You’re a mum; you’ve got a wardrobe that’s a mix of maternity, pre-kid, post-kid but aspirational/delusional, unfashionable, one-trick ponies, stretched and stained and you know that somewhere out there are a few better options. But how do you assemble a wardrobe that works for you, for this stage of your life and doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard?
Maybe you’re stuck for money, time and care-factor for updating your wardrobe and really don’t know where to start. But now’s the time to reclaim your kit and add a boost to your day by knowing you can grab anything in your wardrobe and it’ll go together.
Your wardrobe needs a mission statement, and a (colour) theme. Pick two colours that go together, some neutrals to even it out and keep it simple while you renew your wardrobe. Missions might be:
- “I want to be comfortable, look put-together and polished, and be interesting while also letting me run around after 2 childerbeasts and sipping my decaf almond chilli mocha.”
- “I have 9.7 seconds in the morning to get dressed. I need a uniform. I then need 7 tops, 3 bottoms, two pairs of shoes and two accessories. Every (coloured, patterned or detailed) top goes with every (neutral) bottom so as long as two are clean, I’m able to get dressed.”
- “Being a mum is my job, and I respect myself for working hard. It is my life’s most important work and dressing well, with a bit of effort, puts dignity into my role. I show respect for myself and my work when I dress in more than pjs or tracksuit pants. I want my wardrobe to show that I love my job.”
- “I know that if I’m frumpy it makes me grumpy. I take care of my appearance even when I’m short of time. A little bit of BB cream, mascara and lip gloss makes me feel more than “just” a mum. My clothes are an extension of looking after myself, and making me feel like ME and not mum, wife and maid.”
- “How I look on a given day should be how I remember this time as mama to young babies. I don’t want to have photos of or with my babies that I regret looking back on when they’re older. I want to be happy to have a photo taken of me, any day of the week.”
You need bang for your buck. You need low maintenance, easy care and wise pieces that are versatile, classic and timeless, even if they are casual. You need to step away from the mum jeans and the old tracksuit pants and into something just a smidge more comfortable and flattering.
First Things First
Make a commitment to yourself and start off with one, just one, bra that fits your body. If it’s a maternity bra or breastfeeding-friendly bra, go and get fitted for it and be prepared to spend money on it. In terms of dollars per wear, decent priced bras are worth it. If you spend $100 on something you wear every day, then over a year it’s 28c worth each day to not be adjusting your quad boob or hiking up ill-fitting straps. Branch out with less expensive bras once you have a good idea of what size you are right now, but invest in one that does fit. Add to it some shelf-bra singlets, camisoles and knickers that fit. Go for quantity as well as quality, as a growing Mt Washmore or Mt Foldmore can leave you reaching for things that just don’t fit. Even an Ahhh Bra in a pinch!
Not Just Jeans
Get something in the pants department other than a pair of jeans. Sure, go and buy a pair of jeans that fit the body you have right now. Fold up the jeans that you brush past when getting dressed, store away your “not right now” jeans and spend a few hours in a real jeans store, trying different styles, until you find one pair that suits. Avoid “mum jeans” and go for a tailored pair in a dark wash, that are the right length for your legs. Don’t be afraid to ask the store to have them hemmed, or if they come in a different inseam. BUT then also go and find a pair of pants. Your wardrobe will expand exponentially when you have a neat pair of corduroy pants, a tailored pair of slacks or a whimsical pinstripe but casual pants.
Lay It On Thick
Layers are your friend and start with singlets and shirts, so find tshirts, ¾ sleeve shirts and long sleeve shirts in a style that suits you. It may be that a boat neck shirt is best, or a v neck. Try on lots of different tops and take pictures in the fitting room mirror to get a catalogue of what suits you. Keep an eye on magazines, catalogues and online articles to see what comes and goes in fashion and celebrate when the perfect-for-you cut is back in every store! Put your selfie skills to work and take pictures to remind yourself of where you found it, for when your budget has more money in it.
On again/off again
Have one a cardigan, hoodie, zip up sweater or wrap that you can wear for the ¾ of the year that it is perhaps required! Make it interesting with a cabled knitted cardigan, a brightly-coloured hoodie or a zip up cotton sweater. Pick a neutral colour so that it suits your entire wardrobe, or make it a showpiece if you wear it for much of the year!
Colour, Pop and Pizzaz
Find and embrace an accessory that is truly “you”. Maybe it’s an interesting scarf or funky earrings, or that necklace that people always comment on when you wear it. An accessory that you wear confidently will add a smile to your dial and will help you move from being dressed to having a personal style. A patterned, lightweight scarf is a perfect accessory so keep an eye out for one in a colour that you adore. That colour will probably complement your entire wardrobe.
She Didn’t Just Say The L Word, Did She?
Leggings rather than leaving them for the young folk, try these as a versatile part of a wardrobe that works for you. I love wearing them with any skirt that I have, as it means I can have park playdates, café meetings and library time while not showing the world my knickers. Buy one pair of black or grey to give you a foundation and then branch out into brightly coloured, graphic printed or with a cute pattern so that your basic neutral skirts and dresses can also be changed around.
Skirting The Issue
Women have an added dimension to their wardrobe that most men don’t have they can wear skirts. Investing in just 2 skirts will exponentially increase your wardrobe’s awesomeness. If it’s not something you wear much of, challenge yourself to find one style of skirt that you can comfortably wear. If you’re not comfortable with showing a lot of leg in skirts, pair them with leggings and boots and still incorporate them into your wardrobe. Find a black skirt that suits your figure absolutely 100% top to toe and then a second skirt that’s a bit more floaty, pretty, more suited to the occasional day in the office or at the beach or has rickrack on the bottom. The right length, the right waistband, the right cut and it will make you feel like a million bucks.
Last But Not Least
Make sure you have a comfortable pair of flat shoes, such as Mary Janes, flats, school type leather shoes or slip-on Birkenstocks. You need a pair that you can kick on and off, are versatile and reliable, and you can walk a few kilometres in (think day at the DFO, the beach or the markets) as well as run after an escaping toddler. Flat heeled knee-high boots
Get your hands on an oversized bag that can double as a nappy bag or toddler-outing bag. Test it out on the shop and see whether your tablet, keys, wallet and mobile can fit in there as well as the accoutrement of traveling with a child. Does your water bottle fit, as well as a spare outfit and three fresh nappies? It’s a level-up for motherhood when you can go out with one bag that does double duty as “handbag” and “baby bag” and makes you feel like you have a foot firmly in both camps of womanhood and motherhood.
What wardrobe pieces do you always keep an eye out for? What is your “it” thing? Do you have a style that you’re developing and embracing, even as a SAHM? In the end, it takes no more effort to put on a pair of jeans that fit and suit you, and a flattering top, than it does to put on the same pair of tracksuit pants and boxy, saggy shirt.