People who know me well and/or see me regularly are probably laughing that I would write a blog post on fashion anything. Trust me, this is one area of fashion I know a lot about, and frankly find it amusing instead of tragic. There are some who go out wearing unflattering clothing that isn’t even close to what’s in, but they genuinely think that they look nice, presentable, even chic because they match or are wearing expensive name brands or whatever. I am not one of those people. I go out in public wearing comfortable clothing, and I know that I don’t look stylish, cute, trendy, fashionable, or anything like that.
Back in the Day
I didn’t used to be that way, and it’s still within my capability to dress nice and put make-up on for special occasions, but when it comes to the daily grind, I usually don’t, and that’s okay with me. There was a time in my life when I would pour over magazines and was very interested in fashion, make-up, jewelry, and all of that. The first period in my lifetime that jeans in a rainbow of colors were popular, I had quite the spectrum in my closet: red, black, magenta, purple, turquoise, navy, green… I also had many pairs of leggings, brightly colored socks to mix and match, and wore white canvas Keds.
Part of the dilemma for me is seeing things come back into fashion that I wore when I was in elementary and middle school (such as the above-mentioned items). It amuses and confuses me to see my youngest sister (who I’d consider to be a bit of a fashionista) wearing tight jeans, white canvas Keds sneakers, brightly colored mismatched socks, leggings, etc. She looks great in them, but I don’t feel compelled to run out and get similar clothes. Denim shirts and jean jackets, been there, done that and can’t really figure out why they ever came back as hot commodities, though there are certainly much more disturbing flashback fashion items on the market. Others can pull them off and look nice, but I feel that for me to do the same would be regressing, in a sense.
Maybe it’s My Alma Mater
I went to Hollins University (which isn’t an all-girls school where there aren’t any men, but a women’s university where there aren’t any boys—undergrad is all women & grad programs have a few good men). It is a long-standing tradition for Hollins to have Tinker Day some time each fall. It’s announced the morning of as a day off of classes. There are Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast, then students, faculty, and staff wear outrageous outfits to climb Tinker Mountain. This legit reason to look incredibly tacky includes a hike, watching and/or performing hilarious skits, having a yummy picnic, and the subsequent community building that comes with such activities.
Just so you know, I wasn’t one of the “pearl girls.” I don’t own a set of pearls, but even if I did, I wouldn’t wear them for everyday stuff and certainly wouldn’t pair them with a T-shirt and jeans.
For the past eight and a half years that I’ve been married, my day job has involved taking care of infants and young children as a nanny and/or as a program lead, summer camp instructor, or tutor at school. I can still remember the hilarious look I got from one of my employers (who is definitely into the latest fashions and such) when I walked in wearing an outfit that I’d put together purely for comfort, warmth, and ease of movement that could be machine washed and dried. I would not be surprised (just amused) if my attire was part of the gossip at her office and maybe in their neighborhood.
My deal then was pretty much the same as it is now; the clothing I wear when taking care of infants and small children in their homes is going to be seasonably appropriate, comfortable, easy to move in, simple to wash, and something that will take a beating. Pockets are nice. Layers are helpful. Name brands are not really a concern for me. (I can be pretty hard on clothes, shoes, and jewelry, so form and function tend to appeal to me more than style.)
I have adopted my mom’s philosophy for young children: let them be comfortable and easy to clean up. Fortunately, the family for whom I nanny is of the same mindset when it comes to clothing. On a normal day, the twins go from their pajamas into a Onesie (which for those of you who don’t know is basically a baby bodysuit). A diaper and Onesie are pretty much what they wear every day unless we go for a walk or go out somewhere and more layers are needed. Vivi often hangs out in her nightgown or a T-shirt and a pair of Pull-ups. If you come to hang out with us and are under the age of 5 years old, pants are optional upon entry. That’s not to say that there aren’t some days when you’ll come in and see babies in pants, it’s just to say that comfort, warmth, and being able to move, roll, bounce dance, fling food, get stinky, get messy, etc. are most important.
