The Mom’s (Tumultuous) Relationship With Style

As a blogger, a mother, and a woman, I am curious what other moms think of style.

Is it important to you? If so, is it important every day or only on special occasions?

If it’s not important to you, then why?

There’s no right answer, but I’m truly interested in what you think. I read numerous blog posts about the merits of yoga pants. I also recently read a post on Scary Mommy that sparked (what I found to be) a rather depressing comment thread on showering. (Spoiler alert: there are lots of moms who think your lazy ass can shower daily right after having a baby). In the interest of disclosure, I was a depressed mess after my first child and didn’t care AT ALL about showering. I was doing things like trying to breastfeed, trying to sleep, and wondering why my colicky baby didn’t like me.

This discussion made me wonder what these same moms think of yoga pants or my standard uniform of jeans? I would describe my daily style as suburban bag lady. With it being winter, I’m usually wearing jeans, a sweater, some type of shoe that’s easy to get on, and messy hair.

On the days I actually make it to the gym, I feel lucky to get a shower and dry my hair. (Honestly, I usually feel so damn proud of myself for exercising that the day is a victory no matter what else I do).

On the days I don’t make it to the gym, I might not shower. I have three hours of free time while my youngest is at preschool. There are days when I shove (what I think is) an impressive amount of “to-do’s” into these three hours. There are also days when I drink coffee and go back to sleep because I can’t face life. I call this balance. You can call it whatever you want. All this means that what I’m wearing for the day is a hasty decision made out of necessity because I have other things on my mind.

I’m telling you all this because, for me, this means that style seems superfluous on many days. I’m not lazy or (usually) dirty. However, putting on the right jewelry, wearing something besides jeans, or possibly ruining one of the cute shirts I love, seems like over-thinking what I need to wear to accommodate my job description. If I’m sitting in front of my computer, doing laundry, or shuttling kids, then I have a hard time busting my ass to look cute. It’s also a waste of my good make-up, which I cannot abide.

What say you about this? Do you agree? Do you disagree?

All this remaining true, I do put forth the effort to show some personal style when I get a date night or a visit with my girlfriends. If I have somewhere to go besides school, home, and the grocery store, I’ll give it some effort. I like clothes. I like shoes. I like cool jewelry. I even shaved a portion of my head because I thought it was wicked sweet (or because I’m fighting 40?). I consider it a statement of what my style would be if I could actually have style.

If I were a famous celebrity who could wear cute stuff and have my picture taken, Gwen Stefani would be my style muse. She’s so edgy and I’d love to pretend I’m that hip. However, with the facts being that I’m just Mandy from Kentucky, this means I can live a peaceful life in blue jeans from Old Navy (with a stain on the knee from the Halloween pumpkin painting debacle). I love those jeans and I’m not getting rid of them, Mom.

Let’s break for a philosophical moment, dude.

Is it possible that style is simply a concept that’s sold to us like everything else? Beauty standards, mothering standards, marriage standards, and friendships standards are all fodder that help sell magazines and get us to sit around reading about this crap on the internet. We might rage against the machine in moments of clarity, but in the end we are all buying clothes, questioning our parenting style, and going on a diet.

My last thought on this point was sparked by an article from Real Simple about clearing out unwanted clothes from your closet. It was a good article, but there was one little side blurb that hit me the wrong way. In discussing whether or not an item of clothing should be kept or not, the blurb said, “How would you feel if you were wearing it when you ran into your ex?”

While I understand the intent is to help you get rid of clothes you don’t need and to let go of things that don’t make you feel good, this made me wonder whom it is we are dressing for to begin with? While style can be a personal form of art and self-expression, shouldn’t we dress for our own gratification? If yoga pants make you happy, then why wouldn’t you wear them? (With the implicit understanding that you also know when not to wear them?) As much as I like jeans, I know that I can’t wear them to the Chamber of Commerce dinner I attend with my husband, for example.

So, what is my personal style? It’s hard to say. As I’m writing this, I’m wearing blue gym shorts, a red race shirt from a race I didn’t run, and my husband’s flannel jacket because it was handy and it’s f*cking cold. I also haven’t showered. I think this means my personal style is practical. It’s cold, I’m at home, and it’s morning. Will I wear this for school drop off? Probably. Would I get out of the car in it? Only if the car was on fire. Like, really on fire and I had no time to drive home first.

Discussing personal style feels like another way for me to say what I always say: just be you. I feel like I’m usually talking to the moms who are, like me, not always together. I’m never going to be the fittest mom, the most stylish mom, the most organized mom, or the “most anything” mom. I’m just a mom doing the day-to-day. I might wear lipstick one day and I might scrap by with just brushing my teeth on another.

Style is really about the way you handle both.