My Descent into “Mom Jeans”


mom jeans

Those are my jeans.  True- classic mom jeans they are not.  They are not two sizes too big or stone-washed but I wear them almost every single day and therefore- they might as well be.  Also, they have holes growing in the inner thighs.  Given the holes, it is unlikely that any of those white sneakered, classic-mom-jean types would even deign to put these on. So why do I?  How did this happen to me?  How did I go from someone with at least a little style, sass and pizazz to someone so predictable and frumptastic?

holey jeans

Black stockings underneath help camouflage holes?

Many years ago, when I was in my twenties and my little sister was still in her teens we sat together in a park and watched too many moms hurry by in poorly fitting jeans or, even worse, oversized sweats.  We swore that no matter our life path we would never allow ourselves to “frump out” like that.  “Never,” we said- “NEVER!  Avoid the frump!” We vowed to be brutally honest, if necessary, should one of us start down that path.

Recently, I received a package in the mail.  It was from my little sister.  It contained a new pair of black boots and a note that said- “it is time to throw away your hobo shoes.”  She had not forgotten our talk.  And she was taking action.

hobo shoes

My “hobo shoes”

Some people could care less about style or fashion and might find this post shallow.  To them I say- “Fantastic, you are being authentically you.  Keep at it.  Keep your mind on loftier things- as you prefer to do.”  However, I believe style matters.  And it matters in most things- from what font you use when you format your resume; to how you link words together; to what color you choose to paint your front door.  All of these things are expressions of self and, yes, they are artifice too.  But even artifice can be authentic.  You’ll know when it is authentic because it will feel right. It will ring true.  As a fellow character described Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s– “She is a phoney, but she is a real phoney.”

So, back to the question, how did I get here?  How did I- someone who once enjoyed both the sensual pleasure of feeling good in my clothes and the self-expression of dressing to impress end up with pretty much nothing to wear but a pair of holey jeans and boots?

I blame several factors for my demise:

I got pregnant and had a baby. I quit my job to stay at home. I experienced postpartum anxiety and depression.  I am inherently frugal and this trait is grossly exaggerated when I am not making any money.  I briefly got back to my pre-pregnancy weight and then I quit breasting feeding- rapidly putting on twelve pounds. I simply must see, feel, and try on clothes before I purchase them and it is challenging to do so with an energetic toddler.

Let’s look at some of these factors a little more closely:

Pregnancy– Who the hell is going to spend any real money on clothes during pregnancy? All I bought was a couple of key pieces to tie together all the hand-me-downs I collected.  And even if you have the cash to drop or you simply must invest in maternity clothes for professional reasons- you’re not wearing them after you have the baby.  And thank god!  So passes nine months of no true wardrobe enhancements.

Postpartum anxiety/ depression–  I was never diagnosed but if you find yourself feeling nervous almost all the time or crying endlessly you might want to talk to a professional.  I probably should have the day I spent one of my daughter’s naps crying because being a mom meant I could no longer kill myself… if I wanted to.

I remember thinking- “sure my family and friends would miss me- but that is nothing compared to leaving my daughter motherless.”  There were several months in which all I felt capable of doing was caring for my daughter.  I was too sleep-deprived to even realize what was happening.  Some women have a hard time bonding with their newborn when they experience this. I am just so grateful that during those months, in the midst of all the worry, I was still able to bond with my daughter.  I was able to focus on her and be happy and present- when I held her.  I was able to feel (and share with her) the joy of having her in my life- but not much else. Usually, when they’re that little it is actually easier to get out of the house and get things done but, at this time, I was not shopping for new clothes.

The convergence of frugality and body discontent– Combine almost two years of very few new purchases and then add weight gain into the mix and what you have is a woman with nothing to wear.  People say they have nothing to wear all the time but they are lying.  I am not lying. The few nice things I did buy or had left over just don’t fit.

Here is the crux of the problem- I do not accept my current body and I HATE to waste money.  Why would someone with no income (AND aggressive financial goals) spend money on a bunch of clothes they have no intention of fitting into in six months?  I consider myself a feminist and I honestly believe that women are beautiful in all sizes and shapes.  Other women.  I, however, want to be 12 pounds thinner and in decent- if not great shape. I have no desire to be a skinny mini.  I’ve never been one and I am cool with that.  I just need to stop eating massive amounts of food (seriously, I eat massive amounts of food!) and start sweating again.  Physically, I just don’t feel like myself.

Not feeling like myself makes it so much more difficult to find clothes I feel good in and love.  As a frugal shopper, those are the ONLY clothes I like to buy.  I’ve always taken a lot of time to shop but now the process is depressing and more time consuming than ever.  I guess I gave up.  I just stopped going to places where one could shop for clothes. (Please note- this is how hobo shoes happen.)

I could never get away with this if I had a job. For me, this is the biggest problem with being a stay-at-home mom. There is no way I would ever go into a professional office in the exact same outfit every single day.  I would make the time to find at least a few new things even if I didn’t absolutely love them. The other parents at playgroup might wonder what the hell is going on but they can’t choose not to promote me or hold me back from meeting with important clients.  If I had a paid job I would be forced out of this self-imposed bind.

