“Overdress,” You Say?

By Elle

As Abby always says, “We don’t dress; we overdress.” The other day someone asked me what this means. It’s like this: When we’re at home, you may find us lounging around in sweatpants and a t-shirt — uh, possibly. But if we’re going out in public — even if it’s just a quick trip to Trader Joe’s — the sweatpants stay home.*

OK, so we don’t wear sweatpants in public. Not that unusual, you think. Ah, but it’s more than that.

In years past, people used to dress (as in “dress up”) for air travel. Traveling by airplane was a luxury; not everyone could afford to fly, and those who could naturally dressed for the occasion. Obviously those days are gone, but there’s no reason anyone should appear in public looking like they just stepped off the treadmill. Or rolled out of bed.

Abby and I are of the opinion that every day is an opportunity to feel luxurious. After all, is every day not a gift? Eat off the bone china, drink wine (or soymilk) out of your finest crystal and replace paper napkins with cloth, we say. Don’t save the good stuff for the holidays that roll around once a year. Make the ordinary luxurious. What better way is there to live? (And if you’re afraid of breaking the china or the crystal, consider this: Have you ever risked having your heart broken? And is that not more valuable?)

So with that in mind, one shouldn’t simply dress. Don’t go out in a pair of jeans and a random shirt. (You’ll look like everyone else, and how boring is that?) Don’t settle for the ordinary. Consider the “presentation of self,” and overdress.

To overdress is not to say that you should grocery shop in a cocktail dress and heels. Good grief, no. But it does mean that you should put yourself together in such a way that you will feel, and people will think, that you’re someone worth knowing. Because you are, aren’t you?

Save the jeans and random shirt for the weekend you’re hosting a garage sale. Or raking leaves. Or writing your novel. But when you step outside your door, do it with pizzazz.

I recall Abby’s Uncle Michael once saying that he doesn’t tip wait staff. He overtips (and that’s not a lie). This over thing…must be something that runs in the family.

*True confessions: Sometimes (rarely, actually) after a workout, I have been known to pop into a store in, yes, my workout clothes and Nikes. But only if absolutely necessary. And let it be known that the entire time I feel as if I’m sporting a tired bathrobe, bunny slippers and pink foam curlers in my hair.

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