The Real Moms of Brooklyn
On-the-ground responses from Brooklyn moms to the NYTimes article “The New Mom Uniform of Park Slope.”
Rachel, a mother of one and non-profit lawyer, searches her drawer for her fading LOFT pullover every weekend. ‘Sometimes I pull it out of the laundry bin. But when you’re on the playground and likely to get covered in boogers anyway, you need a practical outfit. Plus I got it on sale for like $14.’ Moms recognize each other as members of the tribe who are wearing fashions dating to the year before they gave birth — if they’re lucky enough to fit into those clothes again. ‘When 80% of our prior disposable income is going toward childcare, you do what you can,’ says Laurie, also a mom of one.
Amanda, mother of one and project manager, “Yesterday I sat on a chocolate chip and didn’t even change my jeans. IN FACT, I’m still wearing them today — they’re black, so 🤷♀.”
Ann, mother of one and editor, admits to owning one pair of №6 clogs, which she swears she bought highly discounted at a sample sale. “I keep them in my Brooklyn apartment in the broken Ikea bookcase in the entryway. They occasionally fall out and the cat throws up on them.”
Preeti, mother of one and works in financial services, reports her highest fashion items were bought to meet the free shipping minimums for her little darling’s online shopping. We considerately held off on informing her that what she considered high fashion, wasn’t really.
Laurie, mother of one and television producer, keeps her only designer purse (a gift in the mid-aughts) in a controlled environment and only takes it out when invited to tea by the Queen.
Anna, mother of one and editor, has the search “№6” saved on eBay but hasn’t pulled the trigger on any secondhand clogs yet.
Hilary, mom of one and adjunct professor, “The kind of moms I like to think are in my tribe, do not give a hot shit what number clog I’m wearing. We’re linked by the challenges of raising small humans, our sense of humor, and the vomit on our jeans.”
Natalie, mother of one, graphic designer, and a resident of the outskirts of Park Slope, was seen this morning strutting down 7th Avenue wearing a blue bear hat she purchased at Amazing Variety Store, a local boutique. “I have four of them. They’re actually my son’s, but he insists I wear one every day on our way to school because they are so fabulous. I receive compliments on it all the time.” The bear hat is strategically missing two pom-poms and looks incredibly stylish paired with Natalie’s 7-year-old Old Navy leopard print jacket that is fraying slightly on the shoulder as the result of her Amazon-purchased backpack. “I really like to show that I care about social causes by telling the clipboard people who stop me on the street that I have already donated to that cause this year but I care about it deeply.”
Hazuki, mom of one and filmmaker, lives in Park Slope and was seen today dressed head-to-toe from items she found at Beacon’s Closet or on the street. She admits she has not bought a single clothing at retail price since her son arrived 3 years ago.
NOTE, from a friend: Let’s be clear that if said mom actually brings anything to try to sell in Beacon’s Closet they unsparingly suggest that she just put her wares in a garbage bag on the street for free. Or is that just me?
Kim, mother of two and public interest lawyer, is known to brag about her infrequent hair washing — now just twice a week thanks to dry shampoo and not giving a sh*t. She’s perfected her version of a “shower” by using her kids’ butt wipes, and sometimes wears clothing that has recently been laundered. Her signature look is an oversized, knee-length cardigan in one shade of charcoal grey or another, paired with black leggings and whatever shoe tumbled off the shelf when she was scrambling to get out the door with two screaming toddlers who were expressing devastation that the cheddar bunnies were, in fact, kangaroos. Her dewy looks are attributable to the sweat dripping down her face as a result of trying to wrestle a too-big kid into a carrier while the other one laments that he was unable to push the elevator button and has now thrown himself onto the floor and refuses to walk on his own to preschool so has to be half-carried down the street.
One mom, who chose to remain anonymous, owns four cardigans. She leaves two in her closet, one is crumpled up under the stroller, and the other was used to wipe snot off a toddler and is currently on her person, snot intact. She can’t recall the last time they were cleaned, but the faint odor of urine gives the sweaters a certain “bohemian” vibe so popular with frazzled, overworked, exhausted parents who roam the streets of Brooklyn, searching for lost mittens/the people they used to be. Fortunately, they find much comfort — not in the accumulation of multiple pairs of $400 shoes, but in knowing they aren’t alone in the shitstorm that is parenthood, and they spend far less time and money worrying about whether they own multiple status straps.
Sabrina, mother of one and clinical psychologist, presents as both youthful and storied, due to the incongruous mix of fine-moderate lines, silvering hair, (including one particularly mischievous eyebrow hair that wants to say HELLO!), cystic acne, and randomly placed Elmo Bandaids. “I’d like to take credit for that choice , but it wasn’t me, I’m dead inside. My three year old is my stylist!” And it shows.
