wardrobe was pretty shabby. A year of working at a day care and a year of working at a homeless shelter meant I didn’t have much besides long t-shirts and jeans left in my closet. And sweaters. Definitely sweaters.
Post JVC, I bought some clothes. This was a big deal for me. I never was much one for shopping, and let me tell you, it was a little crazy to buy 2 pairs of jeans, 3 shirts, 2 shirts, a pair of capris and a pair of shorts all in the same day after having bought virtually nothing for the past 2 years. I realize that in “today’s world” clothes do play a part in how people perceive us, and I wanted to be able to look semi-professional in grad school when necessary. Over Christmas, I gratefully accepted a good bit of my sister’s hand-me-downs, bought a few new things with gift cards, and bought 2 pairs of new shoes. I have a lot (for me anyway, I don’t think it’s probably half of what other people have) of clothes in my closet. It’s kind of crazy. So I started reading fashion blogs like Academichic to learn how to dress myself.
But then there is always the question of, what to wear to Mass?
When I was growing up, we wore our “Sunday Best.” Matching sweaters and skirts, tights, and weather appropriate faux-leather shoes. I’m quite sure we were darling. When I was in high school, my home parish was too small to offer a confirmation program, so I started going to church in a nearby town. That church had a 6pm mass for teenagers, and the dress was casual. At first, I’ll admit, I found it odd. My older sister and I kept dressing up even though no one else did.
Eventually though, I gave in and wore jeans. And it was a spiritual experience.
For years, I had listened to folks in my church complain about those who “couldn’t bother to dress up for Church.” We were supposed to dress up as a sign of respect, right? “Look at the Protestants – they are always so much better dressed than the Catholics!” we would say.
I never really understood the concept of, “dress up for God.” When I would get dressed up for Mass, I had to wonder, “Does God care that I’m wearing my American Eagle skirt because it’s nicer than my not-so-dressy Belk one? Does he think I love him more because I choose one item of my closet than another?” I had a feeling the answer was no.
I got used to dressing down. And I loved it. I wasn’t worried about how I looked or whether I looked good enough, I was just there for God. My clothes were just keeping my covered. But when I left for college and came back to that church over the summer, my mom had informed me things had changed.
We were all set to leave for Mass, and I was wearing flip-flops. Scandalous, I know. My mom informed me that the priest had asked the teenagers not to wear flip-flops anymore. It wasn’t appropriate, she said. She mentioned one girl in particular, who tended to dress “alternatively” for mass. (Still conservatively, although she favored things like homemade skirts adorned with safety pins and converse tennis shoes).
“Um, hello?” I replied, “shouldn’t he just be happy that ‘girls like that’ come to mass? That she feels welcome to come as she is?” I wore flip-flops for the rest of the summer in protest.
Does the way we dress cause people to feel welcome, or un-welcome at our churches? I go to a church close to the homeless shelter where I work. I see our clients fairly regularly at Mass, and none are wearing their “Sunday best.” It pains me to think that they might feel as if they stand out, as if it is obvious that they are homeless, or that others are judging them for not dressing nicer. I want people to feel welcome at Mass, no matter how they are dressed.
From Dies Domini (the Day of God) 70:
Ever since Apostolic times, the Sunday gathering has in fact been for Christians a moment of fraternal sharing with the very poor….More than ever, we need to listen once again to the stern warning which Paul addresses to the community at Corinth, guilty of having humiliated the poor in the fraternal agape which accompanied “the Lord’s Supper”: “…. Or do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” (1 Cor 11:20-22). James is equally forceful in what he writes: “If a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘Take a seat here, please’, while you say to the poor man, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (2:2-4).
Now, I’m not saying that people who dress up for mass think they are superior and judge those who don’t. But I am saying, we shouldn’t have a “policy” about it lest we exclude those who are suffering the most.
Recently, however, my own dress-down policy has shifted. I still don’t believe that God will be offended if I don’t dress up for him. I believe he doesn’t care what I am wearing, but cares what is in my heart.
From Dies Domini 4:
For Christians, Sunday is “the fundamental feastday”,(4) established not only to mark the succession of time but to reveal time’s deeper meaning.
Sunday Mass is a celebration. A feast. Now, I dress to celebrate. I dress no longer out of the obligation that “I should dress up” or as a rebellion against those who do dress up. And what is a celebration for me differs each week. This week, it’s a hand-me-down jean skirt, tights, boots, and a cardigan. The Sundays where I left work and went straight for Mass, it was jeans, converses, and a flannel shirt. Was it pretty? No, but I was happy knowing that God loved me anyway even if I didn’t have time to change out of my homeless-shelter-work-clothes into my “church clothes.” The clothes I did God’s work in were my “church clothes.” I avoid wearing sweats, cause those don’t put me in the right mindset. But I smile when I see the girl’s field hockey team rush straight from practice to make mass on time and are still wearing their uniforms. I avoid dressing immodestly, but when I see someone who is, I am happy that they chose to come to Mass.
What do you think? What do you wear to church services and why?
(this post was inspired in part by Getting over “Modesty” on No Wealth But Life. Interesting post, go check it out!)
Also, yes, that is a picture from my wedding. Yes, I chose to dress up for that.