Monday, July 1, 2013

A/C and the middle-aged woman

The perfect shirtwaist
If you've spent any time strolling through my blog you know  there's nothing I love more than a skirt.  I'm a total skirt hound with more than a few to my name.  But I've hit a wall and that wall is made entirely of cold air.  I am confined to an air conditioned office all day, and I'm absolutely freezing.  Here's the trouble with l'age.

In the great white north we have puzzling attitudes towards temperature:  it's chilly to freezing to chilly for roughly nine months of the year, then it gets warm - and we can't cool the air fast enough.  In fact, the thermostat is set lower in the summer than winter - it's insane.  And irresponsible - even in LEED buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) the air conditioning is dialed up to the point of discomfort.  Unless you are male and wearing precisely the same ensemble in summer as winter, or you're a menopausal woman.  And in my experience (that's two offices in the last three years) it is the woman in l'age who is the least accomodating when it comes to finding a happy medium.

This draws both my sympathy and ire:  I understand the challenges of menopause from a heat perspective - I'm in the throws of dealing with them myself - yet in my recent work history the thermostat has been controlled entirely by women and essentially the same woman - one who professes to being past menopause yet insists on keeping the temperature at a chilly 18c while those around her freeze.  The young women across the way actually turn a heater on in the summer - never the winter.  This is nonsense.  Broaching the subject of a happy medium has, in both cases, ended in firm refusal.  Plus, just to add insult to injury, there is complete denial of the M word (that's menopause for those of you on the outside of the hormonal shift).  Full disclosure, I am on the inside of menopause and like many an impatient, over-heated woman, have sourced the appropriate treatments to render the entire process quite manageable - in short, I do not need to adjust the thermostat to counteract the effects of my internal furnace.  I'm not sure which bothers me more the denial or the temperature.  But there's a larger issue here.

Admitting to menopause is on the same spectrum as letting hair be gray, it is an admission of middle-age, post-fertility - in short, it broadcasts that a women is not in youth, which leads to the all too real fear of age discrimination, or that nastier combo of age/gender discrimination.  What a man can be at 50, 58, 62, a woman may be deemed well past.  Again, nonsense and many examples to say otherwise, but if you haven't hit the C-suite, and you're really just a working gal, then appearing to be over the hill strikes terror in the heart and handbag.  As I look around meeting room tables with men both younger and older, I can't help but be annoyed at their freedom to gray naturally, while virtually every woman (except me) has coloured her hair within the last 10 days - it really just pisses me off.   Even worse when women admit to longing for the day when they retire and can stop dying their hair. 

Back to the temperature and it's affect on my wardrobe - I've come to the conclusion that I can no longer bear to celebrate my summer wardrobe.  I throw in the proverbial towel and will dress like a man this summer in pants and shirts, withstanding the sweaty commute so I can manage an entire day sitting in a cooler.  Why should I be distracted by shivering while those around me luxuriate in complete comfort?  My sleeveless shifts, short-sleeved shirtwaists and light as air skirts will have to find their moments of splendor on the weekends.

The glorious Francesca Sozzani - not much a/c in Italy

Well, there are worse things than this.  And I will fill you in on my recent foray into the teens boy department for real summer menswear - or in my case, boyswear. 

Vintage YSL - Le smoking ... oh I wish

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