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How often do you apologize for your appearance?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Here’s a conversation that took place a few days ago:


Nick: “Wow, babe, you look homeless.”

Me: “Dude, I work from home, leave me alone.”


The offending outfit: a pair of old, navy spandex pants (they were not from Old Navy, they were old and navy), lime green ankle socks with a hole in one toe (I keep forgetting to throw them out and by the time I put them on and notice the hole, it feels too late), and a ratty old red Patagonia fleece that is technically Nick’s and therefore technically way too big for me. My hair was pulled back in what you might call a bun (my mother would call it a rat’s nest). And I didn’t have on a scrap of makeup or jewelry. Most days this is the kind of crap I can be seen in. Only I’m not often seen, because I work from home….


That said, when I drop off a kid or pick up a kid or even get a FedEx package from the front door, I feel a touch embarrassed about my  “look.” I also feel the need to apologize or to explain or to casually work it into conversation so that people don’t think I think I look normal. I registered Alex for kindergarten yesterday (more on that later) and when I was chatting with the Tory Burched-up PTA mom there, I felt the need to mention that I work from home and then I pointed to my outfit and said, “clearly.” (The outfit did not involve any of the above, btw, I do have some dignity.)


Part of the reason I put “workout-ish” clothes on in the morning is because I usually plan to jump on the treadmill or take Nora for a walk at some point and I feel like if I’m already in the clothes, I’m one step closer to making it happen. And why would I put on makeup just to look better for the other moms and dads at drop-off (that’s what sunglasses are for!). What bothers me is people who catch a glimpse of me probably think: Oh, she’s just a frazzled mom. But that’s not it. I cannot blame this on children. When I worked at GlamourGlamour!—I would occasionally/often roll up in jeans (Gap, nothing hip and designer) and a black turtleneck sweater that may or may not have been with me in college. There were definitely days when I worried someone from HR would knock on my door and tell me to try a little harder in the wardrobe department—Glamour wasn’t like that, of course, which is probably why I was so comfortable being so comfortable. Or perhaps it’s that I knew I couldn’t compete with the fashionistas on the floor and so I went the opposite direction entirely.


I also have a weird writer thing, where I feel like if I roll out of bed and start working (or at least appear to have just rolled out of bed), I am more creative and productive. Like somehow putting on pants with a button and a pair of shoes would stifle me. Clearly that thinking is crazy and also outdated—it’s usually at least three hours and several kid meltdowns from the time I wake up till the time I start working—so perhaps I need to revisit it. Perhaps I’m lazy. Perhaps I need some new clothes to get me excited about getting dressed.  


Whenever I’m out with the kids and sporting my skinny jeans (go figure, now that I don’t work at Glamour, I have fancy jeans) and designer boots and a cute top and makeup and brushed hair I always feel pretty damn awesome. I feel like the mom I always thought I’d be. But that’s just not something I feel like doing every day. It’s not that I don’t have time—my kids are old enough that they can entertain themselves while I slap on some mascara and a real bra—but I just don’t…what’s the word, here? Care?


Of course, when I go somewhere important with the kids I always look decent and when I go out with Nick or friends, I like to think I look pretty damn good (it’s amazing how great you feel with blown out hair and makeup on when it’s not an everyday thing). Oh, and when the kids get to an age when my mompearance might embarrass them, I will step it up. In the meantime, how bad is it that I look like crap much of the time? What do you wear when you’re hanging with your kids? If you stay home with them, do you get dressed every morning? Are you the mom in the mommy and me classes with a full face of makeup and cute, matching clothes? If you work in an office, do you change as soon as you get home? What do you look like on the weekends? Let’s discuss!