One Pair Short of Joy

Confession: I own only one pair of shorts.

Yes, one pair.

They are three years old, and of course not of any actual structure, but instead a pair of New Balance® for J.Crew lightweight running shorts that I couldn’t do without when the collab hit in the fall of 2016.

They are stretchy and lightweight, and in my mind I envisioned wearing them with a Jenna Lyons effortlessness. I would mix them with ruffled sleeve t’s or a racer-back tank under a linen sweater on a cool summer night.

I could just picture it – and I had to picture it – because at the time I would have been 7 months pregnant and in my full body glory.

I saw myself the following summer casually wearing them both running around town and actually running. In my mind, by then I would have of course lost the baby weight and be running again, just as I had after my first pregnancy.

In my mind, life would be back to normal … and so would my body. These shorts? They would be icing on my runner-legged cake. 

Now here we are, nearly three years later, and nothing feels back to normal. It’s the quite the opposite, actually. We instead have a new normal juggling two kiddos and a lifetime of new responsibilities. No running, all the baby weight … and then some.

These shorts are now stretched at their max, reserved for sleep or the random errand when I haven’t made time to shower or change my clothes or give a second’s thought to what I look like when I leave the house. Then again, who am I kidding, that’s probably more often than I realize. They’re paired with ill-fitting t-shirts and worn hoodies.

That purchase with the intention of promise, now serves as one more reminder of these shifting tides, one more thing that makes me feel like I’ve fallen short of expectations. And I haven’t bought another pair since.

Do you have any some day pieces in your closet?

Maybe it’s not shorts, maybe it’s the “goal jeans” you read somewhere would remind you to stay focused on your weight loss journey. Or perhaps you have that “perfect dress” for when you hit that perfect size. Or a bikini you’re certain you’ll feel amazing in some day.

I have all of them, actually – have had them each for years. The jeans are a pair of 7 for All Mankind flares I splurged on at a Von Maur sale, convinced during one of many WeightWatchers benders that they would be the ones to sway my habits back to zero-Point vegetables and help me celebrate a Lifetime distaste of my fruit shape and skinny jeans.

The dress is a beautiful red piece I saw on fashion blogger Blair Eadie, purchased when I was in a personal slump of yoga pants after I began freelancing and trying to remind myself how much I truly loved studying fashion. The bikini is a Calia by Carrie Underwood that shows just enough skin but not too much, athletic yet feminine, hoped to give me courage for a two-piece at our annual girls’ day I haven’t made in years due to work. 

I tried, okay. If I’m going to fess up, I’ve tried with multiple purchases – sometimes expensive ones – to convince myself that there is a different version of me worthy of these things.

 And you know what came out of it?


Yep, I – the student of fashion – have nothing but a closet of shame under the leadership of two pairs of black bootcut office pants from LOFT, one with a broken button.

It’s awful.

But friend, let me be clear – it’s not the expectation of the fashion student that’s getting me. It’s not even necessarily the body that once was that’s wreaking havoc on my wardrobe.

It’s not that I should look a certain way.

It’s not that I should have a certain body.

It’s not that I should fit in these things.


It’s those damn shorts, that joy I envisioned in pairing them.

I am shamed knowing without any fraction of a doubt that I deserve a closet filled with joy. I deserve limitless options to express myself. I deserve to walk out any time of day to anywhere feeling like my favorite self … and instead, I open a closet door to find only clothes that make me feel less than.

Do you see the difference?

Screw the sizes, friend. We deserve the joy – in shorts and flares and red dresses. We deserve the joy whether we’ve gone back or made new norms. We deserve the joy whether we’ve studied fashion or simply love a bright colored t-shirt. We deserve to love ourselves in our truest, barest form AND when we’re completely covered up.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be either naked or hiding. Maybe the third choice is full of options.

And right now, if I Marie Kondo’d the shit out of my closet, I would have nothing left but one pink tulle skirt that truly brings me joy every time I put it on.


This is the problem.

And as I’ve listened to conversation after conversation around summer clothes and summer bodies and yada-freaking-yada about the swimming suits, I’m telling you: FILL YOUR CLOSET UP.

 Stop buying for the person you hope to be and celebrate the person you are right now. Dress her up. Dress her down.  Find something to wear with the shorts and give those “some day” items to someone who needs them right now. Replace them with the ruffle t’s, the racer back and the linen sweater, even if you’re worried about the lumps or limbs that go under them.

 Buy 10 more pair of shorts regardless of what your legs look like and strut them on the town with your favorite open-toed stilettos if you must.

 Because summer is here, the sun is out and you’ve got no time to be short on joy.

kate j