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Banish the Elastic Waistband and Stock up on Stylish, Mom-friendly Basics!

March 30, 2012

A friend with two children under the age of two complained the other day that for the first time in her life, she feels frumpy. And indeed, with her oversized hoodie, well-worn yoga pants, and sneakers that verged on the border of orthopedic, she wasn’t exactly stopping traffic. When you become a mom, fashion slides to the very bottom of your priority list, and with good reason! Preparing meals for your kids, doing their laundry, and earning an income make flipping through fashion magazines seem a lot less worthy of your time. But when your daughter’s wardrobe gets more compliments than yours, or you realize that your definition of “pants” has changed dramatically, it might be time to pay some more attention to how you dress and the way it makes you feel. Without knowing it, your confidence and mood may be shifting along with your clothing choices!

The first step to creating a cute and cohesive wardrobe is to conduct a good, old-fashioned closet purge. Make a pile for Goodwill and a pile for the trash. Pull everything out of your drawers and off of your hangers. If an item has tear or holes, or large stains that won’t come out, toss it. If it simply doesn’t fit you, put it in the Goodwill pile. And as for your many pairs of sweatpants, yoga pants, and basic tees, put them in a drawer designated specifically for wear during exercise, gardening, sleep, or the flu.

Second, devise a uniform. It’s fine to wear the same thing everyday, as long as that outfit works for your lifestyle and makes you feel good. Think about your daily activities, and choose clothes that are appropriate in the environments you find yourself in most often, allow you to move, will stand up to wear and tear. Do you feel comfortable in cozy, stretchy, cotton dresses summer? Find a great dress and buy it in a few colors. Do you gravitate more to jeans? Look for a pair that fits and looks great, and buy a few. Stock up on basics to go with your jeans, like colorful cardigans or well-fitted button-downs. Stay away from silk and lace, and look for items that are machine washable. Finally, while there is a time and a place for sneakers and flip-flops, invest in comfortable shoes like ballet flats, loafers, or sandals. Brands like Me Too, Cole Haan, and Toms make comfortable footwear with great arch support. And you may need two uniforms: one for home and one for work. But establishing a go-to formula will make it easier for you to maintain a certain standard everyday, without thoughtlessly throwing on the closest item with an elastic waistband.

And third, learn to bargain hunt. Spending money on yourself is hard to do when you’re constantly shelling out for new clothes every time your child hits a growth spurt. Learning to spot discounts can save you hundreds, long-term. Familiarize yourself with shops that offer deep discounts, like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. Plus, many etailers that mark down quality pieces as well. Zappos operates an outlet online called 6pm, which offers drastic markdowns, and Bluefly and Outnet carry designer items at much lower prices. You might also want to sign up for Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, and myHabit, which will email you with special sales. And every time you shop online, visit Retailmenot, which carries promotional codes for hundreds of etailers, offering everything from free shipping to 30% off.

Now, the choice is yours. Dressing down isn’t a crime, and some moms truly feel fine regardless of what they’re wearing. But if you’re starting to feel a bit invisible and miss your stylish, pre-baby days, remember that re-stocking your closet with a range of high-quality basics is easier and less expensive than you might think!

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