Tip Tuesday – Mom-Style

Someone asked me to do a Tip Tuesday on fashion for moms and I thought “I’d love to hear what y’all have to say on that one cause I’ve got nothin’.” Then I thought of Carrie from Tales from the Crib.

I knew she loved fashion, so I asked her to help me out this week and the following is her guest post, possibly the best Tip Tuesday in history. I will be planning my wardrobe based on it from this day forward, awesome links, great tips (I’d still love to hear what you all have to say too. Links appreciated mucho). I asked Carrie for a little background info on why she’s so much cooler than me knowledgeable about fashion. Here is what she had to say:

I received my Bachelor’s in Fashion Design eight years ago. I have worked as a designer in LA and NYC (specializing in childrenswear). Since the birth of my first daughter, I have worked as a freelance designer out of my home. From Target to Barneys, I appreciate good design and a great bargain wherever I can find it. I will always love fashion as a form of creative expression by designers and wearers alike. I have been known to give my honest opinion if you ask. Some of my gems are “that outfit makes you look like a bohemian bag lady” or “yes, those jeans are way too tight”, and “I think the eighties threw up on you.”

A huge thank-you to Carrie for the following guest post:

On a certain favorite reality show of mine, a stylish mother of five boys succinctly explained she never “dresses down” from her cocktail dresses and high heels because it’s “a slippery slope into sweatpants and a mini-van, so I just don’t go there.” (She did later admit to wearing a crisp white button-up shirt, riding pants and riding boots if she had a lot of errands to run, but certainly not jeans. The thought!)

Oh come on. Let’s get real here. I don’t know what mom life she’s living, but in my world, my clothes need to be comfortable, schmutzable, washable and wearable (and I actually really like cruisin’ in my DYM-matching-mini-van). I need to get dressed in the least amount of time possible and usually while trying to make sure the baby doesn’t take a tumble off mommy’s bed with one hand and sticking waffles in the toaster with the other. I am well versed in the phrase “fashion hurts” but chasing a toddler around in stiletto heels on a daily basis is just too much for me.

But before we all slide down this slippery slope into frumpy fashion and “mom jeans”, I believe every woman can find a comfortable and practical plateau of mom style on which to rest. The key to great mom-style is embracing whatever your lifestyle happens to be and learning tricks to overcome the fashion hurdles brought on my motherhood.

You don’t have to be a label “whore” (can I say that here?) or subscribe to every new fashion trend to be stylish (in fact in my book, that kind of behavior = fashion victim). You just need to know who you are and learn to use clothing to enhance and compliment that woman.

Here are few tips to finding and refining your own mom-style. I know it’s long. Feel free to read it buffet style:

The Perfect Jeans – Look for a classic 5-pocket, darker wash with a boot cut. Stay away from crazy embroidery, sparkles, heavy sandblasting, and identifiable pockets. To find jeans that fit perfect, you’ll have to try on a lot of them. On my last search, I probably tried on at least 25 different pairs. Cost doesn’t necessarily matter. Once found, this “perfect” jean can be worn almost everyday and people will only notice how great you look (and not that you only have one pair of jeans to your name).

Buying Trendy – If you feel like working in a few trendy pieces into your wardrobe, buy cheap. Places like Forever 21, H&M, and Target have great prices on this kind of stuff.

Buying Classics – The place to invest good money is in quality classics. A classic piece is one that does not have any highly defining style detail that could easily date it. Good classics to own are a dark wash 5-pocket jean, a white button up shirt, a classic trouser, black boots, black heels, a dress coat, a fitted blazer, a wool skirt (for cooler climates). I realize these are not everyday “mom” clothes, but you can mix and match these classics with a few trendy pieces to create numerous ensembles for those nicer occasions we all hopefully get to attend at least once in a blue moon.

Comfy Pants – If you find yourself wearing sweatpants a lot, don’t fight it, just go ahead and invest in some cute ones. Old Navy always has a great selection in flattering styles. Choose one in a basic color – black or grey and one in a “fashion color”. If you do this, you can wear them around the house and also to the grocery store.

Know your Colors – Everyone has certain colors that look absolutely smashing on them. These color choices are based on skin, hair and eye color. Knowing your “colors” comes in handy when picking out a new shirt from a huge color assortment at the store, choosing an outfit for family pictures, or when you want to seduce your husband.

