6.01.2015

In Defense of the Mom Uniform

I have never been comfortably fashionable, except for those few years at Carolina where I gleefully embraced Chapel Hill student fashions: Polo shirts, sorority t-shirts, designer jeans, ribbon belts, Rainbows, North Face, and don't forget your Longchamps tote! Yes, I was a sheep! It was the best.

Two years ago, I was still schlepping across and up town with a fresh blowout and a clean wrap dress. One year ago, I was lucky if I got a shower a couple of times a week, I discovered dry shampoo, and every outfit selection involved the following thought process: "Can I access my boobs in this? Yes? Wear it. No? Can't wear it. Also, do I have to wear pants? Ugh, I really don't want to put on pants."

Lately, I have found myself struggling daily with what to wear. I now work for a 20-month-old on the steamy Manhattan sidewalks, not in an air-conditioned office with moderately rational people, so wrap dresses are impractical in baby gym and music classes, and I no longer have to access my boobs all the time, thank goodness. Winter was a little bit easier because of jeans, but now that it's hot, what is a fashion-challenged mom to do? I have had this discussion with a few other moms and I have been reluctant about this, but it's time to face the facts.

Athleisure is where it's at. You know. T-shirts and yoga capris.

It's the shit. It's the only solution. It doesn't look great, but damn it, it's practical, it's comfortable, and you don't feel bad when your kid wipes her tater tot hands on it and then draws on you. It's why nearly every mom pushing a stroller is wearing it. Maybe she's been to the gym, maybe she's going to the gym. Who cares? She probably isn't, and I fully support her, like the sports bra she's likely wearing.

Do I do yoga in my yoga pants? Absolutely not. I wouldn't dream of it. Mostly just because I hate yoga, but if you want to do yoga in your yoga pants, you go right ahead. I am happy for you!

I tried, really I did. I tried wearing the cute things I used to wear that made me feel like a better, less sloppy person.

I tried wearing skirts and dresses. You know what happened when I wore skirts? I flashed everyone while chasing my kid, and not just when the wind would blow up the hem on the street. Or I would go to pick up the kid and her foot would catch on the hem and the skirt would come up with her. This happened every single time. It just isn't practical when you're chasing a kid on a playground, climbing on equipment with them, sitting on the floor and standing back up, sitting on the floor and standing back up, and so on and so forth for 14 hours.

I tried wearing real bras. You know what happened when I wore real bras? My kid would pull on my shirt and reveal whatever was underneath - usually going so far as to say, "BOOBIES! All gone." I am not sure why she says "all gone" when referring to my boobies. She could be talking about the long-gone milk but she could also just be talking about the boobies themselves, mere shadows of their former selves. Whatever, at least she's using word phrases.

I tried wearing cute shorts. Just kidding, I haven't tried that. If you have found cute shorts that don't ride up your ass, you have found a f*cking unicorn chupacabra and you deserve my congratulations. Tell me in the comments where you found them because I am also looking for a f*cking unicorn chupacabra. How cool/scary would that be, btw?

We have come a long way, ladies. Moms who came before me figured this out a long time ago, but not that long. I'm finally embracing this reality rather than viewing it as "letting myself go." Centuries of clothed motherhood have culminated in this very moment. The evolution of fashion has taken us from crinoline to yoga capris, from powdered wigs to high ponies. My daughter is well cared-for, and I haven't flashed anyone in the process.

If Marie Antoinette were alive today, she would first look down her nose on the modern mom uniform, and then she would say, "Sacre bleu! What was I thinking all those years? I used to hate it when little Marie Therese would wipe her chubby camembert hands all over my fancy lace skirt, and then when little Louis grabs at my wig, it is just the worst. I wish they had had yoga capris in the 1700s. But, I wish a lot of things."

Marie Antoinette with Marie Therese and Louis,
flitting about Versailles by the Temple of Love,
clearly wishing she were in yoga pants and a t-shirt.

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