I want people to regard me as a person of substance but it’s hard when I fall for ordering a dress for ‘older women’ advertised on Facebook. It finally got delivered today after weeks of anticipation. It came in a tiny lump in a big envelope. When I unfurled it, so to speak, I realized the dress could be a nightgown, or rolled up and stashed in my backpack in case we run into a dress-up dinner while we’re camping.
I can’t imagine wearing it. For one thing, there is the lasting sting of fashion criticism. Only once in our long marriage has my husband ever said anything critical about my clothing choices. It was early, in the first year or two of our decades of bliss. I was wearing a long corduroy jumper over a turtleneck. The jumper was army green with giant square pockets, maybe of a different color, something Raggedy Ann might wear to a birthday party. Anyway, his critical comment was this: “Where did you get that schmatta?”
I was so taken aback, so startled by my normally uncritical partner saying something like this that I took off the jumper and stuffed it in a bag for Goodwill (which is probably where I bought it in the first place). I was disappointed because I saw myself in that corduroy jumper being comfortable and functional, all about stuffing diapers or rising loaves of bread in my pockets. Being earthy. I really wanted to be earthy.
Since that time, I’ve used the schmatta barometer to assess new clothes purchases. Wanting very much to avoid a repeat of my early mortification, I’ve tended toward tailored clothes with discrete, subtle pockets, and avoided anything voluminous, overly floral, or decorated with cross-stitching. But now I have this blue flowery, curtain-like dress which fits in the palm of my hand, and it is absolutely a schmatta. I bought a schmatta on Facebook!
I do have really nice sandals to go with it, though.
The origins of the term schmatta are Yiddish, usually refers to old or torn pieces of clothing.