Thursday, August 02, 2007

Style, maybe

*edit: goth photo removed because of disturbing number of daily Google Image search hits and downloads (???)

I have been thinking, lately, about what I wear. Specifically, I have been wondering when I became someone who tries on a shirt, and if it fits, buys 4-6 identical ones, in different colours. Then two identical skirts, two identical pairs of pants, and a pair of jeans and a pair of cords in the same cut. And four identical turtlenecks. It all matches. In fact, I have one belt that I wear with everything in casual settings, and three necklaces for all settings that all match with everything. Actually, absolutely everything absolutely matches everything else: it's all shades of grey, brown, off-white (winter), white (summer), chino, and black. It's all, further, machine washable.

I'll tell you, this makes packing for trips very easy.

In my defense, I did try to jazz it up by buying a giant, be-buckled mustard yellow purse, which you saw if you met me at BlogHer or if you came to my house for Mad's Bloggy Weekend, because I always use it when I want to appear less ... beige-brown-black-white-grey. Which is pretty much always.

Any-hooooooo. Mad can tell you I used to be hip. She knew me in my Louise-Brooks-bob phase, my skull-buckle boots and stretch black skinny jeans paired with a pirate shirt days. My PVC and fishnets with army boots to the office years. Blue lipstick. Special eyeliner effects achieved with a Sharpie (doesn't run ...). People used to stop me on the street and admire me. I got what my sister calls the 'nice face discount' but what was in my face more likely the 'nice freak' discount. I had a wardrobe that I would riffle through in my mind before bed, trying to pick out the best thing to wear, the coolest new combination of the gazillions of items. Then in the morning (okay, who am I kidding? in the afternoon) I would try a bunch of stuff on before settling on ... leggings under a floor length lace skirt, combat boots, bondage collar, sleek hair, and saucy 'vampire sex bar' t-shirt. Smokin' hot!*

[ photo removed ]

Now I don't really think about it at all, which is why I buy the mix and match multiples: when I went back to work, Munchkin wasn't sleeping through the night yet, and I needed clothes I could pump in, clothes the barf would wash out from, clothes I didn't have to think about.

But I miss that part of me. Still, I don't really have time or money right now to pursue my love of, as Pynchon calls them, 'shoes with accents.' Everything will be mix and match and machine washable for a while, I think, and when I find t-shirts long enough to cover my new mommy-tummy and my just generally incredibly long waist? I'm still going to buy four.

I'm engaging now in a little style by proxy. I've just been out to buy Munchkin her fall clothes at the neighbourhood Bonnie Togs (seriously, I walked there. It took about 5 minutes). Everything matches everything else. Check it out:**

I feel competent when I buy her clothes that mix and match like this. I miss being fashionable and unique, but I really really like that my baby has cute, practical, unfussy, and ... timeless clothes. It occurs to me that what I'm doing is dressing Munchkin much the way my own mom dressed me. Cute. Practical. Unfussy. Am I nostalgic for my own seemingly-simpler 1970s childhood by de-hipstering my baby? I'm sorely tempted by Bumper's AB/CD shirt and Wonderbaby's cholo 'Muthasucka' onesie still elicits a chuckle from me. I once bought a faux-leather biker jacket and a little velour tuxedo sleeper for my first nephew, way back in 1995. But I don't think I could dress Munchkin like that now--I would feel like a faker, I think. A little self-conscious. Me, who was troubled not by the idea of a bondage collar and a lace skirt to wear to work at the computer lab, but rather boggled at the choice of which collar best matched the skirt. I'm happier with my little kiddo in lavender onesies with embroidered leaves, with contrasting track pants.

Last summer, I used to really enjoy shopping for clothes for my then-Miss Baby because I was ambivalent about my new body, about the slow gradation between post-partum and back-to-self, and everything about shopping for her was simpler and more satisfying than shopping for myself. Pressed for time, I tended to go out size-by-size and just get everything at once, and usually all at one store: all the fall clothes, then the winter, then the spring. Tonight, I've bought all the 18mos-24mos clothes she'll start to wear in the fall. Everything matches everything else. Nothing fussy--cute stuff in corduroy, and jersey, and denim, and cotton, all of it machine washable.

