When I lived in New York City, I wore the typical city girl uniform of all black. I’m not sure why we all chose to look like we were part of the Adams Family but it definitely had its advantages. For one thing, it was a practical dress code: Bus exhaust, pigeon poop and city grime are less likely to show on black clothes than something with color in it. Then there was the added bonus of being already appropriately dressed in the likely event that a pedestrian got hit by a lunatic taxi driver right in front of you.
Once I moved to the burbs and had kids, black clothes hid a multitude of post-pregnancy sins, from the newly sprouted bat wings that evolved somewhere around my seventh month, to my ginormous butt that got so big during pregnancy astronauts could see it from the international space station. However, even the chicest, most slimming black outfit couldn’t disguise what nature and 9 months of ingesting Krispy Kreme donuts had created. Still I was understandably outraged when a passerby stopped me as I pushed my three month-old son in a stroller and asked me when my baby was due.
“What the heck do you think this is?” I demanded, pointing to my son. “A Salami???”
Of course, the big problem with black clothes once you become a mom is that they show every single kid offense from regurgitated breast milk to the contents of the inevitable exploding diaper. You know you are a hot fashion mess when someone can tell what you and your children had for breakfast, whether or not your kid is potty trained, and if one of your kids has a cold… just by looking at your shirt. While you could try to make the case that this is a new fashion trend, unfortunately, you’re better off admitting the cocoa puffs-poop-booger look has yet to catch on and you might need to rethink your wardrobe choices. It was at this point that I decided it might be in my best interest to inject a little color into my closet so I didn’t visibly alert social services about my failures in child rearing.
I started cautiously with a few gray pieces and a smattering of brown. Then I worked my way up to some olives and teals. Emboldened by my newfound color savviness, I finally went all out and bought a bunch of colored jeans and jackets and sweaters in purple, orange and green. At first I conservatively mixed my colored stuff with black. But then one morning, I decided the time had come to let out my inner rainbow. I put on a fabulous new purple jacket I had bought with purple pants, black boots and a lime green scarf. I had seen this color combination in fashion magazines so I knew I was not making any kind of horrible fashion faux pas unless I had somehow mistakenly copied the What NOT to Wear page. As I admired my cool, colorful reflection in the mirror, I decided I looked fabulous and was proud of myself for turning over a new leaf and moving on from the Elvira look.
With a bounce in my step and a decided air of happy purpleness, I went downstairs to greet my children. As they scooped spoonfuls of Lucky Charms into their mouths, I twirled and modeled my new look for them.
“What do you think?” I asked gleefully.
They eyed me up and down.
“You look like Barney the Dinosaur,” said my daughter.
I considered her comment and then shrugged.
“That’s OK,” I responded. “As long as I don’t look fat.”