Rockin’ my mom clothes

by Debbie Carini

There’s a picture of me from the mid-1980s and I’m looking pretty chic in a pair of black leggings and an oversized silk shirt. I wore this pairing to work and felt, in the parlance of my then fashion copywriting job, that it could go from “9 to 5 and after, from the desk to dinner, from the boardroom to happy hour.”

The other day, I found myself in a somewhat similar outfit before heading out to eat—elastic-waist bottoms and extra large shirt (albeit more tee-shirty than silky) when my husband looked at me and said, “Are you going out in your mom clothes?”

First of all, yes—because when I’m going out for dinner, elastic waist pants always seem like a good idea (in terms of comfort and capacity), and second of all, yes—because that’s about what fits me in my closet right now (especially if I want to sit down at the restaurant and not risk ricocheting a button throughout the establishment and potentially shooting someone’s eye out). What are “mom clothes” anyway? It had the tinge of political-incorrectness to it.

If my husband puts on a T-shirt and jeans, that’s his outfit. If I try to sport the same look (add some Lycra stretch), that’s mom clothes!

I really did try in the beginning, when the kids first arrived. But how many times did I make an effort, only to be soiled in some vile manner? Short of wearing a rain slicker year-round, or inventing the mom-bib (there’s an idea for some Esty-minded entrepreneur), I often had no choice but to don what could reasonably weather the detritus of childhood (or what the police describe as “spatter patterns”).

The sheer litany of stains I’ve endured (as have most other parents) is mind-boggling and their occurrence seemed to fall in direct relation to my state of dress, for example: a good silk blouse on mom equals a kiss on the shoulder from a child after he’s eaten a slightly melted chocolate candy bar.

I’ve learned how to remove bubble gum—“I’m sorry it just fell out of my mouth,” said whichever child left that on my jeans—by putting the garment in the freezer for a while. And how to take out grease stains made by those french fry-oiled fingers that reach out to use your sleeve as a napkin (dish soap!).

For all other incidents, I’m basically the mom with the stain stick product on a keychain (make sure your kids can read before you start carrying this around though, so they don’t try to use it as lip balm—just saying).

In the end, I did change my outfit so that I wasn’t wearing “mom clothes” on the date night with my husband. But in the restaurant, as I ripped the corner of a package of soy sauce, I suffered a little PTSD (post traumatic stain disorder) flashing back to the times I’d been “accidentally” squirted by packet juice of all sorts (ketchup, mustard, taco sauce), proving once and for all, that you can take the woman out of “mom clothes,” but you should never take the mini stain stick off your key chain.



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