Friday, October 26, 2007

Dressing on the Side

(Admin note: I know that I have a lot of outstanding emails to reply to...apologies, I'll get to them soon!)

So, it appears that I'm in a rut. Well, is it a rut? I'm not sure. Considering that I've been in it for oh, the past five years or so...I'm don't know if that qualifies. I suspect that some of you work-from-homers can relate: I'm in a dressing rut. Most days, I slog on my gym clothes when I get out of bed, figuring that at some point, I will indeed hit the gym, so why bother changing twice? Makes sense, right? Which means that I spend my days comfortable, but not exactly presentable. (Again, I'm certain that some of you out there know exactly of what I speak.) It's to the point now where, when I do jazz myself up, my doormen are always surprised, like, "Wow, you really clean up nicely!" Which leads me to question just how unimpressive I must look the rest of the time.

I've noticed, too, that when I take my son to school in the morning, most moms aren't in their Nike running shorts and their Adidas sweatshirts...unless, of course, they're headed to the gym. So while I might blend in there, the truth is, that I'm not always headed to the gym. I'm just dressed that way. Which I don't exactly announce, but doesn't make me feel any better, right? :)

So I've started making a bit more effort - you know, swap out the sweats unless I'm actually going to be sweating, and sprucing up the closet a bit. Showering before 8:00pm tends to help too. And I've informed my husband that I'm doing a bit of wardrobe revamping (and the wise man said "go forth and do what damage you must,") because I've noticed something: while I might not be as comfy in front of my computer without my beloved track pants, I actually feel a bit better about myself, as if a polished wardrobe might mean a more polished me. Now, I'm trying to motivate to the gym as soon as I drop my son off at school, so I actually shower in the morning and look reasonably put together the day through. We'll see how long that sticks.

But I'm curious about all you writers out there: which do you prefer? Comfort or polish? It's so easy to slip further and further into the former, but don't you feel like you're losing a bit when you do so? After years of slippage, I'm trying to claw my way out.


Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

wardrobe issues do seem to pop up with work-at-home moms.

My wardrobe varies. I tend to dresser more nicely in the summer because I prefer skirts and sundresses in the heat. In the winter, I need to be more careful as I can stay in my PJs until I realize that my family will be home from school/work soon.

I won't dress in sweats though. It's usually jeans and a sweater in the winter.

Anonymous said...

Allison - I'm right there with you on the sweats! I'm taking a 3x/week exercise class, so on the days I get up and out the door to class, I, understandably, have exercise clothes on. But then some days I don't shower (!) until 2:30, just before I have to pick up kids (ick. comfy but ick.)

On 2x/week I don't have class, I *intend* to take a walk or workout in basement, and usually I don't do that til just before I pick up kids, so I'm in sweats most of day, too (though not smelly).

When I volunteer in kids' class or have an in-person daytime meeting, and I'm clothed and made up and hair done, I do feel so much better. You'd think having *real* clothes on would make me feel less sloth-like (more productive) during the day.

My problem is that I ate my way through the summer, so frankly, my pants aren't nearly as comfortable as exercise clothes! Need to rein in the eating, then maybe I'll start wearing pants that snap at 9 a.m.

Jen A. Miller said...

I'm so a creature of comfort. I tried the dress up for work route, but, um, failed :-) I think part of that has to do with my running schedule: I usually run before lunch, so I have to shower after run/lunch -- doing so before hand would be redundant (and bad for my eczema). I also tried to wear nice clothes while researching my book this summer, but that was tough because everyone else around me was wearing bathing suits and flip flops, and it was hot a hades out there!

It's funny you post this now: I went to an awards ceremony on Wednesday (don't get too excited -- it was for a construction company whose marketing materials I write). I had fun picking out 'grown up clothes' to wear to the event-- a mauve tweed dress and pumps, an outfit I haven't worn literally in two years. When I got to the ceremony, my boss' assistant said "Wow! I was wondering what grown up clothes would be for you!" She says this in good faith -- we had a discussion about my lack of grown up clothes a few weeks before.

Part of me thinks that the comfort clothes factor is an upside of my job (I need SOMETHING to counteract paying for my own health insurance!)

Eileen said...

I work out of the house half time and at home half time. I find I need a few days with clothing that doesn't have an elastic waist.

Lisa Bakewell said...


We must be on the same wavelength these days. I just finished cleaning out my closet the other day to try to get rid of some of the "less than presentable" comfy clothes.

I find, since I go to the gym at 5:30am, that I might not shower and change until just before my guys get home from school/work. Nasty, huh?

Today I actually showered and changed before running errands. That was huge!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Allison,
When I'm teaching, I dress up. Lately, though, I've been more likely to dress up and change into and out of the gym clothes despite the effort. Even when my interview is just on the phone, it makes me feel better. I was especially moved (this is GOING in a novel someday) when a friend/parent at my daughter's school said her son told her, "Daddies go to work; Mommies go to work out."

Larramie said...

Consider this logic:

1. Dress in sweats to go to the gym/run/whatever in order to maintain your body/figure.
2. Continue wearing those "comfortable" clothes and hide all that hard work!

Somehow... *VBG*

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I demand comfort. Thus, even my polish clothes are comfy to a degree -- no biting my tummy, that sort of thing.

I dress better in the winter than the summer, I've been noticing. It's easier to find jeans than non-athletic shorts, for some strange reason.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

My nails started growing suddenly; they haven't since my last pregnancy over six years ago.

I am now taking care of them and getting manicures. They definitely make me feel better!

And yes, totally agree, a shower, doing your hair, lipstick, eyeliner and mascara go a total long way!

Dawn said...

I'm also in a horrible clothing rut! I need to go shopping, like, yesterday! I love working in my gym clothes for comfort reasons, but hate looking sloppy when I leave the house.

And to make matters worse, as someone who is only 5'2, it is sooo hard to find pants that fit. Petites are too short for me, regulars are too long. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is how this stuff is so relative: putting on jeans and a sweater feels like dressing up to me, but to my working friends it's dressing down. I actually just bought myself some more gym pants for work! I used to care more, but then I'm like, hey, I've showered and put on makeup so don't expect much more out of me when I'm only going to be seeing the PO guy, if that. I work out at night and don't even have that excuse--unless I say I'm just on my way all day.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

When I go to my desk, I always do so dressed for work. Part of my writing routine requires that all of the beds be made, house vaccumed, and dishes cleaned before I can write -- all completed by 9:00 am (except during the summer when I get up at 4 to write so I can take the kids to the beach). Just a touch of OCD perhaps, but it works for me.

Amy MacKinnon

BJ and Shalene said...

When I first resigned from my staff editor position to pursue freelance, I made the noble commitment to get up in the mornings, get ready, and go into my home office as though I were actually going into an off-site office. But alas, four months later, my noble commitment could be better defined as good intentions (and we know what they say about those!). Compound that with the fact that I'm 6-months pregnant with our first, and you get the picture ... elastic waistbands (ugh!) are staples in my wardrobe for at least the next few months. Maybe I'll then make the attempt to revert to professional dress, although something tells me the tasks of a newborn may keep me in my sweats!