I used to be the gal who showed up at the office dressed to the nines every day. Vintage dresses with full skirts and nipped waists. Adorable shoes and belts. Hair that was always curled and coiffed. A rainbow of fun tights. Always fun. Always cute. Always looking good.
And the moment I got home, I couldn’t wait to unzip, undress, and get into my comfy pants. Which is probably a routine most women can relate to. Dressed up, looking great, and longing for pajama pants.
My life looks different now.
I have a 4-year-old, and I exclusively work from home (or a coffee shop). My days consist of sitting on the floor playing LEGOs, pretending I’m a zombie, sprinting after my child as he scooters around the neighborhood, and writing snappy articles from my couch. Honestly, I’m living the dream. Most days, my uniform consists of black leggings, a tank-top, and a cardigan. Real pants for me are a thing of the past.
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To some, it may appear I’ve let myself go. That I no longer make an effort. That I’ve fallen into the trope of the frumpy-dumpy mom.
Respectfully, I disagree.
One of the great freedoms I’ve found in stepping outside office culture is the joy of dressing for me. I can wear what I want, when I want, and no one can tell me otherwise. There are no rules or dress codes anymore. There is no one to impress or entice (other than my husband, and don’t worry about him, he is enticed.) I don’t need to squeeze my feet into dangerously cantilevered high heels or pinch my waist in a tight skirt to appear professional. I can wear whatever makes me feel wonderful, no questions asked.
I’ve seen a bit of a movement of moms joining real clothes challenges, which encourage them to put on pants with a zipper and a cute top and makeup even if they’re staying home with a toddler all day. If this makes a woman feel good, FANTASTIC. But if it makes her feel like she’s somehow failing because she prefers stretchy pants and a fresh face? Not cool. I, for one, think the last thing women need is another voice telling her she’s not doing enough. If I spend my day taking care of my child, doing the school run, cooking meals, working hard, earning money, and being creative, is it somehow not good enough because I wasn’t wearing lipstick?
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Here’s what I know: I am beautiful. I am desirable. I have a lovely, soft, hardworking body. And those are the least interesting things about me. I have a lot more to offer the world than my prettiness. So if I can better play a rousing game of laser tag, bounce on a trampoline, sit on the floor, and spend hours writing at my computer or painting at my desk in a comfy pair of leggings, then that’s what I’m going to wear.
Cute clothes are fun, but they work for me, not the other way around. If I have to pinch and suck and strain to squeeze into something pretty? That ain’t comfortable or cute. If I can’t wait to get out of it? Maybe next time, I won’t even get into it. Clothing is meant to be a functional part of our lifestyle, not pure decoration. (Unless you WANT it to be.) Wearing clothing and makeup you think you’re supposed to wear is patriarchy. It’s oppression. Dressing for yourself is freedom, whatever that may look like for you.
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So here’s what I’m saying:
If high heels make you feel good, WEAR THEM.
If cute jeans make you feel good, WEAR THEM.
If a full-face of makeup makes you feel good, WEAR IT.
If leggings make you feel good, WEAR THEM.
If a clean face and messy bun make you feel good, WEAR THEM.
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Wear what makes you, and only you, feel your best. And I’ll raise my mug of coffee to you in salute as I sit in my full-range-of-motion stretchy pants.