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Why I Overdress for Everything (Alternate Title: The Time I Stopped Bathing)

I overdress for everything these days and can’t even go to the grocery store without a full face of make-up. I’m sure it looks pathetic to some but there’s a very specific reason for this.

It all started years ago, when I got my very first radio job out of college. I was living in a small town in Georgia, pulling the mid-day shift at an alternative-rock station. I was 23-years-old and lucky enough to be working with some of my best friends, who also had dreams of a broadcasting career. I had a gorgeous boyfriend who was way out of my league but he stayed with me because “Radio Chick” went a long way back then. I was happier than I had ever been, but there was one snag. See, the house I lived in had one shower, and it was impossibly clogged. Today I know that there’s an easy (but disgusting) way to fix this but back then, I just took showers in ankle-deep water. Afterwards, I had to give the tub about 48-hours to drain, which is just as disgusting as it sounds. This is probably why I stopped bathing.

Not altogether, mind you. No, I’d still squeeze one in here or there, or maybe hit the showers at the gym, but I mostly just stopped. I was also still dressing for work in my “college uniform,” which consisted of t-shirts and gym shorts. I even remember picking up a pack of Men’s White T-Shirts from Kmart and thinking, “This’ll do.” I never thought twice about this because, I was living the dream. How could it be WRONG?

This continued until the day my boss, Rob Nicholson (who is the sweetest man and still a friend), called me into his office. I can’t remember exactly what he said to me but I’ll paraphrase what I recall.

“I’ve noticed that you are more driven and do a better job when you dress for work. There’s a real difference between the days that you DO and the days you show up in boxer shorts. I need you to remember that this is a place of business. We have clients coming in and they’ll want to meet you. Please think about that and dress accordingly.”

This man was my boss but he was also a drinking buddy. I had been vomit-drunk with him only days before so hearing the voice-of-authority from him shocked me. I also had one of the most profound and instant moments of clarity that I’ve ever experienced.

I did a quick assessment and realized I hadn’t bathed for 4 days before this. Rob was delicate with me, but there had probably been a meeting just before this one that addressed The Julie Issue. The scales fell off my eyes and I had the most disturbing thought.

“Do I stink? Can he smell me? Can Rob smell me right now?”

I haven’t missed a shower since. OK, maybe if I’m really sick or at the beach or something but for everything else, I am bathed and ready.

That’s also when I started buying clothes and realized how much I actually enjoyed it. This habit continued for the rest of my career and I even occasionally caught flack for “dressing for radio.” Yes, I know it’s stupid but I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it for ME because it made me feel good.

I miss it though, now that I don’t need to get dressed. I spend my days doing this (writing at my dining room table) so there’s no need for make-up or even shoes for that matter. Sure I do movie reviews on Thursdays and Fridays, but they’re usually by phone, for morning radio shows. I conduct that business in my pajamas, while lying on the sofa. There’s no real reason to get dressed, which is why I occasionally drop my kids off at school wearing the exact same clothes I picked them up in the day before.

This is why I love my weekly TV appearances so much. It’s the only chance I have to do full-blown hair, make-up and high heels that I can barely walk in anymore. It only lasts for about an hour, before they take off my microphone and send me home, but when I do, I feel like I’m actually working again. This is also why I overdress for everything on my social calendar.

Kids birthday party? That’s cocktail attire, right? Neighborhood block-party? Can I wear a tiara? Don’t be surprised if I show up for brunch in an evening gown and if that does happen, try not to let it bother you. It’s just my way of dressing for work and it makes me happy. Plus, it’s far better than the alternative. Ask Rob Nicholson if you don’t believe me!

1 Comment

  1. I understand your whole situation, and I understand how awesome Rob Nicholson is. He is a wonderful friend of mine since high school and always brings joy. But he does not hesitate to tell you gently if there’s a small problem. Good luck and thank you.

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