De-frumpifying the Third Trimester With Affordable, Stylish Staples

I am so happy to share a guest post today from Mary Boctor, who offers some guidance on adding a little style to that most uncomfortable and awkward stage of pregnancy (and of life?): the third trimester.  Mary is currently expecting her fourth baby, and she’s a trained personal stylist.   She blogs at Atelier about living and dressing with style.

Third Trimester Staples

Today I want to share with you some of my third trimester staples (though most of these items are great to have even earlier). I’m thirty-three weeks along in my fourth pregnancy, so I’ve had some time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Of course, every pregnancy is different – different weather, different circumstances, different emotions, but there are a few things that are always a good idea. I’ll start at the beginning:

Third trimester staples

Third trimester staples

Tunic (similar) // Assets Shorts //  Grey Tee //  Jeans  // Occasion Dress // Flats //  Casual Dress

Undergarments… that fit! It can be so tempting, especially when on a tight budget, to ignore what can’t be seen. But then more than your budget will be tight, and that means panty lines, straps that pinch, and cups that overflow. That being said, undergarments that are maternity specific can be pricey, and aren’t an absolute must.  I have been really satisfied with this microfiber number, because they sit comfortably below the belly and deliver on their “no panty line” promise.  And the price is definitely right.  For bras, it doesn’t fit if it doesn’t contain you and/or it’s too tight.  Size up at that point!

Assets Marvelous Mama Maternity Shorts. Okay, maybe these aren’t absolutely necessary, but they are great for under dresses and skirts. They keep the look smooth without being too constrictive. The third trimester can be an uncomfortable time in more ways than one; twenty bucks isn’t too much for a little bit of extra confidence on big occasions.

Full Panel Jeans. I find that these are the most comfortable option once the belly is full blown. The band on the demi-panels that I love just seems too tight by the third trimester, and it irritates my pregnancy sciatica. If you are on a budget, try H&M, asos, and Old Navy. I also just discovered that even Wal-Mart online has some super inexpensive options. Who knew?! Whatever the brand, look for a pair that is uniform in color (i.e. doesn’t have “feathering” or other embellishment on the hips or rear) to avoid drawing the eye to any one area, such as the widest point of your thigh. Dark washes are especially flattering, as dark colors recede and thus give the appearance of decreased size.

Long Tees and Tanks, depending on the season. Too-short shirts are unflattering and uncomfortable. Look for fabrics that are thick enough that they can be worn alone, if you choose. Such shirts make up the bulk of my maternity wardrobe. I pair them with shorts, jeans, linen pants, alone or under a blazer.

Stylish flats. I don’t forego heels just because I’m pregnant, but for everyday wear, flats are the way to go. Depending on the weather, tall boots, booties, or ballet flats complete an outfit without sacrificing style or comfort.

Non-Yoga Pants Comfort Wear. There comes a point in every pregnancy (for me, at least) when I don’t even want to bother with the constriction level of jeans. And I have nothing against yoga pants, it’s just that when I get out of them in the morning I feel more productive and ready to meet the day’s challenges. In summer, this isn’t a big issue because there are lots of light weight dress options that are cool, comfortable, and pulled together. In winter, it’s a little more difficult but tights with a tunic top works great, or even a casual dress if I know I’m sticking around home.

A Special Dress. I spend the majority of my time home with my kids, or out and about in casual settings, running errands, playdates, that sort of thing. Yet, I find it absolutely necessary to have at least one dress that is special occasion appropriate. Target has some really cute options for $40 and under. Topshop is a nice midrange retailer,  [editor’s note: Topshop’s maternity line is Duchess-of-Cambridge approved!] and if you’re looking for something that will last many a pregnancy, Isabella Oliver has lots of beautiful items.

Thanks so much for the pointers, Mary!

A 1940s Style Mom Wardrobe

I was excited when Juliana offered to write a guest post, because she wears 1940s style clothes every day!  The idea seemed really radical to me at first, but it made more sense as I thought about how classy and put-together women of that era managed to look, even as they raised a whole bunch of babies (the Baby Boomers, to be precise).

Juliana has a background in Soviet history and is now a stay-at-home mother to four young children. She navigates simple urban living in a small Victorian-era row home with a growing family and blogs about it all at Urban Simplicity

vintage 1940s mom wardrobe

I’ve had five babies in six years, and my body isn’t what it once was.  After my daughter was born in 2011, I was in a bad place.  I started reading the Ain’t No Mom Jeans blog in a desperate attempt to find ways to feel better about the way I looked.  I wanted to feel nice in my clothing, and I just didn’t.  Everything felt wrong, either too big or too small, and frumpy. I got some ideas from the blog, but I always had the vague sense that I was trying on something that didn’t suit me. 

