So, the countdown to turning 40 has begun. T minus three or so weeks, and the big Four-OH?! hits me, essentially catapulting me into a new decade and a new mid-life dilemma: The Clothing Conundrum.

Clothing has always been very important to me. I’ve taken what I put on my back rather seriously over the years for many reasons, not all frivolous, I promise. But yes, some of it frivolous. I love fashion and enjoy dressing up. I also enjoy dressing down – so long as it’s super cute. (Sometimes Hello Kitty cute, sometimes Blake Lively cute. One can dream…) When I discovered athleisure-wear, I was obsessed! Because it answered all my problems when I wanted to work out comfortably but also not look like a gawky, awkward 17-year-old boy while doing so. (Don’t even ask) (no offence to gawky, awkward 17-year-old boys)

But being a mom introduced a plethora of circumstances to my life that had never been there before. The projectile vomit days of my reflux infant; the poonami days of my adorable, hungry baby; the EVERYTHING IS STICKY days of my pre-toddler; the ‘Is-It-Mud-Or-Poo?’ days of my potty-training toddler; and of course, the now – crafts, crayons, paints, play-doughs and gunky glue literally everywhere. White jeans basically left my life entirely. Staying somewhat fashionable was more of a whimsical once-in-a-six-month-period than an everyday occurrence like in the good young days. SIGH.

So here I am, an ageing fashionista who doesn’t have a clue anymore. Every morning I stand in front of my wardrobe rooted to the spot because of all the beautiful and wonderful items of clothing I have lovingly and meticulously gathered over the years, all I can think is I don’t know what to wear, while reaching for the trusty yoga pants. I’ve lost touch with all of them. (And the shoes. My poor shoes. Sole-less creatures left to gather dust)

It’s not only that somehow wearing a full-bedazzled blazer to a play-date simply doesn’t seem appropriate. (I mean, how do you get snot and blood out of non-machine washable sequins?) It’s not that my former six-inch heels don’t exactly give me the manoeuvrability needed to get from point A to point B in 0.3 seconds when my little superhero suddenly and quite emphatically launches himself into the open air to ‘Fly, Mommy, I can FLY!’ It isn’t even that I’ve grown sideways (because my body needed to expand to accommodate the massive mommy heart and all that extra love, of course.)

No, it’s something else. Something else has done me in, stylistically speaking. I think, in part I’m held hostage to a few negative thoughts, taking pages from ancient rhetoric that says ‘A woman over 40 shouldn’t wear this’. And a few others that say ‘How practical even are these 12cm python platforms, even though they do have red soles?’ Somewhere in the middle, I just feel off. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My wardrobe, my style has to change because I have changed. But that’s the part I’m finding hard to figure out.

What we wear says so much about us. Currently, what I wear says I gave up and put something dark, stretchy and stain-resistant on my body in desperation. A nod to the apocalyptic day I’m about to have. I can’t even tell you how it happened. Maybe a mixture of not enough girl time, me-time or grown-ass-adult time? Whatever the poisonous concoction, none of this happened overnight. It was a process. But here we are, at the pinnacle of that process, and I am painfully aware of each and every waking moment that I don’t at least try to look and feel lovely. Here we are. Forty and Frumpy.

Now I know age is just a number. It’s not as though a magical thorn pricked my mother’s finger, and on the day of my birth a terrifying fairy arrived making evil prophesies of this and that for my 40th birthday. But I can’t deny that this new era has come at precisely the same time as a few other major life adjustments.

I now live in an entirely new hemisphere. This takes its toll on wardrobes in a way no one thinks of when packing up their lives and moving continents. Suddenly, instead of every day being too hot, every day is a mystery. Unpredictable to the extreme. What I put on in the morning is no longer serving me by 10am in the way I had hoped, and if I change, that outfit no longer serves me by 12. It’s exhausting. Coat lengths and layers have never been a concern before, but now, they most definitely are.

My body has changed. Besides the terrible jelly-belly that came along with motherhood, my ribs shifted during pregnancy and have never gone back. Don’t argue with me. It’s science. The result, though, is that what used to look good on me doesn’t anymore. I don’t fit into a normal ‘shape’ anymore. I’m not pear, or hour-glass, or even apple-shaped. I’m mostly courgette-shaped. Is that a shape? How does one dress a courgette?

Kye has gone off to school, leaving me, a former stay-at-home mom, with a significant chunk of my day to myself again. Along with all the excitement of possibility, the sadness of loss and the sheer confusion of what to do with my life now (Start an empire? Write that book? Volunteer to save the planet? Oh look at that, it’s home time – better go get my little guy) this new change presents itself with stylistic opportunities too. Jewellery is no longer a ludicrous thought that would in all probability result in my baby or myself choking to death, or my earrings ripped from my ears leaving life-long split lobes. I may no longer be down with the cool kids, but I’m pretty sure snake-tongue forks for earlobes is not a good look. White is no longer the kind of fabric colour that lends itself to a display-map of exactly what he had for dinner, how many times he touched my wobbly bits or a game of ‘what on earth is THAT?!’.

Now white is something that is, apparently, never worn after Labour Day. (No idea what that means, by the way. It’s just something they say in the movies.)

So I’ve been eying out my wardrobe. Tentatively. Sizing it up. I see you, leather-look coated jeans. Old favourites. You’re definitely still in style, if paired with the right pair of trainers. I haven’t forgotten you, leopard print, even though you are now as rife as the herpes virus. I know I can make an appearance in a subtly-stylish rather than full on fashion-victim way. (It takes a steady hand, folks.) And you, red-soled shoes: Your days are not done yet.

So here I stand, almost Forty and for a long time Frumpy. But I’ll be darned if that’s the way I go down in history.