Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Image Projection 101

There have been many times I've thought how much easier life would be if I were a man.

Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy being a girl. But face it, just the simple act of being born a white male in this grand ole land of ours gives one a lifelong leg up on the competition.

Sure, guys have that whole having-to-repress-your-emotions burden, but I'm a card-carrying member of the burying-stuff-until-it-manifests-itself-as-a-neurosis club anyway.

But I digress...

Boys and girls, our lecture today explores the sexual divide as it pertains to fashion. More specifically, fashion as it relates to image projection as it relates to attending the grade school function commonly referred to as "Back to School Night" as it relates to how I will be spending my evening.

For those not familiar with the beast, Back to School Night is the September event where parents go to their children's classroom, sit in the teeny tiny little plastic chairs suitable only for grade school butts and listen to the teacher's talk about curriculum, all the while experiencing flashbacks of the boredom of their own school days.

And while you are doing your best to at least maintain the illusion of hanging on the teacher's every word, you will also be sizing up the other parents. At least I always expect someone will be sizing me up (and ridiculing me later.) So I will need to put on my game face (and game attire.)

That's where the image projection thing comes in. Because if I make the wrong first impression I might spend the next five years pretending to be Martha Stewart to make up for it. (Although the jail time might be a nice little retreat at this point in my life...)

For the male of the species (as in my husband) the answer to the "what to wear" question is easy: khaki pants and button-down shirt. Office casual, if you will.

Whereas, I must choose from a menu of "looks":

Fashion-forward Mom
Tasteful and Tailored Mom
Retro-chic Mom
Vixen Mom

Because at any given time I can be any one of the above. (Note: Vixen Mom usually only shows up when alcohol is involved; and although my husband is very fond of her, she rarely leaves the house.)

Of course, each look involves the careful selection of the appropriate accessories. I'd conclude that accessorizing was some sort of male domination plot (you know, to keep the female brain occupied with minutia so women can't get all uppity on them) if I didn't enjoy it so much myself.

My "style" was once described (on reality TV no less, but we won't go there now) as "Hugh Hefner if he shopped at Old Navy." As in, I wear something akin to pajamas all day long unless I am leaving the house -- but cotton (as in Old Navy loungewear) as opposed to Hef's silk pjs. (You know, if you have to explain a concept this much, it's probably not worth conceiving in the first place...)

However, loungewear is not PTA-approved garb.

There are certain other lines that must not be crossed at a school function:

No cleavage. Little Suzie will never have a play date with your daughter if Suzie's mom catches Suzie's dad sneaking a look down your blouse.

No peekage. This one is a more difficult issue because it can escape detection until one is sitting in the teeny kid chair with parents on all sides...and then comes the ugly realization that one's gaping back waistband has exposed more than one's sparkling personality.

Anyway, at this point I'm thinking I'm going to go with the combination of Fashion-forward and Mom-Next-Door commonly referred to as "Didn't you get that at Target?"

And maybe I'll put aside my triple-skull drop earrings until Halloween.


At September 29, 2005 12:44 AM, Blogger Merujo said...

I understand this concept oh-so-well. Except, instead of deciding on what mom to be, I agonize over what job interviewee I should be. I look loathesome in "real work clothes" and I have to gauge what image I'm putting forth, depending on the organization. I went to an interview at National Geographic recently, in a skirt, funky tunic and a vintage scarf that my mom wore in the 1960's. I was so happy when I got there and saw most people in jeans and khakis and t-shirts and polos.

Guys put on a suit or a shirt, tie, and pants for an interview and they're done. Us? Lord, what a nightmare.

At September 30, 2005 8:23 AM, Blogger Cyn said...

First of all, thanks for a non-spam comment! And good luck with the job hunt.

I don't know if it's because he read my post and wanted to be contrary, but my husband wore a suit and tie to Back to School night. More weird because he had to change out of the business casual that he actually wore to work to do so.

Of course, none of the other men were so attired.

I went a little more conservative than originally planned and wore a blouse and jeans. The majority of the moms in the room were similarly attired.

Wow -- I may have finally cracked the suburban code. (Now I just have to buy more blouses...)


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