Thursday, April 23, 2009

Flat out confused . . .

My personal struggles with fashion and style have been addressed on this blog before. I have complained that there is no female equivalent to "khakis and a golf shirt" and, more recently, fessed up to my tendency to dress in clothes that can double as pajamas.* My comfort zone is Gap and Old Navy t-shirts, paired with comfortable bottoms: athletic pants, jeans, capris, cargos, and sometimes khakis. I have many black t-shirts.

Now, I'm not claiming that I walk around town like a slob every day. Indeed, a baseline of cleanliness and grooming is essential to my mental health as I learned after spending eight months with Baby Bub, waiting until he "napped" to get ready.*** When my hubby is not traveling, we have a system in place that allows me to get dressed and ready, child free, before he leaves for work. I'm not going to be mistaken for US Weekly moms like Katie Holmes, Reese Witherspoon, or Angelina Jolie anytime soon, but I do put on makeup and deal with my hair pretty much every day. I thought with wearing makeup and dealing with my hair most days, I was doing pretty well for myself, ntb, but I have noticed that there are other women who do these things AND also put together attractive, flattering, cute outfits. It's not that I want to compete with or compare myself to these other moms so much as that I would like to feel more put together, in control, and pleased with myself, if that makes sense.

Of late, I've started thinking that I could improve upon my personal style a bit. I thought at one point of using NTB to challenge myself and others to forego elastic waist pants for an entire week, but I didn't know if I could actually do it or what the point would be. Then, I started thinking that the answer might be to acquire some cuter shirts, either fancier t-shirts or, gasp, some tops that are not t-shirts.

Since my birthday in March, I have acquired some new shirts that, while not high fashion items, are cute and comfortable and not black t-shirts. I want these new items to be part of my weekday wardrobe, but I keep hitting a brick--or, more accurately, a rubber--wall when I go to dress each morning. I put on the nice shirt. I put on my bottoms that zip/button. Then, I have a problem. For me, there is a logical, comfortable choice of footwear for my typical, weekday, GAP brands ensemble: "tennis shoes."** But I feel stupid wearing my new shirts with tennis shoes. It does not look right so I take off the nice shirt I was thinking of wearing and pull out a t-shirt or the lightweight black pullover I wear four days a week so I can keep my tennis shoes on.

I know what you're thinking, "Oh MEP, you need some flats or maybe some Privos." I have been thinking the same thing and even experimenting with some new footwear options, but I just need some clarification on a few items:

1. Am I correct that flats are not always comfortable? That they sometimes rub up against the back of your heel all day long? That they offer little support? That they are not ideal for heaving a double stroller around town?

2. I have figured out that you are not supposed to wear socks with most non-athletic, casual shoes of the sort I see other moms with cuter outfits wearing. I get that and luckily, my dad gave me some samples he had of Peds, these little footie type socks that hide nicely in casual footwear.

2a. But if you don't wear socks, don't your feet STINK by the end of the day? Or, is that just me?

3. I have also noticed that if I put on my jeans and then try to put on a pair of flats, my jeans begin grazing the floor and collecting dust and dirt around the hem. Is this just how it goes or do other people have multiple sets of jeans of varying lengths to accommodate different types of footwear? If that's what it takes, I don't know that I can go there.

If and when spring and eventually summer weather do arrive, things will get a bit easier. I do have a few comfortable pairs of flip flops and sandals I can add to the rotation. Plus, capri pants, though much maligned by fashion experts on television, do solve the problem of the grazing hems.

Until then, I want to up my weekday fashion game, but without much pain, stink, trouble, and expense. Is that possible?

*and I do not mean that I wear lingerie tops as actual tops like some seemingly fashionable people seem to do -- I mean that I wear sweatpants all day and then sleep in them

**by that I mean running shoes, though I do NOT run

***had he napped, that might have worked


CaraBee said...

The jeans grazing the floor are just par for the course. Flats can be uncomfortable. I have a couple pairs of ballet flats that are super cute (and were quite expensive) that are SOO uncomfortable. However, I have some other flats that are a little meatier and can be worn with trouser socks. Have you considered driving mocs ( They are quite comfortable, can be worn with socks or without and are a bit dressier. I want a pair in red! If that's too Weekend in the Hamptons for you, there are also some super cute mary janes that meet the same requirements. I have both styles and alternate between them.

Bailey said...

Puma makes some cute flats that look like they would be comfortable.

I do have multiple pairs of jeans in various lengths to be worn with different heel heights but I'm obsessed with jeans. The most versatile style would be my straight legged jeans. They look good with higher heels but can be cuffed for flats and also shoved into boots.

Actchy said...

I will keep checking in on this post to see about other answers, as I am eternally wondering the same thing. I have a pair of "nice" puma-style New Balance sneakers, ones you would never use for exercise, and I pretend these are appropriate for casual afternoon outfits, but I think I'm probably kidding myself.

My mom has always said it's worth it to buy good shoes and good poketbooks. I'm so shanty Irish that while I take her advice and refuse to buy cheap shoes, I tend to just *not* buy shoes and wear those ones I have until I look like a hobo.

WPA said...

I love watching What Not to Wear to see how they dress moms in cute clothes. I find wedges very comfy shoes, and I just bought some gladiator sandals that are also cute and comfy. I'm afraid you do have to have one pair of jeans that you can wear with heels and one for flats. I hemmed my skinny jeans short, so I can wear tall boots over them or with flats. Try going to Nordstrom, where they will help you more!

E... said...

I wish I had answers to your queries. Alas, they are my same problem. Thank goodness for flip-flop weather!

Steph said...

I'm with ya on the shoe dilemma! I have another requirement - I need to be able to walk 2 miles in it. So, cute shoes that don't look like tennis shoes, but that feel like them.

I've had luck with sketchers. I have a very cute black pair and a cute brown/metalic/floral (sounds off, but it works) pair that I live in. Just got a pair of black Merrell mary jane's that are promising.

PS - I'm finally getting around to updating the links on my blog. Can I link to you?

Anonymous said...

As a physical therapist, I must say that you must have the arch support if you are going to be strolling in these shoes. They absolutely must be comfortable, with a heel cup and a low heel. They shouldn't rub ANYWHERE. I'm a fan of the Merrell Mary Janes and I've been looking at some cheaper look-alikes at Kohl's made by Naturalizer. I also tend to like shoes made by Born, but not the ones with out the heel cup. I must say, with all of this advice-giving, I'm having all the same issues, though my t-shirt of choice is the white V-neck from Eddie Bauer....I have 5 and I wear them too often. I wear my running shoes with them. I, too, am going to try to ramp it up. Not that it is a competition or anything (but if it were, I'd be losing), the ladies at the preschool my son attends all look very cute each day with jewelry and non-t-shirts and cool jeans with ballet shoes, sometimes cute matching scarves....the whole nine yards. I've been kidding myself saying, "Well, I'm sporty....that's just my style!" Good luck. Rita

Anonymous said...

Megan, I'm totally with you on this one. I always admire flats, but I've only found one pair that works for me (I'll wear them and show off sometime).

Also, my mom ingrained a love of fashion in me as I'm the only girl of 5 brothers, and it's torture. I'm on such a budget right now--so much so that when Julia was roleplaying about going to the mall, she mentioned "going to play on the playground" (nothing about shopping!). You know I'm doing well then.

I'm really struggling with shirt lengths. All my old pre-pregnant shirts are too short (and the nursing chest doesn't help), and I'm too cheap to invest in new ones.

Oh well.

Sara G.

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