Dress Your Figure Flaws and Gifts – You could do a little reading on the subject, watch a lot of “What not to Wear” or just listen and take note of compliments you receive on certain outfits. Soon, you will learn what styles, textures and colors bring out the best and help to glaze over the worst.

Accessorize - Adding new accessories can be a quick and inexpensive way to make a boring wardrobe look up to date. But please don’t wear any accessories that were originally purchased for your six year old daughter. I don’t care how desperate you are for a ponytail holder or how well you think that necklace goes with your outfit. Sparkle fairy necklaces, butterfly barrettes, and metallic scrunchies are not for moms.

Interesting Shoes – A pair of comfortable, un-basic, interesting shoes can add chic in a second. Look for shoes in an interesting colorred, green, metallic, or ones with colorful embroidery. They can add a pop to a basic t-shirt and jeans outfit without giving it too much thought.

For Fancy Occasions – Every woman should have a basic black dress in her closet. Nothing too “fashiony”. Look for something simple and don’t wait to start looking for this dress until you actually have a place to wear it to. By then, it’s too late. Once you have this dress in your closet, update it for each occasion with newest accessories of the season and fabulous shoes. BTW, the best time to catch deals on this kind of fancy stuff is in January.

Avoid Crack…and expand your wardrobe
– Long tanks/camisoles and under-tees can help you get more wear out of short shirts, deep necklines and low-rise pants because you won’t have to tug, tuck, cover or flash every time you go to pick up Legos off the floor. Look for longer length tanks in your local store or check out these companies online that cater to women who want clothing with more coverage.

Free Tees
– Resist the urge to wear any of the free XXXL t-shirts you have accumulated (5k charity races, Logo T’s from your husbands office, Smith Family Reunion 2001, etc.)–unless you plan to spend the entire day cleaning. In fact, go through your drawers now and get rid of them (or you can try a little right brain excercise with them).

Looking Done Up in a Flash – “Celebrity hiding from Paprazzi” is my favorite route: slick long hair into a low ponytail or bun or throw on a cute hat, add large sunglasses to cover up dark, puffy eyes caused by Baby’s 4am wake-up call, apply a little blush and gloss, pull on your new “flattering comfy pants”, a fitted T (not a “free tee”) and you are out the door. And go right ahead and pull the “I’m-just-too-cool-to-take-off-my-sunglasses-even-though-I-am- inside-and-am-no-longer-tortured-by-the-bright-sun” if the thought of someone seeing you without eye make-up makes you cringe.

Clothing Psychology: Layering
– Wearing more than one piece of clothing on top makes you automatically look more “put together” (most of the time). I don’t know why. I majored in fashion not psychology. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. Add a vest, blazer, cardigan, hoodie on top and/or a long sleeve shirt, lacy camisole underneath. This is also a great tip to remember if you are presenting, teaching, or doing any sort of public speaking. This “third piece” can also make you look more reliable, respectable, and believable. I can’t tell you how many times I have fooled people with this little trick. :)

Clothing Psychology: the Power of Dress – Clothing has the power to alter our moods and our actions. So, if you want to be a “sit on the floor mommy” one day, wear tennis shoes and comfy pants. If you are feeling down, wear “your color” to give yourself an instant “pick-me-up”. If you are planning on a romantic night with the hubby, begin the day with full make-up, hair, and a nice outfit. It’ll start you off on the right track instead of having to completely switch tracks after the kids are in bed.

Don’t Wait to “Lose Some Weight”
– Many women want to “lose a little more weight” before purchasing any new clothes. Don’t do it. It may seem like the frugal thing to do or a nice reward for losing weight, but it doesn’t have to work like that. Having clothes that fit and flatter your figure are amazingly motivational at every point as you reach your body goals. Just make smart purchases so you won’t feel too bad when they don’t fit anymore. A good tailor can also help make things last through a few size changes.

Buy The Right Size
– Duh right? But just because you can button those jeans doesn’t mean they fit. You can’t always go by the size on the label. There are no sizing standards set up in the fashion industry. This basically means that every company can decide what a size 6 (or 12, or 18) means. So try things on! It doesn’t matter what your figure is like, wearing things that are a too small or too big can add at least ten pounds to your overall appearance.

