9 style tips for stay at home mums

Editor’s note: Today, blogger Claire Chadwick takes over the SY blog. She works from home as a children’s author and freelance writer and blogs at Claire Ever After. She’s also a mum to three kids and after a styling session with a friend now mindfully selects her #everydaystyle clothing.

Ok mums, it’s time we talk about fashion and YOUR sense of style.

Hang on, don’t click away – I know what you’re thinking – “I’m a mother of young kids, I don’t have the time or the money or the need to worry about how I look right now & what I’m wearing!” I know – because I’ve been in that frame of mind too.

It’s normal; it’s all part of the new journey of motherhood and change and ageing. Yes, motherhood does define us now, but it shouldn’t control us entirely. We can still be mums and have style. We can still make time for ourselves and how we look. And do you know what? I have found a very simple and refreshing way to get out of the ‘frumpy uninspired no-time-for-fashion’ rut that many new mums fall into.

The answer is this: Do care about how you look! Simple really.

And I’ll show you how, because when you like the way you look and you feel confident in your clothes; you will feel a million times better within yourself and how your days are spent. I seem to be so much more productive when I feel good about myself (on the inside and the outside) – which makes sense doesn’t it?!

No, I’m not going to tell you to go on a strict diet or get Botox and hair extensions and I’m not going to tell you to wear nine-inch heels all day, everyday (although do these things if you wish), but here I will share a few style tips for stay at home mums.

My children are two, six and 15. I work from home as a children’s author and freelance writer and I also manage my husband’s business accounts but my main role within our family is to run the home and be mum and wife.

I enjoy this and embrace this, but now realise this does not mean I’m only entitled to wear trackies and my hubby’s old baggy tees (although some quiet rainy days do call for this!).  There is no such thing as a “Mummy’s uniform”. We can make our own rules when it comes to our daily wear.

And trust me – a little thought into what we wear each day, makes a HUGE difference.

I fell into a bit of a clothing slump not long after my first child was born. I was still carrying some extra weight and was running on very little sleep (still am). I wanted to maintain the youthful style of my early 20s but found (only by looking back in photos) that I looked like a woman attempting (in a not-so-good, try-hard way) to dress as a teen or a daggy run-down mother of an infant, who had lost a lot of self-love. Either way, I didn’t look or feel good.

My friend had been in similar situation when becoming a mother for the first time so used her new drive for fresh fashion, along with her world travel and flair for style, to learn her way into being a stylist.

She now mentors other women and mothers into finding their groove again. She took me on styling session for my birthday last year, and I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference it made, not only to my wardrobe but to my body, my mindset and my day-to-day routine.

Now I make an effort to select my clothing mindfully.

This thought process is quite fun for a creative like me, who loves nothing more than a bit of a challenge and a way to spice life up a bit.

I still keep things real, because most of my days are filled with park plays, doing housework, crafting with little sticky fingers, grocery shopping, changing nappies, school-runs, lying on the lounge room floor pushing wooden trains and Matchbox cars and cleaning up many, many messes.

But I’ve recently learned that I can still wear comfortable, practical clothes that make me feel great, but also look fabulous and natural.

Tips

Here’s a few tips my friend and Brisbane-based stylist Kirsty Ashe gave me, along with some of my own I’m learning along the way:

1. Invest in a few quality, durable pieces that will last you a long time but can be versatile. For example; a good pair of denim shorts (I hugely recommend these Country Road ones). They wear and wash well, but can be easily dressed up or down. They are perfect for several of the Australian seasons and are flattering – especially when you’re sitting down low with your children, bending down and moving around a lot with busy toddlers.

2. When purchasing a piece of clothing, think about how many different occasions it will suit. The more ways you can wear it, the more value you’re getting. For example, this little black cotton dress from Seed Heritage has served me well through playgroup sessions, busy work/errand days, chilled days at home, as well as a dinner out with family. I can dress it down and up with some simple accessories.

Style tips for stay at home mums

3. Inject some colour into your day. I tend to stick to blacks and greys a lot. They’re slimming, suit all seasons and are easy to clean  – especially around grubby, sticky little hands. But try to have some fun with colour. You can still use the black pieces but how about add a bright coloured scarf or necklace. Add some coloured sandals or ballet flats, and jazz up the outfit with a coloured handbag.

