Monday, November 16, 2009

Being presentable at home

I sometimes wonder how it happens that we wives and mothers often appear in the least attractive form to the people who love us the most, and who matter to us the most: our husbands and children.

I understand, of course, that home is a place to relax and feel comfortable, and I'm not talking about prancing around in high heels around the clock. I also understand the demands on the time of a busy mother, which often make us unable to wear make-up, groom our nails, or invest in other small details of caring for our appearance.

However, when we go out, even if it's just a quick trip to the grocery store, we don't wear pajamas, no matter how busy we are. We comb our hair (or at least I used to, before I got married and started wearing head scarves!). We might dress casually, but we still make ourselves presentable enough so we won't blush when we meet a neighbor along the way. This, I think, is a minimal reasonable level of decent appearance we ought to maintain at home as well, for the sake of our loved ones.

If your husband works outside the home, most likely he meets young, attractively dressed women every hour of every day. Even if he is the perfect family man, he can't help but notice the contrast when he comes home.

I wrote about this topic before, when I was still single. I must say dressing decently at home was easier while I didn't have an energetic little one to keep me on my toes, but still, my opinion remains largely the same.

I'm not always dressed up at home, but I do make a point to appear at my best at home in front of my husband, and not just when we go out. If I only dressed nicely for other people, what sort of message would my husband get?

In the long run, fueling a husband's attraction will be much more important to a woman's happiness than what other people think of her. I think our efforts should be distributed accordingly.

34 comments:

eliza said...
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Thursday's Child said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I have to admit I've done a horrible job of that in the past. Definitely good food for thought.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh a little as you have not been to the USA ...you most come and see all the young women in the grocery stores in pajamas , I am not joking. I just realized as I read your post that I have finally become so accustomed to it that I barely notice anymore. In the grocery and at school .Our school sent a note home last year saying that the big fluffy bedroom slippers were not going to be permitted anymore ,I guess in case of fire they didn't want the kids standing in rain or snow in them. I am determined I need to start dressing better .

Shorty said...

I think of the make over themed talk shows, where husbands complained that their wives have let themselves go. Even my own husband mentioned a couple of years back how i never do my hair or wear makeup, and he would really like to see me dolled up every once in a while. I admit, when i get dressed up and seeing my husband smile at me...it makes me feel good :)

Anonymous said...

Agree in general.
Two points: I think men should also follow those guidelines. So many are all debonair at the office and dress like slobs at home. Women notice these things, and it certainly doesn't fuel any romance to look at your hubby's plumber behind. Women also compare, contrast, etc...

Second point: I'm not sure men would prefer their wives dress up at home instead of outside of it. It is so important to most people (male and female) that their spouses make a good impression on society.

Mrs. Anna T said...
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Otter Mom said...

I'm glad to see you addressing this topic. I couldn't agree with you more. But in the US, I see people in their pajamas at the store all the time - both men and women, and I think it looks bad. I think it's very important to look our best for our husbands. That doesn't have to mean dressing up and wearing heels, but being clean & presentable, brushed hair, etc. What kind of message would I be sending to my husband if I let myself go or didn't care enough about my self? He'd get the idea that he's not important enough to me for me to at least make the effort. At least that's my opinion. And he is very appreciative, which is always nice to hear.

Melinda said...

I wanted to state the same as the anonymous commenter above, that many people here in the States appear in pajamas in public. If not in pajamas, then clothes that are only appropriate for sleeping in. I am so tired of it. Here there seems to be less of a concern about being embarrassed in front of the neighbors or strangers and it's all about our own personal comfort. It really is a courtesy issue, as well as a modesty issue, isn't it?

Thanks for reminder.

TheRetroHousewife said...

Anna I completely agree. I find myself wearing yoga pants at home now because jeans (which my husband likes) are constricting when I have to get down on the floor to do Isa's therapy and also when cleaning. I need to find some nice casual dresses that I can wear around the house. It's winter so I might put leggings under them but still its better than work out wear. Thanks for the reminder!

Anna said...

My husband likes to see me in comfortable, relaxed clothes around the house because to him that means I am feeling comfortable and relaxed. Part of what's so wonderful about being at home is that the focus is NOT on outward appearance. I find the world's emphasis on perfection in physical appearance to be tiring and demeaning, especially to those of us who choose to dress modestly and simply.

Bobbi said...

