Fashion Dilemma Part 1

March 6, 2011

I am not a corporate wife. I am not a military wife. In my 15+ years with DH, I can count on both hands the number of wives I’ve met. Two former Kings Pointers (both married to alumni) and one coworker’s wife at our wedding; three spouses and a bride at a wedding eight years into our marriage; and one spouse I’ve communicated with via the telephone and internet. We do not exactly have a support group or get togethers because of high turn-over and the fact we live all over the U.S. and the world for that matter.

To a young wife just starting this journey, that can be a bit daunting. No officer’s wives taking us under their wings to show us the ropes or to make sure we understood the dynamics of our spouses’ workplace. I’ll touch on this a little later. This is about my recent travels with DH to a conference and the dilemma I had about meeting the other wives and what on earth was I supposed to wear!

During the two days of the conference, events for the spouses were being organized and there would be a gala dinner. DH was told that wives should dress in business casual for the organized event and business formal for the gala (men in suit and tie). I seriously had no idea what I was supposed to wear. Much of this confusion comes from two things: it has been 10 years since I have worked in an office and I have lost a bunch of weight and have no idea what in my closet fits. And if it does fit is it a decade out of style?

I’ve mentioned my really cool neon paint splattered shoes and my superhero tees that I like to wear. I do dress a bit more respectably when subbing–dark jeans and a nice top, and I skip the cool shoes. I also clean up quite well for Sundays in dresses or skirts. All of this is baggy on me now. After losing 15 pounds my friends started telling me that my jeans (bought with DH’s waist and inseam numbers or just borrowed from him) were looking a bit obscene–I believe I was even asked if I had a “package” in my pants. I made a big deal about giving DH all his pants back and actually buying women’s jeans for myself that Christmas.

I’m down another 10 pounds and even those jeans are too big. But I didn’t want to go out and buy jeans when we’re about to hit spring and warmer weather. I was going to have to go through my closets and seasonal wear any way. The problem is that I do need some better fitting slacks for subbing and for church.

And I still had no idea what constitutes business casual and business formal. I posed the question to my better dressing and currently employed friends. The range of answers was educational.

“It’s like a skirted suit, hose, closed toed shoes. Conservative business attire. A step up from the slacks and blouse. Darker clothes usually like blues and blacks. Does that help? I would love to help you pick something, but I would rather see you with a superheros shirt and a skirt!”

“Business casual–comfortable skirt and nice top/blouse or comfortable ‘dress pants and nice top/blouse.’ Most teachers seem to go for the business casual. If you dress similarly while you sub you should be good to go. Open toed shoes are… usually considered more casual in some circles, but can go either way.” 

“Business formal, think Lawyer style, suit, blouse closed toe, low heel shoes with hose, conservative jewelry. Business casual, slacks, not khakis with a nice blouse (not silk) or sweater (sweater set) closed toe, low to flat shoes. Silk scarf, conservative jewelery. … I’m reading my husband’s law magazines for this.” Here is a link others may find helpful: www.vsb.org/docs/valawyermagazine/vl1209_addressing.pdf

So I now had a jumping off point. I had three generous offers to go shopping with me but frankly I was embarrassed. I have no idea what size I am. I have no idea what’s fashionable or inappropriate or matronly. I think running around in a Wonder Woman tee at my age is definitely bordering on inappropriate but at least I’m not wearing the matching Daisy Dukes.

Next up… Adventures in Shopping: you have no butt!



  1. Four words: What Not to Wear! I have learned so much from that show! 🙂 You have done a great job of stating women’s fashion angst! I experienced the same sort of concerns when trying to decide what to take to the Writers’ conference in Denver! I’ll be following your adventures! I’m definitely interested in your Glasgow trip! Blog about that soon!

  2. […] Fashion Dilemma Part 1 (snipewife.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] Fashion Dilemma 1 […]

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