Is this age related? Or are clothes actually terrible right now?

So… I turned 29 over the weekend. I still can’t believe it. One year left of my twenties, that’s it! I spent a little time reflecting on where I’m at in life, and wondering if the 19 year old me would approve, but then I quit that when I remembered that the 19 year old me had a deep love for Kid Rock and the Dixie Chicks and wore an orange cowgirl hat anytime she went out to party, which was quite often.

Sure, I may not be as “successful”, career-wise, as the 19 year old me would have hoped, but I can honestly sit here and tell you all I am HAPPY, 110% happy, and that’s not something that even the 25 year old, career-driven me, who had quite the quarter-life crisis, could say.

But, let me not digress and turn this into a post all about how far I’ve come in 29 years or how I’m a little anxious about this next year coming and going, leaving me no choice but to turn 30. No, what I really want to talk about is how HORRIFIED and confused I am by clothes right now.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been super stylish, but I like to think I’ve been able to pull off some snazzy looks in my lifetime. The orange cowgirl hat, after all, was quite the eye-catcher and very “Coyote Ugly” back in 2000. Since becoming a stay at home mom, I’ve obviously had to ditch the pretty numbers from Banana Republic and Ann Taylor, which took me through my days full of  meetings and happy hours, in favor of more toddler and budget friendly apparel. That usually means I spend my days in jeans, a fitted shirt, some flats (or sometimes my good ol’ Skechers slip ons), and a fun accessory, like a scarf. Yup. That’s pretty much my SAHM uniform.

Well, my incredibly sweet husband, who happens to be equal parts frugal and fashion clueless, bought me some clothes for my birthday. It was such a sweet gesture, and luckily he understood when I told him I’d have to take it all back and try to find some stuff that would be more “practical” for me to wear (read- fit me, not show my bra straps, not covered in sequins). I returned to New York & Company the next day, ready to hunt down some new, trendy clothes. I searched and searched, picked and pulled from the racks, turned my head to the side, then back, squinched my eyes and tried to figure out what I was looking at.

None of it made any sense to me.

So leggings are in now, yes? And I’m to pair them with a clingy, long, what appears to be night shirt? And then what? I put a belt over it? Is it just me, or is this an outfit I would have put together at the age of 2 after ransacking my mom and dad’s closet?

And you want me to wear brown boots with my black leggings? This is going against every rule of fashion I’ve committed to memory.

Tie dye and acid wash are back? And tapered leg pants with pleated fronts? I mean, isn’t that exactly what we have all been mocking for the past 15 years? Are you telling me I need a mullet now? Or maybe just a rat tail? Big bangs?

I gave up, bought a plain purple shirt and some clearance flip flops (which I will most likely return because, as my husband said, “ANOTHER pair of flip flops?”), and headed to Target later that day. Not that Target is the Mecca of fashion, but I’ve scored some cute stuff there recently, mainly just more plain fitted tees. I meandered into the trendy Juniors section, hoping to step a bit out of my comfort zone, when my sister and I ran across this number.

Uhm, hi. Kelly Kapowski called, and she wants her dress back.

Is this just a sign that I’m getting old? Am I physically incapable of seeing clothes for what they are now and officially stuck in my comfortable, plain rut? Is this the first sign that I’m thisclose to giving up and turning into the cat shirt lady??

Kendall is nearly 22 months old and I’m 29 years old and 2 days.

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  1. I don’t think it’s old age. I think it’s common sense. Although I do encourage you to embrace the leggings and “night shirt”. It’s like socially acceptable pajamas!

    But seriously, tapered jeans, pleated pants, black jeans, neon colors — it all needs to go away!! Give me a good pair of Gap jeans and a quality J. Crew tshirt ANY day. Or…ya know…any staple item from Target.

  2. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa. I think that, as a society, we have collectively forgotten that tapered pants make our thighs look huge. and pleats. oh my god. maybe the gods of fashion just decide to give in and finally become just like their mother after all…

  3. did you also see the tiny ass one piece shorts jumpers at Target? i mean ok, they’re in the juniors, but who wears that besides J-Lo?

    sounding so old right now. i for one love the crap out of my tanks, cardigans, jeans and flats. i do rock the leggings and boots and skinny jeans and boots once in a while, though. but i’m sure i’m doing it wrong.

    • Oh Lawd, yes! I saw those! And then I saw one with pants at NY&Co and was really, utterly confused and pictured just how ridiculous I would look dropping K off at Mother’s Day Out in that getup.

      I’ve got me some skinny jeans, I wear them with boots, and I’m not opposed to the black leggings. I just have no idea what shirt to wear with them.

