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Posts Tagged ‘moms’

Ungh, Durc Evolve *Grunt*

I thought it would be a fantastic idea to make a mirror piece to raisarobin’s work wear post but then I realized that I hadn’t been to work for the last 17 months and for the 9 months before that, I went to work looking like this.

I actually LOVED the Baby Style black sweater I'm wearing and the Baby Style T-shirt underneath. Raisarobin gave me those!

I actually LOVED the Baby Style black sweater I'm wearing and the Baby Style T-shirt underneath. Raisarobin gave me those!

If you can do math, that’s 26 months ago that I had to think about what to wear each morning. I don’t remember what I was thinking yesterday let alone 2 years ago! So I decided to focus on what I wear to work now.

I’ve always been a no fuss low maintenance gal. I’ve prided myself in this. Last week as I was groggily lazying about in bed with my toddler, my husband came into the bedroom wrapped in a towel and bellowed, “Are you going to be ready to go in 10 minutes!?” I rolled out of bed, put on my rolled up AG jeans that are 2 sizes too big, pulled on my nursing tank, grabbed a T-shirt and said “Yes” to turn around and find my husband still wrapped in his towel brushing his hair.

This is my summer business casual look. I wouldn’t go to court in this. In fact, I don’t WANT to have an outfit I’d wear to court. I left my life of crime behind in juvie.

My AG jeans rolled up, Glamour Mom nursing tank in black (I have them in 4 colors)

My AG jeans rolled up, Glamour Mom nursing tank in black (I have them in 4 colors)

So now you all know that I REALLY need a new uniform. I’d worked the fancy jeans, cute T-shirt and hoodie look to the ground. I did it for about 5 years. I did it until the cows came home. They came home, went to bed, got up the next morning, ploughed, then came home again. They came home so many times. It speaks of a certain era in my life and I rocked it hard. I looked good. I feel like I’ve evolved a bit since then. I’m 36. I’m a mom. I’m searching. It won’t be an easy process and there will be missteps along the way and you better bet your sagging pear bottom that I will post those missteps here.

For now, I will leave you with this inspirational mother I saw yesterday at University Village. This is a look that screams “I am a mother but I love fashion. I love ME. I complete me!”

If you can believe it, she actually had two daughters, both dressed in the same outfit. Pink double stroller, natch.

If you can believe it, she actually had two daughters, both dressed in the same outfit. Pink double stroller, natch.

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Eddie Bauer Fine-Gauge Cardigan in Raspberry, $29.99

Eddie Bauer Fine-Gauge Cardigan in Raspberry, $29.99

Investing money in my own Clo-thing last year was a big decision. I had a new job which meant I needed new clothes but had a new income.  That’s not where everyone is at in Current Economic Times. It can feel indulgent if not wasteful to buy new clothes at all.  If you feel like your budget is your biggest reason for not dressing like you want, I suggest starting with an honest self-assessment.
 

Assess what you currently spend.

Even if you never “go shopping,” you are wearing something and you probably bought it.  My own wardrobe budget used to be hidden in my Target and Costco budgets.  Inventory your closet and estimate what you’ve spent over the years acquiring your wardrobe.  Don’t forget clothes you bought but discarded.  Include shoes, coats and underwear.  Compare the overall $$$ to the average time you’ve had your wardrobe (Two years? Five?)  

MaxMara Cropped Cashmere Cardigan, $635 at Saks Fifth Avenue

MaxMara Cropped Cashmere Cardigan, $635 at Saks Fifth Avenue

If you have $750 worth of stuff and it’s been around for 3 years, think about it — How could you budget $750 over the next 3 years?  If you decided how you want to dress, would that dollar amount really be the obstacle?  If you’ve spent $5,000 or more in recent years — are you really happy with the investment? But spending doesn’t guarantee style any more than a tight budget precludes it.  If this exercise finds you confused, guilty, or making excuses (that dress doesn’t count because ____! I hate that I spent ____ and still feel ____ when I look in my closet!), let’s talk.

