Written by
Molly Campbell
January 2012
Written by
Molly Campbell
January 2012

I have been warned by my daughters since they entered their teens. I mustn’t embarrass them. There is nothing worse than a mother who says things like “far out” or “gnarly.” Additionally, it is nearly a mortal sin to wear clothing that indicates the generation of the wearer, especially if this means the wearer is over the age of fifty.


I am guilty as charged, and it is getting harder and harder for me to get dressed every day. I mustn’t wear a cardigan. Fred Rogers ruined those for the rest of us. What my generation calls “sneakers” are for workouts or sports only.  If either of my children caught wind of the fact that I considered wearing my Nikes to the mall, I might face a wardrobe intervention. Crocs are completely humiliating to the wearer. And no matter how many times I lose my glasses, I am forbidden to wear them on a decorative chain around my neck.


Ok, these rules are clear cut enough. But when it comes to what I used to call “slacks,” it gets dicey. According to the two fashion mavens I gave birth to, any pair of pants that fastens around the actual waist of the wearer is a pitiful indication that the wearer is a lost cause. This also applies to any garment that has an elastic waistband. These articles of clothing, often available at Sears, or featured on the cover of “The Vermont Country Store” catalog, are on the verboten list. My daughters refer to them with a great deal of scorn as “Mom Pants.”


It gets worse. There are also Mom Skirts, Mom Coats, and Mom Underwear. All of these garments involve  the waistline, which is something we were all born with, but that we mustn’t acknowledge by actually wearing anything anywhere near it.  Instead, there are things like “thongs.” A thong is a pair of underpants that looks innocuous enough from the front, but looks more like dental floss from the rear. Thongs are supposed to solve the problem of “visible panty lines.” I have no idea what a panty line is. But anyone over the age of fifty must have panty lines that can be seen from space.


My closet is full of things that would mortify my girls. I have one or two blazers. No one wears blazers, let me tell you.  Blazers were worn during the Stone Age, often accompanied by archaic inserts called shoulder pads. Any woman considering the adage that “everything old is new again” and contemplating hauling out that classic Harve Benard orange wool number to wear over jeans is looking for trouble. And remember belts? Worn around the waist?


I do my best. I gave all my Crocs to Goodwill.  I wear sweat pants and cardigans only in the privacy of my own home. I have stopped wearing dresses, because the “no panty hose” rule is impossible, with my varicose veins and in the winter. I never wear shoes that tie, except to the gym. My girls will actually be seen in public with me.


I rebel occasionally. I went out to lunch yesterday, and I wore a v-neck sweater. It was a cold day, so I wore what looked like a white turtleneck under it.


It was a dickey.



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