Are These… MOM JEANS!?!?

MomJeans I have this terrifying feeling that I may, in fact, be in possession of a couple pair of (gulp) Mom Jeans. Yes, that’s right. I said it. And I shudder at the thought. My fingers are trembling even as I type these words. And no, these aren’t jeans from the mid-eighties that I’ve managed to hold on to or a pair of jeans that my mom (or anyone else from a previous generation) just so happened to pass down to me that I—in order to be polite—quietly accepted and later planned to burn.

These are relatively new (purchased within the last year or so) and currently (gasp) in the wardrobe rotation! I know, I KNOW! You are probably wondering, as am I, how such a horrific thing could possibly come to pass. Especially when not two years ago, I wrote a post here about how I will NEVER, I repeat NEVER be caught dead in a pair of mom jeans.

For those who don’t know… Here is a definition of Mom Jeans: Mom jeans are a style of jeans consisting of a high waist (rising above the belly button), making the buttocks appear disproportionately longer, larger, and flatter than they otherwise might. It also tends to have excess space in the zipper/crotch and leg areas. The jeans are usually in a solid, light-blue color, with no form of stone washing or fading. Other attributes of the style often seen are pleats, tapered legs, and elastic waistbands. The style is frequently accompanied by a blouse or shirt that is tucked into the jeans. This style was popular with women in the United States until the mid-90s, when lower rise jeans started to become fashionable.

See? Most of you can relax now. Just being a mother, does not a mom-jean-wearer make. I know my own mom was scared when I first uttered the phrase “mom jeans” in her presence. I mean, you don’t even need to be a woman for this crime of fashion to happen to you. Mitt Romney was often spotted (and ridiculed for) sporting mom jeans on the campaign trail…

Mitt Romney - mom jeans

But alas, I suspect I may have fallen victim to the lure of comfort… and marketing. Yes marketing. It’s not like the store is going to place a neon sign over a rack of women’s jeans flashing the words: “GET YOUR MOM JEANS HERE!” No, they are going to place the denim abominations in amidst the rest of their latest offerings and label them “relaxed fit” or “slimming” or some other load of persuasive crap aimed at us women trying to find something akin to fashionable that will not squeeze the ever-loving-$#it out of us OR sit so low on our person so as to produce “muffin top” or cause us to have to buy a whole new batch of low rise Victoria’s Secret underwear lest it show every time we sit or bend.

So in the name of fashion AND comfort, because yes—somewhere between the ages of 32 and 38—a gal decides that it IS worth it to not only look good, but also continue breathing or consume bread and wine in a restaurant without feeling like a human sausage casing. We want to enjoy a nice meal absent of the fear that we could potentially cause serious bodily injury to fellow diners by suddenly popping our rivets, raining zipper teeth down like shrapnel. Therefore we shop. And we shop with laser-like focus for a pair of jeans that accomplish all of the above AND… are anything but mom jeans.

mom-jeans

But occasionally, as I may be experiencing, due to the combined needs for comfort, coverage and style… a pair of (yikes!) mom jeans could possibly slip in without us even noticing… until it’s too late. You’re standing in front of the mirror one morning, taking a final glimpse at your reflection before heading out the door and it hits you. A thought that has never crossed your mind before suddenly looms large: OMG! Are these MOM JEANS!?!?

And the terror grips you. The clock says it’s time to go, you look OK from the waist up and yes, your footwear is adorable but aside from the shoes, your bottom half looks like you should strap a fanny pack to it and head to the casino for a day of fun with Madge and the rest of the bridge club gang. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?!? Why didn’t I see it in the store? Can I actually go out in public looking like this? What other questionable decisions have I made in the last year? The list goes on and on.

At this point I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the denim conundrum. But there is one thing I DO know. I can’t even begin to think about my potential relationship with skinny jeans. That’s a whole other subject. One that perhaps I’ll tackle… when this fashion crisis has passed.

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Sometimes, Appearance IS Everything

Despite the fact that I do not have a “boutique” bank account, I do enjoy occasional boutique shopping. Every now and then—even for a Budget Boutiquer like me—I find that they are often the perfect place to find well-made and unique items to spice up the wardrobe.