Christian LaCroix Beaded Thong Sandal, $654 at Saks

Alfani Petunia Sandal, $29.99 at Macys

 

$139.50 worth of Gymboree Girls Clothes

$139.50 of clothing and accessories from Gymboree's "Little Sugar" line

 

Who is your priority? 

If you are a mom, you dress other people in your family, too.  If you have a baby daughter, you are at risk for Gymboree Sublimation Syndrome: spending all your money making someone else look cute, and ignoring yourself.  This happens (less often) with husbands as well; when mine to work for the Senate during the legislative session, he needed a new wardrobe of suits, ties and shoes – oof.  Other women love to buy gifts for their moms or sisters, constantly finding things that will look good on someone else. 

Is this you? Be honest about the message you are sending yourself.  Are you telling yourself you’re too heavy, too boring, or not hip enough to wear the clothes you actually like?  Do only other people “deserve” them, in your mind? Think about how you WANT to look and feel.  Why isn’t this a priority for you?  My daughter is an absolute princess, but she is not yet two, and I should spend proportionately LESS on her than I do for myself. I want her to look up to me and see a confident, together woman with self-respect.  That’s an investment, not an indulgence. 

Merona Collection Taffeta Party Dress in Cherry, $39.99 at Target

Merona Collection Tafetta Party Dress in Cherry. Target, $39.99

Where is your power?

You wear clothes EVERY DAY.  Getting dressed is one of the first things we do in the morning.  A functional wardrobe improves every aspect of your life.  Having good outfits lets me get dressed faster, fuss less, accept more social invitations and be more outgoing at work.  A clothing budget – of some size – should be an integral part of your personal life in the same way you budget for your home, car, kids, or personal care. If you will spend $60 on movies or music but a $60 shirt makes you balk, think about why: I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just suggesting if you’re unhappy with how you look it’s worth reflecting.

In a marriage dynamic, women’s clothing often plays the role of an extravagance (or worse, a bargaining chip).  If you share budgeting decisions with a partner, this is a boundary thing.  Decide what’s affordable and reasonable for you to spend on clothes. Explain (or propose) your clothing budget and resolve questions up front. Adjust a yearly amount if necessary, but don’t get bogged down in asking permission or defending each purchase.  This is your body and you need to take responsibility for dressing it.  

Maggy London Satin Sheath in Ultra Berry, $158 at Nordstrom

Maggy London Satin Sheath in Ultra Berry, $158 at Nordstrom

Assess whether cost is really the issue.

If you’re convinced you could dress better if only you had more money, try it.  Spend two hours at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale next weekend.   If possible, find someone to wait on you in the dressing room.  Tell them you’re only interested in sale items, but try on what you like without looking at the price tags.  Find the best fit, find fabulous colors and prints.  Try new styles.  Don’t hold back because nothing works with your only pair of shoes.  See how you feel when you look in the mirror.  Hand back what doesn’t work, and have them hold anything that you love.   Go to Hot Dog on a Stick, order a big lemonade, drink it, and THEN think about the cost. 

If you spread it out over the coming years (you’re going to buy clothes anyway), is it an investment you can handle?  Scale back, prioritize, and think about it.  If just one piece make you feel genuinely Fabulous, makes you look 10 pounds thinner, makes you want to march out and take over the world because you’re finally dressed – buy it.  And don’t play games like “$200 normally buys me 10 things, not two!” That’s an empty heuristic: 10 lame pieces you aren’t buying are NOT worth the same as two awesome pieces you want to buy.  Know what you can afford and spend it.  If you simply can’t stomach the prices, make a note of what you loved and why (preferably in a blog comment here!)  Then lookout for similar cuts and styles at Target or J. C. Penney.  You usually get what you pay for (I posted two very similar dresses for comparison), but lower price points work well if you know what to look for. 

When I tried to spend real money on real clothes, I learned a lot about my spending (and myself).   Splurging (spending money you don’t have) doesn’t work.  Honest financial self-assessment can.

