Housewife Couture Don’ts

As a homebody stay-at-homie, I’ve found that tasteful dress can go far in making me feel better and in positioning me to expect a better day. And even if the day is doomed to be crap (hello feverish whiny toddler), wearing ill-fitting clothes that make me look like Hagrid cannot possibly help. Below are some Don’ts I have compiled for myself.


  • wear a tight camisole and boxer shorts. While such an outfit might be comfortable in hot weather, I don’t want to have to rush to my bedroom to change if someone knocks on the door.
  • wear the same ratty pair of sweatpants every single day. It’s just bad for morale. (Yet I do it day after day after day.)
  • wear clothes that are tight. Life is too short; I shouldn’t squeeze myself into anything.
  • wear clothes that need safety pins to stay together. A certain pair of Husband’s hand-me-down boxers comes to mind here. Granted, I was pregnant when I wore that particular garment, but still. No more.
  • try to wear t-shirts in summer. Tank tops were made for a reason. Personally, I find the sleeves on t-shirts irritating when it is hot. I guess I’m a California girl through & through.
  • wear stained clothes. The one exception is to have some dirty-work clothes. Only wear them when doing things like painting or having food fights.
  • flash too much flesh. I am not guilty of this one (I don’t think?) but there was a particular young mother at the zoo one day, wearing a belly-baring halter top. It is not my place to judge…okay, fine. I judged. If I wear a belly-baring halter top, please judge me. But only after giving me a sweater to hide in.

Do…wear comfortable clothes that make me feel glorious. Do embrace color. Do clothe my body in soft fabrics. Do find things that fit and are flattering for my current body (not the one I had when I was twenty, not the one I had when I was twenty-five, not the one I had when I was pregnant with Z).

Do…plaster feel-good positive affirmations over every mirrored surface.

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.