Diary of a Marriage: Walking in Each Other’s Shoes (AKA Wearing Each Other’s Clothes)

How it really feels, and what we learned.

Diary of a Marriage: Walking in Each Other’s Shoes Shoes (AKA Wearing Each Other’s Clothes)

Em as J., and J. as Em, this past Halloween.

A few weekends ago, J. and I found ourselves at a Halloween party in a sprawling log cabin in New Hope surrounded by the following: a sexy football player, a sexy gypsy, a sexy voodoo priestess, a non-sexy Richard Simmons (who was inexplicably sporting KISS face paint), the creepy girl from The Ring (who was only creepy until her scratchy black wig came off to reveal bouncy blonde hair), a couple of Afro-ed aliens, and a Scottish bag pipe player, amongst others. The invitation had announced that costumes were mandatory, and guests went all out.

J. and I convened two days before the  party to discuss what we’d wear. It took about a minute to agree—we’d ransack our closets and go as each other. Cheap, easy, quick. But not exactly pretty. We learned that I do not look especially good with short hair (I wore a wig called the ‘Dreamboat’) and that very hairy legs do not look good poking out of a silk skirt. I learned that, in a very unfair twist, J. has the best, longest eyelashes on earth—ones that look completely fake with mascara. And J. learned that it takes pretty strong forearms to wear my bracelets all night, and that certain metals can turn your skin green. Here, our takes on what it was like to walk in each other’s shoes.


Lesson #1: I have an insatiable—and maybe clinically unhealthy—desire to accessorize. I always knew I was a bit of a magpie, drawn to sparkly, shiny things, but it wasn’t until we tried to leave the house that I realized just how deeply ingrained my habit is. First, I asked for a briefcase. J. didn’t think this was necessary. We settled on a tennis racket. Then I asked about a blazer. Again, not necessary. Pleas for cuff links and a tie clip were met with brutal silence. I even asked for stupid collar stays at one point—I’ve heard J. mention these things before and thought they could jazz things up. But when we left the house, I was completely unaccessorized. Worse, I was wearing the two things I hate most in life: khakis and a button-up shirt. Cringe.

The tie was a nice splash of color, but it felt like a weird strangulation device. I kept doing that thing I see men do all the time, jabbing my hand under my collar to loosen it. How does he wear that thing all day?  I felt constricted by the pants and by the cuffs of his shirt. I felt … bored. There was nothing to adjust, nothing that clanked or made noise or was difficult to wrangle. I suppose it was easier—bathroom trips didn’t mean touching up my winged eyeliner, my feet didn’t ache from heels, and I didn’t have any hair to fiddle with. It was easy, and I kept thinking that it should have felt freeing. After all, I could dance without fear of tripping, and I could eat messy appetizers without worrying about the dry cleaning bill. But it didn’t. I missed my accessories, bright colors, bold patterns, weird textures. Without them, and despite being covered up from wrist to ankle, I felt oddly naked.

I’ve always wished that I could be comfortable in that coveted ‘model off-duty’ way, glorious in a simple white tee and a pair of basic jeans. I’ve tried, but I think I’ll leave the look to J., who can to wear the hell out of a pair of Dockers. In my world, arms of jewelry, wild caftans and six-inch heels are just more comfortable than belted khakis and a button-up collared shirt. That’s just me.


Even before I took my first step in Em’s shoes, I was already uneasy—minus the very comfortable skirt (who knew skirts were that comfortable and allowed for optimum air-flow?). The hour-long prep time was about an hour too long for my liking. I can take a while to get ready, but this was simply too much. Who puts this much time and effort into eye makeup?

My long, blonde hair was always in my face, and I had to constantly worry about my makeup. God forbid I got lipgloss on a beer bottle. That would have been a total disaster. I wonder how she keeps hers on all night.

By the end of the night, my left arm ached from the approximately 52 bangles I was wearing and my earlobes throbbed—I’m not a fan of clip-ons. Overall, my night as Em was an experience that I might not want to try again until next Halloween. Truth be told, I definitely have a new respect for Em’s fashionable outfits.

Oh, and don’t even ask me about my purse.

What was your favorite Halloween couple costume that you and your groom ever did?

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