But boutiques can be tricky. Not because of their shameless overpricing but rather their interesting employee/customer dynamic. Just ask Julia Roberts’ character Vivian in Pretty Woman. Do you remember the iconic scene? She arrives in her (a-hem) “street clothes” at a high-end boutique on Rodeo Drive with Richard Gere’s limitless credit card in hand, only to be swiftly sized up and turned away by the store’s snotty staff.

Of course, the joke’s on them (and their commission checks) later in the day when Vivian returns to the same boutique dressed to the nines in couture and loaded down with bags and boxes after spending obscene amounts of money at OTHER retailers… showing (and telling) them what a HUGE mistake they’d made in judging her earlier.

Now, I don’t own an outfit like Vivian had at the beginning of the movie. Trust me, no one wants to see THAT on ME anyway… but I have experienced a watered-down version of some similar treatment. A year ago, I visited an adorable boutique in a nearby small town. And while I browsed, dressed in jeans, sneakers and a fleece pullover, gently sifting through the $400 cashmere sweaters and equally expensive accessories… not one person in the store spoke to me. I left without buying anything.

This past weekend my parents came for a visit. On one of our excursions, I decided to take my mother to the boutique. Although the items inside were far more expensive than she or I would normally spend… I thought she might enjoy picking over the pricey offerings. After all, it never hurts to browse and one never knows what one might find hiding on the sale rack.

However, before we went inside I warned her that, in my experience, the sales staff was not so friendly. “Apparently,” I told her, “I didn’t fit their ‘idea’ of who should be patronizing their business when I showed up the last time. Don’t be surprised if you feel like Julia Roberts when you go in here.” My mother just shrugged. Now that she’s retired, she doesn’t let things like the obnoxious dissing by snobbish retailers bother her. One can only hope that such an attitude will rub off on me one day.

Much to my surprise, when I walked through the doors of the place (bracing myself for another cool dismissal) the sales woman practically tackled me once I was inside. I was looking at some colorful, all-weather, rubber boots and admiring them when she pounced. She asked what size I wore, demanded that I remove the boots I was wearing and try these new ones on. “They’re Danish, you know.” She said launching feverishly into her sales pitch while jamming my stocking foot into one of them… “They are VERY well made and worth every penny!” And she went on and on pointing out all of the features of these super trendy boots.

“Uh-huh…” I muttered while half-listening to her and subtly turning a pair over in my hands to get a look at the price tag on the bottom. $300. Yikes. I thought. “That’s a little too rich for my blood. Especially for something not made from an animal.” I admitted to her, setting them back on the shelf. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder… What in the world was the difference between my treatment a year ago and today? And I continued to wonder… that is until she inquired about the boots I was currently wearing.

“Well, what kind of boots are THOSE?” She asked, accusatorily and aggressively thrusting her pointed index finger toward my feet. Even as I KNEW that SHE already KNEW what kind of boots I was wearing.

To which I sheepishly replied, “UGGs.”  Referring to my somewhat costly, tall, fold-over, cable-knit sweater boots. They are my favorite fall and winter wardrobe item — a brand name splurge I afforded myself last season and by far the most expensive footwear I own.

Irritated that I’d turned her down, she smacked her lips and quickly snapped at me with the following… “Well, if you can afford THOSE boots… surely you can afford THESE.” It was precisely at that moment that I walked away from her, stunned at such a brazen attempt to get me into her fancy, Danish rubbers! How dare she try and bully me with my very own boots.

I guess I learned what the difference was. No matter your backstory… Appearance (to some people) is not only everything… It is the ONLY thing.

The Devil Wears Sweatpants

Today was a day of much celebration and cheer. A moment I have been waiting for — admittedly not all that patiently. The phone rang and on the other end were the magic words I’ve so longed to hear: “They want you to start tomorrow!”

As anyone who has searched long and hard for employment in their field knows… it is a thing of beauty when that call comes. Emotions of joy and relief wash over you as you stand just a tiny bit taller… feeling a little less loser-like and little more confident. You consider, for the first time in awhile that you may, in fact, have something to offer the outside world. And it is a good feeling.

I, for one, could barely contain my excitement. I did the proverbial “happy dance” while shouting THANK YOU at the top of my lungs scaring the hell out of the cat. Then promptly called my mother and counted the seconds until Lee came home. I considered how to celebrate. Hmmm… margaritas tomorrow evening with the girls at my favorite Mexican restaurant? Si. Perfecto.