  4. ha! i think we all went through some kind of orange cowboy hat phase…and still lived to tell about how awesome we though we looked.

    as for clothes today…you really have to sift through all the trends…or else in another ten years you’ll be saying ‘remember those times I took Kendall to the mall/park/doctor wearing zippered ankle leggings with cowboy boots and a tunic? ya, i thought I looked good.’

  5. This post cracks me up. Because I’m 23, and I feel the same way about lots of these fashion trends. The 80s should not be coming back. It wasn’t a good look for anybody. But alas, here they come.

    I’m also not a fan of leggings. I do love the longer tops, but leggings? No. No, no no no no.

    Have you seen Lindsay Ferrier’s fashion blog? She’s awesome. Changed my life. Even though she’s all about the leggings. Which I am not.

  6. Pleats and tapered legs are coming back?


    The leggings thing is traumatic enough. AT 34, I lived through it once, I don’t want to do it again.

    In fact, I refuse to. Hey, I’m old. I can be cranky.

  7. I’m nineteen and clothes are horrible. I hate the leggings thing. True some can pull it off but it’s taking over and I look fat and wierd in them. I’m a nanny so I’m always in yoga pants and a tee but when my hubby and I go out I stick to my traditional jeans and a fitted shirt.

  8. Well, I am (almost) two years your senior and I have 42 months on you in the mommy department and I can say that I am not the cat shirt lady. That said I am also no major fashionista. I do not get the clothes that are out right now. I do not get the leggings with the nightshirt look. And that dress – well… you said it perfectly. 🙂 So, I have no advice but I agree with you – does that help? Or not because I am a mommy too? And even further down the mommy road? 🙂

  9. Wait until you are 44 like me. I went through a weird period where my body had changed after having my daughter at age 37 and then I tried to get back in the more professional groove AND decent looking mom groove. Things that used to look good, no longer fit quite right. So now, I’m finally figuring out what I like and what looks good but sometimes it’s really tough when so many of the clothes/stores seem to jump from skeeze teen styles to matronly. The only people who can look even remotely good in those “retro” styles are the preteens and teens with no figure. Otherwise, watch out!

    • Oh, I hear you on your body changing after a baby. I’m lighter/smaller now than I was before getting pregnant, but it’s still hard for me to pull off the clothes I used to wear. And so true about fashion seeming to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. My mom and I discovered this when we were trying to find a Mother of the Bride dress for my wedding. There was nothing that fell between bridesmaid and Queen Elizabeth.

  10. I read somewhere that the rule with this 80s look is that if you were old enough to wear it the first time, you better not wear it now. But what about us? Not quite old enough to wear it the first time, but old enough to know better now. I hope these looks go away fast.

    And I looved this:
    “I am HAPPY, 110% happy, and that’s not something that even the 25 year old, career-driven me, who had quite the quarter-life crisis, could say.” I’m just turning 25, just recovering from my quarter life crises and I hope my next few years make me as happy as you are now!

    • Hmmm.. yes, interesting predicament. However, I guess this clears up whether or not I should rock a t-shirt clip when it inevitably comes back into fashion ; )

      And, yes, I am so, so, so happy with every part of my life right now. I really am, and I know the 25 year old me would never have believed that I could be.

  11. I think they assume that anyone who would wear that dress does not know who Kelly Kapowski is…er was.
    And the fact that you wear an accessory makes you fashionable IMO….I’m still waiting for stained shoulders and under eye bags to be considered accesories.

  12. I think we’re in a weird age. Though yes, clothes are kinda weird right now too. We’re in our (late) twenties so we’re supposed to still be cute and hip… but we’re also adults. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your SAHM uniform… sounds a lot more stylish than what I wear on the weekends anyway! I try not to get too trendy, but keep my wardrobe up to date. I’ve gradually started purchasing shirts/tops that I can wear with (gasp) skinny pants/jeans/leggings, broke down and bought a pair of gladiator sandals that all the kids were wearing this past summer, and I mix black and brown, wear blue with denim, gold and silver. I love wearing dark tights with dresses. And I love boots. I’ve yet to purchase some open-toe booties though I think I might this year. I still don’t do well with jewelry. You already know that scarves make an outfit fun… maybe try a cute statement necklace with your basic fitted tee, something Anthropologie-esque. Oh, and a great statement handbag will deflect all attention from the outfit I’ve found so a great bag or two is essential. Oh, and a nice pair of sunglasses.
    Even if you follow some of the trends though, I still think it’s important for us to dress our age. I just threw out a ton of stuff I accumulated in college (and wore with a cowboy hat to parties to get attention). People I know (and are younger than me in some cases) still dress like they’re eighteen and that’s just not a good look at work or on the weekends unless you actually are eighteen.
    But honestly, I think you’re doing pretty well pulling off the cute/hip mom thing!

