Timeless fashion looks effortless. It's anything but.
No new mom simply zips to the nearest department store and leaves with an armful of wardrobe staples to see her through the next few time-consuming years. The truth is, setting up a closet full of stunning clothes takes a series of deliberate searches.
Investing in fashion staples doesn't relegate your choices to khaki and black, either. It simply means building a foundation that can handle a few trendy additions each season. And, you can avoid subverting your glamorous self as you reconcile the time it takes to parent your baby genius with a very real drive to retain your signature style.
Thankfully, after you've shopped your way through our short list of wardrobe must-haves, you'll be in good standing. These classics are always in season.
Fight the stereotype. Not all moms wear mom jeans, and you shouldn't either. Instead, coerce yourself into spending a small fortune for a truly figure-flattering pair of well-fitting dark wash jeans. Your reputation will thank you for it.
For a sure thing, shop for stretch denim. Instead of squeezing your post-baby curves into unforgiving jeans, opt for denim with 2 percent Lycra. These jeans will retain their shape -- and yours -- in a much more flattering way.
Plus, the darker the denim, the more slimming the jean becomes. Truly a foundational item, you can pair your new jean with a sexy T-shirt perfect for running errands or a cashmere twin set that's just right for a ladies' luncheon.
A Stylish Bag
A stylish bag can come in any shape and color, as long as we mention one must-have caveat: It has to be oh-so-roomy. After all, you're now carrying more than a debit card and lip gloss, thanks to a never-ending need for extra diapers, onesies and binkies.
The good news is there's no reason you can't tote a fashionable bag. It's currently all the rage for designers to create multi-use bags that travel with ease from office to girls' night out, and double as incognito diaper bags.
We like bags that offer a sharp pop of sophisticated color with plenty of interior compartments. When we find a stylish bag that pairs good looks with insulated compartments and a matching diaper-changing pad that tucks away inside, we beat a path to the checkout line. We know we'll be the envy of every mom lugging a clumsy plastic-sheathed diaper carrier, especially because we'll go on using our chic bag -- even when baby's out of diapers.
Yes, we said flats. And chic. In the same sentence.
This switch to high-comfort footwear doesn't mean giving up the ghost of your former stiletto-sporting self. Today's flats are bejeweled, sequined real-leather versions of their often pitiful predecessors. They're (thankfully) a stylish shoe to pair with your sassy new jeans or perfectly fitted A-line skirt. Plus, if you're wearing flats, the kids can't outrun you like they could if you were wearing heels.
Far from dowdy, you can find polished flats with a pointed toe or peep toe -- both of which visually elongate the leg. For a dressier look, opt for the shine of patent leather or a faux animal print (ostrich is our new favorite). If you're a logo vixen, you can even find flats emblazoned with an iconic GG for Gucci or F for Fendi.
If you're in it for comfort, however, be sure to shop for a flat with a thickly cushioned pad underfoot. Some even offer a memory foam base. Adequate support will provide keep your feet from aching at the end of a long day.
Gorgeous Workout Gear
Being a mom means being in constant motion. So, if you go from working out to running errands to dropping by your girlfriend's house, invest in some sharp-looking yoga pants with a structured knit jacket. You'll be comfortable -- despite all your activities -- and still look great if you run into an old coworker at the grocery store.
Shop for gear that offers the best fit for your curves, from tummy-flattering yoga pants to body-skimming graphic tees. Top it off with a hoodie or stylish yoga wrap (like a hoodie, but with a belt). There are even body-toning pants designed to provide muscle-hugging resistance all day, but the jury's still out on whether we like working out with their Spanx-like fit.
The best part is that wearing gorgeous workout gear can breathe new life into your fitness routine. (We discovered this works much the same way that a darling new dress will inspire us to accept all the cocktail party invitations that come our way.) There's probably no scientific data on whether cute workout gear is physically beneficial. But we figure that if it gets us to hop on the treadmill more often than simply wearing a blah old pair of black sweats, we're ahead of the game.
Double-duty Gym Shoes
If new workout gear inspires you to be more physically active, the same could be true for a new set of sneakers. The best part? Because your new baby's probably more in control of your schedule than you are, wearing the right footwear -- all day -- means you can put in a 10-minute exercise session at a moment's notice.
