What a Mom Looks Like

The other day, Dan made a crack about the outfit I was wearing. He didn’t mean to be mean, but it made me cranky.

I’m a little self conscious sometimes about what I wear. It’s a combination of a lot of things:

1. Dressing for comfort: While there is nothing wrong with dressing for comfort, it doesn’t necessarily mean dressing well. On the weekends, I can rock the jeans and a hoodie, but it’s very easy to get in a rut. I find myself Saturday after Saturday in the same damn outfit (unless I’m going out socially, not just running to Target with the passel of children I’ve produced). For the record, it’s usually a Steelers hoodie with jeans and a white tee shirt. Ballet flats if it’s dry; wellies if it’s not.

I don’t like ruts.

2. Buying clothes. I’ve talked about it before: I don’t shop often, and I often don’t shop well. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying not to just buy things that are “close enough” to fitting me. Because those clothes look the absolute worst on me once I’ve got them home. Especially pants. The crack Dan made was about a new pair of black pants I had bought. When I combine them with my black boots, they end up looking like jodhpurs. All I need is a horse. It’s awful.

Now that I think about it, these pants look terrible with almost everything I’ve paired them with. Why did I buy these again? Oh, right, needed new black pants. They weren’t expensive, and they were “close enough”. See where that gets me?

3. Dressing for comfort at work. My workplace is business casual; Fridays are jeans day. Some days I just don’t feel like putting in an effort, so I end up in comfortable clothing that fits business casual, but doesn’t really look all that good or fashionable. For example, I have a very pretty sweater in pastel colors (and, no, I’m generally not a pastel kind of girl, but it was a gift). The cut is wrong for me, though, much too boxy. I threw it on one morning with my white denim pants. It was a perfectly acceptable outfit, and I got many a compliment on the sweater.

However, I did not like the outfit. It *felt* good — i.e. it was comfortable — but I seriously did not like my image in the mirror.

I looked like a mom.

Now, before moms go nuclear on me: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH LOOKING LIKE A MOM. I *am* a mom (something Dan pointed out to me when I took him to task for his crack about going riding the other day), but that doesn’t mean I want to fit the image of a mom all the time.

Maybe I’ve watched too much What Not to Wear.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to look like a MILF (er, MSWLF where SW = “someone would”?) or shop in the junior department. (Dad, please, *please* do not google MILF). But I also don’t want to be looked at and dismissed as a mom because of my clothes. (If I am looked at and dismissed as a mom because I’m wrangling my children in public, that’s more understandable.) I want to look well-dressed and put together, not like I’m either coming straight from the runway or I’ve escaped from my house by the skin of my teeth (even if the latter sometimes feels true). I also truly believe that you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort or vice versa. But it takes work to find the balance.

This is one of my favorite new comfortable, stylish (I think) outfits. I better go find some more like it, otherwise, I’m just going to wear this all the time. I seriously love it. I look good and I feel comfortable — and I feel that I look good. That’s the best part.

How do you dress? What’s more important, style or comfort? Are they mutually exclusive, or do I just have to do more legwork? So to speak.

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14 thoughts on “What a Mom Looks Like

  1. Cute!!

    Maybe you should schedule a monthly shopping date for yourself. Have Dan watch the kids, and you go solo. I often find that I get the best items when I don’t HAVE to shop.

    • I try to shop in once in the fall and once in the spring. And I try to shop alone, because shopping with children generally doesn’t work at all. I also — much like the food budget — see what I have, what I am still wearing, and what I can add to my wardrobe. Obviously, I’m not going out every season and overhauling my wardrobe! 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness I have SOOOO much to say about this. I recently went through the same thing and did a full sweep of my closet and seriously eliminated about 75% of the crap that I had in there. My rule now is that it has to be comfortable, and has to be flattering. BOTH criteria must fit or else the garment is OUT.

