It wasn’t too long ago when I had a conversation with a friend about the clothes I wear; we would meet often at a club, restaurant or a party and she’d comment on how well I carried what I wore “at my age”; which simply meant, early 40s, not a thin woman by any standards, and definitely not shy.
A short tight skirt has been a standard fixture in my wardrobe since I was 16 years old. I love my skirts – and while the midriff has become fleshier as I have advanced in age, I work very hard to keep the butt and legs in shape.
My children (daughter in particular) were used to seeing mommy in such clothes when they were younger. I maintained decorum and never wore a skirt to school, but could never wear kurtis as most mothers do at school events. Back then, my daughter would show me off. “My friends love you because you’re so cool,” she’d say. “Their mothers don’t dress like you, mama.”
But all that changed when she turned 14 and suddenly became aware of what ‘mommy wore’.
Suddenly I was dressing too loud, too bold and ‘not my age’. My distressed jeans raised eyebrows (not in appreciation, let me quickly clarify), and so did dresses and skirts. Seeing my teen’s reactions, I began dressing down and tried hard to change my wardrobe to start dressing ‘like a mommy’ when we hung out together.
The next two years were tumultuous because it mattered to me to consider her feelings. I could not be insensitive to her even though I knew that it was the roller-coaster ride her hormones were on that governed her moods and responses. And so I did what was needed.
Cindy Crawford with daughter Kaia Jordan Gerber
So here’s my list of do’s and don’ts for all you mommies whose girls are soon going to be at the mercy of their hormones:
Don’t wear spaghetti straps unless you cover yourself with a shrug or jacket. (They’d prefer you wore a veil but never mind…)
Distressed jeans and butt-hugging skirts can be stored away for a few years.
Do NOT show off that tattoo; if it’s on your wrist, wear full sleeves!
You can wear kurtis and long tops; in fact, the longer, the better.
Bid goodbye to low-back and backless shirts. You’re a mommy now!
They love you in saris but will complain about the navel-baring, deep-back blouses and sundry other oversights.
You’ll often hear: “Why can’t you just dress like other moms! Sheesh!” You must respond, “I’m trying!”
If you have a piercing, then God help you!
Do NOT dress in your own genuine style especially around a boy they have a crush on.
Madonna with daughter Lourdes
As mothers of teen girls we will realise that it is a passing phase and the easier we make it on them, the easier, in turn, we make it on ourselves.
Two years hence (she’s 16 now), we are both comfortable with what the other wears (I am not a fan of her flaunting the midriff in a western outfit, but then, it’s her style) and she has grown to accept her mother’s quirkiness. Peace and harmony have been restored on the wardrobe front.
The small sacrifice in toning down our dressing style pays rich dividends… because one day, when you discuss the issue with her (and seek her permission to write this personal account), she will, in her nonchalant way, tell you, “But I’ve always loved your sense of style!”
Outwardly you’ll say, “Thank you,” and inwardly, “Hallelujah!”
Ritu Goyal Harish is a journalist, photographer, music lover, full-time mommy and activist in disguise. She runs two travel start-ups, one in India, www.easeindiatravel.com, and one in Bhutan.Read all her posts on herFashion101 Blog.