Home Dressing Room – If you don’t have time to try clothes on at a store (I know I never do when I have the crazy monkeys in tow), buy them anyway and try on at home. Become familiar with the return policies of your favorite stores so you can return what doesn’t work out. I have even bought the same thing in 3 sizes before and then returned the two that didn’t fit.

Personal Shopper – If you feel like your style is in a real slump and your wardrobe needs serious help ”” go shopping with a friend. Preferably someone who you think has some fashion sensibility, likes to shop and will be honest. As women, we tend to have a bit of a warped self-image. It’s nice to have someone there for a second (and usually more realistic) opinion and this person can also help you think outside your personal style box. I think I might want to become a personal shopper for my next career. I can’t think of anything better than fulfilling a shopping addiction with someone else’s money.

Wow. I guess I’ll stop talking now and leave you all to “make it work” (gotta get in at least one more reference to Project Runway. I think I am going through withdrawals)! Feel free to share your own tips (and challenges).

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24 Responses to Tip Tuesday – Mom-Style

  1. Amy says:

    Oh my gosh! How many “free tees” do I have sitting around in my closet! LOL! Here’s a tip, I use them to clean the mirror when I windex. Loved your fashion piece, great advice.

  2. ABC Momma says:

    Thanks for these tips! I want to go shopping now, but I think most stores are closed at the moment. :)

  3. Excellent post, though unfortunately I have not a THING to add. But I AM thinking of ordering a couple of those embroidered Mary Janes….

  4. Tess says:

    also very very important is a great fitting bra. It’s got to start with the underclothes.

  5. Kage says:

    bohemian bag lady here…..Carrie has taught me a lot….I think I am making baby steps in this arena. Usually one outfit a year makes me a slave, but I am ok with that. Since carrie moved I have come up with a good shpping technique:

    Every season (spring, fall), I look at my wardrobe and throw out what I hate(doesn’t fit, has stains), and decide what is working but might need an extra piece to update it…Then I get a few fashion mags (Lucky, Instyle) and I look for photos of pix that have clothes that are a good color and cut, and fit the needs of what is missing in my wardrobe. I cut them out and staple them in a little “shopping book”. I keep it in my bag so that when I have 15 extra minutes to pop into a store, I pull it out and refer to it, then I make smart choices and not impulse buys b/c something looks good on a mannequin-hello, I am not a mannequin.

    This has helped me so much b/c though Carrie can shop for hours on end (9 mos. preggers at that), I can really only handle it in small doses.

  6. Mary O says:

    Thank you for this tip Tuesday! I love all those links to online stores that I knew nothing about! I am so excited to check them out further…

  7. Suzi says:

    I thought, when I started, you were talking about “Don’t go out with baby spit up on your shirt.” (A topic of discussion last night at the fancy restaurant my hubby’s boss took us to for the company’s 22nd anniversary.)

    I will say that I had gotten too much into the comfortable mom clothes. Then I saw someone who made me feel frumpy because she could have looked that way and didn’t.

    So, after you find those jeans that fit perfectly, when you’re leaving the house without the kids or when the hubby might see you, drop the tennies and wear a low heeled sandal. It does need heels though.

    Wear a blouse rather than a tee shirt.

    Tucked in looks better than hanging loose. (Though I usually wear mine loose.)

    Jewelry can be cheap but fun. Think Hot Topic or Spencers. (You’d be surprised the cute things you can find there to dress up with. Pretend you’re five and buy from there.)

  8. Carrie says:

    Amy – You are right. Free Tees are perfect for making rags. You could even save one to actually wear while deep cleaning–but that’s it.

    Shannon – if you live near a “China Town” you can pick up those very same embroidered maryjanes for about $3. If not $10 is not bad. They don’t last forever and if you need a real supportive shoes, they are not for you. I still love mine though!

    Tess – I’m so glad you mentioned underwear!!! Was it on Oprah that I heard pretty much every woman wears bras that don’t fit right? I have seen the difference on women once they get fitted – not only is there usually a visual “weight loss” but many women find they have less back pain, more confidence and clothes all of a sudden fit better (cause everything is in the right place).

