birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I am not exactly a fashion maven, and when my kids were little I solved the problem of having to dress nicely for work by buying four wrinkle free shirts from LL Bean (one blue, two white, one with a pattern) and two pairs of wash and wear slacks (one tan and one black). I bought the slacks in the Ladies section of Nordstrom (it’s not called the “Ladies” section, but that’s what it is). I’d alternate the pants and the shirts, and wear different scarves with the white shirts, which I thought would change things up.

I also always wore the same underwear - Victoria’s Secret demi bras and bikini underwear. I hate buying things at Victoria’s Secret because the ambient stupidity is just a bit too high, but the underwear does fit well. I stopped buying their bras after I had a terrible bra accident, but that’s a story for another day.

The shirts were button up, three quarter sleeve blouses (I don’t like having cuffs near my hands - I don’t actually like having anything near my hands, including jewelry and watches). I liked that I didn’t have to iron the shirts, but that they would still look mostly pressed. The pants were a little shapeless but very comfortable. They had no pockets (which sucked) but also didn’t need a belt (nice!) and were a little stretchy. I think I usually wore them with Clarks loafers.

These outfits were not stylish.

They were also not varied, despite my strategic use of scarves. I used to take one of my kids to a special class on Wednesdays and once the teacher asked me where I worked. I told her and she said, “Oh, I thought you might work somewhere you had to wear a uniform because you always wear the same thing.” I hadn’t realized, but Wednesday had become black-pants-and-blue-shirt day without me actually planning it.

I eventually somewhat reformed and bought more different clothes because I was working with a young rather fashionable woman in her 20s who was utterly aghast at my clothing choices. What really upset her was that I shared jeans with my husband. Apparently this is a terrible idea.

I also got put off scarves a bit when I was watching a presentation with a male colleague and he leaned over and whispered to me “I notice that women of a certain age all wear scarves. Don’t do that.” I guess he hadn’t realized that I DID do that, around 40% of the time.

I still have a tendency to dress a bit simply, but I am no longer that uniform in my dressing habits.

Not Quite Uniform

White Hose