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.
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.
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.
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.
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: [email protected]
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.