with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
Photo via Boden USA
We’ve talked about what to wear to the office and what to wear to the playground, but what about what to wear to all those in-between Mom Moments, the ones where you need to make a good impression on other adults because they’re judging you as a parent? In your head, if nowhere else.
You know exactly what I mean.
I took my son to a new doctor recently, a psychiatrist, because our psychologist had recommended that we think about putting him on medication for his anxiety (he has Asperger’s syndrome, and worries about everything). This is the type of parenting moment that typically leaves me standing in my closet hyperventilating, because it’s so much bigger than the usual what-should-I-make-for-dinner dilemma I face every day. My coping mechanism is to overthink what I’m wearing, which goes right along with my tendency to overthink every parenting decision. In my head, a visit to a new doctor requires the perfect outfit, one that says Responsible Parent without saying Mom Who Can’t Cope. Or, as my friend Chris put it, “You don’t want to be too dressed up, because then it looks like you’re only thinking about yourself, but you don’t want to be too dressed down, because then you look like you’ve given up.”
What exactly is the dress code for that day?
On our first visit to the psychiatrist, I wound up wearing my running clothes; we had a rough morning and a shower just didn’t fit into my schedule. I may also have been wearing a baseball cap — it was not my finest sartorial moment, but it shouldn’t have made any difference in how the doctor saw me. Right?
I had a tense meeting with the doctor that day, and while I’m not saying it necessarily had anything to do with what I was wearing — after all, we were discussing what kind of medication my 10-year-old would need and what the side effects might be and how much, if it all, it would help him — I found myself wishing I had worn something else. Or at least not that ball cap.
The next time we saw the doctor, I wore a skirt and a t-shirt and some cute shoes — my usual Thursday uniform. And our meeting? Went much better.
When my husband and I have kid-related appointments, he typically comes directly from work, which means he’s dressed for the office. I come from home, which means I’m dressed for carpool. And despite the fact that I’m frequently the one who will manage whatever it is we’re there to talk about — medication or homework or karate — my husband often looks more prepared for the meeting. Because, of course, my job has no dress code for these kind of moments.
We all have Mom Moments where what we have on seems super important — school interviews, doctors appointments, first encounters with coaches and counselors. In each of those moments, we worry that we will be judged by the way we present ourselves — or, worse, that our kids will be judged by the way we present ourselves. In a corporate environment, the concern is that clients will make a decision about our skills based on how we look, but as moms, that worry is more personal. It’s not about how well we can crunch numbers or write software or market a product; it’s about how we’re doing as parents.
And no, I’m not saying that a cute dress makes you a better mother, or that yoga pants — or a baseball cap — make you a slacker. What I’m saying is that in certain moments, particularly when our kids are in trouble or are struggling, looking your best can make you feel a little more like you’ve got things under control. But finding that outfit can be tough, because there’s no dress code for Difficult Mom Meetings.
What do you wear when you have to go to one of Those Meetings? Do you worry about it? Or just go in what you have on?
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