Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dressing Up in a Casual World — CMB Post

This post originally appeared on the now defunct Chicago Moms Blog.

This post is not about my wardrobe. That subject is too depressing for words.

And it's not about what my teenage daughter will wear to the family b'nai mitzvah (plural of bar and bat mitzvah) this weekend. She likes to dress up and, though she's not a fluffy or pouffy girly girl, she does have and wear dresses and skirts. Sadly for her, as someone who would always welcome a new party dress, she has plenty of appropriate options for this weekend, so no shopping required.

No, this post is about boys and dress clothes and why the mere thought of packing for this weekend has worn me out. During the year, there are only a handful of occasions that require my boys to get dressed up. And by "dressed up" I mean wearing pants with zippers, as my boys are slaves to comfort and live for the elastic waistband.

Here is just a sampling of the complaints I get from all three of them about zipper pants:
  • they're uncomfortable
  • they're too tight
  • they're inconvenient (I'm not making this up. Each of them has expressed to me that it is too much of a hassle to unzip when they need to use the john.)
So, because of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, one band performance and the occasional bar or bat mitzvah, I need to invest in dress clothes for three boys who don't want to wear them. Nothing aggravates me more than clothes that don't get worn taking up room in the bottom of a drawer or in our tight closets — nothing, that is, except paying for said clothes.

You would think with three boys at home there would be plenty of hand-me-downs to handle most occasions. Not so. Despite the fact that all three are slim, they have different body types. Elastic waist bands hand down quite easily; fitted clothing does not.

Earlier this year, I bought my eldest boy a new suit. He is 5' 7.5" and weighs 114 pounds. For those of you who don't instantly translate this into haberdashery equivalents, let me do it for you: suits do not exist in his size. He is too tall for the boys department, where he would wear a size 20, but the pants would be too short and most size 20s come in "Husky". With a 27" waist, he is definitely not husky; nor is he able to shop in the men's department, where pants start at size 30", with a rare 28" available in an ugly color or print, and they would still be too big, even with a belt.

I know some of you who watch What Not to Wear are about to utter the word "tailor". Let me warn you, I know two-fingered Vito, and he probably knows where you live, so don't say it. I am not about to pay to have expensive men's pants whittled down to fit my son so he can wear them once and then roll them into a ball in his closet. Not going to happen.

My middle guy, who will have his own bar mitzvah in November and is due for a new suit, can still fit in the jacket of his big brother's castoff, but the pants are too short. I'm not ready to buy him his bar mitzvah suit yet, because all 12 year olds do is eat and grow, and I would be highly irritated if the suit did not fit in four months. The youngest, who could theoretically wear the pants of the aforementioned castoff, won't wear them because they sit at his natural waist and that "bothers" him — he prefers pants that sit at his hips. Ugh.

Then there is the problem of shoes: my oldest boy's feet stopped growing mid-winter at a size 10 1/2 — bigger than his father's feet, so he can't borrow from dad. The shoes we bought him last year still fit (yay!). As of 10:30 this morning, however, he could only locate one of them.

The dress shoes I have for the middle guy are, granted, one or two sizes too big, but if I tie them really tight, I think they'll stay on for the two hours of the ceremony on Saturday. The only other pair of dress shoes we own are a size 4, which may be a bit snug for the little boy, but I think they'll fit. They will fit. I will make them fit, because I just don't think $2 flip flops from Old Navy with skulls on them are appropriate footwear for a b'nai mitzvah, do you?

Now, all we have left to worry about are ties. It seems the cute ones they got at age four, the ones that velcro on at the back of the neck, now reach only to mid-belly, which is less than cute. My husband's closet-full of rarely-if-ever-worn ties are too long, so I'm not quite sure what to do about the whole tie thing.

Here's my plea: can't we as moms figure out a way to recycle boys dress pants, suits, shirts, ties, belts and shoes. It's not like they wear out. It's not like they ever really even change in style. There must be a way to make dress-up events less toxic for families with boys. There. I have just given you a million-dollar idea. When you figure it out, let me know. I'll only take the 10% to which I am entitled, and I'd be happy to take that in trade.

This is an original Chicago Moms Blog post. When Susan Bearman isn't stuffing her children into uncomfortable clothing and telling them that they may not eat, play or breathe until after the event is over, she can be found writing at Two Kinds of People and The Animal Store Blog.

1 comment:

Susan Bearman said...

Comments from the original Chicago Moms Blog post:

feefifoto said...

Oy! Does it have to be suits? Can you go with trousers and blazers for all but the Bar Mitzvah boy?

August 01, 2009 at 06:34 AM

Susan @ 2KoP said in reply to feefifoto...
My littlest guy just wore new black dress pants and a white polo shirt. That's the advantage of a summer bar mitzvah.

August 03, 2009 at 07:17 PM

Amy Nathan said...

I love this post - it's so true. I am glad my 17 year old has all but finished growing, because the dress clothes I invested in this year for banquets and Bar Mitzvahs, will fit at least through the next year!! My son's feet stopped growing at size 12.5. Thank goodness!!

August 01, 2009 at 07:22 AM