The long running joke in my house on laundry day, is for my husband to pick up something and ask, “Is this yours or K’s?”
If he asks our daughter, she will claim it as hers, regardless if that’s true. Although it’s flattering that she would want to steal my clothes, it also gives me pause, wondering if I should rethink where I buy my clothes.
Finding My Style as a Mom
I grew up going to Catholic school from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Outside of a rogue year, I spent all that time wearing a uniform and with strict dress codes. This uniform style didn’t let up as I worked in restaurants and bars. And so I lived in what other people told me to wear for a majority of my younger years.
Figuring out how to express myself through clothes wasn’t something I was able to fully embrace until my mid-20s. And even then, it was still within the confines of rules. For example, what’s appropriate to wear as a restaurant manager, but still comfortable to work 10-hour shifts? Then working in a small town bank, what looks professional but doesn’t age you?
And retail is both the worst and best. You must wear their clothes, must always wear what’s “in” for that current season, and too bad if what they deem in style isn’t YOUR style.
Then as the youth minister at church, what says, “I’m cool and hip but also should be taken seriously?” Truth be told, this last job is what propelled me to really lean into what I liked.
I realized that I really liked kitschy and loud clothes.
Like 1950s style skirts and dresses with cat patterns or retro prints. Bright pink and purple plaid golf pants. This time period really built up my self-confidence and my love of clothes because it was so much fun.
I didn’t feel like I was too much of a mom to wear this, or too old to wear that — everything was awesome. But just because I was leaning into this newfound self-confidence doesn’t mean that other people shared that passion.
On at least one occasion, a friend of mine asked me, “Do you know you’re in the juniors section?” As if I should feel ashamed that I wasn’t staying in my lane of “women’s clothes.”
But let’s be honest, just because it’s labeled one thing or another, does not mean clothes are strictly for that age group.
For example, my mom is the tiniest person I know. She’s petite, she’s slim, and looks younger than her actual age. For a long time she forced herself to shop in women’s petite sections. Because of her age and also because of how she thought she should dress as a mom.
And it was horrible. Nothing fit her and none of it even felt like it belonged on my mom.
Don’t Be Scared of the Juniors (or Kids) Section
I finally convinced her to at least try clothes from GapKids or the juniors section because they would be cut more to her size. She was shocked at the suggestion because: her age! She’s a mom! She couldn’t possibly!
But then the clothes did fit. She looked like she was comfortable in her own skin. To this day she will still whisper to me, “Do you know where I got this? In the kids section.” But you’d never know because it fits her. And she no longer looks like a little kid playing dress up.
It wasn’t until I hit my mid to late 30s that I myself started to question my style choices.
Find What Works For You
I am not as tiny and petite as my mom, but my body definitely doesn’t follow conventional sizing.
But then I’d think of all the things I told my mom and remind myself that I deserve to look good, feel comfortable, and just be me.
And so my skinny jeans come specially ordered from a weightlifting clothing site to accommodate my lower half. I’ve learned to embrace short shorts. I unashamedly buy my clothes from any shop where something fits.
If it’s from the upscale women’s boutique, that’s cool.
And if that’s the same store my daughter just bought a jumpsuit from, that’s also cool.
Case in point, I bought these pants in one of the same boutiques that my daughter bought this amazing jumpsuit.
It makes me sad when I hear other moms ask, “Where do you buy clothes for moms?” As if there are clothes that AREN’T meant for moms.
Anything that makes you comfortable and confident, wear that.
Whatever flatters your body, buy it.
If you feel like a million dollars and you bought it at Hollister, do it. You will be so surprised by what you can find at stores that you don’t think are marketed towards you. I admit it won’t be everything and it can be a lot like looking for a diamond in the rough, but when you do find something, it’s pretty rewarding.
So, when I find my clothes “accidentally” hiding in my daughter’s basket or hanging in her closet, I don’t worry that I’m not dressing my age. I sigh, I take it back, and I wonder if I should just start buying two of everything instead!