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Somewhere along the way, I ran across the vintage blogging world, and I was hooked.  I decided then and there I was done with modern fashion and going to dress in a 1940s style.  At the time, I had a four year old, a 19 month old and a very sick four month old baby.  Pursuing a 1940s look gave me an outlet from all the stress of my daughter’s chronic illness and hospital stays, and gave me a research outlet; I had given up academia for diaper duty when my eldest was born. 

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Almost two years into this gig, I love it.  I’ve gone through another pregnancy and birth and this post-partum period has been the best so far for feeling better about the way I look.  I’ve joined some awesome Facebook groups for fellow vintage enthusiasts, and rediscovered knitting and sewing after a long hiatus.

vintage 1940s mom wardrobe

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1940s style is extremely practical and completely compatible with having small children.  After all, fashion during the war years was geared for women who were doing heavy work in munitions factories, manual labor on farms, and everything in between.  Their clothes had to stand up to the wear and tear!

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I wrote recently about my vintage fashion journey (with photos of some summer outfits), but it is cooler now, and I tend toward separates for fall and winter.  I don’t wear pants, as they tend not suit my figure, although I’m thinking of saving up for a pair of Freddie’s jeans for the spring (or possibly making a pair myself).  I have a handful of just-below-the-knee skirts (for me this is about 25-26” long), a handful of light-weight knit pullovers, a handful of button-down blouses with butterfly collars, and a handful of heavy weight sweaters.  I wear Foot Traffic cotton tights in Heather Mocha to keep my legs warm, or lighter weight nude tights.

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I buy vintage from etsy sellers mostly, although I’ve gotten lucky at thrift stores now and again.  I don’t strictly buy 1940s clothing, however, as old clothing is fragile given the age of the fabric (and tends to be expensive for something that can’t stand up to heavy wear).  Instead, I look for 1970s/1980s-does1940s-style clothing as it tends to be in better shape and sized more for the modern figure.  I do wear foundation garments to make my clothes fit/look better, but with 1970s/1980s era clothing, I don’t have to.  I’ve also bought modern clothing that has vintage styling to it, but it has taken a while to train my eye to spot the proper details on a modern piece. This fall, I sewed a few pieces for myself, and have big plans for sewing more garments in the future.

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1940s styling is mostly in the details—regular pin curl wet sets for hair, good foundation garments (panty girdles are a must!), brooches and earrings for jewelry, sturdy shoes.  I stick to button down or surplice necklines to make breastfeeding easy, but am looking forward to the day when I can get some of my non-breastfeeding friendly dresses back out of storage!

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For me, dressing this way makes me feel good about the way I look every day, and the journey of rediscovering old ways of dressing is part of the joy of it.

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A Classic, Feminine Maternity SAHM Wardrobe From Lauren

I’m happy to have a guest post today from Lauren, who shares her SAHM style, maternity edition.   Lauren is the mother of a little girl and a little boy, with Baby #3 coming in January.  She blogs at The O’Briens.

I love the topic of SAHM style because honestly there was almost nothing out there to guide me when I started staying at home 3 years ago.  I kind of figured out my personal style through trial & error and thinking about what in my closet made me feel classic, feminine & put-together – and then slowly buying more of those types of clothes.  Now I have a pretty good mix & match wardrobe of sweaters + skirts, with boots or leggings & ballet flats.  Mainly if I go out with the kids it is to the library, the park, Target/Costco/Grocery store, or church for preschool coop/daily mass.

 outfits1

My favorite accessory is a scarf … I’m not big into jewelry because I feel like the kids just grab it off.  Scarfs / cardigans are easy (washable) ways to add color.  Also I intentionally avoid clothes that need to be ironed, washed in a special way (dry clean only), or can’t be dried. 

Since I am 7 months pregnant right now, most of this stuff is Motherhood Maternity (pink dress), or Ross Maternity (yellow top, navy blue top).  Both scarves are pashminas from Italy & Spain when I traveled abroad years ago.  Boots are from Italy (hand-me-downs from my sister), and the silver ballet flats are from Marshalls.  Everything else is either a thrift store find, or 4 years old from Gap / Ann Taylor Loft / etc.

