I have slowly, painfully, ever since, been going through my embarrassingly excessive (but all bargain-acquired!!!) wardrobe and carefully picking out the pieces that Clearly Do Not Belong in the closet of a 35 year old mother of four carrying 30 extra pounds. I probably started with the MINI skirt. I use all caps because there isn't an alphabet case called microscopic, and I needed to demonstrate the extremity of the mini-ness. It was inappropriate. Really, it was inappropriate for anyone, except maybe a 22 year old hooker. I guess she could get away with it. I think it really dawned on me when I saw another mid-thirties mother of some, who clearly hadn't had The Epiphany yet, wearing a similar strip of fabric, and I was horrified by what was hanging out the backside. I was fairly certain I checked and double checked my hindquarters before I went into public, but knowing the harsh reality of my hindquarters, I realize I couldn't have looked much better.
So one of these days I will say something that is Entirely About Jeans, because they really deserve their own conversation, being the Single Most Important Part of my (and every other real person's) wardrobe. But today is really just an overview of how I am learning What Not to Wear.
Let's start at the top:
1. Hats. Nevermind. Skip to shirts. (my opinion on hats is strongly contradicted by voting members of this blog - namely the husband, and therefore will be omitted)
|look how much my butterfly sleeves are irritating the lady behind me.|
1. (b) Shirts: most of what I have learned about flattering shirts I learned from my mom, who learned from my dad, when he accidentally told her that he liked her shirts with longer sleeves "way better" than her other ones, in a gentle hint that arm flab is for grandkids to play with, not for showing off. While I disagree that my mom really has arm flab to flaunt (brownie points anyone???), I will contend that certain sleeve styles can do a lot to play up or play down some of these delicate, ahem, curves. For example, you will never catch me dead in butterfly sleeves. again. I am hopelessly addicted to tank tops. Partially because things with sleeves and necklines choke me, and partially because I like to imagine I look like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. This is a fantasy that I choose not to expose to reality. Some people really look bad in tank tops. Like most men. I don't have a huge distaste for arm fat, but I know lots of friends who do, and apparently, my dad. I vote for short sleeves, cap sleeves that don't peak off the shoulder like Star Trek shoulder pads, and tank tops. I am not a fan of 3/4 length sleeves. They fall under my WHY? category, along with capri pants and booties. Just wear long or short. Or if you must, roll them a little. And make up your mind between boots and shoes. Really. I will offer up that my tank top fetish will be the next level of relinquishment to age. Unless my fitness routine finally starts to pay off and I actually do trend Joliesque. Another requisite for tops is length. Obviously there is some crossover on this issue with the rise of certain pants, but by and large, most shirts should be able to readily compensate for the lowest of low pants - think: loading 46lb bag of dog food on bottom rack of grocery cart squat crack. Get longer shirts. 35 year old cheeks hanging out are not pretty. Ask my kids. As for necklines, if you are claustrophobic like me, you might find it hard to find a balance between hithisismycleavage and choking to death. I really like boat necks for this. And I like V necks too, especially the ones that make me feel buxom. I have sworn off of that sheer burnout fabric since I discovered the thing it does best is demurely allude to the generous rolls of fat I have accumulated pretty much every where. I really like cotton with just enough spandex in it to mildly suppress the worst of the jiggling. Button downs definitely have their place, unless they have 3/4 length sleeves. And never, ever, ever button the top button. I don't care what Bill Gothard says. Also, I have moved away from brandishing company names across my chest like I am a billboard for Hollister. I mean, it's ok if your 15 and you really need people to know that you've been to a Hollister to establish street cred, but at 35, you're just admitting that you shop the clearance racks and try to squish into junior sized clothing.
2. Pants: First of all, there are some schools of thought that would consider throwing out this category altogether, and it isn't just my high school alma mater. I would contend that it is not worthwhile to spend much time on any pants that aren't jeans, because unless they are sweat pants they probably aren't worth wearing, and sweatpants will fall under the "leisure wear" discussion which will be held at a different time. And since we're covering jeans elsewhere as well, we can skip this whole category. Lord knows we won't touch panties. But for the record, I am STRONGLY opposed to thongs [not the shoe kind, mom]. They just aren't right. Ok, I have a pair or two. Hold on, a thong isn't a pair, is it? It's a singular. But why is a pair of panties a pair? Is it just fabric amount determined? Weird. Anyway, I have a thong or two, but only for Huge Emergencies, like that tight dress I probably shouldn't be wearing anyway, (don't read this mom) or because my husband needs me to wear them (ok you can read again), or those horrible slacks without pockets that probably no one should be wearing. NEXT SUBJECT
3. Skirts/Dresses: Obviously these go in the same category because they both go on hangers. I don't have much to say on this subject, being a wanna-be tomboy who got all of my dress wearing out of the way in the 10th grade, however, in addition to my MINI skirt revelations, I have always been away that ruffles and tiers don't do my backside any favors. When I was young and thin, I got lots of attention for my "substantial" bootie. Now It's just a big B**T (we don't say that). I am all about straight or aline styles, gathers and flounces I reserve for my 8 year old. I won't pretend I don't have a couple of ultra-comfortable empire-waisted sundresses that make me look 8 months pregnant (I like to play up on that for better seating in public), but lets just pretend that those ones "never go out of style". Like penny loafers.
4. Shoes: Two words: Flip Flops. I mean, ask my darling husband, how can you go wrong? Thin pieces of rubber that do nothing to support, protect or really even decorate your feet. They are the ultimate go-to footwear. Truthfully, I love flip flops, year round, with everything. Because I am That Cool. For those of us who struggle with the need to make more of a fashion statement, I will again restate my aversion to booties - WHY? But I will toss in to the "never out of style" consideration category the ever popular Converse All Star. What? Yes, I did graduate in the mid nineties. I am a big fan of ballet flats, cowboy boots and one pair of multi-purpose heels. As this discussion originated on the propriety of motherly dress, I should mention a modern youthful trend: Toms. Get some. Every time I think that maybe I am too old for Toms, I put them on again. And it's ok. If you are a 35 year-old mother of 4 with 30 extra pounds, DO NOT pair said Toms with skinny jeans and a hipster t shirt. It will not be as cute as that 14 year old you saw doing it. I promise.
In conclusion - even though I haven't skimmed the controversial areas of accessories, hosiery, lounge wear and the All Important Hoodie, I have to say that the constant evolution of my closet is a study in anthropology if ever there was one. Now that you have had the first taste of my highly evolved fashion opinion, and conformed your views accordingly, I invite you to share your wins and insights with me. Mostly because I have No Idea What to Wear.
favorite places to shop: Urban Outfitters, The Buckle, Goodwill, eBay