Taking this admonition to heart has really changed my marriage. It changed my attitude towards my husband (honoring him) and his attitude towards me (admiration). It would seem that wanting to excuse "letting oneself go" is really just trying to find an excuse to act without full respect and love for your mate! Of course, he loves me no matter how I look (horrible after childbirth let me assure you) but he wants to know that I care for HIM. It's not about whether he loves me regardless...it's a respect thing. Thanks so much for writing on this!!

Rachel said...

Oh, I know what you mean exactly....embarrassed a bit, because it is especially easy for me to do it..seeing as there are many many days I don't get out and don't see anyone outside of the immediate family, with five under 9, I get sometimes so that I am just jumping and running from the moment I get up, and it might be noon if I get around to brushing my hair, teeth, etc. Oh, I'm dressed, and modestly (no going around in pjs here), but I look a fright.

I try to make sure to take the time to clean myself up a bit between the time DH calls me and asks if I need anything while he is on his way home, and when he gets here (20mins). But I will admit to letting myself forget that 'fact', that it isn't strangers eyes I need to be the most concered about...

I've gotten better lately. But it is easy to fall back into without thinking about it...

The Whites said...

not to mention what the occasional drop by visitor will think of homemakers in their pajamas and messed up hair.

Anonymous said...

I remember as a child visiting my aunt and uncle one summer. She wore her "working" clothes during the day but always ran and changed clothes and put a bit of lipstick on just before it was time for him to come home. It impressed me even as a child.
I do not recall seeing people wearing pajamas at the grocery store but I do recall seeing a "woman" (not lady) wearing a bikini top!! Why do they think we all want to see THAT!?
Mrs. L.

Lady M said...

I am with the many other commenters from the USA that are very, very tired of seeing people sloppily dressed in their "pajama" style clothing, their skin-tight workout gear (in places other than the gym or their home - really, please cover it up). While this may be the current "fashion" trend, I wish people would not be so sheepish and step away from the herd - seriously, after seeing some of the clothing the fashion designers have picked out for us the last several years, I would think they would revolt and stop buying them.

That said, I absolutely want to try to look nice for my husband when he gets home or when I am representing our family when we are out and about during the day. He does work with young attractive women and I do not want that to be a stumbling block for him. I also try to avoid dressing in all black (not that I care to do so on a regular basis anyway). This is because of his comment of all these young women dressed every day like they are going to a funeral - in black. That and they are all in pantsuits (his words, not mine, so who knows, lol). He says it is like they are all trying to be men, but of course, they let their cleavage hang out in their "suits" (notice that men do not let their chests hang out at work - this would be considered inappropriate, of course).

Okay, done rambling on the topic and need to get my daily work around the home started .

Rebekka said...

I'm not always so good at this, especially on days when I don't go out at all (I work outside the home and love to stay cosy at home when I have the day off). While I agree that everyone should be able to feel relaxed and comfortable at home, both husbands and wives, and that it's also a courtesy to strangers to appear presentably in public, I don't think that relaxed and comfortable = sloppy. Even in the "olden days" women didn't run around dressed to the nines at home all the time, they had housedresses and aprons. One can certainly be comfortable at home in a jersey knit dress or yoga pants with a cute t-shirt and still avoid looking like something the cat dragged in, if you are washed and well-groomed and your clothes are clean and not worn to rags, as Anna wrote in her post. I think the point is not so much to look like a supermodel, but more "I made an effort to get dressed today". :-)

Now I'm all inspired to keep the pajamas for sleeping and find some "house-clothes" that look good.

Sarah R said...

Oh Anna, I love this post. I recently switched to "almost all dresses/skirts" (I haven't gotten rid of all my pants yet, but I'm getting there.) My husband adores me in my skirts and dresses, my kids have noticed, and even their friends frequently say, "You look so nice, Mrs. R! My mom only wears sweat pants." I've enjoyed it so much that I haven't had the heart to switch back to being a slob, even on days when I'm tired and don't feel like dressing up. Once I put in the effort, I feel better every time!

Samara said...

This is interesting. I do like to look good regardless of where I am, though if I'm feeling ill I don't worry about spending the day at home in pajamas, and I don't worry about my husband doing so either. I know that he loves to smell perfume on me, so I try to put some on each day, before he gets home in the evening of not before. He always notices and comments positively. I feel the same about him being clean-shaven.

