Tag Archives: parenting

Go, Go, Pants

1 May

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an easy method for finding the items of “deadwood” in your closet. In the process, I uncovered a black pair of black skinny capris from Target, which hung in my closet unworn all of last summer, despite the fact that black pants should pretty much “go with everything.”  I found them quite by chance at Target for about $30 while picking up some plastic bins and Kleenex for the household. Score! I thought. At that price,  it wasn’t hard to spend another $30 on taking in the waist (something I have come to accept as a necessity with my body shape).

But, after coming home from the tailor, the pants sat in my closet. And sat, and sat. During my recent closet clean-out, I told myself it was because the fabric was too light for winter (Target pants are notoriously thin, in my experience). Then warmer weather started to appear, and I still passed them over. Using the hanger trick described in my recent post, I was confronted with the reality that I was resisting wearing these pants – they were the last pair to remain unworn. With an open mind, I chose a warm-ish day to put them on. After going through the day in them, I realized why I had been resisting wearing them. I just didn’t feel good wearing them.

It wasn’t the fit – I had them tailored to my exact body type. The fabric was cotton with a bit of stretch for ease of movement, and nothing was obviously itchy or uncomfortable. They were reasonably flattering. Still, I felt like I was trapped in them, and couldn’t wait to take them off. What went wrong between now and the fitting room at Target?

I had a careful look in the mirror and realized what it was. The closure loop at the waist was straining, making it look like my middle was bursting open. Because I had these pants tailored to my exact body type, and they didn’t feel gut-binding, I realized that they suffered from poor construction; the fabric was too lightweight to carry the strain of the closure, and the tab wanted to separate from the pants. Cheap pants! I cursed. Even though I could explain away the problem without blaming the size of my midsection, every time I looked down at my bursting closure, I got the feeling that my body was the source of the problem. Before Kids, I thought, these pants would not have given me a problem. 

{Now imagine me with a dark cloud hanging over my head.}

The Black Capri Pants Disaster

Disaster?

Well, there was just one thing to do about that. I only hesitated a moment before chucking them into the give-away pile. Yes, $60 is a lot to pay for a pair of pants you only wear once. But the money is spent, and now I have a choice to make. Berate myself every time I put them on for my thick middle, or make the problem go away.  Isn’t the choice pretty clear?  What would you tell your girlfriend to do? Battered women must choose whether to stay in an abusive relationship or cut bait.  Well, sister, we wouldn’t live with a man who insults your body type, so why should we put up with a pair of pants that does?

I am sure there’s another pair of black capri pants waiting for me that will love me more than those cheap old pants. Even if I was hoping the relationship would last longer, it’s always better to look ahead than try to put energy into a direction that has no future. The hardest thing, of course, is feeling the sting of my mistake, and admit that this love affair was over before it started. But that’s ok, nobody walks a straight path in life, we all make mistakes. Buying a bad pair of pants certainly doesn’t rate up there with running a ponzi scheme, or sailing an Italian pleasure boat too close to the shoreline.

Disaster!

Keeping my pants-buying failure in perspective, I put  the old (new) pants on the curb with the other Goodwill stuff, happily imagining someone out there getting a brand new pair of pants for cheap.

As for buying pants from Target – part of me says, Never again – My booty deserves better! Part of me can’t resist the temptation that I’ll find another good deal. I’ll definitely proceed more cautiously now, and perhaps opt for the casual pants with the elastic waist. (I have a $25 pair of baggy linen Merona pants from Target that have already lasted me for several years.)

So, there are two lessons here:

1) When shopping cheaply, it’s hard to go wrong buying pants that are styled like pajamas. For pants with a more tailored fit, it probably makes sense to shell out a bit more for a better quality product.

2) Never, ever, keep anything in your closet that causes a black cloud to appear over your head and follow you around wherever you go. Put that thing away at once. (In other words –  it’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s always the pants.)

A Warm Wind is Blowing (At Least in the Malls)

18 Mar

Just last week, I ate at a restaurant with Christmas decorations still up, and there was frozen grass on the morning walk to school not too long ago. But you’d never know it’s still winter by looking at the shop windows of clothing stores at the local mall.

Spring has sprung according to the retail merchandising calendar, and there are a few mom-compatible trends I want to try out for myself this season:

Nautical stripes

Splendid Navy Stripe crop

Nautical stripe looks fresh with lighter pants and layers well on colder days.

