Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Defense of Fashion...Or Perhaps Not

There's a blog hop going on (why does this sound like the opening line to a song?) called Moms vs. Awards Season: What Are You Wearing? I've had ample notification that this is going on because I follow several of the blogs hosting. And I've enjoyed reading the posts. They're smart and funny, and I love seeing pictures of bloggers I follow.

(Jen at My Skewed View, Jean at Mama Schmama, Sarah at Left Brain Buddha, Stephanie at Mommy, For Real, Deb at Urban Moo Cow, Sarah at The Sadder but Wiser Girl, Katia at I am the Milk, Rachel at Tao of Poop, Jane at Nothing by the Book)

The hostesses of this hop are using it as an opportunity to point out the insidiousness of fashion grading during the awards season and have a little fun showing their informal fashion choices. I also might have sensed a little (gentle) fun poked at fashion blogging. Now I haven't read all the posts, but this is what I've gathered from the posts I've read (so if I painted you with too wide a brush, I am sorry).

So I feel called to offer another point of view. Not because I was at all offended, but what's a blog for if not to express your own point of view?

I love fashion. I watch awards shows to see the dresses (and Jennifer Lawrence). I admit it. I love seeing what stars are wearing, and I happily read the ratings when EW arrives in the mail. It's insidious, yes; but I'm am cheerfully failing at integrity in this area.

Pattern mixers of a feather
Also, I love fashion personally. I love pretty clothes, and I love new clothes (at least to me; I have no problem with second-hand). I like to put on heels and a dress, and if I had a good reason and some big bucks, you better believe I'd wear a ball gown and have a grand old time in it.

I love the process of defining my personal style and knowing what is trendy right now. I am proud that I was wearing stripes and plaid together when I was two, and now that's a trend! I love that I have a few genuine vintage items as well as a genuine pair of designer jeans (consigned). I love examining which colors flatter my complexion and which styles show off my figure to best advantage (or make me look like I have one). I love that I own eight pairs of boots (including snow and rain ones; come on, that's really not that many pairs). I love taking pictures of my outfits and texting them to the GGs for feedback and validation.

When I am feeling like all I do is cook, clean, run errands, and play mindless activities, at least I can get dressed in something creative and original (maybe) and pretty. It makes me feel a little more like my own person, instead of just a person who meets others' incessant needs.

So there's my defense of dressing up and making an attempt to stand out from the crowd.

But, here's the thing: I read most of the posts (of blogs I follow) this morning, and I noticed that almost every mother was in sweats, yoga pants, etc. Looking down, I saw the same: my late aunt's fleece pants, a tank top in case I get hot, and a hoodie in case I get cold. No shoes or socks (cold toes are preferable to restricted feet). Hair unbrushed and in a top knot.

And, when the bus pulls up outside our house, I head out through the crowd of neighborhood children and parents in just that, but with my parka and The Dude's duck boots from high school in this polar vortex.


The truth is, I only get really dressed if I have to leave the house.


33 comments :

  1. Oh, I'm so glad you wrote this post to give a different perspective. Here's where the tragedy lies: I actually love fashion! I just feel so far removed from it and that sometimes makes me write pensive posts about identity loss and sometimes I find the funny in it. I'm sorry if it sounded like we were poking fun at fashion blogs. I have more than one post about fashion and one titled 'in praise of superficiality" where I defend my love of fashion, pretty things and talk about the importance of aesthetics. I loved your post. Thanks so much for joining!

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    1. Not at all, Katia. It just prompted me to want to throw in another perspective. Obviously, I straddle the line. :)
      I often think of fashion and "pretty things" as superficial, too, but I don't really think they are. I think they're important, like how I wrote that sometimes the outfit I wear is the only thing making me feel more than a servant to my children. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I bet you know what I mean.