Designers have introduced nearly endless options for gym-to-casual sneakers, and you should have a couple pair on hand. Why more than one? Because then you'll have the willpower it takes to throw out your tread-worn shoes when the time comes (without taking a break from your fitness routine for some power shopping).
Look for gym shoes that offer a cushioned heel and arch-hugging support. There are a few sneakers with rocker-like bottoms touted as "toning" shoes. But there are differing opinions on whether you'll see any real benefit from the increased muscle engagement they require for simply walking around.
One of the biggest things that changed when we became moms was an aversion to uncomfortable clothing. Although we admit to occasionally wearing a toe-aching heel just because it's super sexy, we're just not in the mood to squeeze ourselves into uncomfortable dresses (which, by the way, aren't at all practical for breastfeeding). An A-line skirt, however, is the best of both worlds. The modern lines are so fetching, you'll feel -- and look -- like a million polished silver dollars.
As you're shopping for the perfect fit, avoid an exaggerated A-line. No one ever looked her best wearing a triangle. Instead, search for a slightly tapered A-line (too tapered, and it might as well be a pencil skirt) in a non-clinging fabric, such as a lightweight any-season wool. Pair it with a cashmere twin set for an upscale event or with a jacket and graphic T-shirt for deconstructed appeal.
Twin Set, So Sophisticated
We're not talking any ol' twin set here. Forget the budget fabrics that eventually roll up at the seams and sag into misshapen blocks. A classic, cashmere twin set is the perfect solution. You can wear it to everything from a ladies' luncheon to a cocktail party, and can dress it up or down accordingly.
Shop for a single ply cashmere; it's comfortable to wear in cooler temperatures, but not too wooly for late spring or early fall. Plus, we'll let you in on a little secret: It's beyond comfortable. A cashmere pairing may whisper "sophistication" to the world, but you can revel in a comfort that's akin to wearing your old college sweatshirt.
A 'Best Bet' Blazer
Every mom needs a go-to blazer, one that she can pair with jeans or a skirt. Finding one that fits properly can accentuate your new mom curves in a most pleasant way. But it's not always easy. There are varying lengths and accoutrements, such as peplums, to consider. (A peplum is excess material attached to the waist or hemline that creates a flared appearance.)
Plus, it's nearly impossible to judge a blazer while its still on the rack, so catalog shopping is probably out. Instead, spend an afternoon trying on different styles. Where to start? We suggest looking for a one-button lightweight wool blazer. It will keep its shape and can be layered for wear in a variety of seasons.
Dress Up (or Down) Dress
Forget all those little black dress clichés. It really is important to own a perfectly fitting, stylish dress you can pull out of your closet at a moment's notice. Look for a dress with casual appeal for the office. And one that can dressed to the nines with drop-dead accessories for a social event. Not only should your little black (or red) dress offer this kind of duality, but it should help you look good, too.
If you're shaped a bit more like a circle than you'd like to be, thanks to a few post-baby pounds, search for a dress with an empire waist (pronounced uhm-peer). The seam will cinch right below the bosom, allowing the dress to skim the midsection. When properly fitted, it will emphasize your curves in all the right places -- a fait accompli that doesn't require months at the gym. Structured dresses like this with a fine foundational fit can go from day to evening -- and from season to season -- with just a few quick updates.
A Trendy Trench
An impossibly polished trench coat can cover a lot of fashion transgressions. Let's say you're working around the house in your oldest sweatshirt (you know, the one you wore in your college track-and-field days) and you discover you have 10 minutes to get to the bank before it closes. Slip on those stylish flats (surely you own them by now), conceal your sweatshirt debacle with a deftly sophisticate trench and voilà: A trench coat that doesn't blow your cover.
Your trench coat also is the perfect topping for everything from jeans to work attire. Don't think you're a khaki trench coat kind of girl? You're in luck. Today's designers are creating versions in sassy reds, classic tartan plaids and deliciously unexpected hues of blueberry and pomegranate.
Plus, it's the perfect ending to your post-baby wardrobe search. Armed with a lightweight coat and several items to take you season-to-season, you'll be in good stead. Now if only we had a surefire way to remove spit-up stains.
Squeezing into a tight pair of Spanx can make you look better, if not feel better. Learn about shapewear by reading this article at HowStuffWorks.
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