    I started to replenish my closet with a few solid pieces that are made well and not too trendy to stand the test of time. I had women at work much younger than me help me with this. I was at a loss. There are some basics that they said I MUST consider:

    1. Basic Black Dress
    2. Trench Coat
    3. Dress Pants
    4. Classic Shirt –
    5. Designer Jeans –
    6. White T Shirt Designer
    7. Fitted Skirt
    8. Day Dress
    9. Jacket
    10. Sweatsuit Alternative

    And some other feedback from a colleague regarding pants:

    Pants 101: What every woman needs in her closet

    1.) Basic trouser- You should try on fit and cuts from a bunch of different stores. When you find one that looks good, buy it in as many colors and prints as possible. These will be your day to day staples.
    2.) Slim fit- These are a straight, narrow leg fit that look polished and professional.
    http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=803072&locale=en_US&kwid=1&sem=false&sdReferer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bananarepublic.com%2Fproducts%2Fwomens-pants-by-fit.jsp
    3.) Wide-leg trousers- These pants are fun and stylish.
    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/diane-von-furstenberg-simca-wide-leg-pants/3151036?origin=related-3151036-0-0-1
    4.) Cropped ankle pants- I think these would be great for you. They’re easy to dress up or down with either a low heel or a cute nice flat. They’re a fool-proof trend to wear.
    http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/pants/croppedtrousers/PRDOVR~28490/28490.jsp
    5.) Black jeans- Black jeans are the best. I wear them to the office but they’re also great for going out, especially when you want to be casual but more dressed up than blue jeans. They transition easily from office to out.
    http://us.levi.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3926964&cp=3146849.3692011.3692015

    I need to post more to you….

    • I am always weeding stuff out of my wardrobe. That is one thing I am good about.

      Also, I am lucky in that a wide range of clothes and pant styles look good on me. It’s just a matter of shopping, trying things on, trying *more* things on, and then mixing and matching appropriately. not falling into a rut!

  3. I am NOT a trendy person and I tend to wear items all in monotone color. I found threedots.com that feels so good and honestly the look is so flattering. Check out there website. The cost is higher than I would like but I only buy things on sale. I buy tops, dresses, and cardigans from here.

    Then I focused on pants, see post above. Also leggings (hue.com). I went a little overboard with shoes (many of which were high heel) but I also bought some really cute flats.

    I also bought costume jewelry to add to the monitone comfort clothes. This really is a way to dress up your look while not spending alot of money to be trendy.

    From here on out, i will NEVER break the rule of 1) comfort; and 2) flattery. I actually don’t mind looking like a MILTF or whatever it is – it makes me feel sexy and good about myself and still like a woman. As long as I’m not dressing like I think I’m 20 I’m ok with looking sexy.

    Would love to continue this conversation — I really spent effort on this over this year and feel so much better about myself. Good luck to you!!!!! Purge your closet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Part of my other shopping problem is that I *love* color. And many women’s departments just don’t empasize bold, bright color. I won’t wear black pants and a bright shirt — not since I read “What You Wear Can Change Your Life”… or something like that. I try to take the advice in that book when I’m shopping.

      As far as looking sexy: yes, I, too, think looking sexy is fine. I guess I’m thinking of the Real Housewives look of appearing overtly sexed up, rather than dressing well and stylishly to accentuate the positive. 🙂

  4. I love the outfit you have up here, it is very modern and looks comfy. As a mom of four I know the uniform well. I like looking at catalogues that do outfit layouts. They help me look at my closet and figure out how to work with what I have and know what I need to get.

  5. Your story made me laugh. I’m a huge fan of cardigans, they’re one of my wardrobe staples and I own a fair amount. One day my husband (who I should point out, I’ve known since HIGH SCHOOL) said, “You know, I’ve never cared for you in a cardigan.” He thought they made me look soccer mom-ish. I was so shocked, because I kinda think of cardigans as “my thing,” you know? I tried to buy a few blazers, but blazers are 1) expensive and 2) look too fancy for my casual office.

    So my advice is to figure out a few things that YOU find stylish and comfy (excellent advice, Mama K). You can’t go wrong with the list she shared, but I don’t think you have to have everything on it necessarily, or overdo your entire closet in one fell swoop. But once you’ve decided on what your style is, then stock up on just those things, in different fabrics, colors, etc. I LOVE sweater dresses, leggings and boots, so I have several of those, from Old Navy, Athleta, etc. You look like you rocked that outfit too, btw. And I like skinny jeans and flats, so I plan on wearing those forever – I don’t care that wide-leg pants are in, they’re not flattering on me so I won’t buy them. I think it’s easier when you have an idea of at least a few things that you feel good in, so once you figure that out, then just focus on getting those items. Good luck!

    • I love both skinny jeans and wide-leg pants, and I am lucky that they both look good on me. But I’ve been liking the sweater dress look, too. I have a short list in my purse of a couple of wardrobe staples I’d like to have. Another sweater dress (or two) is on there!

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