I was at Pottery Barn last week and saw two women, probably in their early 50’s, who were dressed so hip it made me uncomfortable. I’m not sure what my problem was, but when they walked by in their heels, low rise cords, shrunken jackets and very blond hair, I got the heebie jeebies. Both women were in great shape, and their outfits were perfectly put together.
I guess I was wondering about some of my own recent fashion missteps, and feeling insecure about how to dress. Nine years ago my closet went from work clothes, to casual, stay at home mom clothes. I admit to a few years of looking schlubby, particularly when my breast-feeding breasts were so big I couldn’t even see my feet. Case in point: when I had my first child, it was still okay to go out in public wearing a unisex t-shirt and overalls. I’m at a point now where my closet is pretty much comfy clothes and dressy clothes, without much in between. I think comfy clothes are getting much cuter, so it’s possible to look pretty good when only running to Target or the vet. I tell myself that my chocolate brown velour hoodies and pants aren’t going to one day remind me of the baggy fuchsia “sweat suit” I wore during the eighties.
None of this explains why I felt so funky around the women at Pottery Barn. Was I jealous because they both were in better shape and better coifed than I was? Why did I shrink away? Was I worried I might catch a glimpse of a thong? I guess it’s just that when I was growing up, moms tended to look like moms. While we were prancing around in our tight stonewashed jeans and v-neck Forenza sweaters, our moms wore sensible sweaters, pants, and maybe a wrap-around skirt. It’s one of my least favorite words, but I think the term “slacks” sums the look up pretty well. Now, the line between “young clothes” and old has really blurred and I’m not sure where I fit in.
I feel young and want to dress young. No up to the chest “mom jeans” for me. I try to wear clothes that are fitted and flattering. But I still wonder, how much is too much? Can I still venture into a juniors department, or is that simply too weird for a 38 year old? I haven’t stepped foot into Abercrombie since it became apparent that it was no longer the place to buy khaki pants and wool sweaters. Some stores I pass have mannequins so small, it looks like preteens should shop there.
I tried to wear a cute terry cloth tube top from Target last summer. It was brown and was loose around the middle with elastic at the top and bottom, not like the pink one I wore to the junior high carwash when I was twelve. That one was so tight, my little breasts were highlighted and my chubby tummy stuck out. I was about 10 minutes into that carwash when I realized I was in fashion hell.
I have lots of friends who dress well, and I wanted to try something new. I had recently attended a wedding and a reunion in strapless dresses (go White House/Black Market!) and was feeling pretty good about myself and my tanned shoulders. The Target tube top was on clearance, so I thought, “why not?” I entered our beach house living room for the debut, thinking I might be more comfortable in this vacation setting, rather than the dentist’s office or grocery store at home. Husband said nothing. He has not said anything about my clothes since an incident when we were dating and he said I looked “homely” in my new dress. He insists he meant “homey,” but, really, is that a compliment? Anyway, no comments all around, until my 8 year old son walked in and said, “Mom, you are missing part of your shirt.” Hmmmm.
Fashion-wise, I feel like I should have pretty decent credentials, having been voted “Best Dressed” both in high school and as a young high school teacher. However, the first honor was in 1987, and there wasn’t a whole lot of competition for the second. Oh well.
I know that we should dress in a way that makes us feel comfortable, confident, and, if possible, doesn’t embarrass our children. I feel like I may wake up at age 60 and wonder why I didn’t take more fashion risks when I was say, 38. Am I wasting these years on shirts that cover my stomach?