The making of my Mom Uniform

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As I've been hinting, my style has gone way, way downhill since the baby was born. The combination of having a body on which very few of the items in my closet fit and having nowhere in particular I have to be, save my couch, has led me to some habits that are...slovenly, really. I knew this was a possibility--there are countless blogs dedicated to forcing oneself out of the Mommy clothing rut. And so, when I finally lifted my head this week and decided it was time to do something about it, I knew more or less where to start. The Mom Uniform.

Many style experts suggest a "uniform" as a way to make sure you look put together with minimal time and effort investment. Debra Ronca writes for TLC, "Your mom uniform should be comfortable, functional and stylish all at the same time." Personal stylist Susan Wagner writes for Parentables, "A successful Mom Uniform does two things: it makes you look great, and it makes your life easy." That all sounds good, right? Both sources go on to give specific advice. Ronca has the following five suggestions:

1. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
2. Purchase comfortable shoes.
3. Pick a mom fashion idol.
4. Keep your changing figure in mind.
5. Pick easy care fabrics.

Wagner is a bit more specific, offering three possible Mom Uniform options:

1. Jeans and a sweater
2. A dress
3. Consistent separates.

Both experts suggest buying multiples of pieces that work well for your life and figure, and both emphasize that the key to making the Mom Uniform work is knowing, before you ever attempt to get dressed, how to put your formula into practice, and having the pieces available to do so. Again, seems like sound advice.

A general Google search on the Mom Uniform got me a lot of different ideas. Gwyneth Paltrow discusses it on her blog, Goop, where she makes adjustments through her day, starting with just a tank top and leggings and ending up with outfits worthy of meetings or her appearance on Oprah. Her first additions, though, made the most sense to me. The mom uniform she suggests here is one that can easily be budget modified for those of us who don't have Gwyenth's money. Sweater dress+leggings+tall boots. Nothing is universally flattering, but this looks good on a lot of people, and it's very comfortable and wearable.

sweater_dress_boots.jpg
Image via Goop.com.

Shana at Ain't No Mom Jeans is pretty much the master of the many variations of Mom Uniforms. I love her blog--she hits it out of the park most of the time. She makes lots of Mom Uniform suggestions, but I loved one recent one on how to "glam up" your Momiform (her term, not mine!) for the holidays. Her basic uniform is a button down plaid shirt, skinny jeans, and short moto boots, and to make it party worth, she swaps the blue jeans for black, boots for heels, and piles on glitzy accessories. Pretty darn easy!

In another celebrity-centered post, Melissa at All Things Chic takes a look at Kelly Ripa's Mom Uniform. Kelly's looks like a bit more effort to me, but it's still doable--bootcut jeans, tank, jacket, heels, accessories. I think swapping the heels for flats would work, and that's really all it would take to make this a reasonable look for most of our day-to-day lives.

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Image via All Things Chic.

I've told you before that Already Pretty is one of my very favorite style blogs. Though she's not a mom herself, Sal doesn't neglect us! Back in May, she had fellow blogger Shannon Hyland-Tassava write a guest post about easy style formulas for on-the-go moms. Shannon gives three possible formulas, all of which are great:
1. Jeans+cute flats+striped tee+bright scarf+big bag (modified in the winter/fall by replacing the flats with tall boots and throwing a jacket over the top)
2. Dress+flats or boots+cardigan
3. Casual skirt+tee+skimmers/flats/driving moccasins (in the fall/winter, add tights and replace shoes with boots)

After I searched out the professional and blogger opinions, I asked a group of mom friends what sorts of Mom Uniforms they see around them, or wear themselves. I got similar responses.

Mom Uniform #1: skinny jeans, tunic sweater, riding boots

Mom Uniform--skinny jeans, tunic sweater, riding boots

This one is basically the same as the one Gwyenth Paltrow suggests. Very doable, very flexible, comfortable, etc. The only issue I see here is that the tunic top/sweater is not the best thing in the world for nursing.

Mom Uniform #2: skinny jeans, tee/tank, cardigan, flats

Mom Uniform--high waisted skinny jeans, flats, tee or tank, cardigan

Again, quite doable, infinitely flexible, and this one is a bit better on the nursing front, since the tee or tank can be pulled up while the cardigan still offers some coverage. The issue I see here is that skinny jeans without a long top are out of some of our comfort zones.

Mom Uniform #3: Bootcut jeans, tank, flats, cardigan, scarf

Mom Uniform--bootcut jeans, flats, tank, cardigan, scarf

I like this one because it offers a non-skinny jean option, and because the scarf stands in for jewelry for those of us who are dealing with grabby baby hands. It offers the same nursing coverage as the previous one, but may cause a little bit less butt-related angst.

Mom Uniform #4: jersey wrap dress, tights or leggings, cardigan, boots

Mom Uniform--jersey dress, tights/leggings, boots, cardigan

This is probably my favorite of the Mom Uniforms, because it's the most nursing friendly (all hail the wrap dress!) and the combination of a jersey dress and leggings really does feel like pajamas. It solves the problem of looking put together without sacrificing any comfort or functionality, and there are tons of options for how you could tailor this look to your personal style.

I'm still working on my specific Mom Uniform. I realized that I had to start with at least getting a few cheap pieces that fit me correctly, so I've done a bit of shopping lately and came home with new skinny jeans (Curvy Skinny Jeans from NY & Company, they're great), new boots, and a handful of brightly colored tees and tanks. I have cardigans that still fit, and a bunch of scarves, so that's what I am going with for now. I'm on the lookout for jersey dresses and/or tunic tops, though, so it's definitely a work in progress.

How about all of you readers? Do you have a Mom Uniform? What about non-moms, do you dress by a formula? What works best for you?

5 Comments

So my variation on your Mom uniform #1 is to do skinny jeans, a layering tank or cami, a flowy cardigan (and I have some in short and long sleeve), and boots in the cool weather, flats in warmer weather. I find the tank/flowy cardi combo a nursing-friendly substitution for a tunic. Plus, if you have the post-partum apple shape going on, the cardigan gives a vertical line to make draw the eye away. I can also dress it up for work with slim dress pants.

In the summer, though, I'm all about the athletic skort!

Mine has had to be nursing-friendly for 20 months (and counting. V-neck, v-neck, v-neck, or very stretchy collar. Skinny pants/jeans (love all the colors at Uniqlo), tee or sweater, cardigan if necessary. I wear LOTS of bright colors now, to make up for all the (non-breastfeeding-friendly) dresses I've had to shove to the back of my closet. I've also learned to love the wedge, because I just can't always wear flats. ;)

I'm not a mom but I really enjoyed this post. I think a uniform for casual wear is something that I could benefit from, so I appreciated all the ideas!

My kid isn't little anymore, but I still have a pretty plain, basic mom wardrobe. Most of the parts can be matched with almost anything else in my closet, so it's easy. I still have to try hard not to be frumpy or lazy, because I do work in an office environment, but not having to think about it too hard makes it so much better.

Dark wash jeans (never skinny, ever, ever, ever - straight leg, trouser cut or boot cut for my figure), dress shirt, comfortable European style walking shoes or wedges works for me. If I want to dress it up, I throw on a tailored suit jacket.

I've been fairly hard pressed for dresses, but found a cute one yesterday.

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