Sunday, June 1, 2008

Uniforms and Wardrobes

Did you see Nicole's Style: June '08 post? I've gone back to it several times already to look at all the items featured.

  • My BFF, Kara, and I have wanted a crystalyn kae bag for over a year now.
  • I've wanted a Manic Trout necklace for over a year, as well.
  • The shoes are just plain charming. You don't walk in those shoes; you mince.
  • The skirt is unapologetically Scandinavian, and while I am not Western European, I'm still drawn to the pattern and color combination.

But when I first saw the style board I was disappointed and immediately thought it was nothing I could ever wear. The heels are delicate and not meant for running after a preschooler and toddler. I look best in skirts, but I avoid them because it makes bending over for strewn items in public risky. The bag has fabric panels that don't always go with everything, and I don't often have time to change out my purse. The necklace, too, is brass and my wedding set is platinum (I always feel awkward about mixing metals). But really? The real reason I thought the outfit wouldn't work is because it's too young and free for a stay-at-home-mom like me.

And then it occurred to me that I could not possibly be more uptight.

When did moms develop the uniform from which we rarely deviate? Jeans, yoga pants, t-shirts, hoodies, semi-stylish sneakers, and, of course, the ubiquitous ponytail. To lend polish to the outfit? A Coach bag, naturally. It's all so safe it's suffocating.

There are some moms who look outside the wardrobe of domesticity, but they veer down an equally disturbing path. I call them RockStar Momz. They showcase their fake boobs with lowcut wife-beater tank tops and have name brands dancing across their pilates-toned asses in rhinestones. Their hair is platinum blonde with the random black highlights. They have every possible "it" label in their possession because they depend on US Weekly to tell them what is cool. The look is worse than safe. It's forced, and I can't help but think they want everyone to think they are sexy despite being fertile.

I don't want to be sexy, but I would like to be me. And my initial response to Nicole's post begs the question: When did dressing young and free become incongruous with being a stay at home mom? From the looks of the other moms at schools, malls, and restaurants across the country, I am not the only one who relinquished style to embrace motherhood. I have treated my wardrobe with the same practical eye that, until recently, I used to decorate my house. Everything safe, predictable, unlikely to offend (or inspire), and guaranteed to last several years in a life without oxygen.

I have taken some steps in distancing myself from the Mom Club. I stopped using Coach two years ago (I still have a wallet I need to swap out--any suggestions?), and I cut my hair shoulder length to make it harder to put it back in a ponytail. Now I just need to work on my clothes.

Maybe Nicole's outfit wasn't totally wrong for me, after all. I don't often wear shoes in the house, so the heels really aren't as problematic as I imagined. Fabric panels peeking out of a purse probably coordinate with more items than giant interlocking Cs. If I look better in skirts, I should wear them--wardrobe malfunctions be damned. Mixing metals? There are bigger controversies-- like waiting until you really are too old to buy an outfit you love.