I have started dressing up. I wear make-up every day, I curl my hair sometimes after a bath. I make sure my jeans are clean and I stopped wearing the baggy ones. I dragged my son to a store with fun jewelry. And, I think, also, that I might buy $400 boots at Nordstrom. I want a pair that’s brown.

New York magazine wrote this week about why women are dressing up at work. Because pencil skirts are fun, of course. But also because now that women are out-earning men (in their 20s, before they have kids), women feel no compulsion to dress like men. Suits are out. Frills are in.

I go to Forever 21 and buy frills. I am too nervous to buy them at Nordstrom because I worry that if this is a passing passion, I will soon stop dressing up every day.

But I worry that I will start looking old and tired and overwhelmed by my kids. Because if you look that way, it’s a pretty fair chance that you are that way. And I want to have zing. I want to be excited in my head, and I think part of being excited in your head is showing it on your body. I think, really, that’s why women wear frills to work.

And I think that’s what I’ll tell my son next time he says, “Mom, are you putting on lipstick because the skateboard teacher is your boyfriend?”

7 replies
  1. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    You may not be able to hide overwhelmed under makeup and clothes, but I find people react differently to me when my hair and dress are good and that changes the entire feel of an interaction.

  2. karelys
    karelys says:

    my mom was a stay at home mom for the longest time. and she’d dress up most days. we’d ask why and she’d say “cause i like to look pretty for you and your dad.”

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. This is lovely. I want to do this. I want to say it to my boys. It’s funny, it’s sort of a 1950’s throwback, but it’s also an honest assessment of what matters to a guy in a marriage. Not that this is all that matters, but caring about this stuff, I have a feeling, helps.

      Penelope

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    It’s so easy when you’re home all day to just not bother getting dressed or make any effort to look good and it can become a really bad habit. I found that I was doing this my first year homeschooling. One day my MIL showed up unexpectedly to drop something off and I was so embarrassed because the kids and I were still in pajamas in the middle of the afternoon. Now I make it a point to shower and dress like I would if I were going out right away even when I’m not. I makes me feel better about myself and its better for my marriage as well. Nobody wants to live with someone who looks like a slob all of the time.

  4. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I find that I think and feel better when I am comfortable. Some days that means I stay bundled up in my PJs all day and sometimes I get dolled up. It also doesn’t matter to me that my husband (who works from home) spends most of his days in shorts and t-shirts either. I guess I just don’t see the correlation?

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Umm … can we lose the word “should” in the title? You wrote a whole post on that subject recently. Also I wanted to find something relevant for you to read so I searched for the phrase “aging gracefully” because I think you’re having a mid-life crisis or something. Maybe not. Should I duck? But anyways, I found this article in your favorite newspaper – the New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/fashion/15French.html?pagewanted=all . I liked these two sentences at the end of the article – “Françoise Sagan once wrote, “There is a certain age when a woman must be beautiful to be loved, and then there comes a time when she must be loved to be beautiful.” And many Frenchwomen seem to be well loved as they get older — by their tight-knit families, their friends and, perhaps most importantly, themselves.”

  6. TR
    TR says:

    My boss lets me work one day a week at home (which helps give my wife a break from the kids) and I briefly toyed with the idea of just working in whatever clothes I felt comfortable in (mainly an old t-shirt and sweat pants) but my mind never felt as sharp when I was wearing that. I don’t really like to dress up per say but I do wear just enough “work” clothes to make it feel like what I am doing is interesting and important.

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