Monday, November 26, 2007
How should I dress, now that I’m “at home?” I’m still working, part time, from home as a consultant, but not many people see me all day. My son’s daycare, the local coffee shop, the lawn guys. My husband occasionally. It’s a peculiar dilemma. You have your work clothes of course, the chic, the conservative, the daily staples from Anne Taylor Loft (a real bargain for corporate wear that’s not necessarily sexless). You have your fun-night-out wear, which doesn’t really fit anymore but whatever. You have your public weekend J. Jill catalog look. That’s it! It must be.
MomWear. The good yet sensible jeans, snug (but no so snug as to accentuate the UGL - Unexpected Gelatinous Layer - where your abs once summered) long sleeve T-shirts and a cute fall vest or sweater, reasonable suede boots of some sort, perhaps. Matching belt – more of a benefit to your fashion sense than a device to actually hold up your pants but whatever.
Still, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re dressing up, sort of. But for whom? Your infant or toddler? The women in your playgroup? The UPS guy?
A recent New York Times magazine article (one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages) reviewed a series of wardrobe changes for the author. He described what each outfit said, since clothes do make the man and have a way of well, talking. I happen to agree. Your daytime MomWear can’t scream, Look at me! I’m LEAVING THE HOUSE! HUBBA! nor should it mutter shamefully, That’s right, I never leave my neighborhood and have forgotten how to dress myself. In fact, I don’t even know what looks good on me anymore. Pass me that Mumu.
I had been going for coffee (just me and the baby) in yoga pants, imitation Ugg boots and a large hooded sweatshirt. No, I haven’t been to yoga in months and yes, an old fashioned, bulbous sweatshirt, not a cute, fitted “hoodie.” This even after I’d managed to lose the baby weight. One day I realized I hadn’t put on a pair of earrings in weeks. And why not? Just because there’s no one to see them? If a stylish mother falls in the forest of diapers and onesies and there are no women or gay men there to check out her shoes, is she still stylish?
Yes, I say. Because she is the only one that matters. After all, we dress for ourselves, right? What I mean is, we do and you should. Put those diamond or cubic zirconia studs in, give yourself a good blowout and use a handbag you love to go to Stop&Shop, dammit, not the plastic coated diaper bag that’s cool but not a purse. Put on an outfit that makes you feel happy, even if it’s imitation Ugg boots and yoga pants.
And if your clothes don’t fit, you have my permission to buy new ones. At least a good pair of jeans. And once piece of cashmere. On sale at Marshall’s or Loehman’s.
Take Mr. Kanye West’s advice: Go on, girl, go’head, get down. Here are a few more suggestions to get you started (or finished as the case may be).
1. Check out other women. Come on, admit it, you’ve been doing this your whole life. Whose style do you admire? Whose could you afford? Whose could you reasonably mimic, without seeming like a Single White Female?
2. There’s nothing wrong with Loungewear, but there’s everything right with quality loungewear; it lasts longer and doesn’t look cheap. Remember Carmela Soprano’s sweatsuits, so elegantly accessorized with heaving mounds of gold and diamonds? The woman never worked a day in her life, yet she was masterful at fashioning the right outfit for every occasion: therapy session, sons’ suicide attempt, rival family wake, dysfunctional in-law weekend on the lake, etc.
3. The right jeans. I can’t tell you what they are for you; there are thousands of options. But you know what you look good in, what’s comfortable, what’s in your budget. They don’t have to cost $200. You’d be surprised what the Gap has to offer these days. Magazines like In Style are always running articles on how to find the right pair. Invest.
4. The right jacket – Cropped or long, denim or cotton, this gives the long sleeve T or fitted sweater a stage. And the UGL (see above) some much needed confidence.
5. Accessorize – Especially if you’re not at your ideal weight and don’t want to spend on clothes that might not fit next week / month. Earrings, scarves. Even fun hats in fall or winter. Belts can make an outfit. And we’ve already discussed your favorite handbag. If you don’t have one, find one and put it on your birthday / Christmas / Valentine’s Day / I’m-just-an amazing-wife-and-mother / list.
6. Makeup – It’s not an indulgence if you feel better wearing it. Drugstore varieties (i.e. reasonably priced) abound. Allure magazine is fabulous at listing them, with fun photos of crushed powders and smeared lip gloss. Call me shallow, but I always have a better day when my lashes are coated and curled. There, I said it.
7. Layers – can divert to attract or detract the eye from our “special areas.” (I don’t call them “problem” areas, that would give them a complex and they have enough challenges.) Long tank tops from Old Navy under fitted shirts, crisp (or not so crisp; they have stretchy ones now) oxfords under a V neck (try Eddie Bauer), even the right scarf can update any exhausted mom. French women know this. And some of them do get fat, so there.
You don’t have to be a fashion rock star. You just have to rock your own world. Remember, you don’t have to have it all. You just have to get some.
Posted by Tracy McArdle at 2:36 PM