Fall maternity SAHM style

Here I mixed up some of the styles above for different outfits (& my oldest, Grace jumped in some pictures :-).  The green sweater is from Kmart, beige sweater from Motherhood Maternity outlet (and here I am wearing it last pregnancy during Christmas time).  The teal top and jean skirts are all thrift store finds.  The gray sweater with rhinestones is from Burlington Coat Factory’s maternity section – which I just discovered & love.

So I hope this helps other SAHMs who are trying to find that perfect mix of comfortable clothes for running after kids, while still looking nice & feeling good about how you’re dressed every day!

 Thank you, Lauren!  I  like how you incorporate several different colors that look especially good with your hair and skin tone.  Beautiful!

 

Pattern Mixing To the Extreme: What My Daughter Wore Sunday

I’m co-hosting What I Wore Sunday at Fine Linen and Purple today, so click over and check it out!

The real outfit to see today, however, is Girl 1’s.  Once Girl 1 decides what she wants to do (or wear), there’s no persuading her otherwise barring a knock-down, drag-out battle of wills.  As we lacked time for said battle of wills, this is what she wore.

She posed with hands on hips and ankles crossed, without any prompting.

She posed with hands on hips and ankles crossed, without any prompting.

 

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We got a lot of bemused looks, but she was happy and self-confident as could be!

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Joy’s Mom Wardrobe: For When the Job You Want Is the One You Have

I’m happy to have a guest post today from Joy, who shares some lessons she’s learned in developing her SAHM style.   Joy is the mother of three littles and is also a nurse-midwife turned part-time clinical nursing instructor.  She blogs at Joy In the Morning.

It is an often-repeated adage that you should not only dress for the job you have, but also the one you want; at the moment they are one and the same ~ I want to be a stay at home mom and live out that vocation in such a way that reflects to my daughters and the world around me the pride and enjoyment I have in using my charism for caring primarily to care for my family.  (I teach part-time at a local university one semester a year.)  And how I dress helps with that.

Both style blogs like Putting it Together and Get Your Pretty On and mommy blogs like Grace’sAna’s and Rosie’s help me to dress my best, so that state of mind and appearance complement and even help each other.  I may at times feel overwhelmed & exhausted, but I truly love my life.  Sometimes a favorite piece of clothing or jewelry is just the thing to boost my energy or confidence on a tough day.

The first take-away for me is to take a go-to outfit and then tweak it up a notch.  Laura and Rachel have written so eloquently about the value of a mom uniform, and as my morning gets crazier with multiple school drop-offs I agree.

Outfit #1: Jeans ~ tank/sweater + cute shoes & jewelry: there are tons of affordable flats and wedges around this fall as well as boots of all heights; and while my favorite dangles are out right now thanks to a grabby baby these studs and necklace work just fine.

Joy 3

black tank and sweater from Motherhood Maternity, straight leg jeans from Christopher & Banks, ankle boots from Kohls.

Outfit #2: Jean skirt + tights; just as toddler-wrangling-on-the-floor-friendly, with just a touch more dress with intent vibe.

Joy 2

denim skirt ~ Christopher & Banks, black wedges ~ Target

Outfit #3: Left to myself my jeans will always be blue and my tops black or blue, but, following the inspiration of others, I’m experimenting more with the colors of the moment.

Joy 1

sweater ~ Christopher&Banks,  jeans ~ Target, tall boots ~ Charles Albert from Zulily

This leads nicely to the other  lesson, which is to know yourself: not all colors work on every person, and not every trend is meant for everyone or everyday.  For example, skinny jeans and tall boots are fun sometimes, but I feel more myself in straight legged jeans and ankle boots.  Which I suppose is the most important lesson ~ be yourself, your best self even if it means carving out a couple more minutes getting dressed and taking some risks.

Agreed, Joy! Thank you!

A New England Fall Momiform

I’m very happy to have a guest post today from my cousin-in-law, Monica. (That sweet baby girl whom you see below is my girls’ second cousin!) Monica has put together a classy, casual Fall wardrobe, which she has kindly allowed me to share with you all today:

Hi! I’m Monica and I’m a SAHM to a ten month-old girl. I have been following Laura’s Style and SAHM series for a while and have been working to apply her advice in hopes to step-up my wardrobe. I’m happy to be here to share some of my favorite wardrobe pieces, why they work for me and what I’ve learned along the way.

Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned while de-frumping my wardrobe is this: clothes simply must fit in order to look good. Most jeans are too long on me and generally look sloppy as a result. These ankle-length jeans from Banana Republic are the perfect length and look great with flats or boots.

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I’ve also learned that wearing socks with flats is a semi-big fashion no-no. So now I only wear these brown Lucky leather flats in the spring, summer and fall. Sans socks.