You can see them everywhere, on tops, tunics, and shift dresses. Remember the saying that horizontal stripes make you look fat? Not true. With a top that’s cut close to the body either at the waist or in the lower arm, and paired with slim pants, stripes can look light and fresh. You see them just about everywhere, from sweaters to t-shirts to tunics. I like the version with navy blue stripes on an off white (not bright white) background. Also, dense stripes can look busy, I tend to like a wider spacing to avoid giving myself a headache when looking in the mirror.

Above is a top I recently picked up at Anthropologie by Splendid tees. It costs more than I would have liked (over $50), but the cotton is silky soft,  and the cut is flattering and easy to wear; form fitting without binding, and falls below the hip. The stripe is a warm grey that is fun to coordinate with other neutrals. I have a feeling I am going to be living in this shirt well through the summer.

After feeling how comfy that Splendid top was, I got more interested in that brand. Turns out it’s a company dedicated to stylish, casual, nubby t-shirts! If only their prices were a bit lower. (Don’t you just want to dive your face into the closet below?)

Splendid Fabrics

"Yummy Fabric & Color" according to Splendid.

Wedge heel shoes

I get a boost in height and and add a fun accent to a plain outfit with wedge heels. I wouldn’t run after my toddler in them, but if I am going to wear heels, these are probably the most comfortable way to do it. I also like that they convey a laid-back bohemian chic, a reminder of old, carefree days of kicking around town in style before kids. Here are my favorite wedge heel looks – waiting for the sale on these though:

Awesome suede bootie by JCrew:

Wedge heel bootie by J Crew

My favorite shoe trend this spring: the wedge heel (it's everywhere)

I also love the espadrille version by Toms:

The wedge heel espadrille by Toms

In case you’ve never heard of Toms, it’s a shoe company that promises to give one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes they sell. The shoes are simply made, but comfy, and their social mission means you see their flats on 20-something feet everywhere. (Did I mention they also have toddler and kids sizes?) If you want to try them on, stop by Nordstroms, which carries them in several colors. I can’t see myself wearing a heel this high every day, but definitely appealing for dinner out or date night.

The Shirt Dress

This trend takes the crisp tailoring of a collared mens shirt and extends the length to become a dress. Hey, the chance to wear a collared shirt, with no office in sight – there’s something very appealing about that. Plus, the length is very flattering for all body types. I would opt to wear the shirt dress with cropped leggings or skinny jeans rather than bare legged, for the sake of modesty. (Short skirts and childcare don’t mix well, in my opinion.)  For going out to dinner on a breezy summer evening, I would go with sandals and bare legs. Either way, a belt adds definition at the waist and keeps it from looking like you raided your husband’s pajama drawer.

I first noticed this look on Rachel Mc Adams who appeared in the recent Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris” as an American tourist abroad. (Fun movie, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet.) I couldn’t find a good image of the outfit online, but as it turns out, a web site has created the knockoff look:

Midnight In Paris Outfit

The shirt dress looks great with a belt, and, look - there's that wedge heel again!

I do have a few reservations about the dress shirt. For one, where do you get a reasonably priced version that’s easy to maintain? J. Crew had one in the store the other day for $100+, which I can’t even consider it until it goes on sale. (Other than jeans, I don’t pay more than $100 for anything I wear around my children for fear of their greasy fingers. I have several pairs of pants with greasy stains in the lap; since they otherwise work well and fit great, I just go around with permanent grease stains on my pants.)

Then there’s the question of how to keep that collar looking crisp and fresh. It goes without saying that I am unwilling to wear anything that needs ironing or a run to the dry cleaners. (I don’t even know where my ironing board is! Do we still own one?)  If only J. Crew married the Land’s End wrinkle-free technology and came out with a no-iron shirtdress. Their current selection is made of conventional cotton poplin, dress-shirt material, which is going to need ironing. Here’s a real opportunity for moms to look polished without much extra effort – Land’s End, are you listening?

Lands End carries a few shirt dresses at reasonable prices - but until they come in wrinkle-resistant fabric, this look is really not mom-friendly.

After a bout of cold weather, the weather turned warm last weekend, and we went to the beach in Capitola. It was really nice to lay face down on a beach blanket and feel sun on the underside of my bare feet.  I’ll take a real spring day on the beach over a fake spring day in the mall any day.  After all, the clothes and sales will wait for me, but my kids seem to wake up a little bit taller every day.  A day spent digging the world’s deepest sand tunnel under a warm, cloudless sky is far more precious than trying on one more pair of shoes in the mall.

What should I do with my skinny jeans?

20 Oct

I had to do something about the dusty pile of designer jeans on the top shelf of my closet. Those pants had been up there for almost two years, unworn.  I bought them during that brief period when I had lost enough weight from baby #1 to start buying new pants again. That window closed quickly after I got pregnant with baby #2; so quickly that some of the jeans still had tags on them.

