by Sarah Clark – Little Spree
Admittedly, it can take a while to get your style mojo back after having a baby/babies (I don’t mind admitting that I was still wearing giant knickers and leggings for a good eight months after my twins were born back in 2010, and for a Fashion Editor this is not something I should readily admit to anyone…). It’s not even just a case of being able to fit into your favourite jeans again, it’s also about adapting your style to all the various activities that are involved in looking after young children (suddenly you’re bending over the buggy, on the floor playing, running around…) I took the full year for my maternity leave, and after a while (once the knickers and leggings were gone), I settled into a kind of ‘uniform’ that worked for me, and in many ways, still does.
For any time-poor mothers out there (and let’s face it, does anyone know any mothers who aren’t?), my advice would be to find what I describe as an ‘off-duty uniform’ – clothes that are simple, stylish, look and feel good, are practical (I hate that word, but honestly, I equally do not want to be that mum at the sandpit, looking ridiculous in Jimmy Choo heels and hipster jeans, bending over showing everyone your knickers…), and most importantly take very little thought or effort to put on. You need pieces that work together with minimal thought and effort. I do not have time (or the inclination frankly) to be faffing around in the morning, musing over what may or may not go with a particular pair of trousers/shoes/skirt/dress/shirt/jumper (those days are long gone!). So I stick to what I know works. Once you find a style that you like and that works for you, stick to it! As they say, if it ain’t broke…
My top tips for staying stylish when you’ve got little people in tow…
- Stick to simple styles in neutral colours. It may sound dull, but neutrals always look stylish (always go for navy over black though – it’s chic-er and more flattering) and are easy to wear together. You can add a pop of colour or print with accessories, such as a red bag or a leopard print trainer.
- Less is more. You don’t need a huge wardrobe – just considered pieces that work together.
- Hands-free/crossbody bags are a Godsend.
- If mornings are particularly stressful in your house, get your clothes ready and laid out the night before.
- A great coat will always make you feel stylish and ‘put together’ – even if you’re wearing your scruffiest clothes underneath.
- Avoid very high heels – you’ll just look and feel ridiculous.
My Top Ten Mama Must-Haves For Autumn
A great coat in a neutral colour, such as navy, grey or camel
Go for a simple style that will work well with jeans (as you’ll be wearing them a lot!). I really love all the longer, more mannish styles that are around at the moment (ASOS, & Other Stories and Mango all have good ones).
An Army-style jacket
Perfect for this Autumn weather where it can be quite mild. I just bought this great one from Gap last week and I have barely taken it off! I sized up to an XL (I would normally be a medium) because I wanted a looser, more slouchy fit. I also wanted to make sure I could layer jumpers underneath. It goes with literally everything in my wardrobe (I often wear it over dresses too). This is probably my all-time favourite go-to item in wardrobe. The Gap one may be my newest one, but I have many!
Mens cashmere crew-neck jumpers
I literally live in these all Winter. I love them. My favourite colours are navy and grey, and I buy mine from M&S, Uniqlo and Boden.
A great pair of comfortable, flattering jeans
Now you don’t have to spend a fortune on great jeans – I have a real mixture of high street and designer jeans, and actually, most of my favourites are the cheaper pairs. My favourite pair for the Summer was actually from Next! I like a mid-blue wash or black. My favourite jeans haunts are Gap, J.Brand, ASOS and Mango. At the moment my favourite style is straight, slightly cropped with a kick-flare.
A cool pair of trainers
I like all styles from hi-tops, to the skater style slip-ons (I first started wearing these on maternity leave as they were so quick to put on – that’s how time-poor I was!!). I buy mine from Vans, classic Converse, Adidas (class Stan Smiths are still a firm favourite) and for a splurge, Golden Goose Deluxe (they are expensive, but I have had mine for over three years and they’re still going strong).
A little bit of leopard
Just to add a little extra ‘something’ to your neutral ‘uniform’. A bag is the easiest way to add a little touch to your look, but trainers, boots or ballet pumps are great options too. I’ve got my eye on this hands-free, crossbody bag at the moment (a crossbody bag is a must for any new mums or mums of toddlers or small children – you definitely need both hands free for ‘wrangling’!).
A simple grey sweatshirt
Always looks cool, and is so comfortable to wear. I live in them! I love this super-soft velour one from & Other Stories.
Classic ballet pumps
I love them with jeans (particularly cropped, wide leg or kick-flare styles). Great for quickly slipping on and running out the door, when you want something a little more feminine than trainers. I particularly like wearing them with jeans and a chunky jumper instead of a coat.
A suede ankle boot with a (smallish) heel
These are great when you want to feel a bit more ‘pulled together’, but still need something comfortable enough to run around in. They are really flattering on your legs too. I like them with a skinnier style of jean. My all-time favourites are the Isabel Marant ‘Dicker’ boots. Like the Golden Goose, they are not cheap, but honestly, they were one of my most worn items in my wardrobe a couple of years ago, and I wore than non-stop. I still love them now. Boden does a very similar style at the moment too.
A great pair of sunglasses
A must-have for all those sunny school-runs or visits to the swings/sandpit. Also a great way of stylishly hiding those inevitable tired eyes! I love these fold-up classic Rayban Wayfarers (less likely to get sat on and broken).
A simple tote bag for carting around all the kids’ ‘stuff’
Preferably a cotton/canvas one that weighs next to nothing, such as this pretty one from Numero 74.
- Jumper | & Other Stories, £110.00
- Jacket | Gap, £54.95
- Jeans | Mango, £35.99
- Bag | Swildens, £133.30
- Boots | Boden, £120.00
Sarah Clark is a Fashion Editor and has worked in fashion for over fifteen years at magazines including Marie Claire, Glamour, Red, and most recently as Fashion Editor at Large at The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine. In 2010 she had twins and everything shifted to how to dress her children in a stylish way on a limited budget. Sarah started Little Spree in 2011 as an essential resource for busy, fashion-conscious mums: an insider’s guide to dressing kids in a beautiful and stylish way without maxing credit cards. Mixing high street finds with the occasional ‘splurge’ for a cool, stylish and accessible ‘edit’ of the best things out there for babies, toddlers and kids.
In 2013 Mama Spree was added, which is the same concept, but for mums who were already hooked on the Little Spree for their children. She provides her followers with tips on how to dress in a cool, but practical way, that avoids anything ‘mumsy’. Mama Spree is the same affordable style, but this time, just for the mums! She has since added interiors, Daddy Spree, toys and books.
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