I have a confession: I’m a closet Mishpacha reader. For those unfamiliar with Mishpacha magazine, it’s a Jewish magazine for the family (mishpacha literally means family). Each week, a shrink wrapped package arrives at our door (thanks to my DH who finally just got me a subscription) and inside is a magazine for the Dad, a magazine for Mom, and one for the kids. My DD’s like to “read” their magazine and look through the photos while my DH refuses to touch the magazine for Dad with a 10 foot pole. And me, well, I like to read the Mommy magazine for the recipes, some creative ideas about holiday preparation and decorating, and often times to read just how out of touch with reality some of these people are. Recently, Mishpacha went through a design change that I personally think it a huge mistake, but I haven’t cancelled my subscription.
Last week, a reader wrote a question that was responded to by three different people. Truth be told, I don’t really remember who exactly these three people were but they tend to be Rabbis, Shadchans, female educators from seminaries, and psychologists, who are all frum. The question was from a young woman currently Shidduch dating who is ashamed of her Mother’s appearance. She said that her Mom dressed slopped, didn’t put on make up and had an awful sheitel (wig). She feared that the reason she wasn’t getting set up on as many Shidduch dates was because of her Mother’s slovenly and sloppy appearance. When she approached her Mother with these feelings, her Mom apparently told her she was being ridiculous and refused to dress better, wear makeup and get a more expensive and “nicer” sheitel. She was aggravated and frustrated with her Mother and needed help getting through to her, so she could understand just how hurtful her appearance was to her chances of getting a wonderful Shidduch.
I’m not living in that world, but this question did resonate with me. I won’t say that I dress sloppy, but I certainly don’t wear my Ann Taylor suits, a string of pearls, and my Russel&Bromley suede boots to do gan pickup. In fact, I would say that my style hasn’t really altered much since my teens. In seminary, I got into a fight with my Madricha because she told me that it was time to grow up and dress nicer. She wore a new Hermes silk scarf wrapped around her neck practically every day, and according to her, I looked like something the Gap threw up on. At 17, my style was sporty and comfortable.
And, truth be told, I will always choose comfort over fashion. I have never worn stilletos nor have any desire to. I prefer chunky platforms, and went through a Spice Girl platform stage that would have rivaled Ginger spice. When I entered the work force, I realized quickly how I needed to up my style. Working in PR, appearance is everything, and no one wants to hire a publicist to manage their brand and be their face and representative if they look sloppy.
So, I hired a personal shopper and went to Saks and started learning how to dress for my figure. I was a Salon Z patron for years and years, and lost many a paycheck on Marina Rinaldi apparel. I stopped wearing color and stuck to a wardrobe of blacks, browns and grays. I selected clothing with horizontal stripes, plunging necklines to accentuate the positive (drawing people eyes upwards towards the face and away from any “bulge”) and heeled boots and shoes since the taller I looked, the slimmer I appeared. And this was just work clothes. I had different styles based on where I was hanging out at night. At a concert at Bowery Ballroom, I went in my “Hipster gear.” Shooting pool at Prohibition? Jeans, a rock n roll t-shirt, boots and a smokey eye. Margaritas at Citrus with a Producer in the summer? A cute floral dress, curly hair, big hoop earrings, fun green eye shadow, and wedges.
In my single 20’s, I had a facial once a month at Aveda salon and spa on the Upper West Side, sported a fabulous cut and color that I maintained every two months, took care of ladyscaping, and would go for weekly manicures and pedicures. My makeup style was sparse but effective: moisturizer with SPF, some undereye concealer, eyeliner and mascara, and a nude lip for work and something a little darker and more daring for after hours.
I might have been overweight, but no one could ever say I was sloppy.
Which brings us to today, and my new Mommy style. 11 weeks postpartum and I’m still wearing maternity clothes. I’ve only lost 11 kilos, and I gained almost 20 so I’m no where near fitting into my clothing. Once again, I’ve embraced sporty and comfortable gear. I wear New Balance sneakers, cargo pants, and long sleeve shirts to do gan pickup. I still struggle with head covering, which you all already know about. Everything I own is covered in spit up, everything. My son is like a pigeon, he takes aim and misses the Aden + Anais muslins that I have thrown over my shoulder to catch his spit up. I have no time to do any “ladyscaping”, my nails are a ragged mess, my hair is in desperate need of a cut, color and a blow out, and if I remember to brush my teeth in the morning it’s an accomplishment.
I look at other Mommy’s in awe. Like my friend Rachel, whose hair is always brushed and tidy, and her manicure never seems to have a chip. Granted, she doesn’t have a newborn at home, but still. My husband’s cousin had a baby 4 weeks after I did and she showed up to his bris with a manicure & pedicure and a killer blow out. At my son’s bris? My swollen feet were shoved into too tight shoes since I refused to wear slippers, my eyeliner shmeared under my eye and no one bothered to tell me so that in all of the photos, it looks like I have a black eye, and there was spit up on my white sweater.
And when DH and I do go out, and I manage to put on a nice outfit, shoes, my wig and some makeup, I get such a reaction from my DD’s that I’m ashamed. Last Saturday night was our first date night in 11 weeks, and my eldest couldn’t stop telling me how pretty I looked. She wouldn’t stop sniffing me because I was wearing perfume for the first time in months and she loved the smell.
I know it’s a long way away from when my kids are dating, but I don’t want them to be ashamed of their Mom for the way I look. And, I also want to be true to who I am and be me. Right now, who me is as a Mommy is yet to be determined. Lately, I think my sense of style is closest to Modern Family’s Clare Dunfy. She’s comfortable casual during the day, and simple and classy at night.
One day, I hope to rock a LBD with a nice pair of heels (kitten) for a night out. I aspire to leave my house without spit up on my clothing (I swear, I get dressed in clean clothing and just when I’m about to walk out the door he lets it loose). In the meantime, maybe I’ll take a page out of my Grandma Rose’s book. She told my Mom that a lady never leaves the home without lipstick.
It’s a start.
What’s your Mommy style?