I have loved fashion my entire life. My mother, seamstress/wedding dress designer/wearable art creator/milliner/maker of my clothes growing up/hoarder, always had bolts of fabric piled in her bedroom. As a child I would break into her room to snip a swatch from a roll of a beautifully printed peach silk fabric and fashion strapless dresses for my Barbie dolls. If you have ever sewn anything, you know how problematic it is to find a random rectangle cut from the yardage you had purchased for a specific purpose. From an early age I was raised on a diet of high-brow magazines: We might have been subsisting on butter sandwiches, but I knew the difference between French and American Vogue. Ironically, my senior year in high school I won the award for worst dressed, a direct result of rolling out of bed every day and throwing on sweats. I felt weirdly proud. Art has no rules, man*.
The first time I let my son pick out his clothes, he was just over a year old. He chose a navy blue t-shirt and swimming trunks. I let his choice stand, reasoning that if you want to cultivate a child's sartorial voice, you have to take the good with the really bad. Sometimes he's on point though, like the time he picked his Union Jack leggings, turquoise Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, and red Pumas. He breaks my heart daily.
Do you remember that Saturday Night Live skit about mom jeans? Ignoring the fact that mom jeans are currently sold out in every Williamsburg thrift store, I've often wondered what mom decline looks like. Does it start out subtly at first, with some innocuous sensible shoes? And then, too busy picking non-GMO Cheerios off of clothing and baking gluten-free cupcakes for a class of 20 kindergartners, you get the rare Saturday night out so you put on your best sparkly shirt? I'm not exactly sure, but with every (sad) ounce of vanity in me, I'm not ready for it.
A month or so ago I found myself at the airport, just landing from a 6:30 a.m. flight. I remember throwing my clothes together before barely catching the Uber. In my head it all sounded fine: maize-colored dotted shirt, blue knit hoodie, navy and white harem pants, neon pink Nike Frees. Obviously this doesn't print well. And that's when it happened--waiting outside baggage claim for my friend to pick me up, I looked down at my outfit andddd...fucking MOM DECLINE.
I have no idea when it happened. It must have been a series of imperceptible changes at the hands of convenience, exhaustion and travel. Whatever. The point is that there are very few things I count on in this life, and one of them is my ability to pull together an outfit for crissakes. I don't even know who I am anymore. But at least I don't have any Cheerios on me.
*"Art has no rules, man" is how my nanny answered my question recently when I asked her why she let Jonah dress himself in one of those swim shirts, effective in protecting him from sun exposure, but no less hideous. Touché.