Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mom, The Fashionista

By Kelly

Yesterday, I spent 90 heavenly minutes in Ann Taylor Loft shopping for new clothes. The older kids were in school, the baby napped in her stroller, my travel mug was filled with steaming Sumatra with hazelnut cream. I may have floated a little as I browsed through the sweater selection. It was glorious.

I’m not a clothes horse by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve been wearing maternity clothes or oversized t-shirts for the better part of two years now. So it was time. Past time, really. I’m ready to have some style again, to wear clothes that make me feel like me.

Of course, this being the year of the ‘80s revival, clothes shopping has been, shall we say, an experience. I started yesterday’s shopping excursion at Target. Pegged jeans? Blouses with bows? Sweater vests? Neon lettering? Been there, done that, gave the t-shirt to Goodwill. Last year, I believe. I'm ready to move on.

Thankfully, I was able to find some outfits at the Loft that are a good blend of practical and hip, without straying into trendy territory. I still need to sort through my purchases -- a combination of jersey shirts and lightweight sweaters and jeans and cargo pants. -- and decide what to keep. (I tend to buy everything I like and then return half of it a week later, after I’ve had time to think. Stores love me.) But overall, I’m looking forward to a fall where I don’t feel frumpy.

Of course, nothing I bought yesterday would be considered high-end fashion. I'm a stay-at-home Mom and a Midwesterner. I love to add some funk into my wardrobe, but I can't stomach the thought of forking over $745 for a shirt just because it bears the Versace name. It just can't be that good.

Can it?

And that reminded me of a fabulous article I read in the August issue of "Good Housekeeping." It was written by blogger Kyran Pittman at Notes to Self who was given the opportunity to test fashion editors claims about must-have items that cost a small fortune.

A quick excerpt:
Classic pumps: $495... Classic diamond studs: $5,000... Classic trench coat: $1,395. I could afford the $24 classic tank top, but it would have to wait until my husband got paid again. I added up the list. Ten grand. More than twice our monthly income.

Remember the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway, playing the ingenue assistant at a high-fashion magazine, smirks over an intense editorial discussion about couture? That's not me. I am not above fashion. I recognize that real artistry goes into the design and manufacture of fine clothing, and that there is a market for it.

But it mystifies me when it is marketed to moms like me. If the editors of these lists were to leave Manhattan and come to Little Rock, AR, to stand behind me in the supermarket line, coupon book in hand, would they tap me on the shoulder and tell me that a $2,000 designer handbag was an "essential"?

I've read the arguments. That bag, those shoes, that dress will last a lifetime if properly cared for. They will never go out of style. They are an investment.

Really? Really?

Go read the whole article for yourself. I promise you won't regret it. And I won't give away the ending, except to say I think Kyran would have loved my shopping trip yesterday.

Clothes are just clothes. But every once in a while, it takes something special on the outside to let the beauty on the inside shine through.

Find Kelly also blogging at Love Well.


  1. Oh my gosh, I so know what you mean. This baby is due in three weeks, and I already can't wait until I am ready to make my way back to stores to get "normal" clothes. In fact, all I want for Christmas is a giant pile of gift cards. :)

  2. What a great article! I am just now, 18 months after the birth of my daughter, starting to think about clothes that are a bit more "me" and not just comfortable. My favorite articles in the fashion mags are the ones where they show you the high end couture and then the lower cost imitator that I might (or might not) feel I can afford. :)

    And you are totally right that it's nice to have some clothes that make you feel pretty, at least once in awhile!

  3. Kelly, fun post! I would have floated along, too!

    And here's the thing about those "investments"... in two years I'm gonna WANT new things -- a new purse, new jeans. I'm not gonna care that my old ones are still perfectly intact and indestructible. I'm going to want something fresh.

    And those prices are just ridiculous anyway.

  4. Before I became a SAHM, I had an addiction to pricey handbags. I just sold all but one at a garage sale a few weeks ago. They were still in style...

  5. Oh, how you tempt me! :-)

    Sounds like a very refreshing change after all the maternity/nursing clothes!

  6. What a fun article to read! And I'm with Moriah, I like to get new things every once in awhile!
    Although since I'll probably be digging out my maternity clothes soon that will have to wait.

    And what is it with guys and shoes... do they really make us look that different? :)

  7. I subscribe to fashion magazines and marvel at the "Must-Haves", knowing they are not for me. I am not in the demographic. At all. I like to look at the gorgeous photos, smell the perfume inserts, and build mental lists of what I like and what I don't like.

    Then I take all that knowledge to Target. I really don't like their fall line, though. It's a good thing none of it would fit me anyway. No temptation at all.

    I am glad you found some things that made you happy. Happy returning!

  8. Great Post! The cost of those clothes is ridiculous! REALLY??? I love clothes and like to look good but that is way over the top.

  9. You shop there to. So do I and love their clothes. I actually just was there and a course spent to much. I usually do! Anyways, congrats on getting back to "normal" clothes! Yea!

  10. Yes! I love this. It's hard to find good, quality stuff that's not one million dollars at this limbo mom age we're in. You don't want to dress trendy and pretend to be a teen. And you don't want frumpy boring either.
    What a fun shopping trip. I think I drooled. I'm not much of a shopper, but I too like to unfrump a bit every now and again.
    I think the money can be well spent even if it's not top of the line, the very most expensive stuff. That's for sure. It's not like we'd be able to take care of it to have it last for years anyway. Someone is bound to spit up on it, or stick gum to it. :)

  11. I love your attitude about clothes! I shop the same way. Stores love me too, I'm sure.

    Heading over the read that article.

  12. Oh fun! I love buying new clothes...at least sometimes. Other times I hate it. I do love to feel and look nice. Enjoy your new wardrobe.

  13. My sister and I read that artical together and she is the type to shell out the money for the name and I am more of a conservative buyer. We laughed at the article prob. not for the same reasons. LOL Too funny I had forgotten about that.