4. Focus on what’s important to you. As a busy mum, our time to get ready each morning is very limited. Therefore something has to give – for me it’s my hair. I sacrifice the time it would take to blow dry and straighten/style my hair by usually wearing it up in a lazy bun – in turn this allows more time for other parts of my look. For me, I’d rather have a dash of blush, mascara and lip gloss plus freshly shaven legs, over lusciously styled hair. But for you, your hair may be high on your priority list, so make time for that. Because the end result needs to be YOU feeling good.

5. Know that it’s ok to dress up a little. Since my styling session last year, I have put a whole lot more effort and thought into my daily outfits. This doesn’t mean I dress up all glam each day, but I now know it’s ok and a little bit of fun to wear something special; even if my day consists of school runs, grocery shopping and sitting in front of a computer for several hours. This can be achieved by simply adding a bit of sparkle with a necklace or scarf. As the saying goes, “don’t save things for special occasions. Every day is special”. So if you feel like rocking out some red lipstick to do the groceries or wearing that high-end fashion piece you “invested” in – then go for it. Remember there are no rules when it comes to mothering in style.

6. Stay true to yourself. This may contradict the previous point slightly, because if yoga pants and a hoodie are truly when you feel your best, then tune into that. But also break out of your comfort zone and experiment a little. Having the styling session forced to me try styles and colours that I wouldn’t normally look twice at – and now they are my favourite, most-worn pieces.

7. Patterns can be your best friend – kids are dirty and sticky and messy – well I know mine sure are! When I have a busy day ahead with my toddler, I try to wear pattern. Why? Because patterns hide creases in clothing as well as grubby fingerprints; compared to block colours. I now wear a lot more floral, stripes and geometric patterned pants, skirts, shorts and shirts. I also avoid whole-white outfits as much as possible for this same reason. Save your whites for less busy days with your kids or child-free dates/events.

Style tips for stay at home mums

8. Discover your best bits and flaunt them. For so much of my teenage and adult years, I hated my legs. I thought they were too short, muscular and stocky. I attempted to hide them regularly under three-quarter pants, maxi dresses and jeans. It has only been these past year, as I enter my 32nd year of life that I accept my legs aren’t too bad after all. In fact, my stylist described them as one of my best assets (go figure!). So I’ve now embraced shorts on almost a daily basis as well as shorter hemline dresses. Find your best bits (could be your bust, waistline, shoulders, hair or even your ankle) and flaunt those babies. Life’s too short to hide behind oversized and unflattering clothing.

9. And lastly, mix cheaper, disposable pieces with better quality and higher-priced items. If you’re a stay-at-home-mum there’s a good chance you’re on a one-income family budget. High-end fashion doesn’t usually fit into your budget priorities when you’re not earning a consistent and stable income. But if you’re smart with your shopping, you can make those more pricey pieces last a long time and survive through many different occasions. For example, I like to mix affordable Big W shoes with a timeless Louis Vuitton bag or some French Connection pants. And I rarely spend a fortune on accessories, as these styles usually change from season to season. Colette or Forever New carry fabulous ranges of affordable accessories to jazz up any outfit.

Style tips for stay at home mums

Have some fun with fashion and clothes shopping again. Just because our days are dictated by the needs of little ones, doesn’t mean we can’t do it in style.

Remember that how we look, can positively affect the way we feel. Over time you may find that your confidence is also growing with this new approach to your daily appearance.

Styling You’s #everydaystyle hashtag on Instagram is a fabulous way to get reinspired with fashion and everyday practical clothing ideas. If you’d like to talk to a Brisbane based stylist and want more information from her in regards to your style, please contact Kirsty Ashe: kirstyashe@mail.com

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Claire Chadwick blogger Claire Ever After Claire Chadwick lives on the Gold Coast with her husband and children. She’s an author, freelance writer and blogger. In a past life, Claire was a primary school teacher, but has recently closed that door to focus on writing and navigating her way through the mundane and magic of motherhood. Claire is a lover of coffee, French champagne and animal print. Claire blogs at www.claireeverafter.com and can be found on Facebook.

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  • Annette Hill

    Great tips here – I like the trade off hair/makeup/shaved legs tip. I’m going to go out on a limb though and disagree about black being slimming. It’s not a magic tone, I reckon it’s the cut of the garment that flatters most. Someone I love very much spent years in black, grey and more black and it didn’t alter her shape one iota, now that she’s broadening her palette she is looking better and gaining confidence to wear olive, plum, burgundy and other hues.
    Aren’t stylists great? A few tips from someone with a keen eye can really boost our self-esteem. More power to you!!