I imagine that mindsets change over time, as well- my grandma always wore a zippered coverall-type housedress at home, in order to preserve her nicer clothes from the wear & tear that they would receive if worn on a daily basis. My friends in Russia did the same- they would come home from work or school and immediately change into a frumpy housedress. My own husband comes home and changes out of his nice work clothes right away; I did the same when I was still working outside the home. Still, we always wore clothes at home that we could wear to the store- just not our "best duds"- the clothes that we wore to work that require special cleaning. I think that American culture, at least, has adopted "casual dress" as an acceptable in-between standard. Maybe the people who would have worn their curlers, undershirts or housedresses in public are now the set who wear pajamas and slippers to school or the store. The rest of us are enjoying the comfortable compromise of informal but presentable jeans, casual skirts, tshirts etc.

I wish that someone had pushed my dad a little to dress presentably at home too. His version of the housedress was to spend most of the weekend in his tired underclothes, which caused some awkward moments when friends would come over- unless they had dads who did the same :)

Jennifer said...

This is a good topic to think about. On a practical side, we are not only freshening up for our husbands, but we are also teaching our children, both girls and boys, that keeping ourselves groomed, clean, neat & tidy is important to do.

My husband doesn't like me wearing make-up, so I haven't worn it for over 8 years. And I wear a covering, so "doing" my hair doesn't come into play. However, throughout the course of the day, strands come loose & by 5 pm,
I'm looking a bit disheveled. It only takes a few minutes to fix it & I do feel much better, even though my husband doesn't really care if my hair is "fixed" or not.

Jennifer D

elena rulli said...

What you write is more than right, Mrs. Anna T, but I'd like to add that also our husbands should focus on being a bit more tidy and less shabby at home... Women have eyes, too, and it's too easy to start making comparisons, even when love and respect in the couple isn't in discussion.
All this said, I find it's one of the joys of being at home to be able to relax in comfortable clothes and fluffy slippers ;)

Mommy Lynda said...

I think you are absolutely right. I try to make it a point to get freshened up before my husband gets home from work.

Kelly said...

So true for both men and women. Here in the US I'm sick of seeing men and women in sweats ALL the time. Used to be sweats were for working out or working around the house, but I see them all the time everywhere. Half the time I can't tell men from women in the sweats they all wear.
For me I stick to loose fitting nice jeans and khaki's in winter, with the occasional long dress or tunic top over leggings, the latter I found very comfy and looks nice as long as the tunic top is long and tailored a bit. Thanks for the reminder.

Wordy Wife said...

This is a good post. I always shower, select a nice outfit, do my hair and put on makeup before my husband comes home from work. I know he appreciates it, and I like looking pretty and special for him. Of course he loves me no matter what I look like - but when I make myself attractive, it lets him know that I care about him, his approval, and encouraging his natural desire for his wife!

I'm sure it is more difficult for women with children - but even if you're busy, it doesn't take much time to brush your hair and change into a pretty shirt.

swirlypepper said...

I liked this post a lot :) I'm in a different situation since I'm out all day but I find that I get a second wind when I come home, wash my face and get changed into comfy but clean clothes. It feels more like the start of my evening, not like leftover shreds of a working day.

I worked in a corner shop and unless it was a frazzled mum rushing in before 7am for milk/bread I never saw anyone come out in pyjamas! I'm really shocked to hear about that!

Jo said...

Never seen PJ's whilst out shopping (but I'm not from the USA). However when we lived in the tropical northern I would often see women in bikini tops (small) and sarongs which was most often not a pretty sight. In summer I like to wear pretty skirts at home with a T-skirt (something colourful) and in winter I often wear track pants.

Jo

The Ruby Mama said...

Ugggh!!!! Great post! Thank you for discussing this. I was JUST discussing this with my mom. I just had a baby a couple of weeks ago and very few things were fitting me, but I finally went out yesterday and found a few cute things to wear around the house. I stick with a "uniform" of sorts. I have multiples of the same thing so that I don't need to think too much about what to pull out and wear. A ton of black, grey,and white. I wear a ton of black yoga type bottoms or black leggings, either grey, black or white tank tops, and then some kind of "shmatta" as I call it--an open type of cardigan or throw over to cover my arms and butt. I make sure to do my hair and makeup as much as possible, even if it doesn't get done until noon. Who cares as long as my husband comes home to me looking fresh and "hot." As you mentioned, my husband sees alot of very good looking women all day long with beautifully manicured nails and makeup and hair, he works in NYC! I would be in major trouble if he came home to me looking crappy!

Buffy said...

I like to wear (cute) pyjamas around the house sometimes but I wouldn't dream of going shopping in them! That's one trend we don't need from the States, thank you!

It would be good to see the men making more of an effort at home too. It's mostly track suit bottoms and football shirts...

