little victories: schlumpy phase

This is my series called Little Victories. In it, I talk about what’s going right for me, in terms of how I’m feeling about the way I look, and the world, in general (maybe. I haven’t gotten that far yet). The entry before this one was called “my breasts.” 

Sometimes I go through a schlumpy phase. I don’t feel like dressing up. At all. I want to wear things that don’t squeeze me too tight and don’t itch in the back, and don’t require heels, and would look stupid with makeup. I want to wear things that would enable me to have a shot at running away if ninjas attacked me. It wouldn’t probably be much of a shot. But it’d be better than if I was wearing stilettos and a tight skirt.

I want to wear my dad’s old stained sweatshirt, with something related to football that I don’t understand on the front. I want to wear it with loose-fitting yoga pants that have never seen a yoga studio. During the schlumpy phase, I am not interested in looking good.

If I happen to look good, it is accidental, and almost irrelevant. Not totally irrelevant. But closer than normal.

“You look great!” says Bear, who doesn’t understand fashion at all. Who thinks sexiness is soft material and easy access.

I roll my eyes.

(because this is the truth. note the sports related shirt that was once owned by a male member of my family and the pink hoodie under it that no one should ever wear. and I do that with my hands a lot. it’s really weird. I don’t understand it. at least Bear is  schlumpy here, too)

When I come home during my schlumpy phase, I change immediately into my most unflattering clothing. Sometimes I forget half of it, and I’m walking around in socks with no pants, with my giant sweatshirt swelling like a football-related bubble over my torso.

And when I  go through a schlumpy phase, I’m OK with it. It is not a failure or a wardrobe malfunction or a sign of defeat. I have not given up on life. I am not in need of consolation (unless I’m also actually in need of consolation). I am comfortable. I am succeeding at being comfortable without feeling pressure to look any other way. It’s nice.

It’s like a vacation. I am on a beach of low expectations, gazing into a sunset of brightly colored sweatpants.

I know that one day, hopefully not too soon in the future, I will care again. I will try on four different outfits before I meet my friends at a restaurant. I will try on three outfits before I meet an acquaintance for coffee. I might try on two outfits before I run over to the post office. I’ve seen the way that woman looks at me. She thinks I look schlumpy. I’m gonna prove her wrong.

I know that one day I will once again wish my legs were longer so that those heels would be even more dramatic, and I will say things like, “Great. Now I have to get five instead of four inch heels, because my legs aren’t an inch longer. God. Life is so unfair.” And “Is it possible for my arms to look fatter? I look terrible in EVERYTHING.” I will definitely say, “I can’t dress up! I am one of those women who doesn’t look good in nice things!” I hope I won’t say these things out loud.

I know that someday soon, I won’t be in a schlumpy phase anymore, and I will want to look fabulous all the time. Or at least most of the time.

But until then, I am enjoying the stretched out pants and the sweatshirt. This is the life…

*  *  *

How are you guys feeling about schlump? Are you good at it? Or is there another little victory you’re thinking about?

I got the sweetest shout-out on cake reader Adrienne’s blog, and wanted to thank her publicly. Her blog is called Citygirl and she is a good writer and a clever cultural critic, which impresses me a lot, because I always feel a little uncultured. Thank you so much, Adrienne! You described me in a way that made me think, “Damn, if I’m like that, I’m super cool!” And I proceeded to feel super cool for the rest of the day.

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a sweater. Particularly the brown sweater my MIL bought me for Christmas. It is about fifty times nicer than anything I would ever buy myself.



Kate on December 29th 2011 in beauty, body, Little Victories

35 Responses to “little victories: schlumpy phase”

  1. Melanie responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I think schlumpy is more my lifestyle than a phase. As soon as I get home I change in to pj pants and a t shirt. I never wear make up to work, even though I dress very nice for work. Right now my hair is doing this weird flip on the left side ’cause I only half blow-dried it this morning.

    I think of myself more of having “make up girl” phases. I go through phases wear I put on make up, a dress, great shoes, and actually carry a purse instead of a messenger bag.

