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The Stranger

[This is an update from a blog post I did on my own site a few years ago. The title, like many from my page is a song title, in this case a Billy Joel song]

Do you sometimes wonder who you are? Do you sometimes feel like the world’s biggest poseur?
To celebrate my alma mater’s upset over Ohio State, I wore a Purdue t-shirt (which makes me feel like a hypocritical poseur), my Purdue hoodie that is rather steampunk in design plus steampunk socks with 19th century medical objects (me and me), Bobs shoes, and cargoes to church. This may sound sacrilegious to you or maybe it sounds completely normal. For me, it was a complete departure from what I normally wear – skirts or dresses. I sometimes wear long sweaters and leggings with boots, especially if the weather is bad, and I wear cargoes and a t-shirt when we teach Sunday school because the shirts are part of our children’s ministry uniform. In truth, I didn’t stand out. Most people including our pastor (sometimes) and our elders (normally) wear jeans. The t-shirt was a bit casual but not shocking.

Will I follow our church’s trend and dress casual regularly? Probably not. I was raised to dress up for church. Also, I’m a remote worker so Sundays are my one day to dress up. There’s something more deep seated than that too. For me, wearing special Sunday clothes is an act of worship. I don’t need them. I singing hymns, praying, and listening to the sermon, but I did miss dressing up a little bit. However, if an appropriate occasion arises, I’ll likely dress down again.

So who am I and what do I like to wear?

It’s fall, so it’s time to bring out my tunic sweater, leggings, & shearling boots. I love the outfit but wondered if I only looked like a caricature of a “stereotypical white girl”. And no I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes. Did I mention our town is getting its first free-standing Starbucks, and it opens in three days? I’m not especially a Starbucks devotee as much as I’m excited to have a place where we can get a late-night coffee and dessert.


In worm weather, I’m sort of your stereotypical spec writer and love geeky tees. One of my favorites is in the shape of Indiana that says “Home”. I have quite a few Texan friends and my favorite quip is, “hello, I’m from a state the size of your panhandle.” Arizona is my adopted state, and my most-recent purchase is a “localist” shirt from State Forty-Eight that supports small businesses.

Hoosier by birth. Boilermaker by the grace of God.

Hoosier by birth. Boilermaker by the grace of God.

I pair them with the universal geeky footwear, Converse All-Stars to my shoe collection and a green “Geek Girl” t-shirt. These are more articles of clothing that are me and yet not me. I may have the funky green and black glasses, but I’m not quite a hipster either. Maybe because I’d rather wear contacts and look like a newly turned vampire than allow a picture of me in said glasses. Also, since I didn’t own Converse in the eighties I have this belief that somehow wearing them in the twenty-first century makes me a poseur.

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Then there’s my faux-leather motorcycle jacket ($29.99 at TJ MAXX) and my Doc Martens. That’s not me either. I haven’t ridden a motorcycle, ever. There are my fitness clothes, but I’m not one to run around in athletic wear. It goes on, gets really sweaty, and is peeled off as soon as I finish my cool down stretches.

So if I’m not a cowgirl, hipster, or stereotypical white girl (with a preference for non-fat lattes, extra foam), what am I? Obviously not a biker chick or athlete. Maybe I’m not just one thing. But several. My favorite outfit is a black turtleneck, houndstooth skirt, tights, and ballet flats. Sixties mod is definitely one of my favorite looks.

My day in and day out “uniform” is a turtleneck, button-down shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, or sweater, skinny jeans or corduroys, and boots. I’m also someone who likes to dress for the occasion. I wear dresses and skirts to church (except when my alma mater wins big). I wear dress pants and tailored shirts when I have to work in the office or go on business trips. In the field, it’s Carhartts and work boots. And I find running is a whole lot more fun when I’m wearing a bright top and cute running skirt.

Do you have a go-to look? What about an outfit that isn’t quite “you” but you love anyway?

About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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