Mom Clothes, Not Cool

Mary Dell writes: Winter in New York means cold days until just about Memorial Day. I put on my uniform: jeans, turtleneck, and boots or fleece moccasins which I will wear daily unless there is some really compelling reason for an outfit upgrade. Little did I know that my mom clothes would cause our children so much discomfort; the critique started the second day our son was home for winter break.

“Mom, the turtlenecks are not a good look,” he declared with the certainty that college students bring to most conversations with their parents.


“But they’re not my vintage LL Beans, they’re from J. Crew. That’s ok, right?”

He was not convinced. I didn’t even argue about how women my age prefer to cover up, and up. I thought about grabbing I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron’s wonderful book about aging, but decided otherwise.

I turned to my most reliable fashion expert, our high school daughter.

“Do you think it looks OK when I tuck my jeans into my boots? That’s the way you wear yours and it looks great.”

“Mom, um, well….” Realizing what that meant, I signed deeply, liberating the wrinkled and twisted pant legs from inside my boots. While I’m not much of the skinny jeans or legging type, I didn’t think I had been condemned to the Mom Jeans side of the room.

The last straw came when I unveiled a new pair of Toms shoes, my first, purchased half off at an after-Christmas sale. I felt happy about these shoes: for every pair sold, the Toms people donate another pair to a needy child and they fit beautifully. Granted that crimson velveteen might look somewhat past peak after the holidays, I was amused by the funky golden crowns embroidered on the toes. A touch of whimsy, a veneer of youth, to deliver me from frumpiness!

Taking one look at the new shoes, my children just shook their heads, pointing out that what I had thought were crowns from my perspective were clearly not from theirs.

“Mom, um, well….you’re just not the skull type.”

“Mom, not cool.”

What fashion “direction” have your children given you once they return to visit the nest?

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