The poor have enough to worry about without wearing last season.

-Absolutely Fabulous

In my 20s, my biggest professional goal was to get a job where I didn't have to wear a bra.

Usually, I was successful (if that's how you define success).

Little did I know that in my 30s, gravity would play a much greater role in my choice of undergarments than a boss or concern for economic advancement ever would.

I spent most of last weekend in an attic closet stacking up clothes that I'll never wear again. I boxed them neatly for Goodwill-but I put them in their outdoor donation box, because I didn't want to be confronted directly with the rejection that nobody would wear these. At any price.

My "work" wardrobe now runs the gamut. One day last week I wore pajama bottoms and a wifebeater. Another I was in a DKNY zippered suit (which a few of my male colleagues insisted was unzipped to waist-level; I didn't believe them till they took the liberty of describing my bra down to the label, including wash instructions).

It was a relatively new staff member who initially made that observation, before he was warned by a coworker, "Dude. Beware the snappy comeback," adding, by way of further instruction, "Now, don't look her in the eye...and just back out of the office. Quietly."

The thing is, I was only dressed that way because I was meeting my mother for lunch, and if I wear anything casual, I get a big lecture about why I'd want to "show up for work looking like a hobo."

All I can say is, the zipper must've worked its way south after I saw her, because she would not have hesitated to reach across the table and jerk it back up to my neck till it cut off my air supply if she had some reservations about the appropriateness of what I was wearing.

I'll give her one thing: comfort isn't the factor it used to be.

I figure if you're 36, have a four wheel drive, wear glasses, and own big dogs, you can only be seen in Birks or hiking boots so many times before people start making assumptions about your sexual orientation. Not that there's anything wrong with that-it's just that I have a hard enough time in relationships without people getting confused about my preferences.

Anytime I go through my closets, I'm confronted with all the memories of all the things that didn't work.

Some clothes went with some jobs, some went with certain boyfriends.

I can pretty much carbon date my entire romantic history-and confirm my pal Phoef's assertion that in 20 years (which, she points out, is something of a scary figure), I have really only dated two guys.

She divides them as: the bass player (though, in fact, they played a variety of instruments)-and the doctor (though in fact, some of them were lawyers).

The wardrobe that went with the bass players (from my early 30s) isn't something I want to hang onto.

It didn't really fit me, and neither did they.

I don't really know of any successful happily-ever-after kinda relationships that got their start with the statement, "wellll, he needed a place to stay..."

According to my close pals, my criteria for "meaningful" dipped so low in those days that my friend Linda still feels compelled to ask me (at the beginning of every relationship), "does he at least have a phone?"

She's really insistent about that, because when I dated musicians and artists, my friends frequently found it hard to get ahold of me, because these guys either never had phones, or their phones were always disconnected. Nobody ever really got accustomed to leaving messages for me "in the knothole of the third oak from the right in the park."

It was only last weekend that I finally threw out most of the wardrobe that went with that life.

I wasn't hanging onto those clothes out of any repressed longing for youth (mine or anyone else's), I just don't like to shop. I have all the grace of a monkey in mittens when you get me near designer wear. In fact, if I didn't have wingmen with exquisite taste, I'd probably regularly leave the house in a halter top and hip waders.

Consequently, it took me a while to build up appropriate "cocktail" attire.

In the doctor/lawyer camp, we were always going to a lot of benefits, and the few times I wore my bass player clothes, I suspect my dates' bosses occasionally believed I was there as part of some sort of paid...arrangement.

(That's the only explanation I can really think of as to how I ended up with so many of their business cards in my purse at the end of many an evening, with their cell numbers scrawled drunkenly and illegibly across the back. Because I really cannot believe anybody would go home with these guys without a steep fee. And the Mercedes in the drive that their wives have apparently all settled for is a far cry from what the asking price ought to be. Though I confess I don't really know the going rate. And I don't want to.)

As my evil party twin put it when someone mentioned my real divorce from my fake husband at a recent party, "oh hell, you could have a real husband any time you want..."

"Of course," she continued pragmatically, "he'd probably be somebody else's husband."

Sorry, there are too many available single men for me to go fishin' in some other chick's pond.

And at least when somebody comments on what I'm wearing and I say, "this old thing?" nobody thinks I'm referring to my date.