"The waistline of your pants looks like it's about three inches below your chin, Mom. Not cool."
"Dad! Your shorts are TOO SHORT. They look like girly-shorts."
Neither of us are shoppers. We don't want to throw out perfectly decent clothes, even though the last time they were in style was during the Clinton Administration. (Okay, I confess: I actually acquired those particular jeans during the Reagan years.) It looks tacky when a middle-aged woman tries to dress like a teen, I protest. And why should the vagaries of the runway determine how I spend my money, anyway? Some people can barely afford one shirt -- how can I spend money on more clothes for myself when my closet is already full? I dress for comfort and economy, I tell my kids smugly, not for other people's eyes.
But is that the right way to approach dress? Our clothes are part of the message we send to other people. We used to make fun of the polyester pants worn by alumni visiting our college campus. Their adherence to the fashions of yore made them seem inflexible and uninterested in anything new or fresh.
Should parents who are trying to resist the lure of consumerism change our couture to placate our teens? Or maybe I should ask the question a different way: Should middle-aged people modify our outward adornment to reflect a teachable heart and an openness to learning from the younger generation? After all, you can always give your old clothes away when you buy new ones.
Oh, well. I may just start wearing sarees -- they're so timeless and counter-cultural, I'll probably come across as the ultimate in cool.