New Mama Musings

Friday, February 29, 2008

Style Quest

I've always been extremely insecure about the way I look. (But then, what woman isn't at one point or another?) I've talked about my crappy childhood before, so I won't go into details. Suffice it to say I blame it for my lack of self-confidence in many areas of my life, including how I present my physical self to the world.

Growing up, I spent summers poring over Seventeen magazine plotting how I would re-invent myself for the start of the new school year. Different hair? More make-up? New clothes?

Inevitably though, come September I was the same old me, lacking the cojones to put myself out there. For some reason, even though I thought most of my classmates were morons, I wanted to impress them.

Go figure.

In my late teens I discovered new wave, punk and otherwise "alternative" music and I began to relish being different. (Being different by being part of a group of people being different...follow?)

I also discovered the thrill of thrift store shopping and started to dress more "alternatively."


Back then, I was not all that picky. If it was cool, or had the potential to be cool, I snapped it up, regardless of the fit or how it might work in my wardrobe (such as it was). I dressed a little funky, and on special occasions I could put it together, but I'm not sure I ever really developed a true, personal sense of style.


At the same time I was very shy and afraid of looking foolish. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but I think any funkiness I indulged in was within certain parameters of established funkiness. I gravitated toward solid-colored tops. Nothing form-fitting. Nothing button-down. Few accessories. Kind of a boring, take-no-chances funky.


(Man, I'm loving this hair. The eighties were awesome.)

In my early twenties I started nannying and my daily wardrobe went a bit downhill. I got lazy. There was no point in dressing up, since no one really saw me but the kids and their parents. I saved skirts, dresses, tights and cool shoes for the nights I went out to see bands. Clothing I was hesitant to wear for fear it would make me stand out or look silly went even deeper underground, becoming something "special" I rarely wore.

Then I had Henry. For the first six months, during his infant spitting-up phase, I wore fleece pullovers from L.L.Bean (helpful new mama hint: liquid wipes right off fleece, saving multiple changes of clothes a day). Not pretty, but warm and practical. My hair was in a funky (in a bad way) growing-out stage and make-up became even more non-existent than before.

Lately, I've been trying a little harder. Now that Henry's older and I have more time and space for myself, I realize that I want to be stylish. I want to be more daring. I want to know that everything in my closet is flattering and nicely constructed and goes with other things I own. I want to look put-together. I want to be a bit funky and cool, even though I'm thirty-seven and I have no idea if the kids are using those words these days.

So. I have a plan. Beginning in March, I will go through every item of clothing I own. I'm starting with sweaters and pants, since it's still damn cold here in Wisconsin and skirts may be more do-able in April. Maybe.

I plan on evaluating each piece to make sure it really fits and is in decent condition, de-pilling and sending off for alterations when necessary. I'll be a bit more daring, putting pieces together even if I'm not totally sure they work, taking photos of each outfit for more objective judgment. When I'm done I hope to feel good about my clothes and to have come up with actual outfits and not just disparate pieces I throw together at the last minute.

My hair is a more difficult case. I've been cursed with baby-fine, thin hair, and although it's finally at a length I'm happy with, I'm not sure what to do with it. It's too cold for me to wear up, though I like how it looks that way. I'm thinking of getting highlights and side-swept bangs so it at least looks like I'm trying.

And then, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I want to get my nose pierced.


I've been thinking about getting a tiny diamond stud for a long, long time. Yeah, sure, I'm in my late thirties. But when I'm fifty, won't thirty-seven seem a perfectly reasonable age for getting one's nose pierced?

In the scheme of things, figuring out my wardrobe and how I look in general may seem shallow. Petty. Superficial. Irrelevant.

But even at my age I feel the labels and judgments placed upon me in childhood pulling me back, keeping me from being who I really want to be and doing what I truly want to do. Deciding to deal with this one area of my life, no matter how small it may be, seems like a step in the right direction.

6 Comments:

  • Oh, Kay, I am LOVIN that hair from the 80's! Are you on Facebook? You have to look and Jen and Troy's HS pics--they look straight out of Seventeen!

    Kudos to you if you get a nosering. We were just talking about them this week! I would rather forego any more piercings (don't even put earrings in most of the time) but really want a tattoo...

    I'm excited to see what you come up with. You are DEFINITELY hip and young enough to do some cool style stuff.

    As much as I hate the store, Forever 21 at the mall has very funky, eclectic and cheap clothes if you want to look for ideas. It's too overwhelming for me, though... :)

    By Blogger bfmomma, at 8:20 AM  

  • Thanks. :)

    I've been looking at Forever 21 online, but I'm worried about the quality. It might be a good place to go if I'm looking to fill the edges in with some trendy things, though.

    By Blogger New Mama, at 10:02 AM  

  • OMG, I am lovin' those pictures! Honestly, though, it looks to me like you escaped the '80s relatively unscathed, lol.

    I think it's natural as your child gets older to start to want to reclaim yourself a bit. I was just moving onto that path when I got pregnant again, and now I've returned to square one. Just a few years' delay ...

    Good luck on your quest. I think it will be lots of fun!

    By Anonymous gearhead mama, at 5:34 PM  

  • There is absolutely nothing shallow or superficial about working to make yourself happier and more comfortable in your skin. Nothing. And you have such a logical plan for how to go about it--I wish you all the best luck and am interested to see what you discover during this journey.

    By Blogger grace, at 2:37 PM  

  • you feel better Kay, I had no idea that you were 37. Not that 37 is old, but I just saw you last week, and I thought we were much closer in age. You can definitely still get a nose ring!

    By Blogger Jacquie Toft Hughes, at 9:56 PM  

  • ok, that last post was supposed to say "if it makes you feel better, kay". It wasn't a command to feel better!

    By Blogger Jacquie Toft Hughes, at 9:57 PM  

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