When I went back to work I was still pressed for time and I started to shop like that for myself. Like the fashionable me was too much work. Or was maybe irrelevant. I don't know. It's not any issues I have with my body--yeah I've got a bit of a tummy (hello? I grew another human being in there!) but I'm just as thin as I was before. I'm still not sure how I feel about this change in ... my attitude.

Still, I kind of suspect that if I dress my baby like my mom dressed me, I might turn to her for tips on stylish motherhood, too.***

Have any of you noticed your sense of style changing after your kids were born? Or your practice of style? I'd love to hear about it.
* I know! But it's totally me! At a Nine Inch Nails concert at Molson Park the day before I got my navel pierced. The flannel shirt is my friend P, who bought me my first Barbie in JK. We got married, in the same dress, within three months of each other, and gave birth within three months of each other, and were born within three weeks of each other. Our mothers went to teachers college together. Did I mention we have the same giant stroller? But she went flannel and I went Goth. We! Are! Individuals!

** Do you think I have a problem? Do other people do this?

*** BTW, she made these clothes herself. I'm 15 months old, and she's six months pregnant with my sister. Yikes.


moosh in indy. said...

Everything I own in machine washable and goes with brown in some way or another. Same goes with the moosh's wardrobe, everything goes with everything else in some way.
I believe we are all out brilliant for approaching "fashion" this way.

Karen said...

Well, you look adorable in your various phases there. As a rule I do not by kids clothes all in one shot, but we get lots of gifts, are on a super tight budget and I have three boys so the pleasures of clothing shopping are reserved for most specialist of occasions like baptisms and Christmas.
I think your plan is good for Munchkin and probably works well for mommyhood. Recently I sorta decided that my last baby was my actual last baby so I've since been shopping at J. Jill and things bought there do tend to match, to tend to be nicer than clothes I was buying myself in the middle of my baby making years and I do hope they fit/last me a long time - unless I lose that last 8lbs after all, but it's not seeming very likely. Also, my work clothes involve going to births so that's all about yoga pants and cotton t-shirts and they are all the same, all my pictures with clients will always involve the same clothes.
My grandmother used to make matching outfits for me, my two sisters and my mom - I think we had the same material!

Alpha DogMa said...

Can I see a picture of the much mentioned purse? I'm so curious.

Omaha Mama said...

I love this topic! Do you have the channel TLC? They have a show, What Not to Wear, that I watch even though it makes me feel very bad about myself. They say buy outfits, not seperates. I fail at that miserably. Everything I have can be worn with at least 5 other things in my closet.

I dress my kids in simple, cute kid clothes. Nothing very trendy. You didn't even mention baby slut clothes for little girls! Can't do it.

I think Munchkin's wardrobe looks adorable. We just did the shopping thing this week too. When Brenna saw them, she said "Blech. Pants." I couldn't argue.

Mimi said...

Moosh in Indy -- Phew! I'm not the only one? But you ... you looked so well put-together. Well done!

Karen -- I suppose once I have my second kid (if!) I won't have time or money to be so anal like I am now, but it's true you think it's not worth buying good clothes if you're just going to get knocked up again.

AD -- my purse is visible in most of the photos of my from BlogHer that everyone else is posting, but I'll see what I can do.

OmahaMama -- What Not to Wear is my favorite show of all time! Pynchon bought me Stacey and Clinton's book for my bday. Very helpful. I find it oddly empowering. It's not my ass that's the problem! It's the pants!

Mad Hatter said...

Yay! I was hoping that the world would eventually get to see the mimifreak I once knew. Hey everyone, wasn't she the most adorable little baby goth ever?

The style item that got lost to me in motherhood is the saucy dress. As you know, I lived and died by the saucy dress in my day but then I started breastfeeding and you can't breastfeed in a saucy dress. And then, what with pregnancy and postpartum weight gain, my hips outstripped my breasts in terms of that perfect ratio needed to pull off the saucy dress.