Where I’m finding good buys these days:

  • The Gap – not for college students anymore.  Gap is becoming less trendy and cut for grown women.
  • H&M – A mixed bag, much of it is young/trendy and cheaply made, but there are some great pieces if you look.
  • Ann Taylor Loft – Lots of good worky stuff (but runs short-waisted)
  • Macy’s One Day Sales
  • Nordstrom.  Half-yearly and Anniversary Sales are always worth it ; Point of View is mid-point priced and sales are very reasonable;  Brass Plum IF you keep it under control and don’t think it’s making you Look Younger. I drank Mike’s Hard Lemonade for an entire week during my vacation so I’m not in the mood to be a snob about getting too old for a cheap good time.
  • Target and Costco. I know. But it’s summer and I just need Dockers Capri pants some days.

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I recently met up for coffee with my good colleague JQ.  As we sat reminiscing about the days of yore long gone, we paused to look at ourselves with our matching baby strollers, she in her Ohio State sweatshirt and New York Yankees baseball cap and me in my $6 Old Navy T-shirt and a mullet and wondered aloud, “How did we get here!?”

me, with a then 8 month old and JQ with a days old newborn

me with a then 8 month old and JQ with a days old newborn. I'm wearing a Mariners sweatshirt and cap.

I don’t know about you but I seem to always have a constant battle inside, between the person I look like and the person I know I am.  Thinking back on my life I can only recall a couple of instances when those two identities converged and I felt the best that I could be. One was during the latter part of college and early career when I was in my early to mid-20s, and the other was during my late 20s and early 30s when I worked side by side with JQ at the University.

me in michael stars and Buffalo jeans, JQ in zodiac leo shirt i bought her. (My Bally purse was over $300!!)

We were young, single and carefree. We made just enough money to support our Michael Stars habit (I swear to you at one point I had about 20 Michael Stars shirts hanging in my closet), we shopped at Nordstroms and Anthropologie but also at the Gap or thrift, mixing and matching as we pleased, fashion rules be damned.  My favorite piece of clothing of JQ’s was a pair of swooshing windbreaker pants in pale blue from the Gap, complete with embroidered flowers down one of the back legs. Sure, we wanted to look cool and hip but I also think we wore some outrageous or obnoxious pieces just out of spite or just to entertain each other, like our own little private joke.

my shirt says "eye candy" (AND $92 at Nordstrom), in raglan sleeves that I love. JQ in michael stars

The other hobby we had was to make fun of the academics we encountered every day. Most of the young women were fun, intelligent, motivated, and absolutely wonderful people.  What struck us was how strange it was that the majority of them seemed to have completely given up on how they looked. JQ and I lovingly called these people “Mrs Spitzer” or “I give up” or “Christmas Sweater.”  These were vibrant women in their 20s, 30s with perfectly pretty faces walking around wearing high-waisted tapered pants, or sweatshirts with wolves or dolphins on them.

me in INC shirt, halogen jeans and steve madden boots. JQ in michael stars

Years passed.  We matured, married, had babies, and left the work force.  We started to worry whether something was appropriate for our age, income or lifestyle and we got less and less daring. We now sit in coffee shops with our spit upon T-shirts and rolled up jeans… Have we now become Mrs. Spitzers!? No, not yet. No. But we are close. The irony is, we might even actually dress “better” at this point in our life because we’ve figured out some fashion rules that work for and against us. But we had so much FUN back then, didn’t we?

me in shirt from anthropologie, skirt from brass plum! JQ in something similar, I'm sure

How can we recapture the spirit of our glory days? How can we still look good AND feel good but also keep a little crazy? Yes, our drummer only has one arm now and our guitarist is dead, but I think it’s time we reunited and go on a comeback tour. We will be back, just you wait and see.

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There probably aren’t many of us that can say that our moms were our fashion role models growing up.  Chances are, they routinely embarrassed us with their utter uncoolness.  My mom wasn’t particularly badly dressed but she wasn’t exactly sassy or hip either.  Sure, I did occasionally borrow her pastel pink sweater when I was in the 8th grade and then stole her sleeveless chambray shirt in college but that was about it.

