10 Tips to Move From Single Style to Mom Style

Your go-to mom outfit -- a fitted cotton tee and jeans. See more pictures of parenting.

First things first: Don't panic. Transitioning to mom style doesn't mean you have to wear bedazzled cardigans and "mom jeans" for the rest of your life. You can still look fabulous.

That said, we're betting that, given the circumstances, your wardrobe may change just a tad. After all, that micro-mini you wore at your bachelorette party won't look as appropriate with a baby on your hip.

Plus, infants and toddlers have a way of making certain outfits simply impractical. What if the baby spits up on your dry-clean-only BCBG silk blouse? Getting that gunk out of your top would have been much easier had it been cotton and machine washable. Just sayin'.

Let's discuss this tricky transition from single style to mom style.


Comfy Doesn't Have to Mean Sloppy

One of the most important elements of mom style is comfort. Nobody wants to drive carpool or take the kids the park wearing a pair of stilettos and tight jeans. But comfort doesn't have to mean ratty sweatpants and stretched-out tees. Take advantage of the flattering activewear that's on the market. Buy yourself some high-quality yoga pants, fitted tops and hooded jackets. Pair them with some casual sneakers or flats. You'll look fresh and put-together, and if your toddler takes off on a crawl/sprint, you'll be able to keep up.


Casual Clothes Are a Must

In the same vein as comfortable clothes, you'll also need a lot of casual clothes. Being a mom means baby food splotches on your pants and spit-up on your shoulder. It means your sleeve sometimes acts a tissue.

So, put the brand-label, "dry clean only" outfits back in the closet and save them for a childfree night out. You paid good money for those clothes, so take good care of them. For day-to-day mom life, go more casual. Think jeans, cotton shirts, sportswear and casual sweaters. Find some cute, comfortable flats that go with everything. Remember, being overdressed can be as big a fashion faux pas as being underdressed.

A good way to decide what to wear? Before you choose an outfit for the latest birthday party, think, "How upset will I be if this gets stained?"


Dress to Flatter Your Figure

We know some of you worry that moving from single style to mom style means you won't feel as pretty or even as sexy as you used to. The good news is that you can. Even if you -- like every other woman in the world -- gained some extra weight from your pregnancy, you can still dress to flatter your body. Feeling attractive is great for your mental health, which is something any mom will tell you is important!

Here are a few tips for finding mom-appropriate, flattering clothes:

  • If you're bottom-heavy, wear fitted tops with boot-cut or wide-leg jeans. This will balance out your body.
  • Try an empire-waist top or dress if you want to hide leftover pregnancy belly.
  • If you're plus-sized, try wide-leg pants and V-neck tops. They're slimming and you won't look like you're drowning in fabric.
  • Perhaps most importantly, get a bra that fits you right. A good bra can make you look several pounds lighter.

Collect the Basics

The secret to having the most appropriate and flattering clothes for any occasion is keeping your closet stocked with the basics. With the following items in your wardrobe, you'll be well on your way to most stylish mommy on the block:

  • Layers: Wearing layered clothing is a must for a mom on the run. A fitted tee with a hip-length cardigan is a good look. If you get too warm or if Junior spits up on the cardigan, you can take it off. Or, you can even use it as an impromptu baby blanket!
  • Good jeans: Everyone should have at least one pair of dark wash, well-fitting, high-quality jeans. Naturally, you should steer clear of pleated "mom jeans." But also be wary of hip huggers. Mommies bend down a lot to pick up their kids, and you don't want to moon anyone at the playground.
  • All-purpose tote: Trade the tired old diaper bag for a more fashionable bag. Today it's easy to find cute bags that have enough room for both your stuff and your kid's.
  • Ballet flats and wedges: Ballet flats come in all different styles and easily slip on and off. You can even stash an extra pair in your bag for a shoe emergency! If you'd like a heel to give you a boost, wedges are another comfortable option.

Dump the Frump

Even if you were a fashionista as a single girl, you may find that taking care of a child pushes you into frump territory. It happens -- sometimes you get so focused on taking care of other people, you forget to take care of yourself.

