A Mom's Quest To Find Herself—While Avoiding 'Mom' Jeans
There are few things in life that shocked me to the core. Realizing I dress like a mom was one of them.
As a former fashion editor (and at the time, childless) attaching the word "mom" to anything was seen as a dis. "Mom jeans," for example, invoked an un-cool vibe with their high waists, excess material, long inseams, and flat blue stone-washing. Oversized sweaters and "comfort wear," flat liberal-thinking shoes, scrunchies, and athleisure were the last things I wanted to be associated with, despite celebrated consumer insights group Doneger TOBE saying in a June 2014 report "out of style is in style for the post-neons, making comfort footwear, mom jeans, fanny packs and Elaine Benes dresses all fair game in the right hands." And, you know, Gen Z's wholehearted, nonsensical embrace of them.
If what we wear is the first presentation of who we are as people, why would I want to come across as casual, overstressed, tired, frazzled, nutrient-deprived human? Karl Lagerfeld once said, "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants." That became my mantra, and something I tried desperately to avoid.
My sartorial transition, like love, happened slowly, then all at once.
I carried twin girls for 36 weeks. The almost 60 pounds of water weight gain and edema made it difficult to wear anything but a stretchy jumpsuit and shell toe Adidas with no laces—a nod to Run-DMC circa 1984. Post-pregnancy yielded a difficult recovery. While I lost most of the water weight within weeks, I had a long recovery from a serious bacterial infection.
About four weeks postpartum, I tried to put on a pair of four-inch heels that were my favorite pre-pregnancy. I forced my feet into the tiny patent leather toe cap, attempted to close the clasp around my ankle, and stood up. The straps cut into my skin with such searing force, I immediately sat down, kicked off the heels, and cried. My mind was spinning with self-doubt. Who was I if I couldn't effortlessly sprint through an airport in towering shoes, with a luxury handbag perched at the bend of my elbow? Was I less of a woman if I didn't feel comfortable in a bodycon bandage dress? And the worst, most condemning thought: as I ushered in this new role of being a working twin mom, was I really going to be wearing sweats and mom jeans for the rest of my life?
No one ever gives you a manual on how to be a parent and the same goes for how you should dress once you become one. One thing I knew for sure: orchestrating the lives of twin infants was an enormous responsibility. The initial days were painfully long. While I was never someone who needed much sleep, months of three-hour-a-night naps were starting to take a toll on my mental well-being. My focus at work was starting to wane in addition to my ability to get dressed. My job required me to be in front of the camera discussing retail-related topics. For comfort's sake, I would show up to work in a dress and sneakers, which was a cardinal sin for anyone who was in front of the camera, specifically for women: heels were simply a "must." Right when I thought my job and sanity were in jeopardy, the pandemic hit.
Waves of lockdowns, grief, and worry hit everyone hard. I tried to remain stoic, but the stress of the unknown created permanent changes to my body and mental state. I knew I had to take inventory of my life, who I was, and who I wanted to be moving forward. This is what I discovered: I am a mom first. My kids' well-being, happiness, and safety are top priorities. Joy now comes in the form of going on long runs (by myself), playing toddler tennis with my girls and husband, swimming, driving, and lots of activities. What doesn't bring me joy? The pressure to front like I have it all together by teetering in tall heels, squishing myself into Spanx to put on a dress, or carrying a large, expensive, and heavy handbag.
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The only people I was accountable to were two adorable toddler twins, who could care less what on-trend outfit I was wearing and cared more about my ability to chase after them in a game of tag or carry them on my shoulders. I swapped the heels for a pair of Veja velcro sneakers, replaced the tweed metallic jacket with a puffer vest, and would wear versions of the same outfit multiple times a week. And glasses. Apparently aging, being overstressed, tired, and frazzled makes your eyesight go.
Do I look like a mom? Yes. Is it my own version of mom wear? Yes. Will I ever wear "mom jeans?" Probably not, but anything is possible. Just don't mention having a third child to me, please.