    ‘Cause you never know when you’ll have to actually run from zombies. I changed that from the ninjas. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t see the ninjas in time to run from them. They are tricky bastages they are.

  2. Linda Wagner - Nutrition to Invigorate Mind, Body and Spirit responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Ah, I love being schlumpy! Especially when I am at home. Sometimes I try to be a nice schlump with yoga pants and a semi-fitted long sleeve shirt and sometimes I am ultra schlump with no makeup, an old giant sweatshirt, side pony tail, old leggings with little tears everywhere and uggs. I love being comfortable!! Sometimes I’ll get sick of looking like a bag lady and actually get properly dressed and put makeup on but I think there is a time and place for both and I love both equally! It’s nice to get all dolled up and know “you still got it” but there’s also something very liberating about just BEING and not caring about what you look like!!

  3. Mandy responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I had to laugh when I read your post, because currently I am wandering around the house in my fleece slippers, grey cotton underpants, grey beater tank, and what my husband refers to as my fuzzy red Elmo robe.
    In an hour or so, I’ll go shower, drag on a pair of jeans, a turtle neck shirt and my comfy old Merrells and go do some errands–neat clean and presentable, but not exactly fashion-forward or sexy.

  4. Laura responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Yea, I think I’ve got schlumpy perfected!

    When a friend of mine became my roommate, I had “the talk” with her beforehand: part of the agreement is that in return for her not making fun or commenting on my comfy clothes, that I would never embarrass her by going out with her in public dressed like that.

    The best part? I’ve indoctrinated her: she’s got her own set of schlumpy clothes to wear now. Ha!

  5. Laura responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    PS: I love the fact that your postings now show up in their entirety in my RSS feeder!

  6. Madison responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    since I’ve been on break until school starts again, as soon as I come home from work I put on my comfiest pajama pants and schlump around. it is absolutely glorious, and I don’t even feel to unpretty while doing it.

  7. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    loose clothing is basically what i live in. and moccasins. you wouldn’t really know i owned any other pair of shoes. except uggs. they may be ugly but they’re a schlumpy girl’s dream (at least this schlumpy girl’s dream!).

  8. Joy responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    I am definitely going through one of those phases right now. It doesn’t help that I work at a university which is closed from Christmas day to New Years, and therefore have not had to leave the house hardly at all the past several days. Which is awesome. I could be a hermit so easily. But I am reveling in sweats and hoodies and nothing dressy. I even went grocery shopping in sweats over the weekend, which I almost never do. And I usually change into comfy clothes as soon as I get home after work or otherwise going out in nicer clothes. I think that’s something you are not supposed to do to keep the romance alive or something, but I don’t want to stain my good clothes doing chores at home, and I want to be comfy. Yay, schlumpitude. :)

  9. Mara responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    I don’t wear makeup at all, so I guess I’m always a schlump in that way. But I do try to look nice when the weather is warmer. Once it gets cold, however, screw everything– I’m coming to school in my Eskimo jacket and if you have a problem with that I’ll just tackle you. :)

  10. Lisa responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Your comment about what Bear thinks is sexy cracked me up, because my partner also thinks that sexiness = softness and “undoneness.” Your post made me think about why we dress up, or don’t – sometimes, it’s for us, so we can have the best “un-roasts” about ourselves, for ourselves. And it was refreshing to read – I have been having a love/hate affair with a pair of jeans that look nice on me, but squeeze a bit…I love taking them off and graduating to being “schlumpy!”

  11. T.K. responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    My absolute favorite thing to be in is The Cloud, as we refer to it. The Cloud is my cloud patterned snuggie. But, before you gasp in horror you should know that I have attached a belt to it because I am so very fashionable ( and also because I do not want to flash my roommate). On cold days I also wear my boyfriend’s pj pants and sixth grade t-shirts underneath. This is what I live in when I am indoors. I always thought it was really ridiculous that characters on television shows are always wearing their nice outdoor clothing in the house. I mean, who does that? Do people actually wear tight jeans and bras and jewelry when reading a book on their bed? I mean, maybe I am wrong and everyone else but me does but it always seemed implausible, like the producers are just so afraid to have people, female people in particular look authentic (schlumpy) even when they are trying to create an authentic feel in all other aspects of the show..