After sharing the details of the new gig right down to the color of the carpeting and the window-to-wall ratio in my new “cube” I realized that Lee—although excited as well—was indeed weary of the sound of my voice. And perhaps it was time to consider prepping myself for my shift from stay-at-home-do-nothing person into 9 to 5 working gal.

And here is where the story takes a very dark and unexpected turn. No, this is not where I tell you that they called back and informed me that they had mistakenly called the wrong person and that I am, in fact, still a loser. Gotcha’ there for a second didn’t I? No, that has already happened to me so as I stated above… this is where the story takes an UNEXPECTED turn.

It was time to approach (gulp) the closet and see what I had in there (double gulp) to wear for my first day at the new office. I feel that here is where I should mention that I have known this day would come. Oh yes, this Day of Reckoning with my closet and my work clothes a.k.a. ALL things NOT made of super-stretchy-love-my-body-no-matter-how-many-bagels-with-cream-cheese-I-pound-and-glasses-of-wine-I-drink elastic and spandex was on the horizon.

I just kept operating in my fantasy world, walkin’ around with remnants of cream cheese on my face figuring “I’ll dust off those workout DVDs and my Ann Taylor pants with absolutely NO give will still look fabulous by the time I get THE CALL” and all will be well with the world. Well… such was not the case. The DVDs are still dusty and the Ann Taylors are still hangin’ in the closet.

This, my friends, is what the sweatpants industry never tells you in their happy commercials where everyone is blissfully snuggling on the couch munching buttered popcorn and watching movies or gathered ’round the breakfast table slamming pancakes. Sweatpants and their seductive cousins Yoga Pants, Pajama Pants, Lounge Pants, Flannel Pants and Fleece Pants are of the devil. Mark my words… they will be the death of your waistline, hips and butt if you spend enough time in them.

You’ve been warned. Your regular pants may be uncomfortable on occasion… but like a parent disciplining their child when they are naughty… they keep you in line. Oh, the waist is getting snug!… or, My ass looks like two pigs wrestling under a blanket in this pencil skirt!… or, I’m about to pop the button on these trousers and bust out a window in the breakroom! are all ways that your “working clothes” keep you from swimming in that murky River of Denial that can only be found deep inside the soft, warm folds of the evil embrace of Sweatpants.

The Ugly Cloak

There’s this certain shirt hanging in my closet that I hate. No, I’m not talking about the type of hatred that is you-hate-it-so-much-you-never-wear-it-so-it-just-hangs-there hatred. I mean, I have tons of clothes in closets, drawers and storage boxes that fall into that category. This is a unique sort of hatred. The dysfunctional relationship that I have with this particular shirt is like no other relationship I have ever had with any other garment… ever.

You see… I hate this shirt… and YET I continue to wear it every few weeks or so. Does anyone else have a clothing item like this in their possession? I don’t know what is the matter with me, but I never seem to remember how much I dislike it until it’s too late. I keep thinking that I will like it. Why do I keep thinking that I will like it? I keep giving it one more chance, and one more chance, and one more chance and it keeps right on letting me down… every… single… time.

There’s comes a time each evening that I go to my closet and select whatever it is I plan on wearing the following day. Inevitably I will stand there, staring at my clothes and feeling like I “haven’t a thing to wear” like most women do. I flip through the pants and skirts, blouses, cotton tops and sweaters until I find something that will do. And every so often, I come across this collared, grey, stretch-cotton, button-down, three-quarter-length-sleeve blouse. And it’s almost as if I’ve never seen it before. I pull it off the rack and look it over. It seems fine. It’s really basic and goes with just about anything.

The funny thing is… I bought it specifically for a meeting once, and I even hated it on the very first day that I wore it… which, I have to tell you, is highly unusual because you ALWAYS love something the first time you wear it. It’s not until after at least 3 to 4 wearings that it ends up getting shoved further down in the fashion rotation.

Holding it in my hand, I realize that if I NEVER wear this shirt… then there has to be a reason. Therefore, I carefully look it over a second time and ask myself the question: WHY do I never wear this blouse? It isn’t stained. It isn’t torn. It isn’t see-through. It isn’t missing any buttons. It isn’t too tight, too short, too long, too low or too revealing. So WHAT the hell is the problem!?!?

