With my kids being school and pre-school age, I get to spend a bit of time at the school gates and see how the other mums (moms) dress.
Yes I know when you’ve got kids your life changes and it’s not so much about you anymore. Your focus becomes your kids, you end up being the least important person in your life.
It’s very easy when our babies are young and we’re getting spit-up on daily, covered by mucky hand prints and not feeling great about our post-baby figures to end up in a uniform of ill-fitting, unflattering clothes (the tracksuit is often a culprit). But once that first few months is past, how to reclaim ourselves, but still be practical for the trips to the playground and all that cleaning up that is such a part of most mothers’ lives?
Sure, you get pregnant, you grow out of your clothes, you have the baby, you get back into some of them, time has passed, are they still worth wearing? Yes you may say ‘fashion is for the young’ but do you want to appear old before your time? Put on the scrap heap well before your used-by date?
Dressing dated and saggy, baggy, daggy, will make you look frumpy. I recently did a talk to a bunch of 50 – 70 years old, I asked who wanted to look frumpy, dated and old – not one woman said that was the look she wanted to aspire to, yet there was a lot of it in the room.
So what tips can I give you to help you go from this:
So what is it about what these women are wearing that’s doing them the damage – let’s start at the top and work down.
Jersey knits are a great part of any wardrobe, but they need to fit well, so anything that is too baggy needs to go. If you feel it needs to be tucked in because it’s a bit roomy, then it’s too big for you! Clothes that look best tucked are the ones that are already fitted.
Unless you have a long, defined waist, tucking, particularly into high waisted garments, tends to make you look dumpy and frumpy and should be avoided.
Jewellery near the face is minimal, the woman on the left has a small, inconsequential chain, it would be better if this was tucked inside her tops if the piece is about sentiment, rather than making an accessory choice statement. Try a statement piece, something with some interest or detail that draws attention up to your face.
Belts here we have belts drawing big old horizontal lines across the stomach, beware, if this is not your slim point.
OK, notice the length, ankle length, this was the fashionable length of jeans in mid 1990s, but now we tend to wear our jeans and trousers much longer, so this is instantly ageing.
Then there are the white socks and clumpy shoes, comfort doesn’t have to be clumpy in appearance.
Instead, why not look for something like this:
A pair of jeans, dark denim are always dressier than light denim. Look for jeans that don’t have any distressing. They need to be as long as possible without dragging on the ground.
Team them with a pair of embellished flat sandals or thongs (flip-flops). Or for cold weather a pair of boots.
Look for well fitting t-shirts with some interest at the neckline. Throw a casual biker style jacket over the top if it’s cool.
Don’t forget your bag, find something that’s easy to carry, fits all the stuff you need, but has some style.
And accessories make a difference, adding a necklace or pendant will create a great focal point to your outfit. Make it a personality piece, it doesn’t have to be expensive, scope out markets or websites like etsy for great pieces.
Love your ideas…but some of us have truly large thighs that cannot wear skinny jeans.
If you saw me in the Mom outfit on the right, versus me in skinny jeans, you might think I look frumpy but in skinny jeans, you'd think I was sad, trying to follow a trend my body wasn't built for.
Also, those clothes might look good on a number of body shapes, but not my hourglass.
Some great suggestions in the graphic – little things can make a huge difference!
Hurray for comfortable and yet flattering, nice-looking outfits. With or without kids 🙂
– tall & slim anon
I would love a problem adressed that bothers me the most: varicose veins.
I have a huge problem with this! In the summertime I stopped wearing any of my knee lenght skirts at all, because people would asked what bruised me so. (Some vains really look like huge bruises.)
I find it really sad, because I loved summer clothing before as I loved to wera skirts. I am a V shape (shoulderbone is 1.6 inches wider that hipbone) and I don't have a waist to speak of so I consider my legs an asset.
But now that it's so hot the only thing I wear all the time is two pairs of long linen trousers. I don't feel me in them. I miss my skirts.
Do you have any suggestions?
Interesting ideas. I've been following debate on some other fashion blogs re: tucking vs. untucking and visible belt vs. not. Some would say that untucked shirts look sloppy, particularly on something that veers toward business casual. But I would agree that an oversize, shapeless knit shirt tucked or not does no one any favors. And about belts, Michelle Obama has definitely created a trend using belts over a cardigan or tailored shirt. Some would say that a belt can help create definition, but that help only goes so far and works on only some figures.
A sock question –
I have to wear office-appropriate but warehouse-safe shoes, so I have close-toed brown slip on flats. Even with my longest pants, if I sit down and cross my legs my socks show. I've long since moved to black ankle socks (as opposed to the white socks that were long enough that I folded them over from my school days). Are these socks "right"? I don't think any socks can look right, but some look less wrong.
As I am not a mom I don't understand what happens to women that makes them think that a mom jean is a good idea. It is a total mystery to me.;-)
The picture on the right (jeans, loafers and white shirt) is almost good. She's going for a prep vibe I think. But, each piece doesn't fit.
I totally agree with your advice, especially the long jeans.
YES! YES! YES! I just did a virtual cartwheel at my desk in honor of this post. I'm holding up a candle in honor of these thoughts.
Once I was finally past the "did I get two consecutive hours of sleep?" and "thank you for dumping your food all over me" phases (a few months ago) I started reclaiming my wardrobe. I feel SO much better when I dress a little nicer. Doesn't matter if nobody is going to see me but my husband, kids and… me. Those are the folks I'm trying to look nice for anyway!
THANK YOU, IMOGEN!
Genuis, Imogen! And it's not only mums who wear these depressing outfits; they are also joined by at-home workers ("Why dress up, no one sees me?") and retirees.
But at a large downtown mall today I was impressed by all the cute, current skirts and sundresses on the young mothers.
Great reminder, thank you.
I think the most powerful things are a pair of good, dark, up-to-date jeans… and to lose the running shoes. Everything is easier, after that!
Va-va-voom – you hit it right on and mom suddenly looks like a really sharp, sassy gal and someone who the kids can really look up to (and look forward to being when they are mom's age!)
Love your blog. Just started one of my own!