Let’s Make “Wearing Mom Clothes” Be a Good Thing
I'm 37 and just bought a wireless bra (that was not for nursing) for the first time, and I was like, sweet Jesus, this is HEAVEN.
Dear God, this is the best thing I've ever worn. At 36, I bought my first pair of “mom jeans” and I’m never looking back.
This begs the question, does your style change because you become a mom, or does it have more to do with age?
I’ve mulled over this long and hard while writing this essay: why are certain clothes considered “mom clothes”? But I think that time affects style, with or without the addition of children. We happen to live in a time right now when comfort is somewhat of a trend in itself – athleisure, expensive yoga wear that can dressed up, Adidas trainers and “Dad sneakers” ruling the runways of fashion weeks recently past and present. For me, I think style has much to do with age than with motherhood.
Let’s get this out of the way: I have three young kids under 7, and I went through that “comfort first” period that seems to define most moms – for me, this was when I had my first baby. Though I was never a full-on yoga pants, t-shirt kinda gal, I did dutifully put away all my cute heels in favor of flats 100% of the time when I first became stay-at-home. Options for tops were limited to button-downs since I was nursing, and forget about dresses – if it’s not a wrap dress, then it isn’t breastily accessible and therefore not deemed practical.
This must-have practical phase lasted about a year. This assumed frumpy “mom style” is definitely a hallmark of many first-time moms – because learning how to be a mother and immersing yourself into a completely new lifestyle that now has to include (and sustain) another human life – therefore automatically cancels out your time and energy for getting dressed and made up, right? Congrats, you are now filed under society’s stereotype of “looking like a mom.” (Btw, I don’t think that’s meant to be a compliment.)
All women deserve to feel comfortable in their clothes.
I would never shame a mom for wanting to wear yoga pants or sweatpants or any of those things that typically fall under the category of “mom clothes”. But comfort is different for each woman. For some, that may mean stretchy pants until they’ve bounced back; for others, it’s skirts and stilettos to playdates at the park, because why not? What if you’re a mom who likes to wear miniskirts or form-fitting crop tops? There’s no right or wrong when it comes to personal clothing choices. But I refuse to buy into the missives that a woman abandons her sartorial self just because she’s added “mom” to her resume.
I won’t lie – I like hearing when people say, “But how can you wear those heels when you have young children to chase after?” Or better yet, “Where’s your diaper bag?” It gives me a good laugh. That last question was posed by my pediatrician in reference to my small crossbody purse that I wore to an appointment with baby No. 2 – because by this time around, I realized you don’t actually need ALL that baby stuff, just some room for a diaper and wipes, and maybe a spare outfit if your baby is really young. Of course, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I registered for ALL the things you’re supposed to have as a new mother, including the least hideous diaper bag I could find from Babies ‘R Us. (This was years before I was into online shopping and before Instagram opened up a world of other places you could get much cuter baby gear.)
By the time baby no. 2 came around, I realized that dressing up (or some would just call it, getting dressed at all) is about feeling special, going out of my way, for my own sake. After I decided to become a full-time SAHM (and having few people to dress up for), I came to the conclusion that not dressing like myself made me feel like I didn’t care about the person I was before becoming a mom.
I’m 37 years old now; my style has inevitably changed since I was 21, even 27. Occasionally, Facebook memories pop up in my feed and I find myself bemused by the “club” tops and heavy blusher that I used to wear in my early 20s. Granted, location has something to do with style choices; after all, I was living in Miami at the height of the tube top and low-rise jeans trend. There is no doubt that my style is less club-girl than it used to be. My style is now more focused on comfort (without looking like a college student); I want clothes that lack confusion. I reach for things that require few or no buttons, no draping, no straps that need adjusting, crossing, or tying a certain way. Clothes that are form-fitting without being skintight, or complicated. Vintage over new, because of the stories they tell, and their weather-worn, elegant appeal – like my mother’s clutch from the 70s I’m holding here, or these dangly gold clip-on earrings from the cutest antiques shop I stumbled upon.
For me, it's not so much dressing “like a mom” as it is dressing FOR my age that I wrestle with internally.
Last weekend I felt comfy but slightly stupid in my Adidas trainers and fancy sweatpants, like am I trying too hard to be a Gen Z'er? All that was missing was a Fjallraven Kanken whatever backpack and a scrunchie. I felt like I exuded a bit of self-consciousness and "trying too hardness". However, at 37, I'm not the typical stay home mom, soccer mom or corporate working woman. I don't need to shop at Ann Taylor but I don't want beanies with a spot for my bun, and I don't own a shirt that says "Namast’ay in bed" or something quirky about kale or brunch. When I’m not wearing an easy dress, I think I've settled on mom jeans (because they are high-waisted) + silky blouse (because it doesn’t wrinkle) + low ankle booties (a little heel for arch support), where I am always comfortable, but am not trying to project any age or life status (i.e. motherhood). Age and motherhood ambiguity. That's my style, you could call it. What you see here is an outfit that took me 60 seconds to style, and another 60 seconds to pull on. I hope these clothes say I’m dressed “like a mom” – because this should be a good thing. I just happen to still look like me.