style

It's cool and rainy today, which is nice for the garden and much-needed by area farmers, but it sure fouled up our plans to go to fimming lessons this morning. I actually went so far as to get us all changed into suits and put a little sunscreen on our cheeks and noses, but once we got to the pool and saw all the kids climbing out blue-lipped and shivering, I decided that hypothermia would not be on the agenda for today, so we turned around and went home. I'm pretty sure we weren't the only ones; all the instructors were standing in the water, waiting for their no-shows, while one said through chattering teeth "The water in the pool is warm. Really!" She wasn't very convincing.

The kids are taking naps after a morning cooped up in the house, and I'm grateful for a little down time. I can't knit when there's nothing else going on. I need to be watching TV or talking with someone or watching the kids. I should be embarking on one of the many cleaning/re-organizing projects I have lined up, but I just can't bear the thought, so here I am blogging instead.

I'm thisclose to finishing a couple things. The Classic 150 cardigan just needs the sleeves sewn in and the short-row collar completed, but I'm having a devil of a time picking up the right number of stitches for that, plus every time I picked it up earlier this afternoon someone stubbed a toe or needed a snack, so I put it down in exasperation. Maybe I can finish that off tonight. And Sassymetrical is done and blocked and it's very cute and just needs a clip or pin to hold it shut before I can actually wear it. I'm not giving it FO status until then, but here's a crappy self-portrait of it to give you an idea:



All this brings me to the title of today's post. I never had much sense of style. I went to high school in the mid-1990s, the era of grunge, and this worked to my favor. Jeans, sloppy t-shirts and over-sized flannel was in, and that's what I wore a lot of the time. I got lucky, I guess, because if I were in high school now I'd be a fashion disaster. Skinny jeans and tunics do not suit me. Now I am a 30yo stay-at-home-mom, and most days my fashion criteria consist of the following questions: 1) Is it clean? and 2) Is it weather appropriate? Matching is optional. Most of my shirts, if clean, are stained. I was hanging up something in my closet this morning and I noticed that most everything in there is black, white, or some other dark/bright color like red or deep fuchsia. Everything is plain, like me.

That's okay except that sometimes I think it would be nice to dress like the models in the Rowan magazines with their flowing skirts and breezy linen trousers and white gathered shirts with ruffles - not too many - in just the right places. (Of course, it would be nice to float about in English gardens and on romantic coastlines all day, too, but that's another fantasy.) There are three problems with this, though. 1) Everything I wear gets stained with food or dirt, 2) I would feel ridiculous dressing nice just to go to the park and grocery store and other mom/kid hangouts, 3) I feel ridiculous in stylish clothes. If it's more elaborate than a black or white v-neck t-shirt with Old Navy jeans (they're cheap and they fit, yo), it feels too daring to me. I think someday when I have a reason to dress up a little more (like if I get a real job sometime in the future), I should find a shopping buddy to help me out. Because the other problem is that as plain as I dress, I hate clothes from places like Land's End and Eddie Bauer; it just feels so...so suburban to me. I might as well drive a minivan and vote Republican. (My apologies to any minivan drivers out there reading this; I know you aren't all Republicans, but I just have this ingrained hate for minivans for some reason.)

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to knit for myself at all if I'm just as happy wearing such boring old stuff. I look like anybody else, and I truly don't care if I stand out. I suppose that's one reason I knit for other people a lot of the time (though lately my knitting has been mostly selfish). I guess one reason I'm even thinking about what I wear this much is that it speaks to some of the identity issues I've been having lately. I finished my doctorate a year and a half ago when Anya was born. I did not look for a job then, and I'm not looking for one now, partly because of the economy, but mostly because I want to stay home with my kids for the time being. They need it, and to be honest, I do too. But it's hard, really hard, to all but give up (or postpone, whichever it may be) a career track that defined so much of me for so long. I still play piano for things that come along locally, but that's not the same as really pursuing a collaborative piano career. I'm not looking for reassurance here; I know I've made the right decision for me and my family right now. I'm not second-guessing that choice.

But sometimes when I look in my closet and see that I have exactly ONE outfit appropriate for the kind of performances I do now, plus a formal dress I last wore six years ago (for one of my degree recitals) and a pile of cheap, stained clothes that are barely fit to wear in public, I feel a tug for that old life when what I did made me feel important.

Comments

Mrs. Allroro said…
I love it flopping over like that over a fitted long sleeve tee. What does that say about my sense of style?

Could you just do a hidden hook and eye or a snap? Keep in mind, I do not sew, knit, or have a sense of style.
Caffeine Girl said…
As a fellow Madisonian, I feel your pain. Even if I had stylish clothes, I would feel uncomfortable wearing them most places!

But I do think you could wear your sweaters. They are lovely, but not fussy. Show off a little!

It's funny to hear it's cold and rainy there when I'm hot and humid in Virginia today.
Jessi said…
I always loved your style. Mine was (and is) so all over the place and you just had this effortless this-is-what-I-like thing going on. I could never pull that off. Go with what you got. But yeah, wear your sweaters. They're too nice to give them all away.

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