6 June 2013

Raising the Bar

The other day, Mama Youyou came to get Mama Vida so they could walk out together at the end of the day.  These nannies obviously work with the right families:  Mama Youyou is timely, arriving precisely at 5:30 or so, and she usually waits politely for a bit, until it's necessary to hollar through the bathroom door at Mama Vida, "Vida!  Viiiiddddaaa!"  Mama Vida shouts back, "Na zoya!" (I'm coming! in Lingala) several times until she eventually emerges. This closely mirrors the Humphrey/Grimsrud & Sensamaust relationships with time.

While we were waiting for Mama Vida to get ready, I asked Mama Youyou if I could take her picture because she looked so dang good.  I mean, who looks this put together on their way to travel an hour on insane public transportation after an entire day wrangling multiple toddlers?

A Congolese woman.  That's who.

For example, this was taken last year at Elias' final day of Kindergarten.  We were just having a little gathering in the classroom, no biggie.  Yet, this is how the other mothers were dressed:

I wrote to Chantal (the beautiful mother above) to ask if I could use this random picture that I took of her for a little post about stylish Congolese women and she said something like, "Oh! I like that picture, but it wasn't anything special."  Really?  Those heels!  That purse!  That dress.  I'm pretty sure I was wearing jeans that day.

And today, the last day of 1st grade for our kiddos - this is what she was wearing:

Again with those heels!


In an effort to unlock more fashion secrets, I asked Landrine to come over yesterday for a little photo shoot.  She said she would bring wardrobe changes.

She started out with the "modern" woman.  A smart outfit for a business occasion.

Then, she brought out a design of her own.  I told her it looked like something from a Vlisco bilboard. (You'll want to click on that link.) Amazing.

The bar has officially been raised.  Moms aren't often seen in sweatpants around here.  If Mama Youyou can look better than I have ever looked at 5:30pm on a Thursday and Chantal can show up at Kindergarten looking like a million bucks and Landrine can sew herself a dress with haute couture shoulders during the few hours she has electricity every week...then I can at least graduate from jeans.

These mamas are fully aware that a little pride goes a long way.  I'm taking notes.


  1. Are the clothes COMFORTABLE? I'm all about comfort. I can wear fancy for a bit, but then, I want my strawberry shortcake pajamas!!!

  2. Pagne fashion. Pride and Pleasure and Pure Joy. The fashionable women of Kinshasa are so inspiring! (I am wearing one of my pagne skirts right NOW, just wishing I could rock it like they do!)

  3. Jennifer - I think it totally depends. Interestingly, most of the skirts are a wrap-type style, so they are actually pretty adjustable and comfortable. The tops, however, are usually designed to squeeze all your parts into their appropriate places...

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