“Clean shirt, new shoes, and I don’t know where I’m going to”
Recession chic, hobo chic, pajama chic- recently coined phrases describing a downward trend in dressing up. Hobo chic closely aligns with its precursor; boho chic, by trying to mismatch stuff so badly it somehow “works.” Ripped jeans, loosely buttoned flannel shirts, over-sized anything. Think Mary Kate Olsen on a day when she dresses, well, like Mary Kate Olsen really likes to dress.
Once again, I am out of step with fashion. After deciding to start wearing clothes publicly -- rather than shorts, caps, no makeup and running shoes -- I learned models parade down runways in pajamas and Hollywood starlets along with rich heiresses dress like paupers (excluding their thousand-dollar purses and dog carriers).
Recently while having coffee at Perk Avenue, one of Madison’s distinguished gentlemen entered. I smiled and did the goofy wave thing I seem incapable of stopping. The nice man nodded and walked toward the counter. NO RECOGNITION.
Fine. As an uber-confident, mid-40s gal, those things don’t bother me and I went right back to enjoying coffee and paper. The kindly gentleman returned. I tried some other lame “Hi” and a smile broke on his face, “Oh Jamie, I didn’t recognize you.” Pause…as he was trying to think what to say, “It’s just that I am used to seeing you with your hair up in a ponytail.” He was being diplomatic and I told don’t worry for I did have clothes on (jeans and sweater). I also added that, “I had showered.”
Just between us, it was rather early in the morning; therefore the shower comment was most probably a fib. (A teensy, very reflexive, slightly-panicked fib. The only kind an uber-confident, mid-40s gal might blurt, only if she began to experience tremors of not so uber-confidence in social conversation.)
Women who work outside the home don’t have this predicament and surely earn the right to be comfy during their weekends. But I work out of home, and it’s time for action when my children seeing me showered and dressed never fail to demand, “Who are you and what have you done with our mother?”
Bucking the hobo fashionistas, I vow to start a Madison mom chic. What do you think ladies, all showered and dressed by 8 a.m.? Well, that might cause problems. For one thing, being such knockouts, our hubbies would be utterly helpless to leave us alone resulting in nothing ever getting done and, secondly, it could take weeks for best friends to recognize each other.
No, this is a private decision between me, my closet and my will. So if you don’t see me around town and a stranger is driving my car and herding my children, I suggest you take a second look before calling missing persons.
Published in the February 19, 2009 edition.