March 12

The wardrobe I really need

Tis the season for catalogs of floral pastel dresses and bone-colored pumps. I worked for many years in an office and during eight of those years, as an investment banker, I wore corporate suits and starched dress shirts with dress shoes. I needed to look like you’d trust me with a few million dollars. I didn’t have a child and I lived in an apartment in Tokyo that someone else cleaned. For years my hands did not touch soil.

Flash forward 25 years and I’ve long since donated all of those suits and dress shirts. I can’t remember the last time I wore panty hose. When I meet a new hairstylist I tell her, “No hairspray because I’ll be putting on a bike helmet in 3 mins for the ride home.” Spandex in jeans is helpful for leaning over to pick up a huge box of orders that need to be dropped off at the post office or to pick-up poop from our foster pets. I like shirts that wick just in case a hot flash hits in the middle of the parent-teacher conference. I have a grown-up wardrobe for professional events but most days you’ll see me in jeans and a casual shirt with flats. I remember as a new mom looking for cargo pants that would hold a baby monitor and gave up hoop earrings because our daughter was too fond of pulling on them as a baby.

So where are the catalogs for people like me? I need the Carhartt equivalent for moms who work at home. I need to look just polished enough that our daughter’s principal won’t call Child Protective Services when I pick her up for the orthodontist but not so dressed up that I can’t bike to Trader Joe’s when I realize that I forgot to get eggs for the souffle for dinner. But there’s no way I’m wearing a blouse and jeans to play tennis! And how about lipstick?! Do people put on lipstick and mascara to play tennis? Give us some catalogs with women who are doing the real things women do. How about the best pajamas for dealing with a kid who’s throwing up all night? How about shoes that you can safely wear walking up a flight of stairs with a load of groceries? And what about underwear catalogs? If I had that body, I wouldn’t bother wearing clothes at all.