I don’t know how to dress myself.
Ok, I remember the basics. Shirt goes over the head, one arm out each sleeve. But I no longer have the ability to put an outfit together for the sole purpose of looking good.
Last Saturday, my husband and I were invited on a tour of dive bars for a friend’s birthday. We would be going to places where the chances of our shoes sticking to the floor were not just possible, but likely. So I didn’t need to put on a ballgown, but since my nights’ out are limited, I wanted to look cute. I rummaged through the back of the closet to the section that pretty much has not been visited in 5+ years.
I got excited looking at all the cute clothes I used to wear- satin jackets, sequined tops, bust-enhancing corsette vests. But as I tried on piece after piece and examined my reflection in the mirror, my energy fizzled. First, although the clothes were in good condition, they were considered trendy at the time of purchase. Five years later, they are completely outdated. I might as well have dressed in bell bottoms and a butterfly collar.
Having kids ages your style in dog years, but it also doesn’t help your figure. I fit in to the satin jacket, but it just didn’t look right. It used to make my waist look small and my bust look voluptuous. Well, those proportions have flipped and somehow a thick middle and small boobs does not look as attractive as it sounds. While none of my selections were particularly revealing, to me, they made me feel like a middle-aged woman trying to keep up with the kids- which I guess in a way I was. How could I look cute and attractive without becoming the pathetic older lady trying to steal style tips from Snooki?
I found something for the evening, but I decided it was time to update my style. Surely there had to be clothes that were comfortable yet attractive, age appropriate yet cool. I set out to reclaim my status as Cool Kat.
It is almost impossible to shop with two small children. They barrel through the store like a tornado, pulling clothes from the racks and licking the mirrors. The best is when they decide to crawl underneath the dressing room door just as you’ve gotten your pants off. So my first step of the plan was online shopping.
When I used to dress for attractiveness and not to hide stains, my clothing fell into two categories: vintage glam and hippie chic. My frame is pretty curvy, so the silhouettes of the 1950s give me an hourglass shape. I am a fan of jewelry and color, so the flowy, hippie aesthetic makes me feel pretty. I cultivated both of these styles in thrift stores, so I assumed my best bet would be to check out on-line vintage inspired boutiques.
My first stop was modcloth.com, and I was in daydream heaven. Every outfit on their site is cute as a cupcake with a cherry on top. I imagined myself in picnic dresses, espadrilles, and a lose ponytail pulled back in a ribbon. I was sprinting for my credit card before I decided I should look over the details a bit more closely, because I am unlikely to ship something back if it didn’t fit right. I began to read the reviews and almost every item had someone complaining about the dress or skirt being too short. I have a whole closet full of cute dresses that I don’t wear anymore because there is nothing more uncomfortable than seeing a mom’s cotton panties as she bends over to pick her kid up on the playground. I could wear tights, but in AZ, tight weather extends for about two months out of the year. No, these dresses were not going to work for me. Next site.
I went to a few sites featuring 1950’s style clothing- daddyos.com and pinupgirlclothing. While there clothes would be perfect for a hot night out with the hubby, I don’t really need a shelf bust and full skirt to take my kid to preschool. I determined that vintage sites might not be the way to go.
I opted to lean toward hippie chic. Determining I did not want my bum hanging out of a mini skirt, I shifted to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and searched for maxi dresses. The first site that popped up was JCP.com- that’s right JC Penny. The store with the catalog your grandma shopped out of. But I decided I should give it a chance. At one point, I found myself seriously contemplating a kaftan. A KAFTAN?!! Mrs. Roper wore kaftans. While I may be middle aged, I wasn’t ready to get a tight perm and start placing dishes of hard candies around the house. No, a kaftan would not do.
My favorite magazine of all time is BUST. They always seem to feature funky, easy to wear styles, so I thought they might have some suggestions for women like me. The only problem is, I found myself searching their online store and found two t-shirts I couldn’t live without. Not exactly new territory, but hey at least they would be free of stains. And isn’t it a step up in style if your t-shirt features a funny slogan and isn’t just a plain solid color tee from Target?
We went over to the in-laws that night for dinner. On the drive over, I remembered they had an Old Navy store just down the street. I dropped the hubby and kids off, and went to shop for twenty minutes by myself.
I did need some new jeans. I jumped on to the skinny jean band wagon a few years back. While they are great for wearing with boots, I look like an ice cream cone when I pair them with sneakers. I wanted some normal, tennis shoe friendly jeans. I located a pair right away and made my way to the clearance racks at the back of the store.
I found the best pants! They are linen with a yoga pant waist. They are basically pajamas you can wear out of the house, and yes that is as stylish as it sounds. As soon as I described them to my husband, he gave me the look that I had clearly given up on life. Which of course means I bought them in every color they had.
I remembered that I had a practically new pair of Converse high tops in my closet. At one point, I was trying to look the part of a suburban mom. I took to wearing capris and jeweled flip flops. My Converse were relegated to sit on the shelf. It was time to dust those bad boys off!
So there you have it. My big style change resulted in new jeans, old high tops, and quirky t-shirts. I probably should feel defeated about that, but I don’t. I don’t know if it’s getting older, or having kids, but I’m becoming more comfortable with accepting my reality. I could buy a closet full of cute frilly dresses but the only purpose it would serve is to keep my other cute frilly dresses company. I could get nicer day to day wear, but that look would require me to put on makeup every day, or at the very least shower. And we all know that’s not going to happen.
Besides, I can still look cute rocking a Tee and jeans. And my panties won’t stick out when I have to retrieve my kid from inside a drainage pipe.