Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: A Quest

Does anyone else have the Grocery Store Dilemma?  Here’s how it plays out for me:

I might need to go to the store but I’m in bumming-around-the-house clothes.  I have one hour—no more!—between morning naptime and the attack of the kids’ lunch-time grumpies.  I hate wasting time getting changed because, heck, it’s just the grocery store.  So, I might go to the store in sweat pants and a dirty, stretched-out polo and tennis shoes.  But sure enough: I run into 10 different people I know, probably including my former boss, my husband’s boss, my pastor, and four or five single friends who are dressed in heels, picking up some Vitamin Water on their lunch break.

Style and the Stay at Home Mom

Even if I am spared this humiliation and don’t see anyone I know, sometimes I see myself in the security camera monitor and cringe.  And it’s not just vanity.  When I go out in those sloppy clothes, I don’t look like me.  I look like someone less than the person I really am.

And sadly, as the years go by and the weight creeps up and the wrinkles set in, the stakes get so much higher.  I’m less likely to pull off the scruffy-but-still-somewhat-cute look à la Hillary Duff:


Ah, well, even celebrities have those days.

It’s more likely that I’ll look something like this:

In the alternative, I might try to make myself decent and open my closet, only to find the following:

  • 5 pairs of jeans that used to fit,
  • dry-clean only dress pants,
  • off-season cropped white capris,
  • three blouses that only work with my one black cami (currently in the hamper),
  • some itchy sweaters, and
  • a college sweatshirt.
  • Oh, and a silk tank top with sequins.

That’s the dilemma I met almost every day after becoming a stay-at-home mom.  I had closets and bins full of clothes but few that fit and even fewer that looked good.  I had nothing that I could wear comfortably around the house with the kids and look presentable in when going out.

Then I saw this little video from Crystal at Money Saving Mom:

It really rocked my world.  Crystal is the first to insist that she’s “no fashionista.”   Certainly, her style is not cutting-edge, and it’s not the same as mine (to the extent I have one).  But this showed me it’s possible to be comfortable yet look pretty, put-together . . . presentable. . . every day.  

Rachel Meeks of Small Notebook

A little later I came across Rachel Meeks and her blog, Small Notebook, where she has an awesome series about simplifying one’s wardrobe and about her own “comfortably dressy” attire.

Oh man, where do I sign?

I want that.

Ever since then I’ve been on a mission to build a wardrobe full of outfits that are comfortable, flattering, and suitable to my current state in life.   A Mom Uniform, if you will.   It’s been fun.  It’s been a learning process, for sure.  I have a long way still to go.  I hope you enjoy reading as I blog about it!


23 thoughts on “Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: A Quest

    • I’ve considered it but I don’t think I want to go there. Way way too close to the frumpy long skirt look. Plus I like wearing socks.

      I might try them if/when I’m pregnant again. Maternity pants were such a nightmare the last trimester.

  1. I know exactly what you mean… I’ll often make sure that Catherine looks cute, because hey, she’s two and it’s so easy and fun for her to look cute, but I’ll just wear whichever athletic pants are on the top of the pile of clean-but-not-in-the-dresser-yet clothes and grab a sweatshirt on my way out.

    Looking forward to more blog posts! 🙂

    (Who am I kidding, they will never make it to the dresser!) 😉

    • Ha ha. Yes, exactly. It’s so easy with kids. That’s why I’m trying to build a “Mom uniform” so I don’t have to think about it. I want to be able to just grab something from the closet (or the clean clothes pile 😉 and know I’ll look presentable. Emphasis on Trying.

  2. Hey Laura – you didn’t ask permission to use my photo there (2nd from top)!
    Your mom and I used to talk about stuff like this – used to. We talked, at the time, about “liturgical dressing”, however. A purple jumper, green jumper and blue for Saturdays – or something.
    Obviously we never got there – and that’s probably a good thing.

  3. To answer your first question, yes I have the grocery store challenge! My old coworkers frequent Target, Costco, AND my grocery store so I don’t feel like I can go to any of them not looking put together.
    I am also working on simplifying my closet and just keeping what I love and actually fits really well. The rest becomes Rachel’s new wardrobe!

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  5. My every-day staple is my jean skirt (long-ish and kinda funky) with a shirt and cardigan when needed (in Canada…). So today, had a friend over and just wore the same thing I would have worn anyway: peasant blouse and funky jean skirt. Went out yesterday: differents skirt, white tank top, burgandy fleece zip (instead of the cardi). Skirts really have made my life so much easier…Then I just have to decide on the shirt! (and you can still wear socks if a. the skirt is long enough b. they’re anklets and you’re just at home or c. you’re wearing cool boots…)

  6. Hi, I’m starting to read these series on the Mom Uniform (I come from the Five Favorites comment this week). I’m loving this, as I read I asked myself, is this lady my twin?? I want to look presentable yet comfy. You know what also happens to me when I’m looking frumpy around the house: people come over unannounced 🙂

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m not a mom, but I work from home on a part-time basis and I also spend a lot of time at home due to chronic health issues. I used to just live in pajamas and I felt boring and depressed all the time. I felt like I had to “justify” wearing something nicer. Thank you so much for the reminder that we are all “worth it”! 🙂

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