Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wardrobe Worries

A Mummy in a Strange Land has been a bit neglected of late and I'm feeling bad about it. To be honest, the reasons for this neglect belong in a whole other post, but for today I have set myself a challenge to get back on track - a post a day for a week. So, dear readers, please forgive my recent laziness, and stand by me as I try to deliver something worth reading (and if you really like me, please share me with your friends ;-). Here goes...

I'm not sure how you would describe my style, but before I had a baby I definitely had a style. It was boho/primary school teacher/coordinated. I tried to style myself after Audrey Hepburn and buy classic, timeless pieces but I didn't have the budget or the class. So I dressed the way I imagined Ms Hepburn would dress if she was a 30-something, primary school teacher, who had no choice but to shop at Target in Sydney's eastern suburbs. When I was pregnant I borrowed a lot of maternity clothes, and the few pieces I did buy were basics that would last me a couple of pregnancies. I didn't care too much what I wore as long as it was comfortable and large. It was the first time in my life where I felt beautiful no matter what. My body was doing an amazing thing, I had curves in all the right places, and pregnancy seemed to suit me. I wasn't fat - I was pregnant, and I loved it. Then I had the baby and I was just fat. I hated wearing nursing tops and clothes that allowed instant access for breastfeeding. Not only were they really unflattering, but I felt like a fraud, since the whole breastfeeding thing wasn't working out. I looked like a breastfeeding mother, and the baby was a perfect reason to look so dowdy, but sooner or later I'd have to pull out a bottle and suddenly the clips on my singlet top would seem so unnecessary and irritating. Don't get me started on the fact that I couldn't button up my regular jeans for about 6 months after J was born, it was too depressing. When I finally lost the weight I packed away all of my "fat clothes" that I wore post-baby, for next time, and it felt quite cathartic. It did, however, leave me with a dilemma - what was I supposed to wear now?

I had a lot of clothes that could double as work clothes and hanging-out-on-the-weekend clothes, but they were either too nice to wear to playgroup, or stretched from being worn while I was pregnant, or not nice enough to make me feel like something more than a frumpy mummy. I had a bit of an image crisis, and I felt like I needed to seriously work on my style, or find a new one. It wasn't just the need for new clothes; it felt like I had made a massive leap towards being a grown-up and my wardrobe hadn't quite caught up. I now need pants that don't skim my hip bones, because I bend down a lot and plumber's crack in the playground is just indecent. I also need tops that don't reveal what's under them every time I pick up my son. But I want to feel attractive at the same time, and that's not as easy as you might think. My lovely friend G, mum to two gorgeous girls, revealed recently that she has the same problem. She was shopping for new jeans recently and explained what she wanted to the sales guy. He recommended she buy a pair of "Not Your Daughter's Jeans" jeans. She was mortified - they're the jeans her mum wears...

Walk into any store in HK and you'll find racks and racks of skinny hipsters in all sorts of colours and sizes. There are see-through blouses and low-cut t-shirts, all cutely cinched at the waist. The perfect outfit if you're 5' 4" and 45 kgs. Where are the clothes for the young mums with a bit of fashion sense and a longing to look their age (as opposed to looking like their mums)? I love, love, love Gap's curvy jeans. I got a little junk in my trunk and need the extra room they allow (in a size 2, thank you very much), but they only do boot-legs. Don't the curvy girls deserve a straight leg, or heaven forbid, a skinny jean too?! If any of you out there know where I can buy cute, timeless, well-made, and young-mum appropriate clothes please let me know.

I had the chance to restock my winter wardrobe a few months ago, but my summer clothes are still a work-in-progress. I have a gorgeous maternity swimsuit, and a pair of swimmers I bought last year while I was still a little heavy, but nothing remotely appropriate for wearing to the beach or pool now. So on the weekend I took the plunge and bought a bikini. Not a stringy, triangle thing, but a modest 2 piece, with extra coverage in the bottom area and extra support up top, in a colour called "grape". Now, I haven't worn a bikini since my days as a single uni student, when I spent my weekends on Coogee beach, so those who know me are probably wondering what on Earth has possessed me to go back there now that I have stretchmarks, cellulite and a muffin top? My husband tells me I have a gorgeous stomach, and I know he's biased, but this whole image crisis has got me thinking - Is my body really flawed? Or is it just my own perception of it that's flawed? I'm 32 and skinnier than I've been in 10 years. Because my bikini wearing days will soon be behind me, I thought why the hell not? Better to do it now while I still got something, than when I'm 45 and it's just embarrassing. I won't be wearing it anywhere near my child-less friends or anyone who does Pilates, but everywhere else it'll be fine. I was actually inspired when I was looking through a Victoria's Secret catalogue this weekend and spotted a picture of new mum Miranda Kerr, modelling one of this season's bikinis. Her linea nigra scar was still obvious and un-airbrushed. She's 28 and gorgeous yes, but if she can be proud of her baby-scarred body and show it off to millions of people then maybe so can I (be proud, not a bikini model, obviously).

Whether or not I'll actually wear it in public will be a different story...

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