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    2. Absolutely, I don't think clothes are superficial either, although many people categorize interest in fashion as such. The ancient Greeks identified how important a sense of harmony is to the soul and that that can be achieved by symmetry and other visual elements. Seeing that my son's outfit is coordinated restores a sense of peace and chaos which is so missing from my life as a mom of two very active boys: a toddler and a preschooler. I totally get you, which is why I'm so happy that someone took this angle.

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    3. Yes, I agree with you, though I do try to relinquish my great love of control with my daughter's wardrobe as she explores her own preferences. My kids and four and one, very nearly five and two, so I understand that life!

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  2. I like clothes, I just don't put much effort into it 98% of the time. But I'm probably worse than most-I own more shoes than I used to, but only because my husband gets tired of my "man shoes" and forces me to go shoe shopping for "lady shoes" that I might wear sometime. I'm not kidding! Love the different take on this! Thanks for hooking up with us. :-)

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    1. Lady shoes! I love me some lady shoes. But I do have long third toes and toenails that point up that can make wearing really fancy shoes really painful. Sometimes I just go with it, though.

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  3. I totally get what you're saying, Sarah! My post was very tongue and cheek, and poked more at the cultural expectations with the over-the-top emphasis on "perfection" in the media, with stars, etc. But, I do love me some cute outfits when I get the chance to go out! The one thing I'll spend money on is a bad-ass purse and awesome shoes. Now, when I say money, I mean $75 or more, not $300! Nordstroms off the rack saves my life! :)

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    1. You better believe it! No $300 shoes for this girl either! (I wish, though. I admit it, I wish.) DSW, too. Great place. I do love my shoes.

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  4. I still like all of the cool clothes I bought before being a mom, and I still like looking nice but yeah, comfort baby! All the way! Really great job on this post - I love how you went from talking about your guilty pleasure of watching the awards to having a grand time in a ballgown to realizing you were wearing fleece pants and a hoody. Awesome. Love it. Seriously. And thanks so much for linking up with us!!

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    1. You're always so encouraging, Kristi. Thank you so much! Listen, can we talk about chocolate cake for a second?

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  5. You are beautiful in both these pictures. That second picture: It's clear you have style, even going to the bus. I love a woman with style. I somehow was born without that gene, and am jealous. I think clothes are important too. They allow us to let the world know who we are in a snapshot, and to express ourselves. I just wish that we had a sense of proportion about them. I think they are overvalued in this society. I DO NOT think that this should at all diminish someone's individual love of them or how they make her feel. You go, mama!

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    1. Wow, can you comment on my blog every day? I think if you saw me in person, you would not be so generous about my "style," but I do try. It's really something that I embraced later in life after a long break of feeling the need to look like everyone else. Now it's an important part of my self-expression. Thanks for the compliments!

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  6. This is awesome! I think you make some great points about what dressing up can do to our self-esteem and remind us that we are more than just professional "wipers." (of snot, spills, bottoms...) Have you read Jane's post yet? Her discussion on the value of fashion and the power of clothing is phenomenal. Go read it. :) Thank you for joining us- I love how you made us think with your perspective, and you are adorable! (I too love seeing pics of my favorite bloggers!)

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    1. I did! And I loved it! I share a lot of her feelings, and I loved the point she made about the sentimentality of clothes. I so get that. Thanks for the compliments!

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  7. I am like you. This morning, we left the house for the first time since last Thursday (oh holy hell) and I felt a thrill wearing my "out in public" clothes. I absolutely agree. I also like seeing the fashion on the red carpet so I know what color GAP will be making their sweaters the following season :)

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    1. Thank God you got out today! Were you ready to commit crimes? It's true what you said: look ahead and you'll know what's coming in the color department.

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  8. I'm glad that dressing up makes you feel more yourself, and more than the sum of your roles. Keep dressing up :)

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    1. Thanks, green-eyed Lizzi! Someday I'll wear the stole. When I'm really cold and need to be really dressy.

