Have you noticed lately that the word “Mom” has become synonymous with the word “frump?”
“Mom jeans” means jeans that are high-waisted, straight-legged, flat-butted and ugly. A “Soccer Mom” is someone wearing Mom jeans and a ragged college sweatshirt, her hair scraped back into a messy ponytail, her eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses and her behind firmly planted in the minivan driver's seat. A “Mom Haircut” is one that's short, severe and maintenance-free.
What's happened to us?
So many women, executives and housewives alike, seem to lose all fashion consciousness once they give birth. Maybe we lose the ability to dress ourselves during those first few eerie twilit months with a newborn, when day and night merge into one and we're lucky if we can remember to get dressed at all:
Perhaps spending all those months in hideous maternity clothes saps us of our self-confidence:
Or maybe the problem is simply economics – you can't afford to keep up with the trends yourself if your kid is wearing new Gymborees each season:
Whatever the reason, there's something about becoming a parent that changes a woman from someone who used to look pretty, polished and put-together into someone whose best friends should tell her kindly, “Honey, please don't put that on.”
Ladies, I know that once you have a kid there's less time than ever before to spend on elaborate grooming rituals. I know that pregnancy and childbirth wreak changes on our bodies that some of us don't like to think about. I know that we need to wear something that will let us go from meetings to hopscotch to a last-minute run to the grocery store, without binding us or making our feet hurt. I know that money's scarce and you hate to spend any of it on yourself – but Sweeties, there's no excuse for this.
You don't need to vacuum in high heels and pearls like a good 1950's sit-com housewife to be a Stylin' Mama, and neither do you need to look at all times like a PTA Mom. It's as easy to dress in style as it is to dress like a frump if you just put some thought into what you're throwing on your back.
Ditch the jeans for a casual skirt – they're as comfy as those holy sweatpants, but so much cuter. (If you suffer from “chub rub” in the thigh area, wear your skirts with a pair of bike shorts, or one of those pant slips.) Pulling on a soft, flowing pair of yoga pants (not skin-tight!) and a v-neck tunic sweater over a tank or tee doesn't take any more time than donning a pair of holey Lees and a Laughing Bunny t-shirt, but it will make a huge difference in the way you feel.
There are lots of reasons to reclaim your wardrobe:
If you're a working mom, wearing a 10-year-old suit with cat hair accessorizing the sleeves and shoes with run-down heels will get you assigned to the “Mommy Track” in a hurry.
If you're a stay-at-home mom, the “track pants, no makeup, baggy t-shirt, fuzzy slippers” look will prevent anyone from taking you seriously as an adult.
Most people make snap judgments about other people based on their appearances. If you want doctors, teachers, bosses or store clerks to take you seriously, you need to look like someone who knows what she's doing. If the first impression you give is “too busy – slash – exhausted to make an effort,” you won't receive the attention you deserve. Sad and unfair, but true.
Your kids are watching you. Look in the mirror. Is what you see how you want them to remember you when they're grown?
Your mate is watching you. You may only see each other at breakfast and after dinner. You want him to treat you as a person rather than a mother, right? Dress the part.
No matter what else you do, being a mom is part of your job right now. Like any trial lawyer, neurosurgeon or Starbucks barista, dressing the part shows your respect for your job.
The main reason to dress with style is you. Looking pretty will make you feel pretty. Looking pulled-together will give you more confidence to organize your life. You are a Mom, yes; but you're also a woman with dreams and ambitions of your own. Don't put that part of your life entirely on hold while you're raising your children.
So go on – burn the sweats. Put on those pretty slacks that are so flattering and top it with a belted tunic instead of your U of O t-shirt. Get your hair cut to a shape that's flattering to your face and easy to care for, or dye it some fun color (use semi-permanent dye if you don't want to commit). Wear mascara. Wear a little jewelry. Smile.
Spring will be here soon. We may as well bloom.