  13. I started seeing this cr@p when I was pregnant and thought, here we go. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to the classics, in fact most of the real fashion people that work with ‘every day’ people say to just get classics and if you actually feel like it, to ‘sample’ trends in accessories. That way you’re not out a ton of cash each time a new trend comes along.

  14. I learned in college (fashion merchandising courses) that fashion runs in a 20 year cycle. So the trends that were popular 20 years ago (in the nineties) are going to be seen again now. Blech.

  15. OMG, how much do I love you?!?! THANK YOU for saying this. Some of the outfits today make me go blind with sheer ugliness. I blame Carrie Bradshaw. I look at this fashion blog called and I feel that if I saw anyone in real life dressed like that, I’d feel really sorry for her. But she has a ton of fans who rave about her style, so clearly I’m just clueless.

  16. It is very much a matter of sifting through the way too trendy stuff and finding that updated classic look. This is probably why I haven’t really gone shopping in a long time.

    I have actually embraced the non-matching brown boots with black leggings/pants/outfit. I’ve received many a compliment for it even though I thought twice before wearing it out of the house.

    As for leggings, I’m more than thankful for them especially now that I’m pregnant. I can wear them under oversized shirts that fit my growing baby bump. Comfort is KEY!

    • I hear from my pregnant friends that leggings are a blessing in the world of maternity fashion, and I’m certainly not opposed to wearing them when the time comes. I just have no idea what shirt to put on top. Last time they were “in” that I recall, so were baby doll dresses, and I don’t think those have made a comeback yet.

  17. I highly suggest you just embrace the leggings as they are obviously here to stay and are quite comfortable. Just remember LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS and you’ll be fine.

    But please, step away from the juniors section at Target. They make a lovely brand called Merona. Shop in that section like I do. Just try not to remember my mom shops there too.

    And for the record, I love that dress. I tried on (and,um, bought) something similar this weekend. Apparently the natural-waist look is very forgiving to the mom-pooch and it made my boobs look HUGE.

    But you don’t have to listen to me – my cowboy hat was actual cow print and I wore it with pleather pants.

  18. Actually, I think your disdain for the ’80s comeback shows that you’re too smart for the cat shirt. Because you know the cat shirts are going to be “fashionable” sometime soon, and you’ll be one of the only people not running around looking like a grandma.

  19. I hate all of those trends too. But then again, I could never figure out how to tight roll my jeans in elementary school although I did love puffy paint shirts (perhaps a year or two longer than I should have). The icing on the trend cake for me was when I was at Target a few weeks ago and saw a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 looking at a skirt in the juniors section that resembled a tutu and asked her mom for it. I’m 99% sure she wanted to play dress up in it. NO ONE over the age of 5 or outside a ballet school should ever wear anything remotely like a tutu.

  20. Don’t sweat turning 30 next year….it actually gets better I think. I’ll be turning 32 in a few weeks..and I feel like I’m finally starting to “like” who I am 🙂

    As far as the fashion trends these days….I don’t get it. I’m with you…jeans…long sleeve t-shirt and flats. I only wore leggings in the late 80’s…and will never torture anyone again with that fashion mistake. Next thing you know…”mom jeans” will be back in style….Lord help us!!

  21. Yeah, I actually work at Target and we frequently give the new stuff a raised eyebrow and a “WTF?”. Well, some of us do. The nineteen year olds think it’s cool. The return of the 80’s makes me sad. (Sadly, I’m super excited that this means the return of the 90’s is around the corner… bring on the grunge!) Our pretty clothes are, unfortunately, not conducive to being a SAHM. Or to working at Target, for that matter.

  22. HAHAHA! You said Kelly Kapowski! Great reference! I don’t like a lot of the stuff in the stores right now–it’s like the 80’s threw up all over the place. Stick to the fitted tees and the flip flops! Classic cool.

  23. Wait? What? You mean you don’t own JEGGINGS yet? Legging that look like denim = NOT ALLOWED.

    Sometimes I rock skinny jeans with my plain, solid, v-neck T’s and feel pretty good. that is the extent of my fashion experimentation!

  24. Jill,
    I am having a hard time with clothing right now too. I still like the boot cut or flared leg jeans. I’ve always found them to be the most figure flattering. I’m considering giving in to the leggings and maybe giving them a try. I tried on a pair of skinny jeans..OMG..not for me !!! The tapered legs, the pleats, seriously ?? What’s next, shoulder pads ??

