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Friday, September 17, 2010

Of Fashion Delusions

Maybe it's my late-summer addiction to Project Runway, or maybe it's the free subscription I got to Marie Claire courtesy of expiring airline miles, or maybe it's a mild version of mid-life crisis.  But whatever it is, I find myself suddenly longing to purchase Fashionable Items that can only be described as wildly inappropriate for my lifestyle, my body, my job, and my geographic region...not to mention my wallet. (See? I nearly wrote "my pocketbook" there -- and, seriously, who under the age of 65 carries a "pocketbook" anymore?)

Even more worrisome, I not only want to purchase them. I want to wear them.

I remember when I was a young teenager, pouring over the pages of Seventeen magazine, and thinking how mortified the girl in the "Don't" pictures must be -- you know, the one with the little black rectangle covering her eyes for purposes of protecting her identity, who had been photographed wearing some nightmare of an outfit that was physically unflattering in the extreme or contained a horrifying mix of colors, patterns, fabrics, styles.

And now, I am afraid I might become her.

Case in point: I nearly went out to the school bus stop this morning in my yoga pants. They are very cute pants in charcoal grey, with that perfectly cut flare at the ankle and a scrolly design in ivory adorning the lower portion of one leg. They are sporty and casual and oh-so-comfortable. In my deluded state of Fashionableness, however, I nearly made the fatal error of imagining that just because I had purchased pants that look great on toned, 20-something models, I had suddenly morphed into a mother with a toned, 20-something rear view.

Sadly, I have not.

Fortunately, the hallway mirror reminded me of that fact before I walked out the door, and I quickly pulled on jeans, thereby thankfully avoiding parading all my yoga jiggle in front of the neighborhood moms.

It is a simple truth that precious few 40-year-old women should wear yoga pants for any reason whatsoever that does not involve driving to, participating in, or driving home from a yoga class. And I am not one of those few.

Yet through all my immersion in the leggings-and-layers looks that are everywhere right now, I have apparently become so completely deluded that I think I can wear these things.

I similarly find myself wanting a cozy, thickly furry vest, despite the fact that I am neither

a snow bunny,
a beguilingly angled fashion model,

a super-spy prepared to retrieve stolen state secrets from an undisclosed arctic location while totally kicking bad-guy ass,

nor gamine-thin and adorable.
I'm not sure where I think I would wear my new faux fur wonder, but I'm afraid I might want to sport it all the time--at PTA meetings and soccer games, over my favorite work dress, out for drinks with my Bus Stop Friends.

Half of me thinks these are all the right answer.

The other half of me can't believe that I actually think anyone in Michigan ought to believe the Fashion Hype that says "you, too, can pull off this look in your daily life."

Ever since leg warmers and slouchy belts were all the rage (the FIRST time), I have been entranced by fashion. Entranced, of course, does not necessarily translate to the ability to pull off these looks. (Though, if I do say so myself, I rocked the multiple pairs of socks in different colors and rolled up, baggy, pegged pants look in 1985.)

And now, suddenly, I am faced with the irrefutable fact that I am no longer in the age range of the models running around in these clothes in the pictures. I'm not old, exactly. Not a fuddy-duddy, I hope. But I'm still a bit unmoored.

It is a major milestone to note that I have passed the stage of being restricted to a wardrobe of things on which I don't care if I get spit-up.  But I don't have the will to dry-clean, and I still have to show up to the playground prepared to hoist small folk up to the monkey-bars and help them make it across--small, dusty shoes kicking at me all the way.

I'm bored of t-shirts, not toned enough for leggings unless they are covered by a dress, and somewhat self-conscious of the fact that nothing looks more ridiculous than a woman who refuses to dress her age in some misguided sense that if she dresses younger she will somehow appear younger.

On the other hand, I'm not quite this either.

There has to be some magic bullet. Something that is both appropriate and more flattering that the slouchy, comfy corduroys and turtlenecks that are my winter uniform.

But until I figure out what that is, I will daydream about furry vests...black leggings...layers of sparkly silver jewelry.

And the hips I had back in 1985.


Mr Lady said...

THat Mom Jeans picture made me weep for my own future.

On that note, I bought SKINNY JEANS last week. Not just any skinny jeans, but SUPER skinny jeans from the JUNIORS department. And wore them to a professional conference this week. Because I'm not even close to the plane of reality.

OHmommy said...

Mom Jeans will never ever become a staple in my closet.

The reason that I've withheld a fashion post this fall is because I'm kinda of loving my yoga pants. They are so comfy and my kids are so busy.

Amy in StL said...

You are totally speaking my language; except I have an additional hurdle: How do I as a 40 year old single girl dress to go out? I can't wear leggings and booties, slinky sleeveless tops are out too. I've bought some straight leg jeans from Lucky that are kind of skinny jeans but not ridiculous. I tried the jegging and long top look with boots last week at work and felt absolutely ridiculous. I think I'll start wearing burkhas and tell people I've switched from Catholic.

Jaina said...

I feel that way sometimes and I just turned 25! I used to live in jeans and tank tops...well, still kind of do. But I'm trying to branch out a bit more...I'm actually going to shop this weekend and see if I can't find a few cute staples.

Suburban Kamikaze said...

No one ever made the right fashion choice by asking themselves "I wonder how this will go over in the Midwest?"

Go for it.


Ann Imig said...

I'm with you. I wish I had the money to go buy some really chic new stuff, instead of thinking up YET another new combo from my same old stuff.

Umm, I might've only met you briefly at BlogHer09 but you were FAR from Fuddy or duddy. ;)

MommyTime said...

GO MrLady in the skinny jeans.

OHMommy, I so hear you on the Mom Jeans. And I've seen you in person: YOU can rock the yoga pants.

Amy, I have no idea precisely how to answer your question, though I think that "dating" the PTO moms and hoping to get them to like me probably puts me in a similar category. So you have my sympathies over this dilemma.

Jaina and Ann, perhaps this is just a perennial problem? How to make the old feel new without spend a gazillion dollars?

SK, you are completely right, of course. I should have thought of that sooner!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I sooooo relate to this... I recently wrote about how looking old is my new "looking fat" and I didn't even get into the clothing side of things. This takes it all to a whole new level.

I just don't feel my age. At all.

I am a bit saved by the fact that I've always had hips and never felt like I could pull off ANY fashion look in my younger years. So to say that I can't do skinny jeans now (they look ridiculous on me) isn't THAT much of a blow.

But I think we can pull some of the trendy stuff into our not young anymore/not old yet wardrobes. You can TOTALLY wear one of those vests. Why not? It's all about the styling (yes I'm avidly following Project Runway too and even read the Lifetime blogs - one of which had the great line, "styling seems to be the new sewing.")

If you think the vest really can't work in your daily life (this is my feeling on heels lately), then maybe a compromise? Something in the way of a fur collar?

Living in the suburbs can be a bit limiting sometimes... But I do look at the mom jeans strolling around the neighborhood and I always think never in a million years and not for a million dollars (okay - maybe for a million dollars...mama needs a new fur vest!).


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