  12. kate-in-cleveland responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    I definitely put on comfy clothes when I get home, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I work in an office where we NEVER meet our clients (all phone and email), and so we can wear jeans and hoodies if we so choose (and most do). And I have a dear friend who also works with me who dresses up to the nines, and it is a combination of pride (you look lovely!) and embarassment (I look like death in this workout hoodie with thumbholes and jeans) every time i run into her in the hallway.

    It is such a toss-up – I’m clean, I look ok (cute, I would say), and definitely not out of place, but then I see her and it’s just one big uggggggggggh. And of course the nice mental moment of “If I too was a size 2 and a yoga teacher with no mortgage, maybe I would spend more time trawling for adorable skinny vintage clothing.” And I do – I just don’t bother wearing it to work! Or at home, where we go almost straight to PJs.

    Cute PJs though. black sweatpants and a cute tank top. :-)

  13. San D responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Long ago I realized that “comfort” is a high priority to my dressing, and if I can get original handcrafted artsy stuff that feel like sweatshirts/yoga pants, and pj’s, I’m THERE. My favorite designer that fits that bill is Secret Lentil. I own a gazillion of her pieces, and believe me when I tell you it takes the Schlump out of Schlumpy and makes you feel like a) you are beautiful and original, and b) you have pulled a fast one on society. Here’s here site: I am her biggest fan and patron.

  14. Anna responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Schlumpy is my thing when I have time off. I think it’s my default seittng when I know I have nothing to do and no one to impress for a few days. It’s also when I’m at my most comfortable (sitting on the sofa in my over-sized pink hoodie and shortshorts is probably my favorite part of the weekend!

  15. Tams responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    I have schlumpy phases too! Sometimes there’s nothing like waking up from one and actually feeling like getting all dressed up vs. feeling obligated to do so. Its that very moment, I am actually pleased with the way I look. Thank goodness for big mans t-shirts that hang to my knees. :)

  16. Another Melanie responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I definitely have schlumpy phases. I work in an office, and I’ve even managed to extend my schlump there!

    It’s all work-appropriate business-casual, but I start wearing my more ill-fitted pants instead of the ones that require thongs. I wear my long black knit cardigan over everything. I choose ballet flats or my old, low-heeled black closed-toes over my less comfortable but more attractive peep-toes. I wear my glasses (and little or no makeup) rather than my contacts. I don’t bother with straightening the bejeezus out of my hair so it just kind of does its own thing.

    I’m definitely in that phase currently. And at home? It’s pretty much all schlump all the time!

    I would like to make the effort to look more put together in the new year, at least at work. So here’s to that. But right now, I’m comfortable being comfortable.

  17. Kate responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    LOL! I love the idea of a snuggie with a belt. And also, yes! Those chicks in movies who always wear a pretty bra under a shirt to bed? No. And ouch.

  18. JessB responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    I am having a skirt phase at the moment, because I like them. They have been pushed at the back of my wardrobe all through winter and spring, because it was too cold to wear them (I don’t have thick tights and I don’t ‘do’ leggings).

    Now I feel like I am meeting them all again, and loving dressing them up and wearing them to work for my last week there.

    ‘Hello, black skirt with glitter!’
    ‘Hello, skirt my mumma made me!’
    ‘Hello, skirt I got for Christmas a couple of years ago from my parents when they were still together. Oh, that’s a bit sad. Well, I will dress you up and feel happy.’

    And I do. Feel happy I mean. I am in a nice skirt, in the sun, and this is the second last Friday I will come to this work.

  19. Kate responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    @San D
    Hey, Secret Lentil has a really cute site! Just checked it out.

  20. Kate responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    Awww….that’s sweet. I sometimes see an article of clothing I’d forgotten about, and I have that reaction. “Hey! It’s you, old friend!”

  21. Kate responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    God, you’re totally right. Zombies. I’m embarrassed! Why do I ALWAYS think of ninjas?