  • Julie

    Hi Claire, this is a FAB post, something I wish I’d read years ago before my 2 started school! I found myself nodding along, I agree with all you’ve said! I did a night class about finding your personal style when my 2 were small and I could only get out after-hours, which led to sessions with a personal stylist on dressing for my shape, make-up and getting my colours done. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve recommended her to others – for me it was life-changing stuff and helped me get out of that rut. It was so good to discover that it’s okay to care about how you dress (even us SAHMs!!), and it’s not about being ‘in fashion’ but dressing to suit your own style and body shape, and that it doesn’t have to cost the earth (go the accessories!). And then I had the good fortune to discover Nikki’s fabulous blog! Now I’m off to read yours. Keep up the good work! xx

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thank you Julie.
      The night class sounds great – I think it’s so important that us Mums are able to take care of ourselves and our appearances, because when we feel good about ourselves, we’re going to tackle everyday life with more gusto.
      And yes, so true – it’s not about being up with the latest fashions, it’s about finding what makes YOU happy and comfortable and confident.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Claire x

  • Shan Mere

    Hello Claire, what a fabulous post ! With the shorts from Country Road what would you team them up with to look stylish? Also in regards to your friend who is a stylist does she have a FB page? Do you allocate shopping time for yourself – I have not stepped foot into a clothing shop for 3 years! (2 under 3) Well done on making us mummies feel their is hope to get out of this rut!

    • ClaireChadwick

      Hi Shan,
      Thanks for your comment :)
      As for the CR denim shorts – I usually wear them ‘casually’ with a singlet/tee, sandals/thongs and a hat. BUT…have definitely dressed them up on several occasions. One time I wore them with some denim wedges, a tighter fitting singlet and a statement/blingy necklace. Another time I wore them with a black faux leather fitted top {from iconic}, silver accessories and some strappy black heels. Both times the shorts were instantly transformed from casual to
      ‘dressy’. Tuck a shirt into them to highlight your waist and bust also.

      As for shopping, I try to do little bits at a time and as quickly as possible. I usually only have the 2yr old with me {I find they feed off of each other’s energies when all 3 are together – so I do it during school time when I only have one in tow} and I go in the morning {while his mood is still enjoyable} and usually have a plan of what shops I’m heading to and what pieces I’m looking for. I use bribery {bad mummy!! – a treat at the end} and I leave as soon as he’s hit his tolerant level. As for bigger shops and at Xmas time, I aim to do this at night time while the kids are asleep or home with Hubby. I also have done more shopping online this year than I have in stores. I now know what sizes I am in the brands I love most and take advantage of their online sales or free shipping options. {iconic.com.au is one of my faves, so is Witchery, Seed, eBay, boohoo.com and I keep an eye on the French Connection online sales regularly too} Some of the ‘more affordable’ stores {Kmart etc} have some amazing pieces at amazing prices but I do find that I’m larger sizes there and the quality doesn’t always survive my heavy wearing and mothering days. But these stores are great for a seasonal bargain or a quick buy – and I also buy a lot of my shoes from there and wear them to death.

      There definitely is hope for us Mums. Hang in there. Have fun with it.
      I highly recommend you contact Kirsty for a chat or a styling session. It is a life-changing experience. She doesn’t have a FB page just yet and her website is under construction – so email is the best option for now :)

      Happy shopping Mumma xx

  • http://www.styleandshenanigans.com/ Vanessa

    Lots of great tips in this post – thank you Claire! x

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thanks Vanessa :) I’m really happy to know I’ve been able to help other Mums and Women embrace fashion and style and self-worth. Mwah x

  • Louise

    thanks for your gorgeous post Claire. I work 3 days a week and have to wear a uniform, so on the other 2 days I want to have fun with my clothes. Other mums at school pickup often ask if I have been out somewhere but it’s usually nowhere more exciting than the butcher or meeting with a tradie.
    I look forward to reading more from you.

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thank you Louise :)
      I get the same question at school runs and then some very awkward looks when I say I’m just spending the day running errands and changing nappies :) But I do it for me and how it makes me feel. Embrace it Mumma and ENJOY!
      x

  • kmac

    I LOVE this post, thankyou! I’ve been a stay-at-home mum for nearly 3 years and it has taken me this long to work out a style to suit! Living in Melbourne, layering is key. This time of year calls for comfy leggings and tunic tops at home which are then easily dressed up with ankle boots and a leather jacket (faux leather on my budget!) for popping out. I still often fall into the habit of wearing paste-stained trackies but agree with your comments that looking good makes you feel so much better!

