“I wore them on the nights that I felt particularly confident, when I didn’t worry about the rules. And on those nights, I wore them very well.”

There are some pieces of clothing in my wardrobe that have stayed with me through the years, long after they were gone from my closet. A pair of Blue Tuxedo Pants is one of those pieces. I bought them when I was in my early 20s in the late 1980s in a thrift store in the Village in New York City. I found them on the men’s rack, probably passed over for years and long separated from their matching jacket. They were a deep midnight blue (black in a dark room) with matching satiny stripes down the sides, two sizes too big. I wore them cinched on my waist with a big black belt and they hung nicely off my hips. Wide-legged and well-lined, they had deep pockets big enough to hold keys, cash, and lipstick, in the days before cellphones were an obligatory accessory. I paired them with my black stilettos and a black lace bustier that wrapped high around my neck, revealed my back, and danced just above the trousers’ waist.

Paige Morrow Kimball

Paige in a blue leather dress, an example of her “sexy” choices in the 1980s.

Back then there were rules that permeated my psyche and that were forged by images of what ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’ meant. I worried that I didn’t look sexy or attractive if I didn’t wear short skirts and tight clothing. I worried that because my Blue Tuxedo Pants were baggy,  they made me look fat, and I was hesitant to wear them much of the time. I wore them on the nights that I felt particularly confident, when I didn’t worry about the rules. And on those nights, I wore them very well. The pants weren’t sexy in themselves,  but they were unique and reflected my own personal sense of style. They were hot because they were so deeply me.

Now that I’m in my 40s, those fears of not looking ‘sexy’ enough are long gone, and have been replaced by new ones. I’m afraid of growing older and of what the future will bring. I worry about what my body will do and how it might fail me. I worry that in a handful of years, looming menopause may make me less than who I am, and who I have always been. I worry that I may not be sexual anymore, and that this may make me angry, bitter, or resentful.

Then I think of those Blue Tuxedo Pants, and I find comfort in the memory of myself in them. Because when I wore them, I was most myself. Those were the moments I was able to live exquisitely and fully, letting go of the rules that truly don’t define me. And I’m reminded to live that way now. To appreciate each stage of my life and be who I truly am.

My Blue Tuxedo Pants hung in my closet for many years. I wore them, from time to time, well into my 30s. I don’t know exactly when I gave them away, but I remember finally giving in to the “should I or shouldn’t I get rid of them” debate. They were well worn, frayed along the edges of the satin stripes, and they had a few small moth holes in the wool here and there.

Lately I’ve been visiting thrift shops again. My kids are a little older now (10 and 7) and I have a bit more time for myself. I’ve been searching for another pair of Blue Tuxedo Pants on the men’s rack. And when I find them, I’ll wear them well, so that when life takes another turn, and I’m in my 60s, I’ll look back at me now, in my 40s, still pretty, and more confident than I was before, having moments of living fully and exquisitely. I’m ready to rock those midnight-Blue Tuxedo Pants again and wear them belted, with heels and a sexy black top.


This article originally appeared at https://womensvoicesforchange.org/my-blue-tuxedo-pants.htm