Just to further highlight my craziness- I’m sure you are wondering about my husband and he definitely doesn’t approve.  I am sitting on a nice sized gift card that he gave me, and I don’t need his permission or approval to spend more money either.  He’d be happy if I did.  And frankly, I owe it to him.  Monogamy is hard enough.  Must I always wear the same thing?  It is ridiculous.

Every woman’s journey into “mom jeans” is a little different.  This is mine. It is up to me to revive my style.  I simply must.  I miss that sparkley feeling. This is no way for a sassy, if frugal, fashionista to live.

I haven’t managed to wear these down to the bone and they still fit me- maybe I should wear them to playgroup on Monday?

sassy heels

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  1. Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Wear those babies to playgroup! I, and so many other stay-at-home moms, can relate to everything you have written here: the frugality, the resistance to frumpiness, the erosion of resistance by exhaustion, postpartum depression, and finances, the succumbing to frumpiness, and (most importantly) the rising up out of it when you decide enough is enough. Last year, after 9 years at home as a sahm, I finally resolved to update my wardrobe. We set aside money and bought basics that made me feel good and that can be dressed down for at home and dressed up for outings. I started doing things that cost little but made a big difference, like blowdrying my hair and keeping my nail polish fresh (or removing it as soon as it started chipping).

    It’s not shallow to take care of your appearance, it is self-respect. And self-respect is one of the deepest, most fundamental qualities a healthy person possesses – and passes down to her children. I hope you take some time for yourself and go use that gift card – have fun with it!

    • Banana
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Andrea, Maybe I should! Thank you so much for your feedback! This was a great challenge! Honing in on one thing can really expose a lot. I definitely learned a few things in the process. I learned for example that perhaps I need a full length mirror. Haha!
      I definitely do need to take a structured approach to the problem, first with some basics and then adding flair- as fun things strike me. Also, focusing on little things that make a big difference is a great idea!!!
      And, yes, our children are watching us- taking care of ourselves is so important!!!
      Monday is Daddy-daughter day. I am going shopping on Monday! 🙂

  2. Posted March 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Love this! Some days those perfect jeans are the only armour I need to face the day. I think it is some mysterious existential Mom-thing.

    • Banana
      Posted March 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Christie!

  3. Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    love this post. And I can definitely relate. I had worked full-time and stopped and became a SAHM when my son was 3 1/2. About 2 years into that, the frumpiness started settling in, so I finally made the changes and have stuck to them. Looking and feeling your best doesn’t solve all your problems or confidence issues, but hey, at least I can now cross that off the list of things to worry about. I have to laugh at the ripped jeans and holey boots as I’m wearing my old standby-Frye engineer boots held together w/duct tape inside, and all my jeans have frays at the bottom, and most of my shirts end up w/holes in the elbow…I try to hide them, but where I live in VT, I’m still probably considered stylish….if I lived in a city, not so much…go spend that gift card and take some time for yourself. Staying home is hard, and you deserve it….

    • Banana
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Hi Robin, In my opinion, old Frye boots are always stylish and cool! Being a SAHM turned out to be more challenging than I thought it would be. I have gotten into a groove with it but I am definitely thinking about my next move. I love your post about returning to work. The beginning actually brought tears to my eyes. I look forward to following you.

      • Posted March 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I’m so glad that post moved you–I still can’t seem to read it w/out tearing up either! This has been an interesting month w/transition. Sounds like we are both so similar…, I’m glad we connected and look forward to getting to know you and your writing too!

  4. Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Beginning with a ‘shallow’ subject like mom jeans to an emotional journey of womanhood, well done and thanks for stopping by.

    • Banana
      Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Marissa! Love your blog!

  5. Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    My kids are much older now, and I do work, albeit not in a swank office or anything, but I still cling to the old standby of Dansko clogs, good well worn jeans and a T. I keep trying to venture out into the fashion arena, but I too hate to spend the money because i will (eventually) lose those last few pounds. Someday….Thanks for the post, it totally hit home here too!

    • Banana
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Hi! Thank you for checking out my blog! Yeah- those darn last few pounds! Maybe buy yourself a few fun things that will fit you no matter what happens…. Perhaps some fun new flats are in order for spring? I think they are for me.

      • Posted March 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        i didn’t see a follow button on your blog, but i am new around here so it could be me. I’d love to follow 🙂

        • Banana
          Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          Hi! Thank you so much! I am new to this as well. If you are signed into when you read my sight I think that you can follow me through WordPress that way. I have some different following options- I guess I need to figure out how to have the WordPress Follow link up on my page. I thought I did. I’ll let you know. Best!

  6. Posted March 22, 2014 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    I vote for keeping the jeans, holes and all. It’s like comfort food. You need it. But also go out and use that gift card!

    I work and I still frump out. Mostly because I am holed up in my office all day and don’t see people. I seriously only see the 7 people I work with, who all know me well enough not to judge. Getting the kids ready and off to school leaves me no time in the morning for primping. I have a pair of black pants that I call my “uniform pants” because I wear them almost everyday. When I have to venture into another office, I’m like, “Damn, I have to put makeup on!”