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thanks kmac,
      Yes, very true – layering is an awesome option for the cooler seasons and in-between seasons. Here in QLD, the seasons are so mild, but come Winter; boots and leggings with oversized knits and jackets is one of my fave looks.
      Ooh and I grabbed a ‘faux’ leather jacket online recently – can’t wait to wear that baby when the temp is cooler here.
      x

  • Robyn

    Loved reading this Claire – could so relate and so many useful tips! Would love to know where that floral dress is from? It’s gorgeous!!

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thanks Robyn :)
      The floral dress was a bargain from http://www.iconic.com.au – it’s from the EZRA brand and I now own the blue floral one too. So comfortable and easy to keep clean :)
      x

  • Jojo

    Thank you so much for your blog today Claire. Our life similarities are uncanny!! I often wonder when life will be full glam outings again but raising toddlers does hold you back somewhat. Plus the 1 income holds one back too. I do have staple pieces I know I can jazz up with a scarf or injection of extra colour. I think I’ve discovered at least 20 more styles this morning. Tinkled pink to of found you. xx

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thanks Jojo – your comment has made my day :)
      It’s amazing how a scarf or bag or a little cheap bit of bling can totally transform an outfit and make it more versatile for different outings/occasions.
      Have fun Mumma x

  • Emily @ The Beetle Shack

    Claire, you have the worlds most amazing legs. Where can I get me a pair?

    Great tips also. I love mixing in the cheapies with the fancy!

    xx em

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thanks Em :)
      The legs were careof my Dad – we both seem to have short, muscular stems :) We weren’t ‘blessed’ with lean limbs – but I’m learning that’s ok now :))

      Yes, I find mixing the cheapies with the glam – not only more affordable, but it keeps things real when we’re deep in the trenches of motherhood….. and it makes those special items feel that little bit more special hey?!

      Have a beautiful Wednesday xx

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Claire you have great style and I love your advice I am a stay at home person my children are in their 20s now but for health reasons I have not been able to return to work but I always like to look nice as it makes you feel better as you said and just by wearing something you feel and look good in can be such a mood lifter and it takes the same amount of time to wear something nice than a pair of tracky dacks.Great post Claire!

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thanks Lisa :)
      Well said – I was always under the impression that it would take too long to look ‘better’. But with some planning and thought and a very slight in priorities, it’s now a vital part of my mornings :)
      Much love xx

  • TheMultitaskingMummy

    Thank you! As a SAHM I really.needed to read this as I feel like I’m in a fashion rut!

    • Claire Chadwick

      You’re welcome – and thank you. I’m glad the post has helped and I wish you all the best in getting inspired again.
      x

  • Sydney Shop Girl

    Great tips, Claire!

    Thanks

    SSG xxx

    • Claire Chadwick

      Thank you so much SSG :)
      Have a great day
      x

  • http://www.shoppegirlsstyling.com/ Vicki | ShoppeGirls Styling

    Love this feature. Over the years I have started putting in more effort and taking the time to wear what i love even if only staying at home. If you look good you feel good and I believe you can be more productive. Thank you for sharing your fabulous style.

    • Claire Chadwick

      Thanks Vicki,
      I agree – when I feel good about how I look, I feel so much more confident, productive and capable. May just all be in the mind – but whatever works, works :)

  • http://emhawker.blogspot.com/ Emily

    I concur with the legs comment!

    I’m just reaching the end of that first year, the weaning has commenced, and I’m looking forward to selecting outfits without having to think about whether or not they’re breastfeeding friendly! So this post is perfectly timed, thanks.

    • ClaireChadwick

      Heehee thank you Emily…re: legs :)
      Breastfeeding clothing can be so restrictive, I know. Congrats on making it so far.
      Enjoy the new adventure of finding your style again, post breastfeeding. Have fun Mumma xx

  • merilyn

    hi Claire, you are looking great! … have to say, ab fab legs!
    yes I agree albeit I am retired but the same thing happens … I am an artist and have my studio garb … messy! but sometimes I like to foof and waft about feeling a little more glamour in my life so I put my belly dancing earrings on and sometimes my hipscarfe and I am transported … as a stay at home mum, once upon a time, I could have played dress ups with the children but sadly I didn’t … but now I make up for it! whatever the mood takes run with it creatively! lol feel good days! m:)x

    • ClaireChadwick

      Thank you Merilyn :) We all need to add a little glam to our days, don’t we? Glad you have found that fun groove.
      x