Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fashion Takes Baggage

The Judge was this elegant, five foot, ten, thin, lady who looked like a runway model. And, she was always dressed impeccably. When I said I would go months without seeing the same outfit twice, I was not exaggerating. But, unlike many females in the legal  profession, she did not wear stuffy navy and black suits. The Judge was known for her colorful (yet very tasteful) knit suits. I only saw her in navy or black on somber occasions. Of course, she had lovely shoes to go with each outfit. And, don't think being tall, stopped her from wearing, heels - it didn't.

Now, traveling with all those clothes required some coordination. They didn't quite fit in one small roll aboard and a hang bag. Perhaps, that was another reason she insisted on driving to Richmond each month. The airlines' fifty pound restriction on each bag was very inconvenient. As the Judge used to say, "A lady needs to be prepared. You never know if the weather is going to change or what random occasion may arise." Winter was particularly burdensome given she would add extra coats. 

There was the large suitcase, the bag for shoes, the hang bag, the bag for the necessary toiletries, and the hair dryer (one of those full size over-the-head styles). The first time I questioned the large toiletry bag, she insisted that any lady would need everything in that bag. I was embarrassed to think of the few things I carried as "toiletries" - no wonder I was not in her league.  

The bellmen at the hotel in Richmond, where we always stayed, knew when she drove up to make sure they had a large empty cart to carry to her car. And, the hotel always assigned her the same room that had a bathroom with a larger than normal counter to accommodate her toiletries. 

The few times she did fly to Richmond, she would rely on one of the law clerks, who planned to drive, to carry any excess luggage she "happened" to need in their car. The Judge never tried to hide the amount of luggage she travelled with, in fact she would laugh about it with everyone else. She saw it as necessary. 

The most rattled I think I ever saw her was preparing to go to Egypt when she was told that she could only carry one bag of certain given dimensions, no exceptions. And, that the one bag had to be light enough for her to manage because there would be no porters or anyone available to assist the travelers. The sight of her sorting and choosing what she could take was something akin to watching a mother choose among her favorite children. She finally managed to get the bag packed, but it wasn't pretty. The rest of the afternoon, I think she spent questioning the "what ifs?" she would not be prepared for. 

Thinking back on it, she would have done well in the early 1900's when ladies were expected to travel with steamer trunks. Thankfully, that thought never came to her. No doubt, she would have loaded one in her car when she headed to court, just to be prepared. 

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