    As you know, this winter was so terrible in Jersey that I went for a solid three month stretch wearing my Doc Martens, circa 1993, ONLY. WITH EVERY WORK OUTFIT. I just did not care. (I did keep a pair of shoes under my desk in case I had to venture). I’m trying to break away from the Docs, but in the meantime, my mom just bought me a pair of these fleece sweatpants things, and they are so comfortable that I may decide to live in them.

    • Banana
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      This winter was BRUTAL- and as a parent completely disgustingly too long- I can’t blame you at all for the Doc Martens! I would consider keeping the jeans like comfort food but given the location of the holes- the inner thighs- it is starting to get a little inappropriate. A bit too much inner thigh skin exposed at playgroup. I actually started wearing black tights under them to make it less noticeable. No- I’ve gotta trash them!
      As for the fleece sweats is your Mom trying destroy you? Just joking- as long as you keep them in the privacy of your own house I think you’ll be okay. Actually, all that REALLY matters is that you feel good. Wear them wherever the heck you want! I feel I need to change up my style because it is making me feel like I have lost something I used to enjoy.
      Also as a SAHM- I have mad respect for working out of the house Moms/ Parents. Getting out the door without having strict deadlines can being challenging enough. Seriously- it sometimes takes me 45 minutes to get my nudist toddler to put on a pair of pants!

  7. Posted May 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh I hear you! I like comfort clothes, but I do like style (my own version) and I’m greedy so I think you can have both. I’ve built up a stock of (mostly secondhand, because I too am frugal) clothes that do both, including at larger sizes. But seriously, they are ALL in stretch material.

    • Banana
      Posted May 5, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chaos Girl, Thank you for checking out my blog! I definitely think one can have both style and frugality but I think it takes a bit more effort and creativity. Fortunately, I think I am beginning to get mine back- creativity and style that is. Feeling good about your body helps a lot too. I need to start running. I look forward to poking around your blog some more…

      • Posted May 5, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        You’re absolutely right – and there are times when creativity is at zero. Especially with little burglars around your feet! I have one myself. I can completely relate to taking forever to do basic things. Lol I’m trying to convince myself to pack the Burglar in a stroller and get out for a walk right now! Running is beyond me…..

        • Banana
          Posted May 6, 2014 at 12:13 am | Permalink

          I tried to go for a “walk-run” with my daughter in the stroller. I say walk-run because I am too out of shape to just run without also walking a this point. But- what a joke! She is a toddler and liked it for a few minutes then kept saying- “I want to run too! I want to run too.” We ended up at a park with me trying to run wide circles around her. I guess it was better than nothing but… I haven’t attempted again. I think it would be more pleasurable experience to get out on my own. Scheduling….

          • Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:13 am | Permalink

            Ooh…yeah….luckily this one is still content to sit and look. In fact, I blackmailed myself into going out by mentioning the “w” word to her, because I knew once it had been said, she’d drag me out by my big toe if I reneged! Ah, I feel for you.

          • Banana
            Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:19 am | Permalink

            Smart move Mama… I bet you feel better for getting out of the house!

      • Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:02 am | Permalink

        Plus, you know, it helps not being too fussy (I mentioned my {own} version of style)…..Your blog doesn’t seem to have a follow button? but I’m following yours by email 🙂 Thoughtful posts!

        • Banana
          Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:17 am | Permalink

          True! Thank you for the email follow!!! I’ve been told I don’t have a follow button and I haven’t figured out how to get it. However, some people are, nevertheless, following me through WordPress. I guess they must be signed in? I am going to try to figure this out. I am not seeing anything obvious in my JetPack. I may post a question to the community pool… I am glad you found my blog!

          • Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:53 am | Permalink

            Hm – I’m signed in. Maybe I’m not seeing it and it’s there, but – I’m just not seeing it! It is a different Widget to the email follow widget – do you have them both in your sidebar?

          • Banana
            Posted May 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

            Hi, Thanks. I cant seem to see my site through the WordPress reader either. I’ll check the email widget to see if it is there. Thanks!

  8. Posted June 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the follow! I enjoyed this post. I had my first baby just as I was finishing grad school, so I hadn’t actually bought new clothes for about 5 years. And that was before my version of the saga you relate. I’m glad I felt too “in the trenches” to worry about it at the time. (Plus, I was living in Berkeley, so the look wasn’t only for moms ;).) If it’s any comfort, I finally trimmed down once my kids were in school, and I got a good night’s sleep regularly. And at that point we were no longer dual grad students, so I did some serious shopping. I wish I had learned something back then that serves me well now: skirts are more forgiving than jeans. And they come in plenty of casual, washable styles. With black tights and boots, I’m all set. Or flat sandals in the summer. Maybe find some good skirts now, that will still fit 12 lbs lighter?

    • Banana
      Posted June 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lara, I am happy to have found your blog. I looked forward to poking around some more and reading more articles. Very interesting and thoughtful stuff! Also, good advice about the skirts… I am definitely more likely to buy something that will still look good if my weight changes.

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