Alexis, mother of two and lawyer, noted the importance of small signifiers for forming bonds and allowing women to connect. “When I see someone with charcoal-colored bags under her eyes or a reusable shopping tote bulging with snacks that I don’t have, it’s like a friendship bracelet.” Like other in-group signifiers, these small details allow moms to recognize their tribe, a group Blane described as “the people who will always have a wipe to loan you when you forget yours while trying to bodily haul a screaming toddler out the door.” The signifiers of these park slope moms — dark colors, whimsical accessories chosen by their children, shoes that at least match — draw them together around the signified of just trying to fucking make it through the day.
Jenn, mother of two and research director, considers Old Navy high fashion. She owns the same sweater in multiple colors and rotates throughout the week. After a 10 year hiatus she recently purchased Uggs for the holidays and her feet are very grateful. She once used her 3-year-old son’s spare underwear as a bib for her newborn baby while dining at McDonald’s. She never leaves home without snacks in her stylish faux leather mini backpack.
Laura, stay-at-home mother of one and personal chef, swears by her zebra-striped Adidas sneakers. She can be seen hunched over a red umbrella stroller on the outskirts of Prospect Park, grimacing while clutching the tattered lime green and pink canvas straps of her favorite diaper bag from Pottery Barn Kids, which she scored for free off of a local mom’s group. She is wearing a bra today and her husband’s socks.
Susan, mother of a three-year-old and an infant and conference project manager, alternates between maternity leggings during the day and baggy neon green pajama pants during the night. She has been experimenting with leaving the maternity leggings on 24/7 but has found them to be a bit sweaty, so airing them out overnight has worked wonders. As for tops, she has been wearing the same nursing tops since her first child was born in a rotation of the least-amount of spit up. She has recently taken up knitting, and intends to knit a cardigan someday in a mauve color from hand-crafted wool that she purchased via a kit advertised on Instagram.
Marie, mother of two, practically lives in the one nursing dress that she kept from when her first child was born. “A lot of people assume that all the stains are from my breast milk,” she explains, “but many of them are of unknown origin. They give a little spark of creativity to my look and help me express who I am in my soul.” She hopes to add a little zest to her personal style by getting her first haircut in over a year.
Heidi, mother of two and local community college instructor, tries to make bold wardrobe statements by pairing an oversized sweater she found on someone’s stoop with leggings from the Food Coop, the only shop she has generally has time to patronize in person. She rotates two pairs of ancient Dansko clog boots depending on whether the weather is just depressing or outright dehumanizing. She has, on vacation, worn her 13-year-old’s spare Spiderman underwear (backwards), because in packing for the family she sometimes forgets to pack basic things for herself. Bag of choice is an overstuffed L.L. Bean backpack that was rejected many years ago by oldest child. Occasionally accessorizes hair with the toddler’s pink hairbands when she can’t find her own.
Sara, mother of one and graphic designer, artfully blends REI hiking pants with tastefully distressed blouses bought from Atlanta-area thrift stores while visiting grandparents. In lieu of the de rigueur clogs she jaunts the North Slope streets in brown sneakers, which at one point in 2017 were a vibrant yellow. She’s received dozens of compliments from other local moms on her winter coat, about which she brags, “it was on sale four years ago and the zipper still works!” Her makeup regimen includes lotion on skin and, in a delightful eco-friendly twist, nipple cream repurposed as a lip balm.
Holly, mom of two and product manager, has taken to wearing a velvet tracksuit after work. It wasn’t a conscious decision to start wearing velvet tracksuits, but after waiting 10 days for UPS to pick up the mistakenly sent giftwrapped presents, she decided to open them. She embraced them because it fits her top criteria: kinda fits, has a million pockets to lose her phone in, and are lounge-worthy. She thanks Bo and Jean for Myra’s present, whoever you are!
A mother of two and self-described “Park Slope mom influencer,” Jaime has inspired high-fashion trends such as paint-splatter knits, moth-eaten sweaters, and threadbare jeans. “My jeans are shredded primarily in the inner thigh areas, a feature that inexplicably hasn’t yet caught on in the fashion world but once caught on fire during a long walk to the zoo.” For years she has been aggressively recruited by the likes of the Gap, Old Navy, and Lands’ End to be their “brand ambassador.” “‘Brand ambassador’ is not a direct quote,” Jaime clarifies, squatting down to scoop a booger from her daughter’s nostril using what she calls her “utility instrument,” which is really just a disconcertingly long pinky nail. “It’s implied. You should see the emails begging me for my business. They f*cking need me.”
Cynthia, mother of twins and design professor, lives in what is now known as South Park Slope. She‘ll be visiting the Wayuu community in Colombia in the coming months to ask them directly how they’re benefiting from this so-called “Brooklyn Mom uniform” trend. In the meantime, she’ll continue to dress in her uniform — combinations of skinny jeans and cropped pants, with ankle boots and suit jackets (or her favorite cardigan, from Motherhood Maternity). The average age of items in her wardrobe? Around 7 years. As for using one of the said straps? “Hmm, I’d love to, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to attach it to my Park Slope Food Coop canvas bag.”