Another look at the frumpys

I loved reading everyones thoughts and reactions to my Fight the Frump post. It is obvious that this is something that both excites and frustrates/overwhelms us all.

I wanted to revisit the post, because there were some questions and a couple of things that people took issue with. Obviously, my specifics and thoughts about these will be mine and not Charla’s. Charla, if you hear me, come help us out! You too, Stacy London!

This is the list I posted. (As one reader pointed out, the original list was 25 and not 24. I forgot overalls. She thought maybe I excluded them because I love them. No, dear reader. I do not. Just because I just got rid of my maternity (EEK!) overalls, that I’ve had since my first pregnancy 8 years ago, doesn’t mean I love them. No siree. Actually, I just missed it when copying and I looked that list up and down until my eyes crossed, looking for the missing item…)

Holiday sweaters with bells and appliqu├ęs (reindeers, teddy bears, bumblebees, pumpkins).
Granny necklaces that tell how many grandchildren you have.
Souvenir T-shirts.
T-shirts with meant-to-be funny sayings.
Acid-washed jeans.
Ripped jeans.
Shoulder pads.
Flannel shirts.
Muumuus. (**Does this really need to be stated?)
Photo handbags (the older you get, the more sophisticated your accessories should be).
Flesh-colored hose.
Penny loafers.
Oversize blazers.
Mommy robes.
Thin gold chain necklaces.
Elastic-waist pants.
Granny undies.
Baggy sweats.
Bearlike, full-length fur coats.
Short shorts.
Cargo pants.
Stockings with reinforced toes.
Three-piece suits with vests.

Several people took issue with getting rid of clothes that are comfortable and that we really do enjoy wearing, regardless of what some list says.

I think the point that Charla is trying to make, and one that I tried to zone in on, is that there are clothes in all sorts of styles that are comfortable. But not all of those styles are flattering. And what may be flattering on you may look like a something my cat regurgitated, when I wear it. But, I think that universally, there are some trends that we fall into without realizing that there is a better option.

I’m certain we can all agree that there are times when some items on this list are practical. We can certainly find an occasion to wear most items on this list at some point. But we aren’t talking about saving your baggy sweats for days when you are sick or have dirty jobs to take care of. We are speaking about not wearing those same baggy sweats all day every day.

I found this quote from Charla and think it sums it up nicely: “I think women in America are so hung up on comfort, they walk around in clothes like they’re going to the gym,” she says. “If you dress well, you will get people to sit up and take notice.”

Frankly, people are gonna notice us one way or the other. The question is, do we send off something positive or negative?

What a Difference!!
For some great before and afters, look here.
photos are from
~ Backpacks: an item some of you wondered about. I used to use a backpack diaper bag. They are handy and necessary when you are juggling several kids. Otherwise, your diaper bag tends to manage to always flop around and whack you in the belly and fall off of your shoulder. I am thinking she meant avoiding using it as your everyday purse. There are many attractive options out there for larger bags, if needed. Another possibility she meant, was to avoid the backpack purse that a lot of teenagers use. Again and again, she mentions that we should not try to look too young, as if we are stuck in the past.~ Granny Undies: I am wondering if when she mentions granny undies, she means to instead wear one of these (as opposed to what some might have thought, which was that she was implying a thong. nothankyouverymuch.

Isn’t the difference AMAZING!??! Seriously, it doesn’t even look like the same bottom. Her clothes even fit her differently.

(I hope these photos don’t offend. I’m hoping to answer some questions and show examples to clarify.)

~ Thin Gold Chains: this one perplexes me. But my best guess is that, as we age, our accessories should become more sophisticated (as mentioned in the list above). Since we all might have our own definition of sophisticated, for clarity sake, I will say, that there are many many lovely, feminine jewelry pieces to choose from now. They range from small and dainty, to large and chunky. Don’t just limit your choice to gold chains.

~ Cargo pants: these fall into that vague area too. I think that there are some styles that are more fashionable and others that just look trendy and junior miss which is what we should avoid as we age. If you choose to wear these, find some that are flattering to your figure. A lot of cargo pants tend to be loose fitting and can be too baggy and unshapely.

Remember, larger clothes don’t hide. There are flattering clothes for every shape.

~ Mommy Robe: honestly… I have no idea. I am assuming this means don’t wear your robe and curlers around town… but I just don’t know…

Lest you think I am looking down my nose at anyone who wears sweats and souvenir t-shirts, I am writing these posts for my inspiration as well. I was able to get away with these things when I was young and spritely, but as I approach 40, I realize that I need to take care of myself in all areas, not just physically.

One last thing. I realized last night that I didn’t post my outfit. The weekend got away from me. I will (try) to post it tomorrow if I am able to pull it off of myself without crawling into a corner in the fetal postion… old habits die hard. Stop by and leave a comment if you post yours!


  1. Love improving the mommy image one post at a time!

  2. Fashion and aging is tough. Since I turned 42(…choke, gasp) I’ve been taking stock of my wardrobe and my changing body shape…which has nothing to do with my weight. My shape is just changing. (personally I think it has something to do with gravity.) When I was young and “spritely” I hardly ever tried clothes on before buying them…now I do. Then I try to look at myself through the eyes of my admiring public (HA!). It helps.

  3. Cindy Swanson says

    I took some of Charla’s suggestions with a grain of salt. Most of us know what works for us, but sometimes we just need a jolt to let us know we’re going a little too far in one direction.

    As I mentioned in my own post that was inspired by YOUR post, I take issue with a few of Charla’s forbidden things and suggestions. I am NOT going to wear a thong any time soon, for example. (Probably ever.) But I think most of us realize it’s OK to occasionally wear flesh-colored pantyhose or holiday-themed apparel. There are exceptions to every rule.