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    2. Awwwh wear it soon - and get selfies :D

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  9. I love dressing up, too…. it makes me feel good about myself… but when I'm home, the sweats come out! Thanks for linking up with us!

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  10. LOL! I was totally, like "where's she going with this?" I mean I saw your words and I saw your pictures. And I was like hmmm... well her words are saying fashionista and her pictures are saying mom. And you are both my friend and that is awesome! I used to do the same. I am guilty of grabbing the People Magazine instead of The New Yorker for the boys weekly visit to the allergist, and when we had cable I may have caught a few award shows. But I think we just wanted everyone to feel good about themselves as who they are, and not feel like they needed to compare themselves to stars who have millions to spend on stylists, dresses, hairstyles and personal trainers.
    You did it right. Awesome.

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    1. You are right, and I agree. As I wrote this post, I was thinking of you and your post on contradictions. We're all full of them, and I don't want to ever be unwilling to mine.

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  11. Hey, I get EW at home! I've never been trendy, but when I was young, thin and cool, I definitely dressed nicer and with a little more flair. These days, I just can't find the energy to put form over function. Also, I didn't even know fashion blogs existed, because that's how out of the loop I am. :)

    But on a more serious note, I think we all like pretty things and to walk about the door knowing you look good. But with such a premium placed on beauty and youth in our culture -- to the point of Kim Kardashian photoshopping her post-baby body, because, um, why? -- I have found the 365feministselfie project really refreshing. I still wear my pearls and diamonds, but I don't feel like I have to fall apart if I don't have time for mascara.

    Thanks for linking up and for a different, more thought-provoking perspective than the rest of us goof-offs. :)

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    1. We love EW around here, though we're quick to point out we also subscribe to a literary magazine!
      I love the 365 feminist selfied project, too, and have a drafted post (as in, titled) to write more about it, but who knows when that will happen. I jumped at the chance to be a part of this hop!

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  12. I'm with you. I do like a good fashion show. I was such a horrible dresser growing up and on into adulthood. I finally just got tired of it. Now, I refuse to leave the house in sweats. While I rarely wear makeup, I do dress to look nice and have my hair done.
    As for your walk to the bus stop, the polar vortex means we throw most rules out the window. I don't care what I wear, as long as I'm warm!

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    1. Isn't that the truth! I love that my whole neighborhood can watch my pajama rotation if they so choose. What can I say? I am a woman of contradictions.

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  13. I'm the same way, I only wear real pants when I know I'm leaving the house. Otherwise I'm in sweats and a t-shirt.

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  14. Loving this post, Sarah :) My mum always said 'a coat hides a multitude of sins' ... great thing about cold weather - you can just chuck one over the top of anything and you're good to go :) I love getting dressed up too (although it doesn't happen very often these days!) but I look like death warmed up if I don't have to leave the house. The other day, I was still wearing my PJs at 2 in the afternoon and I decided to put on a face mask as a little treat. I do that about once every six months. Then I went out to hang out the washing. Of course that had to be the moment that one of my partner's friends randomly rocked up at our house and popped his head around the back fence! I mean seriously - what are the chances! I looked like a ghoul!

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    1. Especially a nice, longish puffy coat, right? Isn't it surreal to read about winter right now?
      Your story is too funny! I am shocked that sort of situation hasn't happened to me because it seems like something that would. I guess it helps to only do a mask a couple of times a year. What are the chances?

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  15. Since I used to be a fashion designer I kinda like fashion too! I wear sweat pants first thing in the morning, but the rest of the day I do dress in comfy but nice clothes. I actually feel better when I do - I guess like you it helps me feel more me. Come evening I usually get back into sweats. But, of course, when the weather is as cold as you've been having in the USA, style does need to come second to keeping warm.

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    1. I really try to find that balance of comfy, mom-friendly clothes that still have some fashion to them. I've been much warmer natured since having children, and that helps a lot. I don't have to bundle quite as much as I used to.

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