My Suit of Armor

Cowboys wear tight jeans, boots with loopy embroidery, and giant silver belt buckles. Corporate executives wear suits and ties. James Bond wears a tuxedo and looks mighty fine. Chefs wear white hats and white aprons and wield spatulas. Superheroes sport spandex and capes, doctors don lab coats and stethoscopes, construction workers wear t-shirts and hard hats, and I? The writing mother?

I wear sweats.

Z knows when we’re going out because I finally put on jeans. And for some people, jeans are like, dressing down. Whenever there’s a wedding to go to, or a writer’s conference (like last Saturday and this upcoming Saturday: SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference for Nor Cal!), I’m left with a closet full of question marks. “Does this even fit anymore?” I wonder. For last weekend’s writer’s conference I must have tried on fifteen different outfits. And then, taking the all-inclusive trip into Nerdy Obsessive Land, I even got out my digital camera and took pictures of myself in the mirror. I was thisclose to uploading them on Snapfish and sending an invitation to two close friends for help in deciding what to wear when I finally got over it and figured out, “You know, I’m 29 years old. I think I can choose a professional-ish outfit. Even though none of them make me look 15 pounds lighter.”

I know that looking professional is a good thing. At least, I think it is. I actually had some success experimenting with this idea when I was a grad student at UC Davis. I’d go in for my office hours most days in jeans (sadly not sweats), a tank top, and some flip flops, and I’d do my lesson planning and work on my exam papers, and I’d play a bit of Spider solitaire here, a bit of Spider solitaire there. Towards the second half of my second year, I decided to up my professional-dress factor, and began to wear the occasional skirt. If I wore jeans, I’d top them with a blouse instead of one of my left-over-from-high-school tank tops. My Spider solitaire habit might have declined (luckily, I never kept a log of hours or games so I can’t be embarrassed now). But I noticed the change in dress, and a change in attitude. And other people noticed too. Like one of my advisors. It was a good feeling.

These days, I don’t have much reason to get dressed up (and by “dressed up” I mean something above sweats on the formal-wear continuum). I’ll toy around with some jersey dresses and leggings, just to mix things up a bit. But honestly, it takes so much more effort than grabbing the first pair of yoga pants and natty old sweatshirt I can find (usually these are the pants and sweatshirt I took off to take my shower). If we go somewhere, like the grocery store or library story time, I’ll feel like I’m exceeding expectations by swapping those yoga pants for jeans.

And as soon as we get home? Z has to wait for her milk and snack while I change back into the yoga pants.

It’s a sweet life, comfortable. But even I am starting to feel a little grubby.


  1. Dana · April 23, 2010

    Hehe, you took pictures of yourself! This is like when I needed glasses input from my friends and took pictures of myself at the glasses stores all over Davis. People thought I was insane.

    • bethhull · April 26, 2010

      You are insane, Dana dear, but I’m the same way. Besides, I liked answering your pictorial glasses survey; it was cute.

  2. Vicki R. · April 26, 2010

    I wear the same 3 pairs of jeans so much they’re actually getting holes in them – HOLES. That was very telling to me – I definitely need to lose weight. My main reason for not wearing much more than jeans & a t-shirt is because the “professional / church” clothes just don’t fit like they used to. Someone pointed out that I had a hole in the shoulder of one of my t-shirts & my first thought was, “Lady, I’ve got kids!” – like, that was justification enough for me to a) wear a t-shirt to CHURCH & b) wear a shirt out in public that had a visible HOLE in it. Lovely post 😉

    • bethhull · April 26, 2010

      Yes, Vicki, my problem is the same. My body has changed so much since I had Z (and while some moms revel in their new bodies, belly bulge & all, I am not one of those women). None of my old “nicer” clothes look the same anymore and it’s hard to find things I like right now. But I’ll soldier on…in my yoga pants.

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