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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

March 14, 2009

What Not To Wear

There is a program on cable that is entitled What Not To Wear. The essence of the program is that “friends” of a person request that their friend be “kidnapped” and taken to New York where she (I think it is only women) has all of her wardrobe, not only tossed out but must listen to derisive comments as it is done. She is then given a list of “rules” to follow while shopping for new clothes. She is also given a credit card with $5000 on it to use for shopping. Following this, she has her hair restyled and new makeup applied. Ta-da! She is a new woman.

While I was in Billings last year, I asked my nieces if they would be my “What Not to Wear” people and take me shopping. My nieces are remarkably style conscious and kind. Of course they said “yes” even though Terri did say that it was hard to shop for an old, short, fat woman. That was actually not said about me, but I got the hint. I called M and asked him if I could throw away all my clothes and spend $5000 on a new wardrobe. He laughed and said “yes,” probably knowing that I couldn’t - wouldn’t - ever actually spend that much money on myself. . . I tried though.

Let me say this about my What Not to Wear gurus:

They are very fashionable
They are very price conscious. Carol says that Terri never buys anything not on sale
They were very kind and tactful, although they did not like my socks . . . but they helped me get new socks.

And so we went shopping. It was so much fun to spend that much time with such fun women. It is hard for me to think of them as women – they are still girls in my mind. We went where there were sales and Terri had extra coupons. I was ensconced in a dressing room and Terri and Carol brought in clothes. I tried them on. Now that is humiliating – to have to strip down in front of one’s tall, lovely, fashionable nieces and have them determine if that particular garment is good or not. I learned a lot from them I had to get new shoes, new socks, a blouse, sweaters, three jackets, seven pair of pants and a skirt and they, in passing, pronounced judgment on my remaining clothes. Whew!

But wait! There’s more! Terri is a lot like her mother. Eunice always used to look for clothes for our mother as well as Aunt Bert. Terri looked for clothes for Eunice (and others in the family) but now she was on a mission – to rescue her aunt from Fashion Disaster. She shopped in Billings and Bozeman and would bring things from Bozeman for me to try on and then she would return what wasn’t right and bring more. In addition she brought boxes and boxes of the clothes that she wasn’t wearing anymore. Twenty-seven pair of socks and uncounted tops came home with me, besides the clothes we purchased and I ended up with more clothes than I had ever had in my life. I went through my closet to make room and sent off bags and boxes of my old clothes to some charity somewhere. Those old things just didn’t look right anymore.

As a Bible teacher, I couldn’t help but make the connection of all these new wonderful, perfectly fitting clothes with the verse in Isaiah 64:6 that says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” When one connects that with Isaiah 61:10 which says, “I delight greatly in the Lord. My soul rejoices in my God for He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,” the experience was an illustration of the kindness and graciousness and generosity of Jesus Christ. I don’t mix my nieces up with God but I delighted greatly and rejoiced because of them, too.

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