Consumer-free gone bad…what’s a mom to wear?

Last Thursday I experienced a major drawback to consumer-free living. I stepped into my closet to retrieve an outfit for a presentation I had to give on Friday to a group at Merrill Lynch, and literally had nothing to wear. Carter came in to assist and forced me to start throwing things away. I realize how ironic this is, since this is how I typically spend my days helping my clients. He called me on all of my holey pants, hand-me-downs from my mom, even a few hand-me-downs from clients. It all had to go. Afterwards, I was left with very little.

We had our six months of no-shopping (see earlier blog posts beginning in July 2006). Prior to that, I had done some shopping, but mostly purchased comfy clothes for work and playing with the kids. I’m fully stocked on t-shirts, jeans and workout wear, but I haven’t purchased a business suit since 1997 (I ain’t lying–pleated pants and all!). I think I was on the verge of becoming one of those “I’ve let myself go” women on Oprah who start dressing in sweats every day and rarely put on makeup. I was in need of an intervention and didn’t even know it.

So to remedy my clothing emergency, I called a friend and headed to the mall at 10am on Friday (dressed in my “in case of emergency outfit” that would pass for a business meeting since my talk was at noon, but certainly didn’t make me feel fantastic) and started to shop for something groovy. I’ve personally never shopped like this before in my life. I walked into a store, found a suit, tried it on, bought it, asked the salesperson to cut off the tags, and wore it out of the store. Without even looking at the freakin’ price tag. (I do not recommend this when you’re purchasing Eileen Fisher). I then trotted off to my favorite University Mall Store, Wink, and bought a totally cool summer sweater to wear with suit of unknown cost. I won’t even fess up to the total damage–it was freakishly high. But damn did I look and feel great. And I credit that suit with an awesome presentation just an hour after I bought it off the rack.

I can’t do this on a regular basis. I don’t bank enough bucks as an organizer to come close to this kind of shopping. But I’m looking at one lean and mean closet in need of some re-stocking. I believe that every mom deserves a rockin’ wardrobe to pull out from time to time. Something a little nicer than a collection of Mossimo t-shirts in every color from Target. But I find that it’s hard to splurge on myself when there are so many other family expenses (summer camp bills to pay, house repairs to make, a new minivan in my future).

And really, at this point in my life, as I’m cruising towards 40, what is my personal style? I’m not ready to throw in the towel completely and start buying all of my shoes at Aerosole (although I did get some cute late-winter shoes there on sale earlier this year!). I REFUSE to become frump-mom. Do tell…what is your personal style? And how do you keep your wardrobe up to date without breaking the bank? If you catch me in Target, frantically tearing through the sale rack, please kindly point me in another direction!

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3 Responses to Consumer-free gone bad…what’s a mom to wear?

  1. lelly says:

    my wardrobe is soooo tired right now. i am uncomfortably aware of the fading red shirts, the too-slack black pants, scuffed shoes. there just never seems to be extra $$ left over for me after making sure my son has pants w/o holes in the knees, and the right kind of socks!! i have combed the target sales racks way to many times to count!

    i like to think that my style would be a little hip, a little modest (no muffin tops, no tube tops!), appropriate for work (‘business casual’). i’m not a big fan of ironing, and our tiny town has one tiny dry cleaner with no same-day services, so i tend to go for wash and wear, then wear again. i keep things in my closet way longer than should be allowed.

    oh, i’m woefully depressed now. congrats on a great suit!

  2. Amanda says:

    I try, but it’s hard. I’m looking forward to someday going back to work and getting to buy better clothes. For now, I mentally plan outfits and then go out shopping to try and find the pieces that fit for the best price.

    My best advice is to go check out Mary Tsao’s daily photo stream. She dresses really cute and always buys stuff at Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Ross. She’s a busy mom of two, but always manages to look great.

  3. Neva says:

    I just met a woman who manages Modern Times downtown. She told me they are opening a new store in University Mall (where the shoe store on the corner was) that is designed to cater to the “hip Mom” instead of their college student clientele in the other store. Her example was their jean line with have a slightly higher waist than their usual low cut, butt showing jeans at the Franklin st. store – but she promised they weren’t “Mom jeans”. I had to laugh. Anyway, I thought of you.
    I personally have a very hard time spending a lot of money on clothes that despite my effort get blood, guts and food all over them within days of purchase. I’ve personally given up on the cool clothes thing, but I admire your effort!

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