  25. A couple years back I was at an old college haunt for a few pops and these girls came in wearing leggings, pumps, and giant gold lame belts over their tunic tops. I blurted out “I didn’t know it was 80’s night!” legitimately thinking it was a theme night. The bartender said “No, that’s just how they’re dressing now”. Oh. Time to leave the college haunt to the college kids I guess!

  26. My friend and I had the converstion about this exact topic last week! I’m 30, she’s 28 and there is NOTHING in the stores for our age group. It is all 80’s teen crap or stuff our moms wear.

    Am I the only one who feels way to young for the 80’s fashion to be making a come back??? I just don’t get it!

  27. Already hit 30 . . . and then 31 and I’m right there with you, Jill. When I go out shopping I’m always thinking, “That’s cute but can I pull it off? Probably not.” I don’t know why I feel that way but if I buy something a little too trendy or of-the-moment I find that I don’t feel comfortable. It must be my own insecurities. I am still trying to figure out why boots go OVER jeans now. I still have trouble every time I tuck my jeans under my knee length boots. I recently bit the bullet and started following that trend but it feels so unnatural to me. Boots go UNDER your pants. Not over.

    Sometimes the clothing I do buy makes me feel too old or too young. Where is the fashion for the 30 somethings? I still haven’t struck a balance!

  28. Oh gosh shopping for myself now is almost useless. This weekend I go 2 tank tops and some comfy undies. Everything else went to little man. I’m 23 and a size 1 and I still wouldn’t wear 90% of stuff out there! And leggings and boots can totally kiss my ass.

  29. I think one of the many great things about feeling truly grown-up is wearing good clothes. Sure, some trendy clothes can be fun, but I wouldn’t spend any real money on them. Trends are just designers’ way of fucking with us.

    There was a Brit show, “Absolutely Fabulous” about a couple of drunk friends, who were all about drinking and clothes. One of them, Patsy, was fashion director of Vogue (or one of them.) Two of my favorite lines from that show:

    Patsy: Don’t mess with me. With one snap of my fingers I’ll have hemlines so high the world will be your gynecologist.

    And this exchange between her and Edina, her plump, even flakier friend, who was wearing five hideous, colorful, clashing pieces:

    Edina: What do you think?

    Patsy: It looks like the cat threw up on you.

    Edina: But it’s LaCroix. *LaCroix* (gesturing across her chest where she was wearing a huge gold cross among a million other things)

    Patsy: Oh, okay, then.

    So, just because it was designed by Christian LaCroix doesn’t mean it doesn’t look like the cat threw up on you.

  30. Well, you’ll be happy to know that leggings are going to be dead by Fall 2010. I will still wear mine around the house and to the gym, so it’s not a total loss. *wipes tear from eye*

  31. There’s a lot to be said for a cute top, skirt, cardigan and shoes (and hell yes some great flip flops). It’s all about the accessories! We’re moms, not college sorority girls. I’m not a big fan of the jean/leggings…etc. I just feel like a moron going about town with my kid dressed in weird stuff. I’m all about cute clothes, but I think the random crap that’s in most stores is a closed chapter for this girl.

  32. Seriously. Yes. Clothes today make me want to puke! I have such a hard time finding “normal” clothes to wear to work. Apparently everyone wants me to dress like either a color-blind twelve year old from the 80s or a vampire.

  33. This is what happens when people try to bring back the eighties. Don’t they know that decade’s fashion should be left to rot in the past?? Leggings are awful, the floral prints are awful, it’s all just awful.

    …Though I am married to a man that wishes with every fiber of his being that jam shorts will come back. Oy.

  34. I’m 30 weeks pregnant, so this legging trend has been a godsend!

    Maybe try pairing the leggings with a less-80’s-looking tunic like this:
    … Or something like this:
    …OR a longish men’s style Oxford shirt for a thrown-together, bookish look.

    If you pick up a few tops in neutral colors you can pull them together with a colorful belt like this:

    My only personal fashion mandate is that the shirt/tunic/whatever must cover my ass.

  35. I am also turning 29 this year and find the new trends throw my gag reflux into full throttle. I sport the jeans and an old tshirt look and honestly if my outfits cant withstand drool and spit up I’m not interested. Thankfully I have a couple of pieces that I can throw together with ballet flats and not look like an old frumpy hag.

  36. I know this is an old post, but I have to say that I have been asking myself this for several months now. I need new jeans and I cannot find an acceptable pair anywhere. The clothes that are “in style” right now are horrendous!

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