When I was in university I had a professor who was a legend - you know, one of those teachers who spawn stories that get handed down from one year's class to the next. This fellow was famous for having reduced the problem of dressing every day to a simple art: five white shirts and five different coloured ties, one for each day of the week. He probably had a few pairs of pants, too, but they must have been identical because we couldn't tell.
Well, I'm feeling really sorry for all those times I sat in a lecture hall and shared a "Red tie, it must be Tuesday" joke with my classmates. Not just because it was kind of mean. But because my own students, the kids I tutor, could be telling the same joke about me.
I used to make decisions every day about what I would wear. But somehow, at some moment after we left the city, the words "simplify my life" got applied to my wardrobe. I now have a uniform. A Mucky Boots uniform.
Blue jeans. T-shirt. Half-zip fleece. Puffy vest. Warm socks. That's it.
By my count I have four fleeces, identical except for the colour (grey, purple, navy and teal), and three puffy vests (navy, purple and fancy purple check). Not counting any variations in t-shirts, since they're invisible under all my layers, that makes twelve different combinations of fleece and puffy vest. Do my students say to themselves "Today is Thursday, it must be purple fleece and navy vest day"? Has my fashion sense been reduced to little more than a joke?
Here's the thing: I don't really care. There's a reason I have settled on this as my uniform for the cooler months - it's comfortable, functional, and it gives me layering options for different temperatures. Plus I like grey and blue and purple. I don't spend any time ironing, or fretting about what to wear. I can go to the hardware store, out for lunch, or to a tutoring session without feeling over- or under-dressed.
So I'd like to apologize to that professor from so long ago. He was on to something that in my silly, self-absorbed youth I missed. And I'd like to pass on these words to my own students: laugh at me now, if you like. I can take it. I'll just smile and wait for the day when you, too, will come to appreciate the beautiful simplicity of a self-chosen uniform.