I was in Office Depot the other day with my younger daughter buying school supplies. Since I was responsible for staying by the cart—and not moving it—while she carried her list and a pen around with her and shopped for color-coordinated binders, pocket folders, notebooks, dividers and pens, I had the time to watch mothers (is it alright to say mothers and not parents since I did not see any men around?) and children as they hustled about in various stages of panic and frustration. And as I watched from my perch by the binders, I saw a midlife woman wearing a knee-length floral print skirt in blue, green and white with wide pleats. It was quite bright. It was like a garden around her. And, I must admit, I watcher her as she walked around in the vicinity of my shopping cart and me. Her tee shirt was a bright turquoise and she was very tan; she stood out, in a good way, as opposed to the woman in her black and red biker (as in bicycle) outfit.
As usual with my mind, I was off to contemplation-land, wondering “Why do so many women wear floral print skirts?” An obvious answer is that they look nice on us and they are a wonderful pattern that does not emphasize the flaws as would a horizontally stripped skirt. But there must be more to it than that. Mustn’t there be a connection to the natural world that we invite into our lives in the very fabric of our skirts? And mustn’t there be a reason why we want our thoughts to be drawn to flowers and gardens and fields of wildflowers and lands where hibiscus blooms? Do we ache, in the midst of our lives with their constant movement, to be in a still place, a place that is beautiful and summons up feelings of contentment and repose?
When we were on vacation in Hawaii a few years (and a divorce) ago, I bought a knee-length skirt with blue and green flowers on a white background. I don’t wear it out any more, but I love that skirt. I love how it made me feel sexy in the way we felt when we were teenagers at the beach before we realized what sexy really means, and before those boys walked over to our beach towel and not that we just giggled about the possibility with our girlfriends.
I don’t think another type of pattern would be able to convey that joy to me. Polka dots? No sex appeal there. Chunks of colors, nah. Swirls, maybe swirls; but they seem to evoke the sky which evokes mystery, and not the mystery of sex, or the mystery that is inherent in life. Do not get me even thinking about skirts with little sailboats or bugs or martini glasses on them because I can’t even use the word “convey” with them, I can only say that they are skirts that mock, mock the sensibilities of the women who bought them. Who the heck wants to sashay down the street decked out in little cars? So we’re back to flowers. Blossoms. Blooms. Petals.
Perhaps they are a modern fertility garment. Not fertile in the sense that wearing them helps you get pregnant (wouldn’t that be a great idea), but fertile in the sense that our minds open up—as if on vacation—when you wear them. Maybe, too, we are channeling the flowers that inspired the pattern; we are the very muse of the pattern maker. Do flowers wrapped around our waist and hips and thighs give us the illusion that we are as natural and effortless in our beauty (whatever your definition of beauty) as the buds on our cloth?
In my most slender summer, I bought a pair of tight jeans that had flowers painted on them. (Yes, yes, I mean 1986). My latest foray into floral-patterned clothing is a flowing skirt that is brown with blue flowers on it that I bought a few years ago. When I picture them both, as well as my Hawaiian skirt, in my mind’s eye, I smile. I smile because those flowers make me feel good—made me feel good in a way solids never did. Maybe this is how we practice positive thinking: we enwrap ourselves in fields of flowers. Whether they are paired with ballet flats or stilettos, there is something so pure and innocent about a flower that there can be no mistaking the essence that is at our core: that to be a woman is to be an element of nature, an element that sustains, an element that engenders fields of flowers where she walks.
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