Moms try to be fashion-forward without turning back the clock
When digging out my summer clothes, I spotted last year’s straw fedora on the top shelf of my closet. As I reached for the hat, I had a flash of the Urban Outfitters catalog that I had just tossed in the recycling bin. The cover model’s askew fedora was accompanied by a pout, bobby socks paired with laughable platforms and some mystery shorts that I’m still confused about: an old-fashioned bathing suit or puffy underwear?
This model didn’t look like she was heading to a parent-teacher conference. I put the hat back on the shelf.
A similar feeling of self-doubt came over me while at a friendly get-together last year. I overheard a mom negatively refer to another (absent) mom as “so trendy.” She went on to describe the trend-follower as always wearing skinny jeans, boots, bulky scarves … basically every article of clothing I was wearing at that very moment. I was one headpiece away from being Nicole Richie.
Luckily, I was sitting at a high table, so after resigning to the fact that I could never stand up as long as this woman was still in the room, I had time to contemplate my closet. Was I getting too old for trendy?
Trendy is probably the wrong word I’m looking for. Young is a better fit.
I absolutely believe that we should wear what makes us happy. But as moms, don’t we have to be careful not to confuse what makes us feel happy with what makes us feel young?
In the aftermath of having my third baby, I plowed through the “Twilight” saga with every feeding. One rainy morning while strolling the mall, I came dangerously close to buying a Team Edward T-shirt. Yes, I can blame my cloudy judgment on the baby fog, but I swear it seemed like a funny idea at the time.
I’m in on the joke, but I guess the joke isn’t funny anymore. I remembered Amy Poehler in “Mean Girls”: “I’m not like a regular mom; I’m a cool mom.” This hilariously grotesque image saved me from my worst
nightmare: a clueless mom trying to be something she’s not.
That little voice in my head that said “Don’t buy the vampire T-shirt, you fool” must be another aspect of women’s intuition — the same voice that says, “Get that mole checked,” or “It’s too quiet in the playroom.”
I’m just wondering when my intuitive little voice will urge me to start dressing more mom-ish. I’m not sure how the transition happens. One day, do we just go in for a routine haircut and then walk out with our ’tildeath-do-us-part mom coif, a sweater set, crop pants and practical shoes? Or is it more gradual?
Believe me; my miniskirts went in the Goodwill bag labeled “Where the hell will I wear any of this stuff again?” after having my first baby. I learned that lesson after hiking up the Magnolia Café parking lot in a puffy mini while lugging an infant car seat. I apologize.
So I am making progress. I’m just struggling to let go of youthful tendencies.
At 32, I should be long finished with humbling Forever 21 outings, but there are still days where I can’t turn down a $13 dress or $5 sunglasses. I can’t afford to dress like a mature adult!
I do look forward to being an eccentric old gal — wearing plaid pants and big hats; hopefully biking around the lake on some tricked-out cruiser and looking a bit like Bonnie Raitt (I’ve been plucking a few grays out of my red hair lately). But I’m getting way ahead of myself.
These are the years I’m worried about — trying to stay age-appropriate while maintaining a sense of self and style.
I hopefully have a few more years of flying under the radar and wearing inconspicuous items from teen stores, but soon enough, I’ll be running into my kids’ awkward tween friends at the mall while swinging by the Proactiv kiosk.
I guess our kids will continue to influence what we wear out of the house. At birth, they stole our bikinis and miniskirts, and in middle school, they will be mortified by every article in our closet.
The arrival of my third child created a new trend. I call it “whatever is on top of my hamper from the day before will do.” Six months and counting, she is still sleeping in a Pack ’n Play in my closet. Every morning I pick up fallen scraps from the day before to piece together something for carpool.
These kids will keep us in check; but just to keep myself from falling backward over that fuzzy line of youth, I’ll continue working toward my future look: advancedage country singer in fedora, hamper-diving for yesterday’s plaid bell-bottoms.
That’ll get the moms talking.
Like a lot of youthful mothers, Sarah Wittenbraker, 32, struggles with following the trends while knowing soon she could run into her children’s friends at the teen stores where she likes to shop.