My mom and I at the zoo in Japan, summer of 1973

My mom and I at the zoo in Japan, summer of 1973

Digging through my old photos recently I found a picture of my mom with a 1 year old me.  She had her last child (me) when she was 35.  I had my first child when I was 35.  My boy is now 1 so this means that this photo was taken when she was the age I am now!  Wow.  I have sort of a newfound retroactive fashion respect for my mom now.  Not a fashion model or anything, but she is totally cute here.  Keep in mind she also had a 4 year old and a 5 year old to run around after at this time.  Way to go, mom.  You inspire me.

(Please, nothing about the hair! I had caveman hair for the first 10 years of my life.)

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My Rules

The advantage of age, I hope, is experience and wisdom.  If you make enough of the same mistakes over and over you should start figuring out what works for you, and what doesn’t.  At least that’s been the case with me.  And by starting to cut out certain things from my wardrobe, shopping has actually become much easier.  There are still pieces I’m working through and trying to figure out but these are the things that I absolutely know:

No turtlenecks or collared shirts

I think this is because I was strangled or hung to death in a past life.  I can’t stand having anything around my neck, even jewelry.  Also, by narrowing in on my neck these styles emphasize by comparison my large breasts, which I am now trying to deflect attention from.  I know that tailored fitted shirts that are the right size won’t gape at the breast area but this is just something I’ve decided for myself not to deal with.  Also, it just isn’t ME.

No whites or pastels

I know myself.  I have a true story from college involving myself, three identical cute white Banana Republic shirts, fruit punch, multiple wardrobe changes, and much hilarity.

No special treatment

No dry clean, no line dry, no hand wash (This tends to eliminate a lot of sweaters, which is ok because I tend to run hot).   I don’t have the time.  I have 3 cats and a toddler so I need things that can get barfed/peed/pooped/drooled on that I can throw in the wash and dryer without worrying.  This wasn’t always the case but for the time being I’ve decided shirts can be my disposable item.  They can still look good if the cut and style is right.  Then I balance it out with higher quality denim and shoes.

Long enough shirts

Even though I’m only 4’11” I am long-waisted.  I am proud of my butt but I don’t like exposing my butt crack to the world. I also know a little something about muffin tops.  Therefore I never buy tops that will expose any part of my mid-section.

There are more but that’s all I have time for tonight. After a while you’ll see a sort of a “uniform” start to emerge (More on that later). It is nice to have rules, but rules that are tailor made specifically for you.  There are people who look fantastic in white, or turtlenecks. But you won’t see me in them because I feel uncomfortable and therefore will not look good.

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Hello, I’m deathmama.  You may not know it from the way I look today but I’ve put a lot of time and thought into this question over the years. I dress to look and feel good, for myself.  I don’t dress to be trendy, fashionable, or to attract attention (though there were times in my past when I dressed for all of those reasons!).  Now at 36, I just want to be comfortable but not look like a total cow.

To achieve this, I’ve had to impose some rules for myself.  I’ll be using this blog to throw out these little thought nuggets from time to time. Here’s the first one.

Only keep what you wear

It’s harder than you’d think but saves a lot of time and grief later. If I haven’t worn it in a year I probably will never wear it.  There’s a reason why I haven’t worn it.  It’s too small, it’s too loose, it’s not the right color, the fit isn’t quite right, the fabric feels weird, there’s a stain on it, the button’s missing, etc.  If something in my closet looks good only on the hanger but not on me, then it has to go.  I realized this when I did my big closet purge of 1997.  I had so many sentimental pieces.  A book I was reading at the time (“Simple Isn’t Easy” by the late Olivia Goldsmith and Amy Fine Collins) said something like “It’s not a diary, it’s your closet!” which struck a chord with me then and stays with me still.  Clothes are for wearing.  I don’t have a lot of time thinking about what to put on each morning.  But if I know that I can wear everything I own, then I only need to reach in and grab a top, bottom and go.  I already know they work on me.

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