While I’m sure at least two of you out there are eagerly waiting for my Manilow recap, unfortunately I haven’t been able to write it yet. On Tuesday, I was poked in the eye by a yucca while weeding, whacked in the forehead with a vacuum cleaner attachment while vacuuming, and then, just to complete the loser trifecta, our washing machine overflowed and flooded our wood floors and I had to run around like a maniac with a Shop Vac for the next day and a half. (Clearly, I must have royal blood because my DNA can’t handle this domestic shit.) Anyway, I’ll have the Manilow Magic up next week. For now, here’s my column that appeared in the February 2010 issue of Austin Woman Magazine.
I used to be fashionable. This was many years ago, when I worked for a movie studio and later advertising agencies and I didn’t have kids. Every morning, I’d wake up and spend at least an hour getting dressed in my chic black suits or form fitting skirts. Then I’d carefully style my hair, put on make-up and as a final touch, I’d even accessorize with some trendy jewelry. I looked so good that people on the street would often stop and stare when I passed by.
Now it’s a few years and a couple of children later, and you could say that my fashion sense has changed a bit. I still spend at least an hour getting dressed in the morning, but that’s only because I’m also packing lunches, tying shoes, signing permission slips, guzzling coffee and making breakfast. As for hair and make-up, well, I’m lucky if I can brush my teeth and put on a hat before running out of the house to drop off the kids. Of course, people on the street still stop and stare when I pass by, but now it’s because they’re scared I’m going to knock them down and steal their wallets.
My mismatched socks make me look a little suspicious.
My downward fashion spiral began, as it does for most mothers, when I was pregnant. Suddenly I was no longer able to wear cute clothes with labels that said “Juicy Couture” or “Lucky Jeans.” No, I had to wear not-so-cute clothes with labels that said “Mother Time” or “MaternityWare” or “Give Me Ham or I’ll Sit On You, Dummy.” My mother always tells me how much more stylish maternity clothes are these days compared to when she was pregnant, but I’m not so sure about that. After all, a muumuu is a muumuu is a muumuu. And even when it’s not, it’s still a frickin’ muumuu.
Once I had my first baby and had to deal with all that entailed, looking stylish was about the last thing I cared about. I didn’t even have time to take a shower, much less a few spare moments to make sure my purse and shoes were well coordinated (or that my nursing bra was latched.) And even on the rare occasion when I sucked it up and dressed in something nice, it was only a matter of seconds before whatever I was wearing was covered in gallons of disgusting baby spit-up. It got so bad that by the time I had my second son, I only wore shirts that were available in the shades of Digested Milk and Mashed Peas. (Available from the Kathy Lee Collection at K-Mart.)
Over the next few years, I found myself falling easily into the stay-at-home mom routine of wearing jeans and sneakers every day. Or I’d just throw on some workout wear that, for some reason, was never actually used to work out. But most days I didn’t have anywhere more exciting to go than the playground or the grocery store, so buying fashionable, new clothes just didn’t seem that important. I was more concerned with being comfortable. Once I even contemplated buying a pair of ultra-casual Crocs until I realized they made me look like a a psychotic blonde frog who squishes when she walks.
Then one day, not too long ago, my husband glanced at me while I was chugging through the kitchen in search of candy. He looked me up and down and very quietly said, “You’re wearing those pants…again?”
“Um, yeah,” I answered. “I thought you liked these.”
“I do like them,” he replied, “but that doesn’t mean I want to see them every single day for the rest of my life. Maybe you should go buy a few new pairs. You know, just to keep me guessing.”
“Fine,” I huffed, “but once you see the Visa bill, you’re going to wish I wore these stupid pants every day. Sucker.”
And that was the beginning of what could possibly be called my “Fashion Renaissance.” I’ve now renewed, refreshed and updated my wardrobe with designer jeans, strappy sandals, and cute t-shirts, and it’s actually made me feel like I’m back to my old self. In fact, I can almost be called stylish these days. (Key word: “almost.”) And while I’ll never go back to the days of dressing up in my chic black suits, I guess that’s OK.
They’d probably look ridiculous with my mismatched socks, anyway.