Then I usually think back to whatever “bottoms” I wore with it on the previous occasion. Ahhh… that must be it, I tell myself. It’s because I didn’t wear the proper pants or skirt in which to compliment the grey shirt. The brick-red skirt was too wrinkled and didn’t create good overall lines. When paired with the darker-grey slacks, I just ended up looking like a giant pidgeon. The shirt’s seams hit me in all the wrong places the time I wore it with the denim trousers. So perhaps if I combine it with something other than the brick red skirt, charcoal slacks OR the denim trousers, it may actually be possible to make the shirt work for me.

So I try about the only option I have left available to me… and that is to match it up with a pair of black slacks. WRONG again! Like Harry Potter and his Invisibility Cloak… I have decided that this shirt is my Ugly Cloak. Every time I wear it I feel absolutely hideous. How is it that I can so easily forget just how ugly this shirt makes me look and feel? Sure… there is nothing OUTWARDLY wrong with the item, which must be why I continually pull it off the hanger and choose to drape myself in it for 10+ hours a day! However, it is uncomfortable to wear, and the color makes me look as though I have just contracted the H1N1 virus. It is shapeless and makes ME look like I am shapeless underneath of it. It rides up in the chest, neck and shoulders causing me to constantly TUG at the hem in order to keep it from eventually floating up and completely over my head. Oh yeah… and it wrinkles if you so much as look at it wrong.

And the only reason I am able to recall all of this information now with such passion and clarity, remembering enough detail to get it all down in writing, is because right now… even as I type this… I am wearing the blasted grey shirt. That’s right folks, I gave The Ugly Cloak yet another chance… and once again… it has deeply disappointed me.

Damn Grey Shirt… I swear… you have screwed me over for the last time! I am NEVER, I repeat NEVER wearing you again!!! That is, until three weeks from now… when I find you there, hanging in my closet… looking oh so innocent… and I’ve somehow managed to completely forget ONCE AGAIN how you truly make me feel.

Mom Jeans? Never.

“Tennis shoes?” she asked, disgusted and horrified. “But I feel so old when I wear tennis shoes with shorts. Sneakers look so much cuter with flared jeans.”

“Or bootcut… Bootcut’s OK…” I countered anxiously while trying to reassure the both of us. “… just so long as they’re NOT mom jeans! The key at our age is knowing how to wear tennis shoes, shorts and a trendy fitted tee without looking like we’re trying to be 22 OR one of those hapless, hopeless middle-aged women who wear white Reebok hi-tops and mom jeans with their shirts tucked in!” 

How do we do that?

And that, my friends, is the million-dollar, 30-something question. As the number of candles on our cake creeps ever upward… how do we look attractive and stylish while at the same time age appropriate? And better yet… what the hell IS age appropriate for a woman in her mid-thirties? You know, that time in your life where you’re still in decent shape and you feel young enough to wear the latest trends yet there is this growing awareness that you are no longer 22.

It’s a real dilemma.

My best friend Jan and I are getting together this weekend for the first Ohio State football game of the season. And we are really excited about it. In case you don’t already know, OSU football is a big damn deal around here. However, as someone who works on a college campus—surrounded by young, attractive co-eds whose wrinkle-free parts are still squarely north of the equator—I know what we’re in for at the game this weekend…

… Lots and LOTS of tan, tight, smooth, lean, I-haven’t-a-care-in-the-world 18 to 22 year old girls strutting around in miniature-everything clothing like they’re all auditioning to become the next Football Wives or future Housewives of Franklin County. And then there will be Jan and me… trying desperately to look young and attractive in our (hopefully) adorable-but-age-appropriate attire, firmly in denial about the fact that not that long ago… We were those girls.

Not that she or I need to know this now—because she’s married and I’m in a relationship—but just out of curiosity… Where exactly are you on the meat-market-food-chain when you’re between a rockin-hot college bod and middle-age mom jeans?

God help me if I ever wind up in a pair of acid-washed, high-waisted, tapered-leg denim dungarees! I will NEVER be that woman… the one in the mom jeans… NEVER!! In fact, if you ever see me sporting a pair of them, I give you full permission to rip them from my body during a full-fledged fashion intervention. And Jan does too.

Go Bucks.