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22 July 2014

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Jenny

I saw that post this morning and was hoping someone would post about it so I could talk about it!

When I was at that age when girls learn to do hair and make-up, I struggled to get out of bed to get to school on time and never learned. I mostly didn't care. Now that I'm an adult, any desire to be more put-together is squashed by my struggle to get out of bed to get to work on time. I feel clownish wearing make-up because I'm never sure I put it on right.

I'm not a fashionista. I don't notice what other people wear. I've never commented on someone's cute shoes because I don't ever think to look at her feet. My work wardrobe is basic. I wish I had a little bit more than I do, but don't really know what to buy, don't really have a lot of time to look and shop, and mostly don't have the budget to buy what I like. I intellectually know that I should have some nice blouses to wear, but when I'm shopping it never seems to happen. Or if I do buy something nicer, it is so structured that I dread wearing it and usually don't. I have a closet full of polos.

I am fairly certain that these details of presentation have negatively affected my career prospects. I am not the sloppy mommy, but I am a full-time working mother of young children with the sleep-deprived face that comes with it. I don't put on makeup so this fact is not disguised. My hair is in a ponytail a lot of the time.

A woman's perceived competence is tied to her appearance. That's the hard reality. It is also true that my unwillingness to play that game has hurt nobody but myself.

Erin

I've spent the last 18 years of my career trying to figure out where I land playing this game. Granted, my workplace has guidelines that are a condition of employment (business casual, jeans okay on Friday), but there is extensive room for interpretation. As Jenny stated, the perception of my competence is very much tied to my appearance. It just is, whether I like it or not. And, to be honest, my confidence in a group setting is higher if I'm dressed in a suit or jacket and have some makeup on. Thank goodness for fashionista friends that push me outside my comfort zone because I really have no skill or desire to learn how to dress myself in a professional manner. :)

I've been particularly challenged this summer as I'm now 30 weeks pregnant with my first child at age 39 and professional maternity clothes for an "older" mom are just a nightmare to navigate.

A thought provoking post, thanks for sharing!
Erin


Christy P.

It's a fascinating balance. I strive to be taken seriously while retaining functionality. For example, most women of my rank and higher in my workplace wear high heels. I don't. They aren't comfortable, and I am a pedestrian. Similarly, it gets tough to have good hair in winter when I wear a warm hat. These factors make me pay attention to the fit and shabbiness of items. One deviation from the expectation (e.g. flat shoes) can be mitigated with a nice sweater and good pants.

Bearing

And choosing not to wear heels is a pretty common deviation. Lots can't wear them.

I prefer shoes with at least a little heel on them most of the time, due to being so short, but select them carefully for walkability. Gaining an inch or so of height matters in the overall balance. Likewise, getting visibly older than I looked in my twenties -- not something, I hear, that is always well received -- made me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I always hated being mistaken for someone younger.

Jenny

See, I need someone to come shopping with me to tell me these secrets. And also someone to look in my closet and tell me what to wear with what. Accessories are completely lost on me. The whole scarf phenomenon has passed me by. Layering to achieve a certain look also eludes me. I'm pretty hopeless here.

I don't mind looking older because I have always been mistaken for being younger. I think this is a function of height. Short=young. I do mind looking tired, which is how I look most of the time.

bearing

I'm expecting a rapid transition from "little lady" to "little old lady." Trying to soften the blow with heels that will bring me up to five feet. Cork-soled platform wedges are my friend.

Jenny, my experience dealing with size changes necessitating wardrobe overhauls has convinced me that the secret to figuring out how to choose things that go together, if one is naturally clueless about it, is to go slowly, starting simple and adding layers of complexity only as you understand them. I am in the process of figuring this out with respect to makeup and have, as I mentioned in my post, now unlocked the Mascara And Tinted Lip Balm level.

Melanie B

Wow. Rebecca's post left me feel like i'd be drowning. My gut reaction is: I could never do that. Then I reconsider and think: but what if I had to? And then: I'm not sure I could play that game no matter how necessary it became. Not even for one of my kids? I guess for them. But even then I wouldn't have the first clue. I'm not sure I *could* do that.

The last time I wore any makeup was for my wedding: a little lipstick and ? there might have been something else, my sister did it for me. Before that nothing. I experimented with makeup in high school and decided it wasn't for me. It was partly that I hated wearing a mask, but mostly a tactile issue. I cannot stand the feeling of something on my face and find myself unconsciously rubbing it off, making my face a mess. And my skin is very sensitive to boot.

At this point in my life, I'm not sure I can bring myself to care that I'm Sloppy Mommy. It is what it is. My priorities are what they are and it would take something on the level of Rebecca's crisis to make me expend a great deal of energy on how I look. Maybe that could change in a few months, years, who knows? But today, it's too much work when I can't even find the energy to sweep the kitchen, scrub the bathroom, or brush the cobwebs off my bedroom wall.

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