Why Do Working Women On TV Always Do This Before Bed?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Gypsy, Netflix's latest binge-worthy drama starring Naomi Watts, is billed as a psychological thriller. This makes sense: Watts plays Jean Holloway, a Manhattan therapist who, unsatisfied with her suburban home life, gets a little too involved with her patients. And by a little, I mean a lot — this woman is deeply troubled.
But amid the anxious ambiance and slow-burning twists, one thing stood out as phenomenally disturbing: Jean's transitional outfit.
As you can see from the picture above, Jean has great professional style. She's cool, but not too edgy, and has a strong grasp of neutrals. She embodies the post-power suit professional woman aesthetic to a T: You won't catch her in a boxy blazer, but you'll never question that she's in charge.
But Jean is also a suburban mom, and in TV-world, that means she needs a whole other outfit — who cooks in Theory blazers? No, Jean needs a cool mom outfit, to fit in with the moms who don't go to an office everyday. Her solution? Skinny jeans and a fashion T-shirt (ie. a T-shirt that costs more than $50 and is made of modal, or some similarly fancy fabric).
I don't know about you, but I have a uniform that I wear in my house. It's usually comprised of some kind of flexible pant (read: sweatpants), and a loose t-shirt, or tank top. It's the kind of outfit I'll wear to do things like cook, clean, or generally lounge around before I change into my PJs. I would never, EVER, come home from the office and change into jeans.
Granted, maybe this is because I am lucky enough to wear jeans to work. But I genuinely think it's because I am not a TV mom.
The first time I noticed this strange trend was while watching The Good Wife. There have been countless trend pieces written about Alicia Florrick's professional style. I mean, Michelle Obama famously wore a Florrick-approved Michael Kors skirt suit combo to the State of The Union. But how many times did I see Alicia working late nights from home, clad in a cashmere sweater and bootcut jeans? While there's nothing wrong with that particular outfit — in fact, I covet almost all her clothes — it does mean that she came home from a long day at the office, shed her blazer, and rather than reach for her Club Monaco loungewear (because of course) or Burberry PJs, opted for another kind of daytime outfit. WHY?
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Is this really a thing that mothers do? I can’t ever remember my mom getting home from her dental practice and changing into jeans, but maybe I’m just projecting. Is this one of those secret things they don’t tell you about until you’re in the Mom Club? That's terrifying!
According to this truly comical Wall Street Journal article, women’s workplace attire has undergone a major shift. Gone are the days where we have to dress like men to succeed. Instead, we can embrace convenient archetypes like "The Young Turk," "The Re-Inventor," "The Literary Lioness," and "The Too-Busy Worker Bee."
But what all these absurd labels have in common (aside from being reductive) is that they reflect a woman's personal style in a way that workwear didn't 30 or 40 years ago. Gypsy actually manages to capture the new uniform surprisingly well. I would place Jean in the "Literary Lioness" category, which stresses large tote bags, chunky heels, shift dresses and an edgy culotte or two. A key scene has her fishing a whimsical gold necklace from the back of her closet — it suggests she's fun, but is still low key enough not to clash with her neutral wardrobe, or distract her patients. She is liberated from the stuffy style and shoulder pads of the '80s and '90s! Her silk blouses can flow, free of judgment!
So why, exactly, is it still taboo for working women to come home and be moms in comfortable pants? Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman get to walk around in workout gear throughout Big Little Lies — is that a privilege reserved for stay-at-home moms? Elizabeth Jennings changes roughly 85,000 times per episode in The Americans, but I have never seen her change out of her fabulous wrap dress and into jeans to make dinner.
Like Elizabeth, Jean favors lacy nighties, so it's somewhat understandable that she doesn't jump the gun and go straight for the PJs, as I would. But I simply refuse to believe that a woman helping other people through emotional and psychological crises — not to mention her other, more ethically questionable activities — would choose to end her day by squeezing her legs into the sausage casings that are skinny jeans.
If TV is a reflection of our reality, then I pick Westeros. At least those gauzy King's Landing gowns look comfy.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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