If you’ve ever had any kind of job you’ve had to ask the question at least once: what’s the dress code? Is it business-casual, business-dress, casual, all black, uniform, red shirt and khaki pants, company polo, or what? It’s a legitimate question since what you wear on the outside does reflect, to some extent, the attitudes, directives, and confidence on the inside. For me, I’ve had a hand-full of different jobs with mostly a business-casual dress code, one job I had to always wear black; for the most part, I always needed to look nicely put together where it was obvious I spent some amount of effort into my appearance. I enjoyed this! I was brought up to know that looking nice was important and I had fun doing it.
Lately, however, I had sort of a wardrobe-crisis. Suddenly, the clothing that I own doesn’t fit the job I have. The problem though, is that there is no dress code for this job. I knew that my clothes weren’t working for the job but I was lost as to figuring out what did work. No one was there to tell me what to wear to work every day, and day after day hung a bunch of clothes that I spent time and money on that I was no longer using.
If you are wondering what my job is that is causing me so much fashion angst… it’s being a stay-at-home mom. My job is to care for the basic needs of my children, play with them, nurture them, and usually in the environment of my home. So there’s also cleaning involved, cooking, organizing etc… (all of which are hard enough for me to do without having kids let alone with!) hah…
(This might seem ridiculous but I wish that in college I had a little bit of a clue that in a few short years I would be a mother and not actively pursuing a career outside the home. I might have invested in different clothing.)
Part of why I enjoy looking nice and being stylish is because I worked a lot of retail jobs in soft-lines. I got discounts on the clothes and effectively got an updated wardrobe that was functional and fashionable for my taste. In light of this, I have to be honest and say that I was a little afraid of becoming a mom. I believed the stereotype that most women just gave up on their appearance after having kids. I did not want to be one of those moms. You know, the moms with clothes that didn’t fit right anymore, the moms in sweats and tanks, or *gasp* their pajamas. No, that would not be me. I care too much to let myself slip that far.
Granted, I have not been a mom for very long yet. Currently, I have an 18 month old and a 3 month old. Most of my time as a mom I have been pregnant, and pregnancy throws a whole new wrench into the wardrobe crisis! We will not go there in this post.
But anyway, in my short time as a mom I have to confess that I was naive, I was wrong. I am just going to get it out there and say that if I don’t have to go anywhere with the kids I sometimes stay in my pajamas all day! So, if anyone was offended by my remark about those moms you can rest assured. I am eating my words. I am right there with you.
This drastic change in thinking caused me to pause and reflect on the job of being mom. There is a reason I wasn’t wearing 90% of the clothes I owned anymore. There was no boss telling me what to wear, but the physical demands of being a mom were forcing me to wear things I could function well in while fulfilling my ‘mom-duties’. The light went on.
There IS a dress code for being a mom: an unwritten dress code.
So if anyone else out there has been beating themselves up like me about being lazy and not making any effort into your appearance you can stop. The unwritten dress code remains. Some days my pajamas are the best thing for my kids that I can wear because I can easily romp around on the floor with them, I can breastfeed easily, I can lift babies in and out of cribs, I can easily put a baby carrier on, I can bend down to pick up toys, I can do all of this and more without worrying about a snag, a stain, a button popping, a muffin top, tripping over myself (because of long pants, or fancy shoes – which I have done, by the way), or any other sort of wardrobe malfunction you can think of.
I came to this realization the other day when I spent my kids nap time getting ready for a date night with my husband. I straightened my hair, had a flowy blouse on, a long necklace and wore heels. Spending the next couple of hours with my kids waiting for my husband to come home was a nightmare. I could not believe how difficult it was to do simple things like put my toddlers socks and shoes on.
That’s when it clicked for me. The unwritten dress code for moms is this: wear what works when your baby might spit up on you, you might have to chase down your toddler (or spray them down if they have an accident), you need to make dinner and do dishes and clean up spills, you need to snuggle your baby and hold them close, or when you want to sit on the sidewalk and teach your kid how to play with chalk. So just because more often than not we wear what’s easy, what’s comfortable, doesn’t mean we don’t care.
And don’t misunderstand me; it’s not bad to look cute while doing all of these things. I mean, I could wear my dark-wash jeans and knitted shell but I can’t expect them not to be ruined or acquire more wear and tear than they would if I just reserved them for church and other outings. And you know, maybe it would be easier to look cute and feel cute on my days at home if the 90% of my closet I don’t wear anymore still fit me. But after having 2 kids now it remains a big question mark as to whether or not I will ever fit into some of those clothes again. My body has changed but the budget has not.
I have realized though, that with these bodily changes comes a lot of heart changes, and so I remain grateful. Even though I am frustrated over my postpartum body and not having as many clothing options because of it and my new role, I will take that miniscule annoyance to enjoy being a mom and pour into the little lives I have been entrusted with. That’s really what it’s all about, right? Instead of spending my morning trying to keep my kids busy while I ‘get ready’ I jump right into the day with them without needing to worry about how I look. I am also blessed with a husband who says I am beautiful with or without makeup, in my pajamas or in my Sunday best. I bet your hubby feels the same way too.
So, no more judgment from me, no more unrealistic expectations, and no more unhealthy/sinful cravings to adorn myself externally. Right now, I can be okay with the 10% of my wardrobe I do wear and thankful that it works.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4
As for the issue of dealing with a postpartum body. Read this blog and be encouraged because I was!
What advice, encouragement, or testimonies do you have regarding your dress code as a mom or your post-baby body? How would you describe your go-to mom style?