In the first years of being married, I ran the gamut from being a teacher, a student, a professional, to a full-time mother. I’d always been a bit of a clothes horse. I recall a whisper about me as I walked by my classmates in grad school. I’d just hopped off my eggplant purple scooter in a leopard-print skirt: “She always looks so put together.” After living in Seattle for a few years where the homeless lady next to you in PCC could actually be a Boeing exec, I learned to enjoy a more “laid back” style.
Three years later I moved south and was thrown into a social circle with gals from Mississippi and Louisiana. The first time I showed up at a playgroup for our babies, I was the only one in yoga pants and sneakers. Every other mommy had on boots. With heels. Did I even put on lip gloss? I can’t remember. My girls were still in their sleepers and the other babes wore Gap outfits. Wow, I’d let things slide!
Eventually, my kids grew up and started walking. They got so dirty playing outside that I developed what I called a “philosophy of clothing”. I bought half their clothes, which were bound to be ruined, at the thrift store. A quarter of their clothes came from a clearance rack and the rest were more intentional purchases from nice catalogs. I had graduated to skinny jeans, tees from J. Crew, and boots with heels. When I threw in a scarf and earrings, I was dressed up.
My kids are in school part time now, and sending them in their “grubbies” isn’t a great idea. I can still find great things for my son at the thrift store, but my girls need a few new pieces. As for me, I’m turning 38 soon. It’s harder (and more costly) to look nice as I age. Yoga pants only come out when I’m doing yoga. A friend has demanded that I raise the bar, and I’m trying. Garnet Hill seems to have captured a nice look for women my age. I like Boden, but a lot of their stuff is just boring design that looks good on swizzle stick models. J. Crew’s last catalog was somewhat inspirational. For a couple of seasons there, they looked like they dressed their models and styled their hair in a dark closet. Where can a formerly “put together” grown woman go to look fashionable, but not freakish? Elegant, but not old?