Oh, I also had to give up plunging necklines. There's nothing like picking up a toddler and having her weight pull your shirt down so far that your bra pokes out dramatically.

All in all, though, I would have to say that my sense of style has come under an equal attack from the ortho folks and their expensive shoes. If each pair of shoes is a $300 investment, then fashion as play becomes a bit of a write off.

Beck said...

You were so cute, back in the day! I'm glad you're still not dressing like that, though - that would be a very disturbing mom look.
(Sharpies around your EYES though? OUCH!)
I dress like a big frump. I really do. My summer uniform is tank top + knee length skirt, my winter uniform is long sleeved shirt + jeans. The end! And yet I spent HOURS last night gleefully planning The Girl's fall look. (cowboy boots, leggings, oversized baby doll shirts. She'll be ADORABLE!) I'm trying not to think about what that means. (mostly that she's cute and fun to dress and I'm chunky and not so much.)

Kyla said...

Yes! It is even more awesome than I had imagined. I love it. LOVE IT!

I do the same thing. I have several pairs of jeans and Old Navy polos in every color. I get way too happy when I see they have a new pattern or color out. I'm TRYING to wean myself, force myself to buy other things (like the shirt I wore on Friday at BlogHer), but it is slow going. I stay at home most days, or shuffle KayTar to therapy or appointments, I don't need anything too fancy. Polos suit the occasions of my life, sadly. *lol* But I am working on it.

jen said...

i loved this post. and i love your previously hard core self. you know, when i saw you last weekend i thought you were adorable. and stylish. hip.

i can relate - i forego my clothes often for M's stuff, it's still more of a novelty plus a few other reasons.

slouching mom said...

Damn, lady, you're cute whatever you wear.

And I couldn't care less what goes on my body -- capris, short-sleeve tee, solid color, boring, boring, boring. I just don't care anymore.

I don't think it's because I've given up. I honestly have my head elsewhere.

But man, if I had a little girl, I'd be all over those lime green and purple and blue clothes...

nomotherearth said...

Hm, your wardrobe sounds a whole lot like mine..I'm very fond of v-necks, solid colours, neutral pants. If I find something that I like (not often), I usually buy more than one.

I'm only slightly more stylish because I'm pregnant and I was forced to buy some new clothes.

The clothes that I buy for the Boy are almost always practical and functional. I take my styling tips from the Sound of Music - clothes that kids can play in, not straightjackets. (I do, however, succumb to some very stylish clothes now and again - usually for family functions).

Bon said...

dude, you were the funkiest little babygoth and i so would have hearted you...especially had i known you didn't shun us plaid & armyboot girls. :)

and now, yeh, even with a little boy (who is more delightful to dress than i expected but still not quite as fun as bebe girl clothes), i still waaay prefer shopping for the baby than for me. and i did get him a CBGB onesie, which rocks out. me, i live in jeans when not working and cheapie summer dresses thus far when working, though god only knows what i'll do when winter comes. wool sacks, perhaps. in mix & match colours.

and umm...Bonnie togs? there's something cool called Bonnie togs? who knew?

Mimi said...

Oh god, it's NOT cool, Bon. It's like an Ontario children's clothing store -- 'since 1957!' -- that's notable mostly for being inexpensive, and, well, close to my house ;-)

Gabriella said...

what a pretty goth girl you were! Oh my clothing has definetly changed since my daughter was born :(. Practicality and comfort has set in. Uggers!
As for my daughter's clothes, I go for comfort rather than pretty, although she does have both.

Lawyer Mama said...

Damn, you were a cute goth!

My style definitely changed after the kiddos. I used to be addicted to shoes and purses and clothes. Well, I still love a cute purse or a cute wedge, but I don't spend nearly as much time or money on myself. Plus, there's the matter of the 40 extra pounds that I'm still trying to get rid of, so I hear you. My wardrobe is much simpler. But I'm also forced to wear suits every day, so lots of it has to be mix and match. At least that's how I rationalize it!

