Before I had kids, I had a style. Not "style"—I’ve never been particularly stylish—but "a style," a way I preferred to dress and to look. My clothes made me feel good, authentic. I didn’t look like everyone else and I was glad. I was super picky about what I wore, but I hated shopping, so while I didn’t have an extravagant wardrobe full of fancy labels or a zillion shoes and purses, I liked my look.
Then I got pregnant.
I didn’t want to (and couldn’t afford to) buy a maternity wardrobe. I bought a few things, but I found myself compromising on a lot. I wore things I never would’ve considered before and felt uncomfortable and out of sorts when I had to dress for anything other than comfort.
I gave in on colors I would normally never wear because Target only had that shirt in my size in that mint color and I needed a shirt. I gave in on style because Target only had that chevron-print top and I detest chevrons, but I needed something that fit. I gave in on everything from lace to ruffles (why do maternity clothes suck so much?!) so I didn’t have to spend a ton of cash on clothes I never thought I’d wear again.
The intersection of comfort and necessity is where my look died.
And, y’all, it’s been all downhill since.
When my oldest was an infant, when I was deep in the bowels of postpartum depression and after a long internal struggle, I bought my first pair of yoga pants. I only wore them at home and insisted on trying to fit into my old clothes when I had to go anywhere. But nothing fit the same.
Jeans were tight and pinchy, shirts a little too snug across the boobs, and shoulders and skirts were out because my thighs had started to chafe. Even my shoes were too small. But since I was A) already so shopping averse and B) super cheap, the idea of going to buy a bunch of new clothes that fit my style to fit my new body never even crossed my mind.
So, I bought leggings. Not fancy, expensive ones from a friend's MLM “party,” just straight up Target leggings. Then more yoga pants. And more leggings.
I began to kind of see my clothes as my mom uniform: comfortable, cheap, expendable.
Pretty soon without even realizing it, I was wearing them every day. To the supermarket, to the gym, to playdates ... everywhere. And I looked around and saw other women in the same clothes as me, with the same hair as me, juggling the same toddler and baby as me, with the same exhausted eyes as me—and even though I didn’t know them, I knew them.
Because we were in uniform.
I never expected to have a uniform again. Scrubs were my uniform for my pre-kids job. They were practical and cheap, and it didn’t matter if they got messy because that’s what they were for. So, I began to kind of see my clothes as my mom uniform: comfortable, cheap, expendable.
Then I got pregnant again.
After the next baby, any pretense of style was out the window and I was lucky to even change pants, much less put on real ones. My “real” clothes fit even more poorly and I had even less time to do anything about it. Clothes with letters for sizes became my go-to, my hair got more tangled and my makeup collected dust.
It’s been six years now since my oldest son was born.
Six years of elastic waistbands and Lycra and ass-covering shirts. (I did learn that they’re called tunics, not “ass-covering shirts,” but whatever.)
Six years of half-assing my wardrobe and forgetting that I ever even cared.
Six years of wearing the mom uniform and dressing for survival mode.
Six years of forgetting what I like because I was too damned tired to care.
But, now, I’m on a mission. Maybe not to drop the uniform entirely, but at least upgrade to pants in a style other than yoga.
Who knows? Maybe by this time next year, I'll even be wearing pants with a real button fly. A mom can always dream.