I have a number of hand-me-ups, downs, overs…in my closet that I wear regularly. Several sweaters, a pair of jeans, and a pair of khakis are from my youngest sister. I held onto a couple pairs of workout pants from my dad. I was delighted to be given a hand me over comfy red fleece with pockets from my best friend from high school, and I’ve added a number of Goodwill finds still in very good condition…you get the idea.
I do own some nice clothes, but I don’t find that they’re quite conducive to rolling with the down and dirty little people crowd. It is not uncommon for me to be spit at, drooled on, sprayed upon, splattered with food and/or paint. I frequently collect a pocket full of trash given to me by sticky hands while engaging in the seemingly endless process of cleaning bottoms and wiping noses.
I can still remember getting strange looks when I ran errands one day after work. I was wearing a white short-sleeve shirt (which I’d forgotten during our time at the Children’s Museum had gotten some green and purple paint smeared on it). It took me a few people giving me strange looks since I was walking around dressed like a mom or nanny without any children in tow before I realized why they were likely amused and confused.
Lounging at Home Attire
It has become a major source of amusement to my husband and me how outrageous my hanging at home attire combinations can get. If it’s clean and comfy, then I’ll combine plaid pajama pants with a flowered top or two solid colors or patterns that clash so bad it’s comical while the two of us are chilling at our place. I don’t go out of our place wearing these things (unless I have a coat over them and am just going down to get the mail or do laundry or something). It cracks us both up. I’m warm and comfortable. Everybody wins.
A while ago I dyed my hair or had it cut in a way that was trѐs chic. I’d curl my hair and style it different ways when I was younger, use hairspray, gel, and other styling products. I haven’t colored my hair in years, and I get it cut so that it is out of my eyes, doesn’t take too long to blow dry, and is easy to put up in the summer. These days, I get it cut at an inexpensive place called Great Clips. The extent of my hair care most of the time is to wash it, blow it dry, and brush it (unless I’m rushing and miss that last step).
Make-up (or rather a serious lack thereof)
During my sophomore year of high school, I never went to school without at least wearing powder foundation on my face and having my fingernails painted. I wouldn’t even go sans make-up during Spirit Week when we had Pajama Day. I own some makeup and know how to use it, but most days I just put Vaseline on my lips and I’m good to go.
The only jewelry I wear regularly is that which has sentimental value and/or some health benefit. I don’t even have my ears pierced. For years, I begged my mom to let me get them pierced, and she made me wait. By the time she said I could do it, I didn’t care anymore and actually liked being one of the few women who doesn’t have her ears pierced. I have worn a Nikken necklace for a number of years ever since Kevin gave me one when we were dating as much for the wellness advantage as the romantic appeal. (I got a new one recently because my other one fell off in our place because the clasp was so worn, and neither Kevin nor I could find the necklace.) When I am changing diapers and washing my hands a bazillion times a day at work, it’s easier for me to leave my wedding and engagement rings at home.
It’s Gotta Be the Shoes
I firmly believe that having comfortable, supportive, durable walking shoes is important. I am very hard on shoes, and wear the same ones pretty much every day, whether or not they really go with my outfit. Again, I have a few pairs of low heels and dress shoes, but most of the time, even if I’m wearing an outfit that would be considered business casual, I often wear my walking shoes. Happy feet are important. I’m tall enough as it is. It’s hard for me to run in flip-flops. Screwing up my feet, knees, and back by wearing heels on a regular basis doesn’t make sense to me.
Just so there’s no confusion, I appreciate it when people look nice, wear flattering clothes, do their makeup, and have a knack for looking stylish. Many of the fashion trends I’ve mentioned that I don’t feel inspired to follow are ones that others pull-off with panache.
I was actually really impressed when I went over to bring my sister and her husband dinner one night this week. She is eight months pregnant and had been getting things done around their house, but she was dressed fashionably with her hair done and makeup on.
I think, rather than feeling really intimidated or lazy for not taking as much time on my appearance as some do, I might be getting to the point at which I can accept that’s not a major priority for me and, more importantly that my sentiments and approach to appearance are fine for me.