My kids clothes are also interchangeable. But I have boys so it's a little harder to get really stylish with them.

I love What Not to Wear. SHUT. UP!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I'm not really qualified to comment, because in my whole life there was just one five-year period in which I paid attention to what I looked like. These days I wear clothes from Athleta and Title Nine -- athletic clothes. I can leave them in the dryer for DAYS and they still look acceptable!

I wonder: do you think you're not focussing on looking hip & 'edgy' because you're not really thinking about yourself at all, at this point in your life? I mean, you've got your job and your daughter and your husband and your house... Is there time in there to think about clothes?

Mama Drama Jenny said...

I knew i liked you but I didn't know why until now.

I was totally goth girl when I was young. Shedded panty hose, black bustiers, army boots laced with pink silk ribbons.

Now I find myself wearing the mom uniform more and more but I still break out occassionally.

God, good topic. I may have to steal it...

kittenpie said...

Heh. You see, I went flannel because it meant I could go to class in my PJs and no one would bat an eye. I've always been a cotton, practical girl, but I love colour, so my favourite Tshirt was bought in a rainbow. And so are my shoes. And um, bags. And my 1001 hair clippies. Okay, I'm a weirdo about the colour thing, but otherwise, I'm totally practical.

Christine said...

damn, i was so never cool enough to wear anything more hip that a pair of vans or combat boots. still wear vans but have lost the boots.

Little Things said...

I used to be cute too, in more of an alternative rock kind of way. Now I'm just old and boring and my entire wardrobe is blue, black, white, brown, and khaki, with a little bit of red. And no patterns.

I watched What Not To Wear on the plane home Friday (thank you, JetBlue), and I swear they were making me over. A different me, but the same darn clothes.

I need to shop. I hate it, but I think it needs to be done.

And you were totally adorable in fishnet.

Mama Drama Jenny said...

Yeah...I totally stole this topic for my blog.

motherbumper said...

I don't even know where to start about the changes I felt fashion wise when I became a parent. Still trying to find my fit as I type.

Can I just say that I *heart* you even more after seeing the photo?

motherbumper said...

I don't even know where to start about the changes I felt fashion wise when I became a parent. Still trying to find my fit as I type.

Can I just say that I *heart* you even more after seeing the photo?

Her Bad Mother said...


(am a little bit breathless at this. I knew that we had a mathcy matchy thing going on but seriously? We could have been goth twins.)

Jenifer said...

I had a uniform in high school and I think it has had a permanent effect. I have a uniform now I stick too, jeans and t-shirts, jeans and turtlenecks, or capris and t-shirts. Very boring indeed. Every now and then in a moment of panic (we get an invitation out for dinner with friends who have no kids or something) I go out and buy a very predictable "trendy" top to freshen things up.

I love Bonnie Togs and there are not that many around me anyone. The clothes is cute, durable and doesn't have characters on them for a change. I love things that match and today for example we went to the Science Centre and all wore brown t-shirts and even though they were all different we matched. Lame maybe, but I love that look.

As for What Not to Wear, I am simply an addict.

The photos are awesome...I would never have believed it.

ewe are here said...

I can so relate to this post. Especially since I found the perfect plain cheap t-shirt this summer at M&S -- and immediately bought it in half a dozen colors.

Sound familiar?

I used to be more fashionable, too, albeit long classic lines that flattered me. I'm also still thin, but am still dealing with a little extra tummy, etc, that I need to do something about (in all that spare time I have).

I love your girl's clothes, by the way. So much fun. I love buying for my nieces at Christmas and birthdays -- can indulge my girly-buying instincts.

Great post!

gingajoy said...

ah. the polyester. i remember it well. mine was burgundy.

mimi--my biggest BIGGEST regret about blogher was not getting to sit down with you for longer. we were clearly separated at birth, and i feel like i wasted an opportunity. along with many others.

god, i hate myself.

manchester??? (sniff...)

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