Now it’s been more than a year since my second baby’s birth, and those jeans are somehow still inches from zipping up. Come to think of it, most of my pants just don’t fit like they used to.  This means I am living in a segment of my wardrobe which I used to think of as “slouchy”. Now, the pants that I used to wear on my “bloated” days are my everyday pants – despite the fact that I have been working on getting in shape and am already within 5 lbs of my pre-baby weight.  I eagerly gave away my maternity clothes the instant I could squeeze into a few pairs of my normal pants.  Six months later, I have to face the fact that I my old wardrobe and my new, post-baby belly are more incompatible than I realized. That rounder, fuller midsection appears to be here to stay.

I lay my skinny jeans out on the bed, lovingly, neatly, with rear pockets up. Joe’s Jeans, 7 for All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity.  I calculate how much I probably spent on this pile of pants that no longer fits (I don’t pay full price if I can help it – but still, I am looking at a large pile of money wasted.) Sigh. I was so excited to wear these… before that tummy got in the way.

I am unwilling concede defeat.  I put them away, and continue to live in closet limbo.  For several more weeks, my go-to pair of pants is a beige cuorduroy pair that sag in all the wrong places. Still, I tell myself this is temporary, and it doesn’t make sense to buy more clothes until I get back to my target body shape (I avoid weighing myself, because the scale doesn’t seem to tell me anything I don’t already know.) A few months later, I can’t deny the fact that Those Pants are still taking up space in my closet – not to mention in my brain. I email the two friends I imagine could still fitting into these jeans and offer them up for adoption.  Declined.  In a moment of courage, I post them on craigslist for $20 each. Within 24 hours, I have several offers.

“Really? You don’t want to hold on to these until you can fit into them again?” chirps the woman that comes to buy them. She’s a mom too, but somehow she’s had no trouble getting back into her pre-pregnancy jeans.  I tell myself it’s because she’s only on baby #1 – after all, at this point after my first pregnancy, I was fitting into these jeans too. Then, I do something that surprises me. I accept my new pants size. “No,” I say. “I am pretty sure I am at my permanent size now. I  want someone else to be able to enjoy them.” Weirdly, I actually feel truthful saying it.

Now, there’s not only more room in my closet, but I have given myself a new start, and permission to find new jeans that actually fit.  Eliminating deadwood makes room for new growth.  Encouraged, I start to ponder what else in my closet needs to be chucked out…either because it doesn’t fit, or because it doesn’t suit me anymore.

I realize a larger question hiding in the closet – Who is this new person that I have become After Kids? What parts of my old self have carried over, and what parts have fallen silently away? Is there still a place for those shiny silver pants, even though I haven’t set foot in a nightclub in over 5 years?  And what would it be like to reach into a closet full of clothes that I am actually excited to wear?

What to Wear After Kids (Getting dressed is harder now, isn’t it?)

14 Oct

Before kids, I lived in San Francisco, and getting dressed in the morning was fun. My wardrobe included a lot of black, skinny jeans, fun shoes, and I had a sense of adventure and possibility when I went shopping. That was six years ago. Today, I live in the suburbs of Silicon Valley, staying at home raising two lovely kids, aged 5 and nearly 2.  I knew motherhood would be challenging – but I’m really surprised at how difficult it is to get dressed After Kids.  Everyone knows becoming a parent means different priorities, different bedtimes, and different social activities. But why is my entire collection of Joe’s Jeans gathering dust on the top shelf of my closet? Why do I find myself wearing the same hoodie and Teva flip flops every day? Why don’t I bother looking in the mirror anymore?  I think I’m giving up on some part of myself.

Getting dressed After Kids means finding clothes that resist stains and forgive our newly acquired figure flaws.  We hardly have time to use the bathroom in privacy, let alone put together an Outfit for the day.  We’re just grateful that the laundry got done in time to wear that old reliable pair of jeans again. We (along with our footwear) have to keep up with our kids, and that means bending, carrying, climbing, chasing, and running out the door to whatever it is that we’re late for.

Don’t get me wrong – we have our priorities straight. Taking care of our kids does, and should, come before making a fashion statement. Still, I remember the days when dressing used to be fun. It’s a distant memory, just like sleeping in and traveling light. Still, the memory is alluring.

Meanwhile, my younger child begins sleeping through the night, and the haze of sleep deprivation starts to lift. My older child learns to buckle his own seat belt in the car.  And then it happens – a friend compliments an outfit I am wearing, and suddenly I wonder – is there a way to bring back the fun of getting dressed every day, this time as a mom?

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