Friday, 18 March 2011

Mummy Chic

Or, how I look like a scubber* most of the time, and what shall I do about it?

So, over at Tea for Two, K was lamenting a bad purchase, and thinking about shoes. And Fay was talking about those little changes (like a hair colour change) that make you feel more like you. All of which got me thinking too.
Because I wear pretty much the same thing every single day. I have two pairs of identical jeans - one black, one blue; four identical stripy tops in various colours; and a handful of plain jumpers and cardigans. I wear hiking boots because they are comfortable and waterproof. And a fleece if its cold. All of my clothes were chosen on the basis of their functionality and cost. I look like this:

(Well, I have a head and feet in real life too).

This is in fact, so typical for my 'tribe' that it is described in Naomi Stadlen's study of modern (mostly London-based) mothers, 'What Mothers Do', thus: "Mothers are sometimes thought to lose pride in their appearance and to 'let themselves go'. Perhaps some mothers do. The unofficial dress code for mothers today seems to be plain T-shirts and jeans".

She goes on to say by the way, "No longer, as mothers, can they assume that air of cool and detached elegance, which is so greatly prized today. Instead they glow with warm and tender expressions", and, "As mothers we have reached sexual fruitfulness. Some mothers seem to feel this, but the majortiy clearly do not. Most mothers apologise for their appearances, as if we should expect to see fully groomed women in immaculate, dust-free homes. ... It's striking how few mothers feel they are beautiful and sexually attractive when they look hot and dishevelled."(pp193-194)

Optimistic, at best, I think Ms Stadlen. Slightly deluded at worst. Yes, I get that we as mothers - and just as women and human beings - have wonderful bodies that do wonderful things - and that there is beauty in everyone.

However, when your legs itch from their hair having been cultivated for months, and your greasy hair is scraped back from your shadow-eyed face, and you sit beneath the weight of the perpetual ache of your shoulders, noticing how not one single item of clothing you wear has escaped being smurred with baby slobber or snot or regurgitate, believe me, it is very difficult to feel 'beautiful and sexually attractive', or even 'fit to mingle in general society'.

It is not enough to rest upon the hope that this motherly glow of which she speaks is somehow emanating from beneath the grubbiness. I need deforesting! cleaning! polishing! shininess and pretties!

Moreover, I need sleep. But as that is not likely in the near future I would settle instead for a good pair of shoes and a decent haircut. As regards the former, it is getting too warm for hiking boots, yet not warm enough yet to dig out my sandals. I need something inbetweeny.

To which end, I have just spent the time I could/should have been doing something useful, instead browsing shoes on the interwebs...

These Bloch flats are just lovely. I've tried on Bloch shoes before and they are so comfortable I jsut kept walking round and round the shop trying and failing to convince myself that I could justify a £180 spend on such flimsy little things.

Slightly more practical but still a little bit spangly, I quite like these KG sneakers.

Or would canvas pumps with pretty bows detract from the plainness of the rest of my garb perhaps?

Must get myself to some real-life shoe shops soonish I think... Any recommendations for good pretty but practical footwear?

*I think I made this word up; it just describes how I feel best. scubby. A bit plain and a bit grubby.


  1. I have all manner of mad ideas about how I'll be a glam mom, but then I fall into scubby on the regular even now, so... yeah.

    Cute shoes sounds like an awesome place to start, though. Then a good, flattering (even when greasy, easy to maintain) haircut? And at least make the jeans & t-shirts & jumpers gorgeous and flattering ones? I've no idea (obviously!), but I do know that feeling scubby is not good, and I hope you overcome it soon!

    Good word, by the way.

  2. It's so hard, isn't it, to feel attractive when you're so sleep deprived and the time you do have is spent sleeping rather than grooming. But I really believe that it is the little things and prioritising these things that helps to remind ourselves who we are. But what I really, really love is when you're sitting at baby group with other mothers and you see that they too have baby sick all down the front of their top too!

    I live in converse pretty much at the moment now it's getting warmer. Total mum cliche!

  3. I need deforesting too. And as for the shoes, I've been looking myself and haven't decided yet. And my uniform seems to be very similar. I must stop breastfeeding so I can lose weight properly so I can fit in some of my summer dresses by the time it's hot enough. That would be so nice.

  4. Mmm I love those last shoes - Your words have summed up perfectly how I feel most days. Today i wore a dress and earrings and I felt MUCH nicer, even if I am a bit hot and sweaty now and the dress has baby spew on it. It worked for the first half of the day. I think the key for me was making a rule that on the days I leave the house I make an effort, either dress nicely (in clothes I buy in the sale so I dont' get pissed off when they get spew or snot on them) put makeup on, wear nice shoes or wear jewellery.