  22. blackdogramona responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    A lot of men can relax in jeans, but for me and many other women they are not the most comfortable thing in the closet! I love to change into my pajama pants, a long sleeve tee and a hoodie (its cold in my house) at night to snuggle on the sofa with the dogs! I tho k when we are comfortable we look and act happier and that is its own beauty!

  23. Mallory responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    the beginning of this is the story of my fashion life. I was just explaining it to a child too! I dress for ninja attacks, on the daily. Unless I am going out specifically to a place that I should look nice in, I can’t dress “up” because you never know when you need to run or kick or fight a ninja. I wear a little make-up, so that the days where I do not run into a ninja (which happens more often then not..), I feel semi-adultish. I look 16 at 24 and work with 16 year olds so I try to balance my ninja-kicking obsession with a little make-up.

    But this made me smile to know I’m not the only one who dresses for attack moments (that really, never come).

  24. Courtney from NYC responded on 29 Dec 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Kate! I do that exact same thing with my hands! It’s my default nervous-bored-waiting pose. I asked a teacher in acting school once about it and she said it was probably something I did a lot in the womb. So it is a comfort thing. Which means you and I just may be womb-pose twins.

  25. Kate responded on 30 Dec 2011 at 2:30 am #

    Nice!! I am glad that someone else does this very awkward thing. And kinda cool to imagine us doing that in the womb :-)

  26. Jess responded on 31 Dec 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Fact: Pants are overrated. I frequently walk around my house only half dressed. If it isn’t cold, thats the way to be. I feel like most people do this, but don’t candidly talk about it. Really, who needs pants?

    Also, my gentleman likes anything soft I am wearing, especially if I wear such things without pants.

  27. Julianna responded on 01 Jan 2012 at 12:14 am #

    I became a nurse so I could go to work in what is essentially jammies and sneakers. Talk about shlump.

  28. Maya responded on 03 Jan 2012 at 4:49 am #

    Schlumpy is such a delicious word to say… But in regards to the question at hand, I am all SCHLuMP when once I hit home during the winter. My home uniform’s middle name basically schlump- bottom: any of kind of stretchy pant/legging, fuzzy socks, ugg-like boots. top: layers upon layers usually starting with a short-sleeve tee and continuing with a long-sleeve. Add on a thin sweater with a cardi on top and a scarf for ultimate neck warmth…

    hmm. Have I rambled on for too long? well, VIVA schlump. And warmth. (The fact that we don’t turn on the heat until December also plays a large factor in all this …lol).

  29. Aurora responded on 03 Jan 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I get schlumpy when I gain weight. If my pants don’t fit, I go full on into “sweatpants and baggy shirts,” because I hate wearing clothes that don’t fit. I know that in a month, though, I’ll lose five pounds or something, and my pants will fit again, so why would I buy a new wardrobe that’s just going to get too large for me? So I schlump. I think I can rock the schlump pretty well, or at least I try.

  30. jeanie responded on 06 Jan 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    A schlumpy day story:
    The other night I was walking home from the subway station after a 12-hour, 2-flight day of travel. My skinny pants were sagging at the knees and I was wearing a hot pink fleece pullover. My ponytail was falling out and my glasses were slipping down my nose. I was looking very schulmpy!
    It was kind of late at night and with my hands full of bags and suitcases I would have made an easy target for a mugger, so I followed about 20 feet behind a young college couple making their way in the same direction I was going.
    After a few blocks I heard the boy say to the girl, “is she still behind us?” “Yes,” she whispered loudly, then glanced at me with wide eyes and quickly whipped her head back around. I realized then that they must have thought I was one of the many street people who wander around downtown at night. My inclination was to go with it and yell, “what, am I scaring you?” But I just kept walking. I wish I could have a sense of humor about it, but mostly the encounter kinda hurt my feelings.

  31. Rebecca responded on 11 Jan 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Oh, Lordy.

    If I could live in pajamas and no bra
    (*especially* the no bra bit),
    I totally would.

    I mean,
    I like dressing up and putting on false eyelashes and being all sex-ay, but most of the time?

    I’m going to reach for my fuzzy blue pj pants.
    The ones with the smiling whales.

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