I like to wear bright solid colors like this festive orange sweater below. It’s just the right amount of fun for fall without risking being too Halloweenish and looking more like a kindergarten teacher than a SAHM.

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^^ I love this Boden tunic. It’s so easy to just throw on and I always feel put together when I wear it. With it, I like to wear Cresta Wool Midweight Base Layer leggings. They keep me warm, are very soft, never fade AND come with a lifetime guarantee from LLBean. Worth every penny!

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This cardigan sweater is perfect for me. It’s long, so it looks great over my leggings or skinny jeans, has a tie around my waist and is a wool/cotton blend so it keeps me warm. The cream/winter white color also works with my complexion because it doesn’t wash me out like plain white would.

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^^ A staple thrift store find: This cream colored Gap body shirt goes with everything I own. I like it because it was inexpensive, lightweight 100% cotton and the color provides a nice background for brighter statement pieces like necklaces, scarves and vests.20131015_184000

Every now and then I stumble upon a real gem at a great price. This yellow vest was a ThredUp find and I just love this fun statement piece. It serves as a nice reflector while walking in the evening, too.

Fashion for me is functional and fits my personality. I try to invest in quality foundation pieces, like jeans and shoes. Then I like to have fun with color and less expensive items that add personality to my outfit and make me feel good in what I’m wearing.

Thanks, Monica! I think you’ve put together a great Fall wardrobe!

 

Style & The SAHM: How To Look Less Bad

Never let it be said I don’t learn from my mistakes.

How To Look Less Bad

After my recent wardrobe malfunction . . .

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here’s what I’m doing differently, wearing the same pair of jeans and a similar top:

How to Look Less Bad--AFter

1.  Higher ponytail: Just putting a ponytail higher on my head looks perkier (as one commenter pointed out).

2.  Colorful cardigan:  Neutrals are classy, but I think most of us need some color.  So much gray was too blah.  The scarf, while having color, was not the right color, nor the right shape, nor tied well.  Just wrong in so many ways.  It went in the give-away bin.

3. Trimmer cut: A long, oversized cardigan, obviously, can look really good, but it takes some finesse to avoid looking like I’m wearing a bathrobe.  I don’t have finesse at 6:30 in the morning.  A more moderately-sized cardigan is more versatile.  (The gray, oversized one is going to Twice.)

4. Spiffier shoes: Birkenstocks can look okay but, like an oversized cardigan, they require some finesse.  You have to go all-out boho, I think, or be tall, thin, painfully chic and preferably blonde.    These Top-Siders are a bit more versatile.

So I think I’ve gone from an “F” to a “C” or so.

A more fashionable look with  wide-legged/flared/bootcut  jeans like these would be to wear heels.  But . . . um . . . what kind of a freak would I look like wearing heels to preschool drop off?  Another option is to wear skinny jeans with boots.  But I don’t want to wear boots on these in-between days when temps might start in the fifties but later reach the eighties.

So, my friends, you’ll have to go elsewhere for cutting edge fashion.  But stick with me if you want to peer deep into the depths of frumpdom . . . and then watch me claw my way out.

Fall Momiform FAIL

Fail, fa-FAIL!-fuh -fail.

I rolled out of bed this morning and put on what I put on almost every day: jeans, dark blue tee, gray cardigan.  Plus a scarf or necklace or something.  Today, something just didn’t feel right.  I asked Pat to snap a picture (photos are more objective than the mirror; don’t ask me why).

This, this! is what I saw:

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Huh? What the. . .  ? I can’t even . . . . How?  How is this happening to me? ??!!!

I’ve obsessed about my mom-drobe for how long now?  I have how many pins on my “cardigans” Pinterest board?  And for what?  For this???

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I love this cardigan because it feel like a comfy bathrobe . . . Earth to Laura: It looks like a comfy bathrobe!

You see?  As soon as I let my guard down, BOOM!: the frumpies are back.

So, keeping things positive . . . here’s my action plan:

For now,

  • Loose cardigan only with slim-fitting jeans; only slimmer fitting tops with aforepictured jeans (there goes that completely mix and match wardrobe I was going for);
  • Ditch this scarf, and
  • Brush up on scarf-tying skillz;
  • Only Sperrys with these jeans, no more Birks (too warm yet for boots, new shoes not in budget); and
  • Hair . . . do . . . something.

For next year,

  • More fitted cardigan
  • More color
  • Cute flats (leopard?)
  • Replace jeans
  • . . . never leave house.

