Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


  Tall Poppy Dilemma: The Fashion Sabbatical

Last night, hubby and I had dinner with friends of ours who are running for political office. Or rather, the husband is running...the wife only FEELS like she is. Anyway, I wore a bright pink, green, raspberry and white denim jacket with little beads sprinkled on it and a raspberry skirt. As soon as Mr. and Mrs. Politician arrive, Mr. Politician commented that his wife was going to be jealous that I got to wear what he called my "Southern Country Club wear". He joked that he had asked his wife to go on a "Fashion Sabbatical" until after the election so that she would blend in better with other women on the campaign trail.

In the south, we have a term for women like Mrs. PW--we call them "fancy". In other words, Mrs. PW is very stylish, very attractive and very wealthy--three strikes against a Tall Poppy who is trying to fit in with women in a state that prides itself on being "understated". If Mrs. PW wears jeans and a t-shirt, she's still fancy. But I knew exactly the "look" they were going for... and why.

Months earlier, Mrs. PW and I discussed the fact that we had different wardrobes for different places. At home, Tall Poppies dress down so that others don't accuse them of "making spectacles of themselves". But when they leave town, they feel free to wear their nicest clothes, jewelry and anything else they want to toss on. At home, there is a sense that they are "showing off" if they dress the way they want to. However, once they're outside their daily circle, they feel like they're out of the spotlight and free to be themselves.

Tonight, I was talking to another Tall Poppy friend and laughing about last night's "fashion sabbatical" conversation. My friend said, "You know, it shouldn't be that way, but it is. I'm always conscious of which jewelry I wear with which group of women, which clothes I wear to church. Today, I even caught myself contemplating whether it was a good idea to wear my Cole-Haan's to meet a few women from the PTA for lunch! I decided NOT to."

All types of Tall Poppies declare sabbaticals of some type, depending on what it is about them that others find most intimidating. After all, one of the main things that separates Tall Poppies from Weeds is Tall Poppy's desire to make others comfortable and at ease. My friends who are absolutely brilliant find themselves "backing off" in conversations where they know they could debate others around them into a hole. A wealthy friend of mine explained, "Some people wonder who those looney women are who travel with their jewelry and why they would risk having it stolen from the hotel. I can tell you that, in my case, I never feel comfortable wearing my jewelry unless I'm out-of-town where nobody will begrudge my wearing it!"

Tall Poppies who love looking great but don't want to intimidate the "home team" find Fashion Sabbaticals to be the prudent course to take when Short Poppies and Weeds are around. The good news: Fashion Freedom makes vacations all the sweeter!

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