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I Let My Mom Dress Me for a Week

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SEM is all about fostering bonds among women. Many SEM moms are deeply involved in the SEM community and have strong bonds with their daughters – but how strong is this mother-daughter bond? After watching a Buzzfeed video where a mother dresses her son for a week I chose to test it. I let my mom dress me the week of January 29 – February 2.

Me in a pretty typical outfit: a sweater, black leggings, ankle boots, and my burgundy coat.

My mom and I have very distinct styles of dress despite often borrowing each other’s clothes. For me, comfort and simplicity are key: I generally wear a sweater, pants, and ankle boots in a dark neutral color palette. When I asked my mom about how she pictured my outfits this week, she said “maybe a little bit more color, but not only color. I think most days you actually look quite good.” She continued, “you know I like dresses and skirts, so you’ll probably end up wearing more of that.” This was the first time I allowed my mom to pick my clothes since I was two-years-old, so she was excited.

I didn’t give her any hints about my after school activities or other practical qualifications. I simply handed her a copy of the SEM dress code and told her to go crazy.

Monday’s outfit consisted of a peach cardigan, a peach printed dress, black high-heeled ankle boots, and red and silver jewelry. (Photo: Elisa Yi ’18)

Monday’s outfit consisted of a peach cardigan and a peach printed dress. My mom finished the ensemble with black high-heeled ankle boots and a silver and red glass bead jewelry set. Monday was a pretty laid-back day for me. I had no extracurriculars after school and it was one of the better days of my schedule, so I could deal with the high heels (for the time being). I got a variety of compliments over the course of the day from both peers and teachers, but some of my friends noticed I was dressed differently than normal. Senior Zo Galarneau said “Oh… senior presentation today?” when I entered the senior lounge. I had to explain that I was trying something new this week with my clothes. The main problem I encountered with this outfit involved the shoes; they just weren’t practical for climbing up and down SEM’s many staircases or walking on Elmwood. The second I returned home, I changed into leggings and a T-shirt and hoped for the best for tomorrow.

 

Tuesday’s outfit consisted of a dark purple sweater, a short denim skirt, triangular hoop earrings with pearls at the bottom, and suede ankle boots. (Photo: Tessa Covello ’18)

Tuesday morning began with snow – a lot of it. About one foot of snow had fallen overnight by my house. My mom had chosen my outfit the night before, so I wasn’t really prepared for the snow; I wore a dark purple sweater, a short denim skirt, triangular hoop earrings with pearls at the bottom, and suede ankle boots. My mom could only find nude conversion tights (tights for dance with holes cut into the feet to allow for an easy change of shoes), so I wore them despite the holes.  A senior who knew about my experiment, Tessa Covello, said “It’s funny because I walked in today and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a regular Katie day.'” The outfit was honestly not too different from the outfits I generally wear; however, I would have probably chosen pants for a day like today. After a day of walking around, the conversion tights started to crush my abdomen; however, I dutifully wore them until I got home at 8:00 from Semachords a capella practice.

Wednesday’s outfit consisted of a green striped scoop-neck dress, a navy cardigan, black tights and ankle boots, and a heart-shaped necklace. (Photo: Maggie Rose Bontempo ’18)

Wednesday’s outfit was the type of outfit I had been dreading this entire week. My mom chose a green striped scoop-neck dress, a navy cardigan, black tights and ankle boots, and a heart-shaped necklace I hadn’t worn since 7th grade. The ensemble reminded me of the way I used to dress as a freshman and overall felt very juvenile to me. My classmates had a different opinion. Some thought it actually made me look older. Senior Maggie Rose Bontempo said “It’s not a bad look, it’s just an old look. Old as in more mature.” My opinion may have also been swayed because I was sick; my throat was so sore that I had only been able to drink milk as sustenance for dinner Tuesday evening and breakfast Wednesday morning. After school, I had both a community service board meeting and the first readthrough of the Marion McNulty Dillon ’22 spring play, This Girl Laughs, this Girl Cries, and this Girl Does Nothing. My body was aching and the feeling of the tights crushing in my waist was too much. As soon as I returned home, I returned to the comfort of my leggings. My leggings understand me.

