Are We What We Wear?

paper dollsMost of us Real Women, after reaching a certain age or demographic, spend a lot of time trying to not look like what we are. If we are leaving our 20’s and 30’s, we don’t want to “look 40.” If we are middle-aged, we don’t want to “look mom-ish”. If we are approaching retirement age, we don’t want to “look like a senior.”   We aren’t necessarily striving to look younger, because let’s face it, that ship has sailed. We have to accept who we have become. But we seem to feel there is a stigma in being labeled as a member of any of those groups simply by virtue of how we dress and accessorize.

I do my best to regularly land somewhere in style between Marion Cunningham and Peg Bundy. (Bonus points if you remember both of those TV moms). When shopping, I put back on the rack anything that I could easily picture my mother wearing. Similarly, I don’t even venture into the Juniors Department. If I have seen it on my teenage next-door neighbor or my 20-something interns, then I know it does not belong on me. That does narrow the field a bit…. However it often will narrow me down right into that dreaded “age appropriate” mom-style again. Egads.

I have read a couple of articles recently about “what not to wear”. Usually these are fairly obvious. Ditch the Crocs, get rid of old baggy jeans or those with the high waists that accentuate the muffin top…yup, ok, got it. I also gave up tucking a long time ago; when I was skinny and young, it was fine….but if I ever tuck in a shirt now, it looks either like a rubber band on a marshmallow, or it looks like the distance from my waist to my boobs has ceased to exist.

So I thought I was doing pretty well. I was avoiding the dreaded “looking like a middle-aged mom” syndrome. Then I read an article presented by the folks at TLC, who apparently have been snooping in my closet.   In order to not look like what I am, they instructed:

  • Don’t wear yoga pants. Yikes, guilty.  It’s not like I wear them to work or anything, but after hours they are mighty comfortable, and I THOUGHT a better option than throwing on my old sweats if I need to run to the store. The article informed me that “there are plenty of comfortable pants out there that don’t come with elastic waists.” Really? I doubt it.
  • No Vera Bradley. WHAT?!? The article said a Vera Bradley print bag should not serve as my go-to purse. Ruh-roh…. Tell that to the 5 or 6 Vera bags I have, and use, on a daily basis. How is one to resist those great designs and colors? Sigh.
  • Give up the slightly stained shirt. We all have that favorite top that at some point got targeted with a stain, and no matter how many times we’ve treated and washed it, a little lingering spot remains. Well, I guess we aren’t supposed to do that dance in front of the mirror where we turn side to side, hoping it isn’t noticeable enough, and decide we can still wear the shirt. TLC says that’s a no-no.   Not sure why it is still ok for the men to do it.

These pointers got me to thinking about some of the other typical mom-wear I own. All of those flowy shirts that have been bedazzled a bit with glitter or sequins….the long loose sweater/jackets….and yes, even Keds-style summer sneakers. Those are all in my closet, in multiples.  They are so familiar to me, and I fear so over-worn, that I have tried to stay away from similar items lately when shopping.

The other day, after a rather unproductive run through Kohl’s, I spied a very cute simple summer dress. I realized it was from the youth area of the store, but still I held it up to myself in the mirror… and then realized that the hem of it would fall about 6 inches above my knee. 20 years ago I would have looked great in it. Now, not so much. No one needs to see that many spider veins, nor did I want to look like I was trying too hard to be young. Somewhat depressed, I returned it to the rack. I do miss those days of youth when I could wear just about anything.

So, in the end, we do our best to look good. And for the most part, I think we RW’s do a great job and look pretty darn spiffy. As much as some days I’d love to have someone mistake me for a college student, I know that just isn’t going to happen. Instead, when they ask “do you have kids?” I’ll smile and say “yes, how’d you guess?”   I know the answer. I look the part. After all, to quote Popeye: “I am what I am, and that’s all I am.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to change into my yoga pants.



About Real Women

A "real woman" mom, wife, worker, friend, sister, daughter....
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