Fashion captivated me from a young age. But rather than the sleek glam of Europe, from the effortlessly chic of Paris to the mysteriously sexiness of Milan, I was like a magnet to the pizzazz of new money New York. I used to wear boas and fedoras to middle school with giant CZ earrings. (If you didn’t grow up in the ’80s, that’s cubic zirconia.)
With my frizzy, feathered hair and velvet tracksuits, I was the poster child for Watched-too-Many-Soap-Operas-With-Mom. I would sneak into the quiet halls during class just so I could hear the click-click of my shoes echoing through the halls, as if I was sauntering into a masquerade ball. I wore full flapper regalia to my prom.
And God bless my denim-clad peers, no one ever punched me.
Luckily, my lack of self-awareness when it came to clothes diminished and I hit the evolving river of outfits: The Girl’s Night; Dating; In-Love; Engaged; Married and finally, Pregnant/Post Pregnant/Caring-for-Toddler outfits, which will be eternally lumped as The Gray Period.
And we all know what comes next…Yoga Pants Until Death.
Maine mom fashion boils down to two things: comfort and preparedness. We are Eagle Scouts in stretchy pants. We must be ready at a moment’s notice to spring into action with sunscreen, snacks, mittens, wipes, juice, books and hugs at any time, place, in any contortionist position and always while sacrificing our own outfit for the greater good. Silken dresses, lacy shirts and cashmere shawls don’t really scream “Machine Washable.”
Yoga pants are the capes of #momlife.
A few Thanksgivings ago we were traveling, actually on Thanksgiving Day—put an extra serving of stress gravy on those potatoes—and I had dressed in a new pink and gray wool Burberry trench coat (over yoga pants, natch) that I definitely couldn’t afford. It had been purchased on a whim one rosé-fueled night. You know the kind, when boxes arrive and you have no recollection? The compliments I received walking around the airport alone soothed the irritation of the endless curve balls thrown during holiday travel. Look at meeeee! I am a productive mom who also manages to pull off gorgeous, stylish things!
My kiddo and I were killing yet another delay with yet another stale bagel when it happened. The look in his wide green eyes warned me of the impending situation. But not quite soon enough. No way could we dodge through the suitcases and sprawled travelers to the bathroom.
An awful spray of too many bites of starchy dough mingled with possibly warm single-serving cream cheese hit the air. Mom reflexes took over. Wanting to spare the other irked travelers, I grabbed his body and pulled him into my lap where several heaves of Logan Airport breakfast ended up all over my beautiful Burberry. Frozen in embarrassment, shock and stench, I just rocked his small, sobbing body as the remnants continued to soak into the luxurious plaid material. Tears welled in my eyes too as I tried to figure out how to handle the havoc.
And then, blurred through my tears, I saw them approaching. Several legs, all armored in yoga pants, surrounded us. This heroic black-panted pod took over. One gently wiped my son’s face. Another started mopping up the table and chairs. One rubbed my back as another tried to clean my coat, although through a clicked-tongue she said, “Not sure this one is going to make it.”
I sat in grateful silence as this uniformed Mom Tribe completed their disgusting duty for this stranger in a destroyed jacket. Then, as gracefully as they appeared, they all melted back into their own tables, soothing their own wide-eyed children with juice and books.
Yoga Pants are the universally approved mom look we have succumbed to. And while they are far from fancy, usually sitting above casual, flat footwear and below efficient tops, it is what they stand for—kindness, generosity, kinship, love—that makes a lasting impression. I know my 17 year-old flapper-loving self would be horrified, but I happily accept them as my fate.
Maggie Knowles writes about all things kid. She and her family live in Yarmouth, where she gardens, keeps bees and refuses to get rid of her stilettos.