Thursday’s outfit consisted of a burgundy, navy blue, and white striped sweater, a navy blue skirt with gold buttons, black tights, black ankle boots, and navy blue crystal earrings. (Photo: Talia Stoffman ’18)

Thursday was an extremely important day for me. Not only was Thursday the date of my senior presentation, a presentation in front of the entire school, but it was also my birthday. My mom seemed to take pity on me and chose an outfit that was more up my alley. It consisted of a burgundy, navy blue, and white striped sweater, a navy blue skirt with gold buttons, black tights, black ankle boots, and navy blue crystal earrings. I had actually worn the same sweater on my birthday last year, so I guess this has become my birthday sweater now. This was the first day this week that her choices didn’t feel at least a little out of place. Most girls dress up for their senior presentation, so my earrings and somewhat dressy skirt were not regarded as alien by my classmates. I felt my confidence increase tenfold now that I was actually wearing something I liked. Despite this, I still would have been much more comfortable in some nice pants, especially after a whole week of wearing skirts and ankle boots. I was more than ready to choose my own clothes during the weekend by this point.

Friday’s outfit consisted of a dark grey scoop neck T-shirt, a marbled dark grey cardigan, black jeans, and a pair of doc martens 1461 shoes. (Photo: Tessa Covello ’18)

Friday was a magical day. Why, you ask? Because I was finally allowed to wear a pair of pants! It was as if angels had baked me a cake out of glitter and smiles and dropped it off on my front porch. I had explained to my mom that Fridays at SEM are dress-down days, so she decided to take a break from skirts and dresses. My outfit consisted of a dark grey scoop neck T-shirt, a marbled dark grey cardigan, black jeans, and a pair of doc martens 1461 shoes. At the very least I can say that this outfit was very comfortable and suited the casual atmosphere of a Friday. As with Wednesday’s outfit, however, the low neckline made me a bit uncomfortable. My mom described the shirt to me as “low enough to let them know you’re a woman, but high enough to let them know you’re a lady” the night before. The outfit was also a bit dissonant within itself. My peers commented on the ultra-casual nature of the top half of my body versus the more dressy style of my doc martens. Overall, the reception was mixed; while I was comfortable enough in the outfit, my friends noticed that it wasn’t quite my normal style. “It just doesn’t look like you,” said senior Sarah Hamdan.

This week taught me a lot about trusting my mom and taking more risks with my clothing. I hadn’t touched most of the clothing I wore this week since freshman and sophomore year; this was the wakeup call that I needed to clean out my closet and donate some of my old clothes. I filled several garbage bags with old clothes as soon as I got home on Friday afternoon.

 

My mom and I definitely became closer this week. Allowing another person to be in charge of your wardrobe is exhausting. They aren’t always in tune with your needs. After the fourth day of wearing a skirt, tights, and heels, my legs were crying out in pain. The earrings tore at my ears and the cardigans left me feeling cold. I had to trust that my mom would read my physical state from offhand remarks or my general droopiness. She usually did, but not always. I noticed that I also felt the most confident on days when I was dressed similarly to my usual style like Tuesday and Thursday.

 

Overall, this was an excellent experiment, but I don’t think I’ll be letting my mom choose my clothes anytime soon; if only so that I can wear some pants!

 

Would you trust your parent to dress you for a week?

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “I Let My Mom Dress Me for a Week”

  1. Sylvia Kaptein on February 12th, 2018 7:30 PM

    Hi, I’m Katie’s mom and I had fun. I think she looked fabulous. Thanks for letting me do this, Katie.

    [Reply]

  2. Maggie Rose Bontempo on February 13th, 2018 8:24 AM

    lit

    [Reply]

  3. Kate Bowen Smith '92 on February 22nd, 2018 9:07 AM

    I loved this article! It was funny, well written, and interesting to the Mom in me. In fact, I forwarded it along to both a fellow SEM grad and also a prospective parent, both of whom loved it. Well done!

    [Reply]

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I Let My Mom Dress Me for a Week