Until next time, this is Laura Christine, reporting to you live from Frumpsville.  Signing off.

(Here’s the post going over  what I learned from this fiasco: How to Look Less Bad.  Also, I sold the cardigan on eBay for like $15.  Not a total loss.)

Fall Momiform Preview {7QT}


— 1 —

In the Fall a young mom’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of . . .

— 2 —

Blazers:

Katie Holmes blazer

(I can’t figure out how to insert it on this page, but you can see my Pinterest board here.)

— 3 —

And cardigans:

Cardigan

(Style board here.)

— 4 —

And the Rule of Three.

Rachel defines the Rule as wearing three pieces: a top, a bottom, and an accessory (like a scarf).

Elsewhere (can’t find a link) I’ve read it defined as three pieces on your top half: a top, a sweater or blazer or something, and an accessory.

Rachel’s Rule of Three is all I can handle in the heat of the summer (top, bottom and a necklace).

But once the weather allows, I do like the way a jacket spiffs up my mom uniform:

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— 5 —

And to dark-wash, straight-legged jeans (edgier-than-I Shana says they’re cool, so they must be).

I just bought a pair of these.

LOFT curvy straight-leg jeans

They aren’t as tight as they look in the picture.   I’ll report back once I’ve worn and washed them.  But I wanted to let you know that they’re 40% off through 8/18/13 (promo code: FRIENDS).

 I’m not crazy about LOFT’s quality lately, but I’ve heard good things about their curvy skinnies.  These curvy straight-legs are slim-fitting enough to tuck into boots.  But they aren’t so tight as to create a “piano leg” effect on those of us with thighs that are . . . um . . . voluptuous.

The look on Pat’s face was priceless when he read the tag on my jeans once: “Curvy straight. . . .   Curvy . . . straight?”

— 6 —

Stacy and Clinton say that the most flattering jeans for most people are straight-leg or trouser styles.  Always in dark wash.  Always.  I agree.

So why is it that these are so hard to find, and everywhere I turn I see (1) bootcut jeans and (2) skinnies with (3) whiskering, fading, light-wash, blah blah blah? The fashion industry is against us, I tell you.  They create unflattering trends that we won’t feel good in, making us eager to try whatever the next trend is.

— 7 —

Blazer, cardigan, jeans and possibly some new shoes.  I think I’ll have to limit my Fall wardrobe additions to that.  Oh, never mind, scratch the shoes.  What I need most is a new bag.  My current one is pitiful to behold.  We’ll see what ye olde budget allows  . . . .

Have a good weekend! Thank you, Jen at Conversion Diary, for hosting today’s link up!

Looking Happy [Style & the SAHM]

While assembling my summer SAHM uniform, I did a little research and found this blog post (turned Salon article). The author recounts ordering a skort from Athleta after seeing another mom wearing one at the playground:

Last spring I noticed another mother at the park wearing a lightweight, gray, A-line skirt that hit just above her knee. She had my build — 13-year-old boy from the waist up, prodigiously gifted in the hip department — but she looked happy. At ease. Must be the skirt, I thought.

The author orders the skort but has second thoughts:

The skort had delivered on its promise. It had spayed me. It had communicated to the world that I am a mother, that the body part under my skort . . . has accomplished the signature biological act of my species, and that now, I’d prefer that no one look at me.

Apparently, what the author misses is not so much people looking at her.  She actually seems to miss people trying to look up her skirt:*

Think back to Marilyn Monroe, the white dress and the subway grate. The skirt appeals because it’s dangerous. At any moment, it might fly up.

We take pains so that it doesn’t. We sit just so. We cross our ankles. We hold it down when the wind blows. But we’re aware, just like the fellas, that it wouldn’t take much to flip the sucker up. And, dude, that is hot.

white dress Marilyn Monroe

(Photo credit: Sara Gambarelli)

. . . . Um, that’s called EX-HI-BI-TION-ISM. Like . . . creepy guys in trench coats. Not hot. You may be more attractive than they, but the sentiment is the same.

. . . .

I mulled this over and then thought back to the skort-wearer described at the park:

“She looked happy.”

Happy.

I think that’s what I’m going for.

I want to look happy.

Not like I’ve stopped caring about myself.

But not like I’m wrapped up in myself, either.

Not drowning in a potato sack.

But not squeezed into clothes that leave little to the imagination, either.

Just happy.

Athleta wherever skort sahm style fashion minimal capsule what-to-wear

Happy

*Maybe the author is being tongue-in-cheek?  I can’t tell.

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