Becoming a Fashion Forward (Or At Least Not So Behind) Momma

This post on a friend’s Facebook page about Diane von Furstenburg collaborating with Gap to produce some limited-edition GapKids must-haves for wee ones reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for some time.

At one of my baby showers (one of the only blessings that come with divorced families), a nice friend gave me this book called Baby Steps: A Little Handbook for Happy Parenting. Rule No. 3 in the book was: Yes, the baby will dress better than you for awhile.

I remember laughing at reading that at first. But then something happened and I almost took it as a challenge.

I have never been really concerned with fashion. Sure, I want to look good. But for years, I have been a believer in basics. Accessorize black, white, gray, or tan with some fun earrings, funky jewelry, and/or cute shoes and you are all good. It makes perfectly logical sense except that what you don’t realize (especially when on a budget) is that, year to year, your clothes never change–and quite possibly neither do you. I started to realize this in college when, as a joke, my roommate outlined my wardrobe–a black long-sleeve turtleneck for winter, a black short-sleeve turtleneck for spring, and a black sleeveless turtleneck for summer.

Point taken. And while in my post-graduate years, I took this all into consideration, I’m not really sure I made many significant strides. I actually hated skinny jeans until I realized that they were way easier to tuck into riding-style boots, which is one trend I absolutely adored. (Still do.) But cargo skinnies? No way. Gladiator sandals? Definitely a little too bold. Flat t-straps were okay, but the big-heeled version seemed a little excessive. And fancy shorts? Not a chance. Who  (other than celebrities) can get away with wearing silk shorts out to a bar or club anyway?

I still cared about looking current, but I didn’t really care about being trendy. In fact, I was willing to forgo trends for my own style comfort. But then came baby.

Ever since my little bundle of boy arrived, I’ve been so more interested in what clothes I’m wearing than I ever was. (Ever.) I don’t need expensive, designer duds, but suddenly I do want things that at least look trendy even if they come from Target. I will admit that one of the first things I bought for fun once I lost my baby weight was a pair of gray skinny cargo pants. (A lesson in never say never.)

But I’ve bought also sorts of crazy stuff in the past year because it was hot, cool, trendy, or fun. (By definition that would mean it also would totally qualify as impractical as a new mom. I think I might be taking “Pregnant in Heels” to a new level.) Yes, I actually bought a gorgeous pair of grey suede, over-the-knee, chunk-heeled boots this past fall. I don’t doubt that I made a statement when I wore them to my first French mommy group.

Similarly my last two shoe purchases for summer were as follows (the one on the left is Nine West and the on the right is Franco Sarto):

These gladiators were made for strollin'...

Not the greatest picture, but also arguably not the greatest selection, if you are talking about heel height versus functionality when it comes to lugging car seats or diaper bags or chasing children around. But, at the time, I felt that I needed (and deserved) them, so I bought them. (I still feel justified.)

I mentioned this sudden new-found interest or commitment or whatever you can call it in fashion–or at least trends, because who am I kidding, I don’t dare spend my husband’s hard-earned deployment money on essentially a label–to a couple of other mommy friends recently and found I wasn’t alone. Many of them were feeling the same, like they needed to make an extra effort to look good anytime they went somewhere other than the grocery store or gym. Showering was no longer just enough; we needed to have the whole package together. It’s like a passive-aggressive refusal among new moms to fit the stereotypical image of a new mom.

I say this, but I certainly don’t mean that women like me are trying to forget or hide that we are moms. I mean, we’re all cool with being a mom and having a lifestyle as a mom. I think the question is, do we need to wear t-shirts, khaki shorts, and flip flops or sneakers (or worse, Crocs) everyday? Hells no!

The only unfortunate part to this new sense of fashion daring for mommies like me is that we don’t have all that many places to go. The options are seriously limited–grocery store, Target, gym, church, work, and anything else pretty much is extra effort that may or may not require a babysitter. So while I’m buying these cute wardrobe goodies, I’m not really putting them through their courses for a night out on the town or anything. (In this sense, I actually look forward to meetings at the office because it means that I can get semi dressed up.)

But I buy the clothes anyway, despite some of its impracticality–I also recently bought a black, silk tulip skirt, which totally qualifies–because it’s really the only way I feel connected to the normal world. I’m so busy chasing, cleaning, feeding, bathing, and putting to bed that I barely have time to turn on the TV or answer e-mails, much less keep up with the all the latest happenings from around the globe. (That totally sucks, especially for a journalist by trade, to be constantly behind the power curve when it comes to knowing what’s going on in the world.) So, wearing something that looks sort of trendy is almost like a last stretch to stay connected with everything around me.

Maybe it sounds completely shallow. And maybe it is. But I completely feel more human and more together as an urban momma when I’m pushing my stroller wearing gladiator wedge sandals.

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2 Comments

Filed under babies, baby clothes, daily life, fashion and style, infants, maternity fashions, mom style, mommy care

2 responses to “Becoming a Fashion Forward (Or At Least Not So Behind) Momma

  1. Abbie

    Until you hit a crack on the sidewalk 😉

    I feel like I’ve had this same conversation with different people lately. How many times have I heard myself say, “I’ve never cared more about the way I look than I do now”? The nagging question in the back of my mind is this: When people see me, do they see a mom?

    It’s not that I don’t want to look like a mom, not at all. These are some of my proudest moments, diaper disasters and all. But I also don’t want to be pegged as “just” as mom. I think, when it comes down to it, it’s as much about looking good even if you feel a little run down, as it is about feeling connected to the version of ourselves we were pre-baby. It’s about declaring that we are still those same women–active, smart, attractive and relevant–while becoming mothers, in addition. It’s easy to feel invisible, especially to when you’re a stay-at-home mom. If it takes a brightly colored tunic, or, in you case, gladiator wedges, to feel like we’re not blending into the background, then so be it.

    Flashback to us walking around Georgetown, you in kitten heels (I believe), and me in my Target maxi dress. I think we totally rocked the put-together urban momma look! But how things have changed indeed, when our only stops post-lunch were Anthropologie (for home stuff, mostly) and a baby boutique.

  2. I love my purple kitten-heeled slingbacks! Even if they almost caused a major splat in the middle of the restaurant as I rounded a corner coming back from the restroom. 🙂

    As I read your comment, the one word that totally sticks out to me is invisible. Maybe deep down that is how we all feel, at some point or another, as a mom. Most of the time we’re little more than a sherpa, constantly schlepping groceries, animals, baby and baby belongs here, there, and everywhere. It’s so easy to get lost in the chaos and hard to remember that you are more than a vehicle.

    I also wonder what other people see when they see me these days. A lot of times I feel like I must look rather rundown or something because I feel like other moms are meeting my glances with a certain knowing smile. Point in case was when I got in an elevator the other day to go to the gym and one of the other moms from my workout class sort of hesitantly point to my shirt and said, “Ummm, you’ve got something on your shirt.” It was a size label (new tank top) that I had neglected to remove. Sadly, the gym was not the first place I had gone that morning.

    Because there are always days like that, I guess on the days that we do have some place to go there’s no reason not to make more of it than perhaps it is. Why not bust out the bright tunics and kitten heels to go around the block?

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