Now my daughter’s at school, should I change the way I dress?

What does a mum look like anyway?

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When it comes to the style stakes I’ve never been a wallflower. As a teenager I’d go to clubs in dresses I’d made from old underwear and magazine covers and would tie cutlery to my belt (yep, you read that right).

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Sounds a bit strange I know, but I think I was expressing my creative side, being a bit arty and a teeny bit rebellious. Though the end result was in all honesty probably just downright bizarre.

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Tara in a lion dress

As I’ve got older I’ve had to change my style a bit: I doubt if I’d last long in the jobs I’ve had, including a few years at the British Library, if I’d turned up wearing an under slip with a Smash Hits cover sewn on the front like I did at 17. But a bit of that quirky style remains.

And strangely, I feel more comfortable wearing something bold and out there than anything plain and demure. Perhaps it’s become my armour of sorts.

I’ve never had any negative comments from work colleagues about how I look. In fact, often the opposite is true, and I regularly get compliments from strangers (usually women) along ‘brightening up my day’ lines which I love.

But recently I’ve started wondering whether my 4-year-old daughter, now at school, might just prefer it if her mum blended in a little more.

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Tara on her wedding day

Recently I had a chat with her to try and gauge what she thought of how I look, or if she’d even considered it.

I’d already noticed her accessorizing her own clothes in different ways: she always insists on wearing an oversized belt (usually one of mine) and has started wearing a few of her dresses back to front (a quirk definitely picked up from me: a lot of them just look better like that I find).

“You don’t look like the other mums,” she said.

“How do I look?” I asked.

“Funny but good,” was her reply.

But what happens if – or when – ‘funny but good’ becomes ‘good but funny’ – or just plain ‘funny’ – and not in a good way?

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Tara and Bodhi Rae

Will there be a point when Bodhi wishes her mum wouldn’t stand out quite so much? Should I respect that, tone the pattern clash down and buy myself a simple v-neck and jeans?

Or should I do the strong confident woman thing and let her know that this is how I dress and I won’t change that for anyone? 

A person’s clothes can be an important part of how they choose to express themselves and for me, anyway (rightly or wrongly perhaps) a lot of my personality is wrapped up in what I wear.  

Could changing how I look give Bodhi the message that it’s better to blend in with the crowd than stand out from it? And while that might start with style – where could that kind of thinking lead? And would that be good?

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Bodhi Rae

On the other hand, being perceived as a bit of an outsider, or just feeling like one because your mum doesn’t look like anyone else’s, can be a very lonely experience – even if you’re extremely well dressed doing it.

And as her mum is it my job to make sure she never feels like that? 

What do you think?

What do your kids think of how you dress? If you got the feeling they were embarrassed by how you look would you be tempted to change? Do you have an unusual style? Tell us in the comments below.

A note: Most of my clothes are second-hand or are ones I’ve owned since before Bodhi was born and are usually heavily customised. The money I spend on them is minimal but I do enjoy a browse around the charity and vintage shops every couple of months if I get the chance!

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