I both love and fear my mother, which is why at 27 I still catch myself dressing in a way that she'd approve of. Well, most times anyway. She still has no idea that I have more mini skirts than all of Swinging London combined. But there are telltale signs that will help you catch if you're still dressing for you mom — everything from how you decide to style your hair when you go to see her to what outfits you choose to put on when in her presence.
While most of us might not be running around rocking kiddie pinafore dresses and Mary Jane's anymore, those of us who are terrified of our mother's disapproval will likely know that sometimes it's better to not fight with what she likes.
Like, would I ever be caught dead in public wearing that 1994 getup that she bought me for my birthday? No. But do I still wear those hideous khaki pants when we get brunch together on Sunday? Unfortunately, yes. Absolutely.
You might not think you're as weak as me, but you might just not notice it. In order to expose (and help) you, here are 11 signs that you're still dressing for your mom. Join me in my shame.
1. You Wear Heels Even If You Hate Them With Every Molecule In Your Body
This is me at prom (the Jolly Green Giant one). Notice that I'm wearing comfy white flip flops because I ain't no masochist.
But prior to my date picking me up and leaving the house, I hobbled out of the front door in a pair of stilettos because my mom started crying after she found out I planned to just wear sandals. Crying. So what did I do? I threw the flip flops outside my bedroom window and picked them up before I got into my date's Buick. The things we do for the ones we love.
2. You Change Your Original Outfit At Least Once Before You Guys Go Out
My mom is the queen of passive aggressive comments when it comes to my wardrobe, so I find myself changing at least twice before we head out to an event together. Her favorite go-to line goes as follows: "You have a closet full of beautiful dresses and you decided to wear that rag today." This is followed by a deep sigh on her part while I curse her internally for not realizing that I'm wearing my most expensive dress. So typical. I have an eye twitch just thinking about it.
3. You Keep Any Drastic Haircuts A Secret
When I lived in Seattle (we're from Chicago) I hacked off all my hair into a boyish pixie so I could see how I looked in the fun style. My mom thinks a proper girl needs locks she can comb every night, so she would've been devastated if she found out I had nothing more than a shag.
So what did I do? I told her my hair was up in a sneaky ponytail every time she questioned me about pictures on Facebook... and she only found out a year later when I moved back home. The words "thunder struck" don't even begin to describe her face.
4. You Change Into Your "Party Clothes" In Your Car
My mom is Slavic and traditional, so she thinks it's an abomination every time I come home smelling like whisky and sporting twigs in my hair. Ugh, go figure.
So every time I hollered that I was going out, she'd see me leave the house wearing a maxi skirt and a turtleneck. But the second I got into the car... teeny tiny mini skirts and sheer shirts came on. Sorry ma, but how else would I get into the club?
5. You Hide Your Love For Vintage
My mom is under the impression that anything bought in a thrift store comes with the bonus of bed bugs at no extra charge. The problem with this scenario? Well, 98 percent of my closet comes from thrift stores and granny attics. So I have to sneak in my vintage like a secret boyfriend when she's got her back turned, pretending I got that flapper dress as Aeropostale when she asks.
6. She Has No Idea You Don't Wear Bras
OK, don't judge me for this picture. It was sophomore year of college. But being a proud member of the itty bitty titty committee, I never had much of a reason to wear a bra, and the poke of nips never really embarrassed me.
But with my mother being conservative in such manners, I was forced to wear a bra around the house like I was part of polite company, and then would take it off all Flashdance style in the car.
7. You Wear Clothes That Hide Your Tattoos
I've worn high-waist bikinis during family beach days ever since I got a tattoo on my hip, and I'm completely prepared to wear turtlenecks during the humid summers of the Midwest once I get around to starting my sleeve.
I'm 27 and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm terrified of the way my mother's nostrils flair when she disapproves of me.
8. You Wear Clothes You Hate During The Holidays
Here's me looking like a matriarchal Pilgrim during Thanksgiving because ma thought my normal outfit wasn't "festive enough." I look like I just finished weaving a cornucopia for the dinner table.
9. You Actually Wear The Clothes She Bought You For Your Birthday
You know that questionable skirt she scored at the mall? Or that "hippie dress" she thought was so on trend but looks straight-up Professor Trelawney? Instead of throwing it straight into the donation pile, you actually wear it around her every now and then. No matter how bad it hurts your soul.
10. Your Style Dramatically Changes When You Go Home
The mesh shirts and bralette tops are left behind in your apartment, and the collared shirts and midi skirts get dragged out from the back of your closet.
11. You Wear Her Clothes
If you're into the throwback '80s and '90s revivals, then it only makes sense to nab your mom's clothes as your own. While I love me some vintage, I'll admit that I steal my mom's 20-something wardrobe for nostalgic reasons. It's pretty cool to wear that same floral romper to a festival that she rocked while chasing me with a hose when I was five.
And it makes us both smile to see it.
So what do you think? Are you just as bad as me and dress to impress your mom? I'm ready to gloat if you'll let me.
Images: Marlen Komar