A few weeks ago, my husband came home from work and saw me in the new lounge pants I had just purchased from Gap. I had reached the last stretch in the kids’ bedtime routines and in the middle of making baby food for the next day.
“Those pants are really cute,” he said, loosening his tie. “Oh, thanks! I just got them,” I told him. He had started to say something else, but I’d pressed the blender setting at that moment and whatever he'd been saying got lost in the loud whir of my Beaba. “Sorry, what was it you were saying?” I finally asked, after the sweet potato had been adequately pureed. He sheepishly admitted, “Well, I was saying ‘thank god’, because it’s time you burned everything else you’ve been wearing at home lately.”
My first reaction was rage of the “how dare you comment on what I wear when I’m putting our children to bed?” sort. “Do you know how many times I’ve gotten meat sauce and spit up and sticky god-knows-what on me in the past two hours alone?”
As a feminist, I took offense to being told that my Mommy Mode look was not a turn-on. Like that should even be a factor in my what-to-wear-at-home equation. I also was shocked, because frankly, I never imagined he would even have a sartorial opinion about my “at-home” look.
But once I got over the initial sting of having my fashion choices criticized, I allowed him to elaborate. He explained that lately, because of our vastly different schedules, he only sees me in my “home” clothes. He leaves for work before I’ve showered and he gets home after I’ve changed out of my daytime wardrobe. “I like seeing you look cute,” he said. Understandable. Plus, he pointed out, I’d been wearing this stuff since I was pregnant and it had been nearly a year since I’d given birth to our second son. “Do you still need to be wearing the only shirts that fit you when you were nine months pregnant?” he asked.
Before we had kids and we were both in office jobs, we would meet for a drink after work and then go to dinner (and drink some more). By the time we came home it was time for bed. I basically had one pair of Hard Tail pants (remember those?) and a slinky tank top for the rare nights I was home before eleven-o-clock.
Since becoming a mom of two, the Bedtime Look has taken on a whole new meaning. The second the boys and I return from an afternoon at the playground, I tear off whatever I’ve been wearing. Off comes the cumbersome nursing bra and on comes the flimsy triangle bra. My jeans, covered in avocado and playground muck, go straight into the wash. And if my shirt has escaped unscathed that day, I put it away, grateful to have one less thing to wash.
My at-home clothes signal an end to the day and are the first step in my evening routine that ultimately culminates in me having a little time to myself. Once this outfit is on, I know I won’t have to fiddle with any snaps to nurse my little one before he goes to bed, and I know that when I climb into my preschooler’s bed to sing him songs that I’m not bringing the filthy subway seat or playground floor in with me.
But...while there is no arguing my need for a separate wardrobe when I come home, it doesn’t mean that I should still be cycling through the same three extra-large men’s t-shirts and Old Navy wide-leg pants from my last trimester.
Now, I’m not going to be greeting my husband at the door every night with a martini while donning a sexy maid’s costume (not that that wouldn’t be a fun idea one night). But I can wear clothes that don’t say “I give up completely on being attractive” that are comfortable, too. As a realist, and as a person committed to the work that a relationship-after-kids takes, I decided to take his advice.
Clothes carry with them so many associations and memories of what we were doing when we wore them. And truth be told, the feelings of the tail-end of pregnancy and those early, sleepless, newborn days were not things I needed to hold onto anymore. It wasn’t just my husband who thought I needed a new look--I did too. I made a “burn” pile of my clothes (ok, a “donate” pile), and began Operation Wardrobe Refresh.
And that night, as I grabbed my computer to start my new wardrobe search, I told him, “I appreciate your feedback, Love. But just so you know, it’s gonna cost you.”