How Do I Look?

“You look fine,” my friend Vicki said, in response to my question. “You look like…well, like a mom.” What?! A mom? Okay, so I am a mom, but that was beside the point. I didn’t necessarily want to look like one. When my fifteen-year-old daughter came home from school later that day, I asked her. “How do I look?” Her response didn’t help. “I dunno…fine.” “Well, do I look like a mom?” “Yeah, I guess,” was her uninterested response. I flashed back to my own childhood and my mom’s attire; I envisioned her stretchy, turquoise polyester pants with the raised seam up the middle, coordinating cotton blouses and loose-fitting house coats. But I was way more hip than that, right? Heck, I used to be known for my funky style—charging into the latest fashion trends with gusto. I was a glittering disco queen in my M.C. Hammer-style parachute pants, off-the-shoulder shirts, and chunky, the-bigger-the-better earrings. When had it all changed? When had I started dressing “like a Mom”?
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BY HOLLY BROWNE

“You look fine,” my friend Vicki said, in response to my question. “You look like…well, like a mom.” What?! A mom? Okay, so I am a mom, but that was beside the point. I didn’t necessarily want to look like one.  When my fifteen-year-old daughter came home from school later that day, I asked her. “How do I look?” Her response didn’t help. “I dunno…fine.” “Well, do I look like a mom?” “Yeah, I guess,” was her uninterested response. I flashed back to my own childhood and my mom’s attire; I envisioned her stretchy, turquoise polyester pants with the raised seam up the middle, coordinating cotton blouses and loose-fitting house coats. But I was way more hip than that, right? Heck, I used to be known for my funky style—charging into the latest fashion trends with gusto. I was a glittering disco queen in my M.C. Hammer-style parachute pants, off-the-shoulder shirts, and chunky, the-bigger-the-better earrings. When had it all changed? When had I started dressing “like a Mom”?

Glancing in a mirror, I critiqued my sit-at-the-waist jeans, skinny belt, and button-front oxford, neatly tucked in. I guess they did kind of scream “Hello, 80’s!” With a shock I realized I was vintage, and not in a good way. I decided right then, I needed to do some serious style revamping. With my daughter’s fashion advice still ringing in my ears, I headed to  the mall, a woman on a mission. Entering the jeans section, I chose several  low-rise styles and locked myself in a dressing room. I squeezed into the first pair, then rechecked the tag. Strange, they were supposed to be my  size. I turned and looked in the mirror. Well, I had to admit, it was kind of liberating to have my stomach pouf sitting on top of the waistband for a  change. But the rest of me was so uncomfortably packed in, I quickly took them off.

Moving onto the next pair, I pulled them up. Or rather, I tried to pull them up. They were so low that my underwear hung out a good four inches above the waistline. Not quite the look I was hoping for.

The third pair fit well, but sported so many holes and tears in strategic places that they didn’t really fit the over-forty-yet-sophisticated effect I was trying to create. Finally settling on some hole-free styles that sat “slightly below the waist,” I headed to the Intimates Department to find low-rise underwear to fit my new low-rise jeans. Surrounded by thongs, I held one up for closer inspection. Nope. I didn’t see how it could ever truly be comfortable, no matter what my age. I wasn’t buying the theory that having only a little piece of fabric riding up where the sun don’t shine would be more comfortable than having a lot of fabric doing the same thing. Selecting some regular hip-height undies, I moved on to tops.

According to my daughter’s recommendation, I wanted tops that didn’t need to be tucked in. Now, when I was a teen it was a good sign if you could tuck in your shirt. Apparently, this is no longer the case. I grabbed several different styles of untuckable tops and once again closeted myself in a dressing room. Okay, here’s a question: why does everything need to be so form fitting? I peered over my shoulder at the “lovely lady lumps” of back fat to which, up until then, I’d been blissfully unaware. They were unflatteringly magnified where my bra pressed into my skin. Several tops sported wide, low-cut necklines which, my daughter told me, I was supposed to layer over camis.  After trying everything, I was sweating and feeling suffocated by all of the “layering.” Plunging gamely on, I eventually chose some not-too-low-cut, not-too-form-fitting shirts that were comfortable yet classy. Satisfied with my purchases, I headed home. Hmph! Nobody’s gonna tell me I ‘”ook like a Mom again!

A few weeks later, my daughter and I were out shopping and we spotted a woman about my age wearing a pair of torn-and-shredded variety jeans with a  low-cut top (and no cami). She cruised the aisles comfortably untucked, with just a smidgen of tummy peeking out. “What do you think about that? Should I dress more like that?” I asked pointing in the woman’s direction. My daughter’s eyes grew wide, “No way! She looks like a Wannabe!” “What’s a ‘Wannabe’?” “You know, a mom who wishes she was still a teenager.” Ugh! I wouldn’t go that far! I felt relieved. At least I wasn’t a Wannabe.  My daughter paused, looking me over in my slightly-below-the-waist jeans and untucked but-not-too-body-hugging shirt, and smiled. “You know what, mom? I like how you’re dressed. You look fine.”

Well, I guess I look fine. And that’s fine with me.

Holly Browne is a freelance writer, travel copywriter and professional blogger.

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