I began working on my “mom uniform” a few months ago, frustrated at having lots and lots of clothes but nothing to wear (as described in last Saturday’s post). I decided to build a functional wardrobe, and not collect pieces at random as I had done for years.
Mary, of With My Sisters, has a very helpful, ongoing series on building a wardrobe on a budget. I’ve drawn lots of inspiration from that and also from Audrey’s series on Building a Wardrobe From Scratch, over at Putting Me Together. Both ladies say an initial step is to make a plan, to determine what you really need for your lifestyle. (And here I was, all my life, thinking the first step was to browse the 70% off rack at Target!)
This is what I think my ideal wardrobe would look like:
- 7 casual outfits, comfortable enough for chores around the house and presentable enough for being seen in public
- 4 pairs of pants would be enough here, but
- 7 separate tops are ideal because the kiddos leave so many mementos of themselves on me throughout the day
- 4 church outfits
- 2 dressier outfits (weddings, fancy parties, etc.)
- 1 or 2 “going out”/ “dressy casual” outfits (I have so much trouble with this category).
Another crucial step is cleaning out your closet. I made a big purge of summer clothes last year (no pictures though), and one of winter clothes this year.
Mary describes the process well on her blog. I did my big closet clean-out before she wrote her post, but I pretty much followed the process she describes.
The most crucial questions for me were
(a) Does it fit? and more fundamentally
(b) Whether or not it fits, would I enjoy wearing it?
I was surprised at how often the answer to (b) was “No.”
Here are my rejects:
What’s amazing to me is how many of these items I bought at thrift stores, consignment stores, or on super-duper clearance but never really liked. I wish I hadn’t been so “thrifty” and had bought just a few nice items instead. I probably would have spent less money in the long run.
At the end of this process, I had whittled down my cold-weather wardrobe so that it all fit here:
Summer clothes and maternity/post-partum clothes are stored away in bins. Also (I admit), I have ten or so items hanging in my daughter’s closet: things I really like but that don’t fit now, plus some suits and blazers for the occasional times I need to look professional.
Once I cleared away all of the items that (a) didn’t fit well, (b) I didn’t like, or (c) weren’t appropriate for my life, it was pretty easy to put together an everyday “uniform” mostly from items I already had.
For the first wardrobe category–my everyday outfits–I’ve assembled these:
Plus jeans. I’ve decided that right now I want to wear blue jeans every day. Boring perhaps, but it works for me. Finding the right blue jeans, though, has been an ongoing process that is anything but boring. I’ll describe that in a separate post.
Everything is machine washable (crucial, crucial, crucial) and comfortable enough that I don’t mind wearing it all day long. Ideally nothing would need to be ironed, but I make an exception for the chambray button-up. Usually, though, I wear it about once a week and can get away with washing it every other time. So I only have to iron every two weeks. 😉
Here’s how it might work on a typical day:
When I get dressed in the morning (sometimes not until late morning but oh well), I can grab a pair of jeans and a top (or sweater/top combo) easily, without having to think about it.
If you knock on my door in the middle of the day, I’ll probably look like this:
But if I’m going out, it only takes a few minutes to pull myself together because I’m already wearing real clothes! Brilliant, right? 😉
Today was chilly and we were going to the playground, so I put on a navy corduroy blazer over my cardigan and added a pink scarf and a black hat (because brown, navy and black totally work together, right?):
And there are
some lots of days when the girls are uncooperative and we need to leave ten minutes ago, and all I can manage is this:
But hey, it’s better than pajama pants and Crocs!
I’m not looking to make it on anyone’s best-dressed list. I still have so much to learn about dressing well. But I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, so I share it with you. If you have any comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them. (If you think it’s hopeless and I should just give up now, well, just keep it to yourself.)
In my next post in this series, I’ll give more details of my current wardrobe and some thoughts on how I’d like to improve it.
- Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: A Quest (thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com)
- Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 2 (thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com)
- Target, Why Dost Thou Suck? (Style and the SAHM) (thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com)
- Finding the Perfect Jeans (and Why They Might Be In Your Closet) [Style and the SAHM] (thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com)