    As for “baggy sweats”…well, there’s baggy and there’s baggy. There are cute, fashionable sweatsuits that can actually be somewhat flattering and still extremely comfortable.

    Actually, anything I put on has to be comfortable. Flattering, attractive, reasonably-priced, and COMFORTABLE!

    I actually appreciated finding out about this book, and I plan to read it. Follow it to the letter? Nope…but I will certainly glean whatever helpful suggestions I can from it.

  4. Corey~living and loving says

    I enjoyed this post. I can be guilty of being frumpy…and am on the road to caring a bit more about how I look.

    I have seen you over at (sortacrunchy and other blogs) and decided to check your blog out.

    have a great day!

  5. I got a huge grin from this!!
    I have no comments to make on any of the ‘offending’ items listed except that I don’t own any of them :-)
    But I am known to live in my jeans and comfy shirts. :-)
    Stacy and Clinton need to come rescue me, really! :-)
    Blessings :-)

  6. I enjoyed the list because I was excited to see I only violated two items: cargo pants and elastic pants (but do they still count if they are yoga pants?). Like food and exercise: everything should be done in moderation, you can be too much if you are too trendy or too young looking.

  7. I had a comment but couldn’t get it to go through! I’ll try to remember, two days later!

    –I think so much has to do with function. There are times I don’t need to stand out in a crowd. I think self focus is a huge problem in women’s fashion.

    if our focus were other centered, i’d be asking instead, how does they way I’m dressing make the other woman feel, the one I might need to reach

    am I approachable?

    am I wearing things out? Richard Foster’s book on disciplines and simplicity KILLS me on this.

    Does it look good on me?

    I have a friend who looks so darling in overalls I’d never take them away from her!

    And every family needs one for every member for fall dress ups anyway. I don’t wear them often…too hard to go to the bathroom.

    Chains? I have a small head, therefore I tend to wear small jewelry. The older I get, the more heirlooms I wear, and nothing in this world could make me choose fashion most days over my family jewelry my husband or the kids have picked for me. I feel so loved in it, and it keeps me centered.

    It’s very hard for me to have much respect for the woman who comes to the school as a stay at home mom who is dressed to kill fashion wise. I just wonder where her head is. It just is lost on the environment. I think you have to know your environment.

    I see moms overdressed for their kids basketball games and I think, “What was she thinking?”

    Why turn heads at a kid’s ballgame?

    I don’t know. I’m married already, I just have different goals. I’d rather be known to be the one sweeping up the spills for someone instead of worrying if it got splashed on my new furry boots.

    At some point, you have to ask, what do I want to be known for?

    I love these reminders, but I think we can get out of hand with it and totally lose focus on the impact women should be making in their communities. Not to seem to heavy, but I think it deserves an afterthought to this great post and discussion.

  8. Hi Maggie ~

    You make valid points and I agree with what you are saying.

    But my point isn’t that we should dress in our fancy best everywhere we go.

    It’s about taking the time to care for ourselves. There is nothing wrong or inappropriate with putting on a nice pair of slacks and blouse (or overalls), or fixing our hair, or dabbing on some lipstick and mascara to run errands. It makes us feel better.

    And being a married woman, I think my husband appreciates it. Trust me, I’m not doing this for other women or men. But, I feel better, as I go about my day. I don’t look in the mirror and see a tired hag-erdy woman in the mirror (which when I do, perpetuates that feeling). It honestly makes me feel more energized when I take the time to get dressed in something un-frumpy and do my hair etc.

    Being a person who suffers from depression, this is a huge thing for me. When I dress frumpy, I continue to feel frumpy and depressed and gloomy. It affects my attitude.

    I apologize to anyone reading this post, if it comes across as preachy or judgmental. That’s not my intent. All of the things you mentioned have their place within what I am talking about.

    I don’t believe it is EVER appropriate to dress provacativley, and certainly not at a child’s event. But we sometimes take that too far and just dress like we don’t care or that it is a sin to look attractive.

    This is about encouraging women to realize that they are a precious child of God.

    Obviously, He love us no matter what.

  9. ooops, forgot one of my main points, which is that all of this is within the context of someone who isn’t doing it to be self-focused.

    That’s not attractive, no matter what you are wearing.

  10. What a great discussion! I enjoyed reading the frumpies. I thought Maggie had some great points, but I also agree with your sentiment. For me, it feel soo good to actually make time to do my hair or put on makeup. I don’t have time to do it enough!

    And it helps me in my relationship with my husband, not because he thinks I look better, but because I feel more attractive and energized like you said. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to feel attractive, as long as it’s not for the wrong reasons. For your self and your husband, thats great and healthy (imho).

    Motherhood takes a lot out of us sometimes, and it’s nice to feel like, once in a while, you don’t look as worn-down on the outside as you feel on the inside! That’s my perspective at least. TOTALLY agree, though, about dressing inappropriately or provacatively.

    P.S. I have been to certain events and been embarrassed about being over-dressed, but had come from somwhere else. (ex: taking sick child to doctor after going to work meeting) And worried about what others think. Do they think I’m dressing up for the doctor? It’s silly that it would even cross my mind, but women are sometimes critical of eachother, sadly.

  11. Oh! This is getting good. I want to add my 2 cents in about being a stay at home mom. When I do make it out without the kids I usually do dress much nicer then I do at home because it makes me feel human. I also would dress up to go to an evening function especially if my husband was going to be there too because he LIKES to see me that way. I don’t think this contradicts anything already said. I do think there is way too much frumpy and when someone takes a little time to dress up even if it is a little overdone…give her a break!

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