A month or so ago, I was on the receiving end of a comment by my 19-year old daughter. I can’t remember specifically what she said, but it had something to do with her observation that whatever I was wearing leaned toward the frumpy end of the spectrum. I defensively snapped at her that it’s not so easy striking a balance between dressing like an old lady and a teenager. Impervious to my snappiness, she uttered words that continue to haunt me: “Maybe you should try to dress more like a teenager.”
Oh my, how bad has it gotten when my teenager is encouraging me to dress more like a teenager? Recently a fellow bloggist (from Parenting Without a Parachute) had a very funny post about how to avoid dressing like a teenager, but what if you’ve overdone that advice and are an embarrassment to your kids for the opposite reason?
I don’t expect my kids to appreciate my conundrum, but the exchange with my daughter did cause me to examine my wardrobe, which only led to more confusion. I watch “What Not to Wear” from time to time, and those gals always look fab when they’re done, but you can’t tell me they are really happier in a skirt and pumps than they were in sweats. The allure of comfort sometimes outweighs the quest for fashion, but that’s a slippery slope. It’s a straight line from sweats and Crocs to the family matriarch on “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
Here are some areas of concern:
Denim: Diamonds may be a girl’s best friends, but denim may be her middle aged nemesis. Denim has absolutely no give, which can be problematic. No one likes a “muffin top” because it makes a person feel like sausage popping out of its casing. More importantly, however, it’s so uncomfortable to be constantly trying to readjust your waistband to accommodate the middle region. If you opt for jeans that contain Lycra, it could lead to jeggings, which are attractive on about 27 people in the whole world, and they’re all teenagers who haven’t had four kids. I once got some of those custom jeans that were made to order, meaning the waist was actually the right size, but guess what the finished product was? My first pair of truly comfortable jeans in years, yes, but also my first pair of “Mom jeans.” When I go in stores now I’m dismayed to note that something called “skinny jeans” seem to be popular, but I have the good sense to steer clear of those. Ladies, this is why your mom wore something called “slacks.”
Work Shoes: My office is business casual, and the young gals take full advantage of that with their cute outfits and even cuter shoes. Being the mother hen of the group, I don some sturdy footwear that has gotten me confused with an O.R. nurse, whereas the youngsters seem to all have adorable little flats. I thought flats seemed like an attainable option, so I checked out the sweet little Tory Burch shoes at Nordstrom and almost had a heart attack at the price. I settled on some (sale) leopard print flats by a designer I had never heard of. I felt so proud of myself the first (and so far only) day I wore them, but halfway through the day and three blisters later I was back in my clunky O.R. shoes. One of the better dressed girls stopped me in the hall and told me how much she liked the shoes she had noticed me wearing earlier, at which point I started whining about the blisters. Her advice: “Oh, you need to just keep wearing them.” So far, I haven’t.
House Shoes: Your home is your sanctuary, so there’s no need to impress anyone. Going barefoot doesn’t feel like an option because I hate feeling the grit from my floors sticking to my feet. Flip flops are a contender, but they only work without socks, which eliminates them for about eight months a year. That brings me to my personal faves around the house: Crocs. They slide on like a dream, and if you accidentally step in dog poop while you’re taking the mutts out, simply hose them off. There is absolutely no downside. My kids, however, pretend (I think they’re pretending anyway) to be mortified when I so much as walk to the mailbox in the Crocs. I don’t care, I maintain they’re the perfect house shoe. Newsflash: there are now much cuter Croc options, which I might put on my Christmas wish list.
Swimwear: This area is prickly no matter how you slice it. Once you get to a certain age and your skin pales to a certain shade of white and your midsection expands to a certain radius, no one really wants to see your bod in Lycra, I promise. A bikini is a bad option, even if you’re fit, because it makes you look like you’re trying to show off (at least that’s what I think people in bikinis are doing). A normal one-piece tank suit actually accentuates your gut, and those cute skirt suits (which I favor) have the potential of making you feel like your grandma, even if you stay away from the florals. My solution: wear whatever suit you want, but get a cute cover-up and (this part is critical) leave it on at all times. That way you look like a good sport because you have the swimsuit on, but no one has to see the scary parts. It does make it difficult to actually go in the water, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The kids have their dad for that.
Shopping: It’s so challenging to know where to find decent looking clothes that don’t make you look too young OR too old. Sometimes I find myself attracted to the Chico’s ads, but then I picture Michael Phelps’ mom and I retreat. There are some specialty stores in my area that cater to moms who don’t want to look too matronly, but inevitably they’re horrifically expensive. Sometimes I look through the magazines and rip out pictures of outfits that I like, but I have a hard time recreating the looks myself, and going to a mall is so overwhelming. So I mostly don’t buy new clothes and hope people notice my awesomely cool earrings instead.
The take-away from all this is to glam it up in your teens and twenties. Wear that bikini and those skinny jeans because at some point you’re going to succumb to the magnetism of 100% cotton with a side of velour. And if you’re very lucky you’ll dress well because it makes YOU feel good, not because you’re trying to impress anyone else.
Filed under: Parenting