Thursday, February 7, 2008

Princesses Don't Wear Pants

That's what the Kraken informed me this evening, with disdain in her voice and certainty in her heart. This after a brief discussion about what she was wearing, about what I was wearing, and about both of our options for pajamas. My feeble suggestion that she could wear something that wasn't a dress and still BE a princess was slapped down without a moment's hesitation.

The Kraken's recent obsession with all things pink, fluffy, sparkly, shimmery, and otherwise traditionally feminine (at least in this culture) has got me to thinking about my own aesthetic, or lack thereof. I work in an office with a fair number of 20 something whippersnappers, all of whom have well styled hair, fashionable pants, belts that look like something we wore when I was in the 5th grade, and such an assortment of shoes that they seem to never wear the same pair more than once, a la Leona. I, on the other hand, am the quintessential mom - pushing 40, same shoes every day, sensible yoga pants with Land's End tunic, and it's a fine day indeed if I manage to get my makeup on before I get to the office. I didn't used to BE this way. I used to actually care.

Oh, to be sure, I was never one of those girls who read the fashion magazines to figure out which purse I'm supposed to be carrying this season. I never even thought of clothes in terms of seasons, unless it was to be aware of the fact that sweaters were for cold weather, t-shirts for warm. But last season's shoes? What the hell does that mean? You're supposed to only wear them for one year? I was never trendy, never fashionable, even when I actually would have liked to have been, but I certainly cared about how I looked when I went out of the house.

High school, college, and the subsequent years I had a strong sense of my own style. Problem is, that style wasn't something I could gracefully carry over into later years. It's hard to wear four inch platform shoes when you're toting a car seat. Equally difficult to wear a nightgown with a cardigan instead of clothes when your destination is Costco and not the local dance club. My wardrobe consisted of skanky, skankier, and so skanky I'm not even sure I can wear it without getting arrested, along with a small selection of items for work/parental visits that were completely separate from my other clothes. Now my "play" clothes are my work clothes, minus the bulky sweater that hides my tattoos in the office. I am shapeless. I am unisex, because I don't know how to be feminine without being slutty, and slutty just doesn't cut it anymore.

It's weird. I don't think I realized how much of my identity was tied up in the way I presented myself to the world until I had to present myself differently. I remember feeling like a princess, in black vinyl go-go boots and an ensemble my girlfriends still refer to as "the slip" because of transparency. It might not have been the blue ball gown and glass slippers, but I was comfortable in my skin in it, and I felt strong when I wore it. I never feel that way anymore. The best I can manage is to feel like I occasionally don't look like somebody's mom. I'd like to find my inner princess again, but I may have to settle at this point for being the fairy godmother, and hoping the Kraken chooses a ball gown she can wear gracefully into middle age.


Sugarmama said...

Do we not all go through this? I definitely feel like my vintage dresses are out of place in my life anymore. Not because they were slutty, but because they're still nevetheless utterly inappropriate for what I'm called on to do on any given day now. Snotty noses, spit-up, and needing to wrestle a toddler to the ground every hour just doesn't combine well with dark wool crepe, silk velvet, or antique lace. I'll be damned if I can give them up yet, though. Or feel like the clothes I wear now--jeans, cardigans, and knit tops--are truly ME.

Suburban Gorgon said...

Exactly, Sugarmama. Exactly.

devilish southern belle said...

Count me in with going through this as well. I think it's incredibly hard to 'find yourself' at our ages, because there is just so much to try to work around. While I have never really subscribed to anyone's sense of style but my own, I sometimes do worry that I may look ridiculous if I try to dress 'younger' than my age. Yet......I'm totally not comfortable blending in, either. As a teenager and young adult, I thought nothing of taking certain style risks. Even though I still like being edgy, it's hard to do that and hide my mom lumps & bumps. And while I don't want to just blend in with the rest, I want to be edgy, yet not so much so that people will laugh at me for trying too hard. Know what I mean?