On the first autumn, when layered outerwear made its initial appearance on the racks of a local hiking and outdoor retailer, I recall vividly my disparaging, internal reaction, “Humph! Fashion.”
In the North, where I was living, winter comes and winter stays, with hardly a shift in the mercury—day or night. Yet, in front of me, I was facing racks and racks of layered coats, with windbreaker shells and interior down jackets, featuring removable sleeves which allowed the jackets to be converted into vests. The cost of this new line of winter outerwear, at the time, was quite outrageous and logically so because of the sheer number of components, pockets and zippers.
My internal, fashion observations finished with the question, “What were they thinking?”
Then, years later, having taken up residence in a community of some altitude in the far west of the United States, I observed a very different winter than the one I was accustomed to weathering.
On the phone with friends, I would describe experiencing all four seasons in the context of one twenty-four hour day. Snow would fall in the deep of the night, a spring-like thaw appeared in the late morning, all afternoon we enjoyed a warm, sun-kissed landscape and early evening would mark the beginning of plummeting temperatures, heralding the autumn of our day and entry into another night of winter.
At some point, during my first winter in the West, a light bulb went on in the recesses of my mind’s fashion closet, “This is the climate and region for which those layered winter jackets were designed.” (A trip through west Texas had already set straight my heretofore biased opinions on the issue of “western wear” as an inappropriate, Nashville fashion statement. There is a place where the sun shines so relentlessly that a ten-gallon hat is not a fashion-identity statement but a biological-outerwear necessity.)
All of this is to say that it is so very important for us to hold our initial reactions, opinions and impressions loosely and our tongues quietly, while keeping our minds open to the idea of exchanging ignorance for new, more informed impressions—because there may be a time, place, location or circumstance where, what seems to be out-of-place, illogical or even inappropriate, will fit right in, be just right or even serve a very critical purpose.
Amen. Blessed be.