I love to read the blog of the lovely Mrs. Beguiles. I love her approach to fashion, to the challenges of looking put together on a small budget and with young children. My 'anti frump' statements are too well known to repeat here. But I do understand the big challenges for a mom with young children to look 'nice'. This last year has been pretty difficult for me, with a high needs infant and a three year old trying to cope with the endless crying, with no family or very close friends living nearby.
For me, my biggest challenge has simply been to find the energy to care. Some days I barely had the energy to get my children and myself dressed. But somehow, the days that I did manage to get 'all dressed up' ended up to be days in which I felt better. In which the day seemed to go more smoothly. And in which I reflected back at the end that it just been a 'better' day. Now with 'all dressed up' I do not mean that I wear stilleto heels and a ballgown, or look ready to attend a royal wedding. But being clean (come on, you too have had those days where it is noon and you realize you haven't even brushed your teeth!), having my hair neat and tidy, wearing something nice, and if possible even a touch of make up.... it just makes me feel better.
I know that my children seem to find an outfit in which I feel nice as a challenge. Nothing predicts a diaper blow out, from the baby on your hip, more surely than a clean dress that makes you feel happy it seems. But well, if the icky stuff had happened on a pair of old yoga pants, we'ld have to change as well, right? So what is the difference? Don't we want to feel happy and pretty? And if your answer is "I just don't care how I look" we might think about the effect of that on the people closest to us. Wouldn't we want to be a 'sight for sore eyes' for our husband and children, even if it is amidst an interior of oatmeal crusted plastic kids furniture instead of a pottery barn catalogue?
Over the years I have found a few tricks to keep the frump contained. Practical little things that help me out on the days that I just don't have the energy to think.
First of all, the enemy of a clean and happy exterior is clutter. Yes.. your wardrobe. You may think that you need to buy the new and happy, pretty clothes first, and then you will get rid of the ones that make you look like you are pregnant. Even when you are not. I will let you in on a little secret. I wore my pregnancy jeans way past pregnancy. I am not just talking about those first weeks past giving birth, but well.. way too long. It didn't look pretty. It didn't make me feel pretty. One day I had an epiphany. I looked at all my pregnancy clothes. Which ones did I really like? Which ones had been a blessing during this pregnancy and make me feel good and were still in good condition? I boxed those up. The rest, I put in a bag for Goodwill and hoped that a pregnant woman might find herself blessed with them. All of a sudden I discovered a lot more of my pre pregnancy clothes that fit again, but that had been hiding or that I hadn't dared to try on again. A few days later, I looked back into that closet and took another decision. What are the clothes that still fit really well, or are so close to fitting again that it is really worth it. (That size six dress was just not going to happen the next week.) Now be realistic. Which clothes that do not fit are really worth keeping? Are you currently in the process of actually losing weight? IS it working? If so.. chose only the things that you will really LOVE wearing when you are that size. Don't keep things that were from another youthful age as trophy clothes, or to taunt you about not losing enough weight. The few clothes that you do not really fit in but want to keep, either box them, or keep them to one side. (no more than five outfits.). All the rest put it in a bag right away and put it in the garage.
You now will be left with a lot less clothes, and you will be suprised that within that smaller lot, there is more that you actually want to wear. You may not believe it, but you won't actually have to run around naked if you throw out that pair of ratty jeans or that faded pair of yoga pants. You will find that you have bought those few things over the years that actually make you look pretty. And that you can cook and clean in them just as well. And the next time you have the time (and energy) to go shopping, whether at a thriftstore, target, the mall or a high end boutique.. you will have an easier time in rejecting clothes that won't flatter you, just the way you are now.