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Style After Motherhood, How Does It Work?

Let me just say upfront: I am NOT a fashionista. Not by a very, very long shot.

Truth be told, my wardrobe consists primarily of the following items in black or various shades of gray: dresses with leggings, various types/styles of cardigan sweaters, and comfortable shoes (flip-flops in summer, ballet flats in spring/fall, clompy clogs or boots in winter) (I should note that all of these are black as well) (at least I’m consistent, right?). This “uniform”-type of styling — which essentially removes all real decision-making from the process of daily clothing-selection because everything matches  — came into being over the course of the past several years for me, out of a kind of harried necessity that I imagine many moms can relate to. I basically didn’t want clothing to be yet another thing I’d have to worry about, another decision I’d have to make every day. The boiled-down essence of my style thus became: to be able to just grab any items in my closet and throw them on, secure in the knowledge that come what may, at least I wouldn’t be mismatched. Because honestly, of the 500 things on my every day to-do list, being a fashion plate sits dead last at the bottom.

Does this ring a bell for any of you? Anyone? Hellooooo?

I decided to ask some friends how their style has changed since they had kids, vainly hoping that I wasn’t alone in my lame sloughing off of stylishness. Turns out, I was in good company:

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Ali: I don’t know if this helps, because it didn’t happen right away…but, for me, well, now that I have a daughter in 6th grade (OH MY HEAVENLY DAYS I AM OLD), it’s really important for me to make sure that she and I don’t dress alike. As in, if it’s in style for 6th graders, I should not we wearing it. As in…I dress my age. Also, I will never again be able to wear anything labeled LOW-RISE because, well, that whole stomach-that-birthed-three-humans thing…

Jamie: was what I was thinking too. Undershirts/tanks have become a daily wear. Nobody wants to see my shirt ride up to reveal the wrinkle-muffin below.

Tanis: Prior to having chilluns, I dressed normal. I swear on all that is holy. I mean, besides being dumber as a post, I had an itty bitty waist, boobs which pointed in the same direction and fashion sense.

And then I had kids.

Bam! and then 11 months later! BAM again! Suddenly, in the space of 13 months I had a newborn and a one year old kid. I was too busy changing diapers and whipping out the boob to care what I looked like. So for like FIVE YEARS after my kids were born, I wore (I’m so ashamed) overalls.

Fashion was LOOOOW on the priority list, I was more worried about making a box of mac and cheese and pb and jelly sandwiches feed my family since we were so poor. Two kids grew to three and I was hopeless lost inside the fashion wastebin of life.

My come to jesus moment happened when I was about 26, and getting ready to go out on a girls night when my friend held up all my jeans, laughed at me and asked me if I had any that didn’t go up to my waist band. She reminded me that just because I was a mother didn’t mean I had to wear mom jeans.

The next day we went shopping and I have never, ever bought mom jeans again. Because I realized being a mom doesn’t mean I need to morph into a fashion slob. And a great pair of Levi’s will not only make you feel feminine and beautiful but they’ll hide the jelly stains of small children.

Marilyn: Having 2 kids via c-section totally destroyed my stomach. It looks like I am wearing a fanny pack under my pants with a permanent pooch billowing out over the surgery scar. It’s all about minimize, suck it in, push it down, and when all else fails wear an extra long shirt.

Marrit: I’m in pajamas still. My child is 10 now. Nobody needs style advice from me.

Katie: ”Ž50 Shades of Black hide a multitude of sins, even those perpetrated by the innocents.

Jamie: the front of my shirt says “Cowboy Wanted” and the butt of my shorts says “Farm Raised.”

Jen: I feel like I dress much better now than I did before I had kids and certainly in the early couple of years since having them. Just in the past year I’ve really taken control of my style and have worked really hard at completely renovating my entire wardrobe on a tight budget. And, not to humblebrag, I’ve done a pretty good job at turning my look from 100% Mom Who Has Abandoned All Hope to Mom Who Actually Gives A Sh*t. I pay attention to trends and adjust them slightly and wear outfits that include accessories and shoes that coordinate and do my hair…at all, which is a complete 180 to my old style of jeans and t-shirts at home, black pants and turtleneck sweaters to work.

Stacey: I haven’t bought a piece of clothing that says “dry clean only” or even “hand wash cold” since 2005.

Susan:  wear a lot of dresses now because I can’t be trusted to remember to put on two pieces of clothing. Also, pants are completely out because I can’t buy anything that needs to be tried on because the kids will lock themselves in the dressing room AGAIN and I will have to drag the round red loveseat to the door AGAIN and peer menacingly over the door until they come out. Note to stores: please make your dressing room doors so I can crawl under them. Thank you.

Jodi: I got MORE stylish once I became a mom. I think when I was younger I was trying so hard to keep up with what was “in” and be like “everyone else” and now I have learned what really fits me and what looks good on me and I don’t have time to care anymore about everyone else. I buy for me, and what I like, and look better now.

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SHUT UP JODI AND JEN! heh.

But really, overall it seems clear that this is a common issue for lots of moms and something many of us struggle with. Since becoming parents, our bodies have changed, our priorities have changed, our commitment to dry-clean-only fabrics has changed… so it makes sense that Fashion and Style would get demoted to Comparatively Not All That Important. It makes sense that ease and comfort would become increasingly central to our clothing choices, as opposed to following the latest fad or trend, whether it felt good and fit us or not.  Totally.

But there’s a fine line between streamlining one’s wardrobe and giving up, this I know, so I’m looking out for ways to be less uniform-ish and more stylish, without sacrificing comfort and ease (more on that in the posts to come!). But for now, I ask you: how important is looking fashionable and stylish to you, and has this changed since you became a mom? Are you good with where you are now, fashion/style-wise, or would you like to change things up somehow?

Disclaimer: A big thanks to Levi’s for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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