Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fashion Sense = Divorce Sense?

I enjoy fashion.  I like to look good and make sure my look doesn't become dated.  As I've gotten older, I've had more trouble keeping up with trends and also looking age appropriate (Hey, it's not so easy, look around you at how many people either don't try to do it or who fail miserably at it).  Sure, I read fashion magazines and blogs, but that doesn't always help me translate into looks for me.  Plus, like everyone else, I get comfortable with what I have and am hesitant even to try something new.  I also become overwhelmed by the number of items of clothing out there and have less and less patience to cull through them to find something a bit different.  What to do?  Well, I do two things.  First, I subscribe to an online styling company.  In my case, it's StitchFix.  They deliver to me every quarter.  My first stylist didn't get me, but my second, Sarah, sure did.  She sent me things I loved, but which I would never have found or never have picked to try.  Second, I shop once or twice a year with Daughter.  She has a good eye, attends to trends, and has a vested interest in my not looking ridiculous (would you want to be seen with your mother wearing the too tight, too short skirt?  Didn't think so).  Yes, I go shopping on occasion with friends, but I let none of their opinions override my internal gauge of what I would wear and what I wouldn't.  Only Daughter and Sarah get the honor of my trusting them enough to try things outside my comfort zone. 

I realize that when you're in the Trenches, you have far more important things on which to concentrate than your fashion sense.  There is, however, a lot we can learn about the Trenches while shopping.  If I had to categorize most people in the Trenches in terms of shopping and style, I would put them in two categories.  In the first category are the people who never update their look.  It doesn't matter the look, they will continue to buy the same types of clothing.  You've seen those folks: the woman who's gained significant weight yet still wears skin tight pants or who's lost weight and continues to wear the clothes that fit her when she was heavy; the man who still dresses like he's in college even though he's 60; the people who dye their hair and their facial hair to the same color they had 30 years ago.  In the second category are the people who constantly change their style depending on what other people tell them to do.  They have no internal compass for determining whose opinion to trust and whose to discard, so they listen to everybody.  These are the folks who wear every trend in the world at the same time, whose look is not always age-appropriate, and whose clothes, although updated, don't flatter them.  We see plenty of both groups in the Trenches.

The first group suffers from a fear of change.  They are often the folks whose spouses leave them and they can't understand why.  For them, their marriage was the same as it always was until the day their spouse announced they were leaving.  Now that change is thrust upon them, they have a hard time dealing with it.  For these folks, it's like taking them into a mall and telling them they can't buy the clothes they've always bought; they panic or at least suffer severe anxiety.

The second group suffers from information overload.  They are the folks who ask all of their friends for advice and read everything about divorce on the internet, and then not asking themselves whether the advice makes sense.  Many times, they think it all makes sense, and that confuses them even more.  This group has as many leavers as leavees.  Either way, they are overwhelmed by the decisions they have to make and as a result, many of their decisions change frequently as they hear from more people during the course of their divorce.

Both groups need a Daughter and a Sarah to help them as they progress through the Trenches.  Who are those when we talk about the Trenches?  They are a professional with expertise in family law to guide and advise them; for most people, that professional is a family law attorney.  They are also a friend or family member (or therapist) whose opinion they trust and who can tell them the hard truths.  It's still OK to talk about divorce or the end of their marriage with other friends or family, but they need to be confident enough of the advice of their professional and their one trusted person to assess what other people tell them against what they're told by their two trusted advisors.  If they find they trust their friends and family more than their trusted advisors, then they have the wrong advisors.  If they have the right advisors and can't assess what the chorus of thousands is telling them, then they need to check in with their advisors - just like I do when I'm thinking about trying a new trend.  Here in the Trenches.

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