What I Actually Wore

by Heather Whaley

The “What I Wore” column in the New York Times, in which a well-known person chronicles what they wore for an entire week, always fascinates me — it seems everyone has a closet brimming with designer labels and knows exactly where to wear them. And although I’ve always thought of myself as a person who can dress herself, with my busy life and two kids, sometimes I forget. (Also I don’t have a clothing allowance, and I work at home.) Below I chronicle What I Actually Wore last week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
This morning I dropped the kids off at school, and then went for a quick run. By “quick” I refer not to the pace at which I ran, but the duration of the run itself. Twenty minutes. Today I wore my purple running pants that I bought on sale at Old Navy. They were on sale because nobody wants purple running pants, and clothing manufacturers should know better than to make them. I topped the pants off with a t-shirt I got for free in a gift bag at the Toronto Film Festival four years ago that says “Peaches” on it. Over the t-shirt I wore a J. Crew hoodie purchased at the J. Crew outlet in Freeport, Maine. The hoodie is now made special by an adorable stripe of ballpoint pen placed across the front by my six-year-old. Because I was making the school run, I topped my purple pants with a second pair of pants — drawstring loungy ones from Lucky Brand Denim Shop or whatever that place is called. My daughter would prefer me to dress in elegant evening wear when dropping her at school, so these pants are a concession, as my glutes have not been the beneficiaries of as many squats and lunges as would make them enjoyable to look at in purple running pants. My shoes are Nike Lunarglide and my shades are Jessica Simpson from T.J. Maxx, of course. My daughter took the picture and called my shoes “Avatar.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011
My daughter guilted me into chaperoning her class swimming trip, which is tomorrow. I looked at my bathing suits and shuddered. Not just because I’ll have to put one on this bloated and pale body of mine, but because one of them, the appropriate tankini, is six years old, and the bottom is totally see-through, and the other one is a ridiculously tiny hot pink number that I must have bought while drunk. So I’m off to Bloomingdale’s to spend the remainder of a birthday gift card on a new suit. For the excursion I wore a bright blue t-shirt and a vintage brown Katayone Adeli skirt, which prompts the question, if something has been hanging in your closet for 15 years, can you really call it “vintage?” Or does only recently purchased older clothing deserve to be anointed as such? Anyway, that’s what I wore, with a pair of Matt Bernson Waverly flats in a sort of shimmery leopard print. Rrraaarrr! I thought I looked like a housewife from Milan.

Friday, May 27, 2011
Ugh. The pool. Ugh. One hour of total chaos as 25 first-graders scream and splash water in your face while parents try desperately not to make eye contact with one another in their bathing suits. Some parents have no insecurities about their physique or physiology; a father in another class dubbed one of the other dads, “Big Dick George,” but I am not one of them. I wore my new bathing suit from Calvin Klein, a tasteful black one piece with old-lady ruching, under my street clothes, so as not to have to change in front of my daughter’s teacher. On top I wore a loose-fitting Old Navy blue-and-white skirt with a sort of tribal print that may or may not have been intended to be worn as a strapless dress. Over this I wore a black t-shirt from Urban Outfitters, and on my feet, Matt Bernson Love sandals. Now would be a good time to mention that Matt Bernson is my brother-in-law, so I wear a lot of his shoes because they’re cute and he gives me a good price.

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Today is the start of Memorial Day weekend, and my husband and I are getting the hell out of the city, and bringing the kids along because we’re not monsters. Having gotten rid of our car a few years ago, we booked a Zipcar and went up to Croton-on-Hudson for a circus-themed event for the kids. Zipcars make me nervous, not only about bedbugs, but also that there may be rats nesting in them, so I wore black Vans sneakers, in case a rat should scurry across my foot while traveling at 60 miles per hour on the Taconic. I also wore a pair of brown Old Navy cargo pants that were so loose the last time I wore them that I thought I had lost weight. Now, recently washed, they are no longer as loose. On top I wore a pink t-shirt, which is identical to the blue one I wore on Thursday. What I didn’t wear was sunscreen, so now I have a nice burn that will mark me with the outline of that shirt for the rest of the summer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011
We traded the Zipcar for a proper Hertz rental and headed up to see my father and his wife in Connecticut for a couple of days of swimming and Americana. The day was spent by the pool, where I wore my new suit and a long t-shirt dress from the Lucky Brand Denim place. I also wore my Ray Ban sunglasses, which I have not lost in the whole five months since I bought them. On my feet were my Love sandals. For dinner that night, in the backyard, I traded in the bathing suit for some underpants and added some American Apparel leggings and OFF!.

Monday, May 30, 2011
The town where my father lives has a huge Memorial Day Parade, so we walked downtown to watch. The parade consists of every single sports team in town. I’m not kidding. Every little league team, each kung fu class, all the junior gymnasts and even the swim team got to march in the parade. There was also a float carrying mentally disabled adults who perform Shakespeare, which was nice. For the event I wore a black cotton skort. I hate the word “skort” only slightly more than the word “spork,” but a skort does have its advantages. If you are so inclined to swing on the monkey bars, a skort is absolutely necessary, and if your upper thighs rub together — not much mind you, but just enough to be annoying, a skort can be quite comfortable. I also wore an Aerosmith t-shirt that I bought not on the 1977 tour as it indicates, but at Target three years ago. No fewer than five pony-tailed men have complimented me on this shirt in the years since its purchase. I also wore my Vans and my Ray Bans. Incidentally, I was dressed in precisely the same fashion as the kids who were not participating in the parade, but hanging out in back of CVS smoking cigarettes.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Back in the city, I wore my black Champion yoga pants and a black Old Navy tank top to drop the kids at school before going to the gym. After the gym I changed into my favorite sweat pants from H&M, in a size 14 because I like them nice and roomy. These are my apartment pants, the ones I can be found in when I am not outside. I am realizing, however, that my outside clothes are not all that better than my inside clothes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Today I decided to step it up a notch. I wore the same blue-and-white Old Navy skirt, and a white tank top, but I also included some high-heeled shoes that I bought at Famous Footwear. They are made by Dr. Scholl’s and are super comfortable, very seventies, and don’t look at all like I bought them at Famous Footwear, in my opinion. I also added a sort of large-ish belt given to me by my husband a few years ago that I have never worn. The whole look prompted him to say, “Wow, you really put together an outfit,” which may not have been a compliment, but I’m taking it as one anyway.

Heather Whaley is the author of Eat Your Feelings: Recipes for Self-Loathing and the blog EatYourFeelings.com. She is currently working on her second book and lives in New York City with her husband and two children.