Small Differences: Mom Uniforms

I have noticed a definite trend among the mothers I see at school drop off and pick up time or the mothers who are pushing carts around the supermarket.  By and large they dress in an almost identical way and it seems that the donning of yoga pants to do things other than yoga is compulsory.  These moms do not appear to have poor personal hygiene so I am assuming they each have multiple pairs of identical yoga pants making up a considerable proportion of their wardrobe.  The yoga pants are usually black but some non-conformists wear grey.  I did see one very daring mother sporting purple yoga pants once.  But just the once.  The yoga pants are often worn combined with a long- or short-sleeved t-shirt or hooded top and I have noticed that often a key accessory to this mom uniform is an insulated flask, especially in the mornings.

I have no objection to yoga pants.  I’m a big believer in the principle that if you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing then you should wear it.  It is, however, not a uniform I will be wearing any time soon.  Or ever. Other people might feel comfortable and confident wearing yoga pants out in public but I just would not.  I actually own two pairs of yoga pants: one pair are old and I wear them when doing grubby household chores; one pair look good as new and are reserved for exercising in.  I am definitely comfortable in them but I would not wear them out in public because, quite frankly, I don’t look very good in them.  Have you ever seen a black pudding bursting out of its skin?  That’s what I look like in yoga pants.  Which has probably more than a little something to do with the fact that my exercising yoga pants look good as new.  I would not feel confident wearing them out among other people, hence I do not wear them other than in the privacy of my own home.  

While I shall not be filling my wardrobe with yoga pants, I do, however, feel that my own “mum uniform” needs tweaking a bit since I moved here.  I don’t think that is because I am no longer in Scotland and America demands a different style; I think it is more because my mum uniform developed over a decade living in a rural location whereas now I live in suburbia.  If you have been following my blog long enough to have caught a glimpse of me in the photos then you will have seen my uniform because I really do wear variations on the same thing every single day.  My staple item is jeans.  No, not those horrible high-waisted, pleated fronted “mom jeans” (I judder at the memory).  Just standard blue denim jeans, sometimes bootcut, sometimes wide legged, mostly just standard.  I then pair these with a long- or short-sleeved t-shirt or maybe – if I am going smart casual – a tunic top of some kind.  I even tend to go for the same colours over and over, either neutral colours or peacock jewel colours.  My footwear is seasonal but is a rotation of walking sandals, walking shoes and walking boots.

I was always a tomboy, have always been a bit of a scruff, don’t follow fashion, don’t wear make up or dye my hair and admit to being pretty lazy when it comes to my appearance.  Living in a rural area of Scotland, therefore, suited me down to the ground because my “style” (you can go ahead and snort at me referring to it in that way) was practical for my surroundings and was in keeping with what my friends all wore because we were all being practical. The walk to school was half an hour so I wasn’t ever going to do that in stacked heels even if we imagine I can walk in anything other than flats.  A lot of the places where I walked were damp and muddy.  A pair of suede ballet pumps were never going to cut it.  Jeans, of course, started out as work wear so are eminently practical for all sorts of environments and they can also withstand a great deal of washing.  I moved to Argyll at approximately the same time as I became a mother so the two influences, rural setting and parenthood, evolved and cemented my style.  Gone were the skirts and pretty tops from my days as a High School teacher and on with the jeans and tunic tops (easier for breastfeeding and for not having to buy maternity clothes – wise investment since I was either pregnant or breastfeeding for 8 years).

When we travelled into Glasgow was when I became more acutely aware of the fact that I had adopted a style somewhat out of kilter with my urban counterparts.  There I would see perfectly groomed, fashionable women in stacked heels pushing immaculate, pristine buggies (strollers) around the city centre.  Meanwhile I was in my scrubbed up version of my mum uniform (meaning checking that the jeans I was wearing were perfectly clean and as devoid of fabric skuffing at the hems as possible) and my baby was being pushed around in a buggy that was splattered with mud from walks along the canal bank or a forest trail and battered and buckled from being shoved in the boot (trunk) of the car on long journeys or thrown around in the belly of an aeroplane.  However, my look was justified by my home environment and, of course, I was comfortable.  Comfort always comes first for me.

But now I am living in American suburbia and maybe I need to revise and edit my style again.  Certainly I don’t need to limit myself to sturdy walking footwear anymore.  I now even own a pair of plimsolls with sequins on them.  My hair is still scruffy but I am cool with that.  My hair is bad and I have a phobia about hairdressers so my hair is never going to be anything other than scruffy.  But maybe I could explore broadening my wardrobe beyond the staples that have been my mum uniform for the past eleven years.  I still want to be comfortable and confident and feel like me, of course, so I don’t think there is going to be any massive makeover, just a few tweaks here and there as I gradually replace old, worn out clothes with new bits and bobs.  I may even start to wear more of my jewellery again since I have a pretty reasonable collection that I barely ever wear these days.

I definitely won’t be wearing yoga pants in public though.  Never.  The world is a better, happier place without that in it.

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5 thoughts on “Small Differences: Mom Uniforms

  1. I got a good chuckle out of this today Laura ;P And I will admit to being an avid supporter of ‘The Mom Uniform’ as you call it. I’m sure you know, climate plays a huge role in what we wear, in addition to comfort (first on my list too), and convenience. As a woman who had her children later in life (I’ll be almost 60 before the youngest is old enough to leave home), and the fact that two of my 3 sons are homeschooled (the youngest is in his last year of public school – you can imagine the excitement around here these days) I allowed myself to get into a very comfortable place with my wardrobe. I tell myself it was out of necessity, but really, I know it was just me being lazy. Black, gray, brown, and white all go together, there is no thought involved, and it was an easy carry-over from my days in law offices to stick with the same colors.

    So this year, I decided that I needed a little style update. Of course I couldn’t wear the short, sassy styles of my pre-baby days, or the sophisticated, dressy ones from my days as a paralegal, and forget about heels – not only are they impractical, they are NOT comfortable and they’re really bad for your body. It was then that I realized that I had to get a grip on the whole ‘fashion’ thing so that I wouldn’t become a slave to what I thought I should be wearing. I needed my own style.

    I’m happy to say that I have found my warm and fuzzy place around my wardrobe. It still involves skirts (which I’ve always loved wearing), some groovy winter boots, summer sandals, and flats (low or no heels on all of them), and lots of feminine tops (even my tees have feminine necklines and cuts). I keep ONE pair of high heels, just in case, and I figured if my 100 year old Grandmother can still get up, groom herself, do her hair and minimal make-up, and put on her jewelry every day to sit in her rocking chair and watch cooking shows…. so can I :))

    I really enjoyed your post on this, thanks for sharing your thoughts and HUGE kudos to you for managing everything you do with FOUR boys! ❤

    • Thanks so much for your lovely reply, Patricia! Your grandmother sounds like a very inspirational lady. My “mum style” definitely grew out of practicality in the environment I lived in but it’s also true I’m pretty lazy with my appearance. I definitely need to try new things and maybe even just out my old things together with a bit more finesse. And I definitely need to begin wearing more of my jewellery again now that the boys are old enough to not be pulling on things. Indeed, I’m going to go and put a necklace on right now. Carpe diem.

      Kudos to you for homeschooling. I homeschooled my kids for the period between leaving our home in Scotland and getting on the plane to move here. As a teacher, I had the skills required but as a mother I did not have the patience required – largely because my boys were used to having more of a break from each other. Perhaps I could have made it work if we were doing it long-term as the transitory nature of the enterprise may have been a factor. I usually homeschool them over the summer to stop educational recidivism but it’s usually in the form of a fun project.

      Thanks again for stopping by my blog. 🙂

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