I’m a stay-at-home mom with two small kids. I work from home and live in the Midwest. Occasionally - very occasionally - I get the urge to dress up. It always goes something like this: I put on my nicest skinny jeans, I pick out a shirt that isn’t stretchy and cotton, I attempt to accessorize with whichever earrings haven’t been widowed by my toddler, I slap some make-up on my normally bare face, and then I do a quick and dirty Pinterest search for hairstyles I usually screw up 37 times before I end up sweaty and tangled; ultimately deciding the skinny jeans and makeup are enough of an effort for a Wednesday morning, thank you very much.
Once I’m dressed, I sit down to feed my 3-month-old. As I’m sitting, my jeans slip down and give me plumber crack. One arm starts falling asleep beneath the weight of my infant’s adorable boulder-head, so I try to move it and am reminded that polyester has no give whatsoever. I tug at the fabric, which shakes the nipple loose from my baby’s mouth, and he hollers in protest. I shove it back in and resign myself to not feeling my arm for the next 20 minutes or so.
Once he’s finished, I carry him with me to the kitchen to grab my morning coffee. As I search for a clean cup, my son yanks at my earrings and starts gumming the buttons on my nice shirt. My arm dozes off again and my asscrack comes back for an encore. I notice the hair on my neck - usually in a ponytail - is starting to stick to me because I’m sweating from the effort of wearing normal human clothes. I finally find a cup and fill it with fresh, steaming coffee, and right as I sit down, SPLAT. My son spits-up down my chest and all over the front of my shirt. It drips down into my good bra and pools beneath my boobs.
Gag. We’re done here.
I change back into my uniform: sports bra, plain cotton t-shirt, a pair of pants with no buttons or zippers, hair in a bun. I made it exactly two hours as a semi-fashionable mom.
Being fashionable when you have small children is difficult. There are so few practical offerings in the women’s clothing department. Everything is too short, too long, too tight, too loose, too flimsy. If you want jeans, you have two options: plumber crack every time you bend down or gigantic panel of denim across your “mummy tummy” that makes your torso look egg-shaped. If you want shorts, well, you’re shit out of luck because they only sell denim panties now. Dresses? How about a shapeless bag with no waistline and spaghetti straps that splinter under the weight of your engorged breasticles? The trendy stuff is usually uncomfortable, geared towards a body free of imperfections, impractical for childcare, or some combination of the three. Classic pieces are always a go-to, but if you’re shopping on the cheap the cuts are usually terrible, and if you’re shelling out good money for nice stuff you better not have a spit-up sprinkler at home.
I go to the store and I see things like crop tops, tiny skirts, high-waisted denim, Justin Bieber drop-crotch pants, and most recently, the return of overalls. I wonder, have I really given up on fashion or has fashion given up on me? I wore overalls once upon a time. I was in seventh grade, and I had a huge crush on a boy named Kurtis Scott. He was in my 5th period science class and had perfectly spiked hair like a Backstreet Boy. In a bid to impress him, I adopted the standard uniform of popular seventh grade girls everywhere: Tommy Hilfiger overalls and Dr. Martens boots. I distinctly remember sitting across from him in science class, dissecting an orchid to learn about plant sex organs (hawt), and throwing back my shoulders to show off how nicely the bib on my overpriced overalls transformed my C cups into a uni-boob.
Needless to say, it was awful. Overalls didn’t work for me then, and they won’t work for me now. Not only do I still have an intact, now-saggy potential uni-boob, but I’ve also added a decent-sized inner tube around my midsection that once housed children. I can’t just shroud all of that in denim. I look at a pair of overalls, and all I see is straps sliding down my arms, denim bunching in all the wrong places, and spit-up soaking the bib and dripping down into that inexplicable little front pocket that stretches across your boobs. I also see early-90s Drew Barrymore and clogs, but that’s a different article entirely.
My point is, you dress for the life you lead and fashion offers very, very few options that don’t look like an absolute pain in the ass when I’m considering the things I do on a daily basis. The stereotypical mom wardrobe exists for a reason: it’s convenient and easy, it moves, it’s washable. You can even buy it in every color so you always have back-up clothes to change into when it all goes to shit and you end up wearing motherhood on your person. Maybe I’ll feel differently when my kids are older and I don’t have bodily fluids being continuously hurled in my direction, but for now, screw it. I’ll see you at Target in my stretchy pants, and I will feel zero shame. In fact, if they’re having a good sale I might even buy some new ones.
(photo: Aspen Photo/ Shutterstock)