Karen said...

Lovely post, thank you! Everything in our society has relaxed past the point of good taste, in my opinion. There is the matter of taking pride in being a woman. Didn't we watch our appearance very closely while dating the man who is now our husband? I know I did!

When I go out in public with my husband and we meet people, I want him to be proud of me.

I think we should take some pride in our appearance no matter what we are doing, where we are going or even staying at home. Somehow 'being comfortable' has become more important than anything else.

I like to look nice for my husband. Just because we are now married doesn't mean I should forget about looking nice for him and for me. When you look nice, you feel better!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a very respectful and thoughtful post. As some of your other readers have stated, women in pajamas in the grocery store is, although perhaps not commonplace, anything but rare here in the USA. Actually, I've been shopping at 24 hour places many times and encountered couples in their flannel on a midnight snack run!

However, that aside, the point you make is true: we dress for others, and should also dress for our husbands. I do also believe this should hold true to men, though. I know I love nothing more than to see my husband cleaned up, whether he is just relaxing at home or we're ready for a night on the town. That being said, because I do appreciate those moments, I guess I also see the cute, endearing moments when he is absolutely filthy as somewhat amusing.

I think we both try to cater to each other in that regard. Sometimes he comes home, and I've been working on the house, working on our business (we are self-employed and I work from home) or whatnot, and I'm still in pajamas. However, the vast majority of the time he comes home, and I've made myself up in a way *I* feel confident in, while also showing his bride is still easy on the eyes. ;) Similarly, he comes home, cleans up and snuggles up to me for the evening. It works, and we're happy.

Give and take, give and take.

Andrea

Jessica Denise said...

Somehow, this post reminds me of this song, sung by Ella Fitzgerald: http://bit.ly/4jtW16 hehe

Coffee Catholic said...

When I saw this post a few days ago I said to myself, "Has Anna read my mind or something?" Because just a few days prior to that I had come to the conclusion that I was dressing like a slob at home and I needed to get with it and quit being so disrespectful of my husband and child! I said to myself, "Here I dress nice and tidy my hair whenever we go to someone's house or we go to town. But otherwise I slob around in baggy pants, shirts, my hair quickly tied up in a sloppy pony tail...the message I'm sending to my husband is, 'I don't have any respect for my family'!!"

It was a bit of a wakeup call! And I have it easy because Erlend feeds Elspeth her breakfast every morning so I actually have plenty of time to make myself presentable! So ever since then I've been dressing nice and wearing those snoods I bought from "Garlands of Grace." Now I not only just plain feel better about myself but I no longer feel so guilty for frumping around the house looking like I don't care about my family.

Homemakers Cottage said...

Anna, I was just thinking along these lines yesterday... and I definitely agree with you! Too often, we housewives bring a bad image upon ourselves by "letting ourself go" instead of taking a little more pride in our appearance- even around the house. I don't want my husband to come home and get the idea that I don't care ten cents how I look... AND I want my daughters to grow up believing that being a homemaker is a "job" worthy of pride, respect, and dignity! Every homemaker should strive to make her home AND herself lovely.
~Kristy

Delilah said...

I read posts like this but I have no idea how it applies to my life. My husband is an extremely casual guy. He wears jeans and worn out shirts most of the time. For me, he likes jeans and t-shirts. He loathes makeup and doesn't care if I even wash my hair let alone do something with it. I've asked him over and over how I can dress for him and he doesn't care at all. Well, actually, he honestly would prefer I didn't wear clothes. That would be the perfect outfit but it gets pretty cold here in the winter. Today I'm wearing two pairs of pants, two shirts and a jacket. In the summer I wear dresses that are ONLY for him, not to be worn outside of the house. These are the only dresses he likes. He isn't really a fan of dresses or skirts at all. So honesty, sloppy seems to be his preferred look for me. I've actually complained to him that all he wants me to wear is sloppy and not at all cute. I can't figure out what he likes...aside from the non-outfits I already mentioned.

My husband works with middle aged men so I don't have to worry about him seeing cute women all day at work. I guess just the site of me is refreshing even if I look like a total bum. Hehe...

Fruitful Vine2 said...

I've been building up my stay at home wardrobe with just those thoughts in mind. Our church recently had a clothing giveaway to the community and the church members were allowed to choose some pieces before the crowd came. I chose some and when I showed them to my husband his comment was that they don't look like home clothes and my response was that I wanted to start dressing nicer at home. He nodded and I felt great being able to voice that to him and see his response.