    Kage, along those same lines, I usually always keep a list of holes in my wardrobe so I can be more focused when I shop and not end up buying one more black shirt (which I am automatically drawn to) when what I really need is an ivory shirt to match the skirt my girlfriend gave me.

  9. Pam in Utah says:

    Wow! Great post! And thanks for sharing again, DYM. If anyone reads this, are there any cool places to shop for large AND TALL cute, non mommy jeans out there? We’re in the outer limits here!

  10. Tammy says:

    Love it, love it! Especially the advice to throw away some of my big t-shirts…or at least quit wearing them. I have some I got from special places over the past 11 years with hubby…but they don’t do a thing for me.

    Saw the link of the famous twin disguised as a homeless woman. sad…my little girls love watching Full House and getting their tips from little Michelle with her 80’s little dresses and fru-fruish pony tails.

  11. emily says:

    just had to say, when i saw that mom jeans like, i thought FOR SURE it was the link to the SNL skit. that is HILARIOUS.

    in any case, i would say for jeans? check out the gap. they have tons of different fits, and their inseams range from ankle (for shorties) to tall (for, duh, tall girls). love their jeans.

  12. wow – great tips. i have found myself in that tee shirt and sweats rut. i still wear tee shirts i had in high school. maybe it’s time to clean out the closets this weekend.

  13. jodijean says:

    i agree with the right bra sizing, if anyone doesnt know what their correct bra size is i wrote a post on it awhile ago,

    http://jodijean.blogspot.com/2006/09/correct-bra-sizing.html

    i also wrote a post called, dressing without losing yourself, which talks about dressing for your right body shape,

    http://jodijean.blogspot.com/2006/09/dressing-without-losing-yo_115836490714067840.html

    i was planning on doing a whole fashion series and knowing your style and colors, but no one reads my blog so i never finished. if anyone is interested i still might finish it. maybe i’ll do another post today and if i get some responses i’ll continue. let me know.

  14. Shalee says:

    All of this is just daunting. Although I love the idea of doing any of this, I find myself hyperventalating at the thought of it. Shopping has never been my forte, money is ALWAYS an obstacle and makeup is something that just runs down my face after a couple of hours. Plus, I just don’t think I’m very good at it. I applaud your knowledge and enjoyed reading it, but as Billy Crystal says in the Princess Bride – “It would take a miracle.”

  15. wendy says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve had a fun time looking through all the links, and next I think I will spend a little time over at the What Not to Wear site.

    I love shopping for myself lately, but I have a hard time buying something that is not on sale. The clearance rack often draws me away from what I really need. Not that clearance isn’t great – but I am trying to teach myself that buying 3 things that don’t quite fit just because they are on sale is not better than buying 1 perfect thing.

  16. Pieces says:

    Great post! I am intrigued by the psychology of fashion. I was at a gathering of women this morning and, looking back, the ones that were layered looked more put together. Fancy that.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Don’t forget impelclothing.com for layering tees.

    What a great post for today, as I myself went through multiple outfits to find the right one before I went to the doctor. Mom-fashion has been on my mind lately.

  18. amy a. says:

    My saving grace in the wardrobe department is the cardigan. A t-shirt and jeans instantly look more put together with an open sweater on top. It’s become my mommy uniform.

  19. Carrie, you are sooooo cool! Thanks for the much needed advice.

  20. Mary says:

    I love Carrie’s fashion helps. I have read some of hers on other sites and always find them helpful, though overwhelming too since I am a fashion dork.

  21. Cheryl says:

    carre-
    you would think, that after all these years I would have caught on to what you are talking about. I think this post has done it for me. Perfect fashion for a crazy mom. Thanks!

  22. Paula says:

    Wow! What an adventure. Sounds like you guys are weathering it well. Saying a prayer for your community.

  23. Pingback: Frugal Link Love For Moms

  24. Joy says:

    I noticed Tess mentioning unmentionables. I made a decision to buy only flesh colored underwear and on occasion black ;). Also, boy shorts or hipsters since they are comfortable but still manage to avoid the dreaded visible panty line, though a few good fitting thongs guarantee that won’t be an issue. I can’t tell you how many times I skipped wearing something due to undergarment issues. So, one has to have the basics to make life easier, and I can’t emphasize how much nude undergarments save stress.

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