Ask Scary Mommy: My Husband Nags Me For Dressing ‘Too Frumpy’

Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy's advisory column, where our team of experts answers any questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parents and anything else that confuses you.
This week ... What do you do if your husband casually suggests that you better get dressed because your style has become “too grumpy”? Do you kill him right now or do you wait a bit? Do you have any questions of your own? Email at
Dear creepy mom,
I am a SAHM to an adorable three year old girl and 16 month old boy. My husband has been working from home every day since the pandemic began. So he was privy to our typical daily life and my typical daily wardrobe, which he has taken note of over the past seven months. The other day he asked me if I needed “new autumn clothes”. Since we don't have an arrangement where I have to "ask" him after every small purchase, I was unprepared. When I asked him why he shrugged his shoulders in embarrassment and said, "Oh, actually no reason, I just thought you want to treat yourself to some clothes that aren't too grumpy." FRUMPY. F-R-U-M-P-Y. I saw red immediately. There's a fucking pandemic going on, I spend my days wiping bums and picking up Cheerios off the floor. I'm fine with my black leggings, thanks! Anyway, I felt like shit and gave him the cold shoulder. He thinks it's no big deal. How do I get him to see what he said was hurtful ?!
Black leggings FOR LIFE girls. To the. Life. Your husband made a goofy comment that hurt your feelings and he has to apologize for it. They don't mention how he dresses every day, but I assume he has to put on a top hat and tuxedo every morning. This is a real pandemic commitment when you work at your dining table during a deadly public health crisis.
If you sit down to talk about it and you should do it, no matter how dismissive he feels about it or if he tries to play it off, you need to: 1. Tell him he hurt you by saying what he said; and 2. Ask him what he means by "grumpy". This is a trick I learned from my own therapist - the "What do you mean?" The tactic has never disappointed me since I learned it. Just ask him repeatedly to clarify what he "means", which gives him an opportunity to justify the shitty thing he said. The secret here, of course, is that there is no justification for the shitty thing he said. He's wrong. Point.
If he's trying to follow the path of false concern, "I just worry about you" or "You deserve x, y, x" (which you think he did), you can tell him that it is you perfectly fine and when it comes to your wardrobe you owe him nothing.
Exhausted pandemic mothers dress like exhausted pandemic mothers. If you want to wipe your bum and pick up Cheerios in jeans, boots and a blazer, this is your call. If you want to add your black leggings and a tie-dye hoodie (my daily uniform) to this, that's your call too. Spouses do not monitor their partners' fashion. Unless he apologizes profusely and does everything in his power to make it up to you (you don't have to do mental and emotional exercise here), therapy is always an option. For you, for him or for both of you. If you can swing it this is.
In the meantime, wear whatever you want to wear and wear it with confidence and pride.
Do you have any questions of your own? Email at
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