Here's how you'll know if you're in the frump zone:

  • Does anything you're wearing right now have a visible hole or stain?
  • Are you still wearing maternity clothes, even though your child is no longer in your belly?
  • Does the waistband of your jeans come up way past your waist?
  • Are you wearing clothes that are boxy, oversized, or otherwise hide your body?

If you're feeling frumpy, take our previous advice and learn how to dress to flatter your body type. Throw out the frump and get yourself some classic pieces. You don't have to spend a lot of money -- and don't forget that your clothes should be machine-washable.


A Little Makeup Goes a Long Way

If you're in frump territory, you may also be neglecting your makeup. Don't let that get out of hand. You don't need to pile on eye shadow and lipstick for a quick run to the pharmacy. But try to take a little bit of time to freshen up your face. At the very least, make sure you put on a sheer moisturizer with SPF every single day. And a quick stroke of blush and a light brush of mascara make you look rested and bright -- even if you're actually exhausted. Nobody has to know!


Rethink Your Hairstyle

How long does it take you to do your hair each morning? Is an entire armory of tools required? Blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, gel, paste, hair spray, mousse, round brush, comb, various accessories? If so, it might be time to look into a less complicated hairstyle.

Motherhood is all about time management. So your mommy style should be efficient. Of course, your first priority with a hairstyle is that it flatters you. But it should also be simple. Currently in fashion, short hair is super-easy to take care of. A pixie cut, for example, needs almost no maintenance. You can dry it with a towel, rub in a little gel, and you're good to go. If you have long hair, you can get out of the tired old ponytail rut with pretty barrettes or headbands. And if you find yourself having one of those days without a minute to yourself for basic grooming, we humbly suggest investing in a cute little hat.


Dress Age-appropriately

After you've finally shed the baby weight, you might be tempted to slip back into a micro-mini with bright leggings. But just because it fits doesn't mean it's mom-appropriate.

You can dress your age while still staying trendy and attractive. Instead of wearing an old college T-shirt to the gym, wear a classic fitted cotton tee instead. And that cleavage-baring top might have been an attention-getter back in your single club-hopping days, but today it may bring you the wrong kind of attention. You can still show off your assets -- just don't provide the world with too much information, if you know what we mean.


So Long, Farewell ...

Unfortunately, you may have some things in your wardrobe you're just going to have to say goodbye to. Mom style mostly comes down to what's appropriate or inappropriate. Some of the things you wore when you were single and ready to mingle might raise some eyebrows on the playground.


  • Ultra low-rise jeans: This should go without saying, but if you prefer to wear a thong, it should never be visible to the general public.
  • Very tight, low-cut tops and dresses: Think about whether or not they are still age- and event-appropriate.
  • College-style outfits: We're talking about running out to the convenience store in your pajama bottoms, slippers and a sweatshirt. It was cute when we were 19 -- not so much today.
  • Any tees or clothing with inappropriate slogans: Remember, nobody wants to be the only person at the PTA meeting with a shirt that reads, "BEER: It's not just for breakfast anymore."

But Don't Forget to Have Fun!

Well, we've certainly spent a lot of time giving you rules and lessons about mom style versus single style. However, this last tip might be the most important -- make it fun. If you just can't bring yourself to get rid of those purple suede knee-high boots that go great with that black mini-dress, then keep them! Just don't wear them to the school bake sale. Save them for a girls night out, or a date with your spouse.

Don't throw out all your "single girl" stuff. Keep a few things in the back of your closet -- pieces that make you feel happy or silly, pieces that bring back great memories, pieces that are trendy and hip. Even if you never wear them again, you'll be glad they're there for you.

Mom style doesn't mean sacrificing your personal style. It's just a matter of adjusting your style to a more appropriate level. Remember, a lifestyle change usually requires a fashion style change. You don't have to lose your sense of self simply because you're becoming a mom. Just adapt your style to a more kid- and mommy-friendly one. And with our tips and suggestions, soon enough the other moms will be coming to you for fashion advice.


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  • DeLeeuw, Vered. "Flattering Clothes for Any Body Shape." Everything Mom. 2010. (Dec. 5, 2010)http://www.everythingmom.com/style/by-vered-deleeuw.html
  • "Fall Wardrobe Essentials for Mommy." BurbMom.com. Oct. 20, 2010. (Dec. 6, 2010)http://www.burbmom.net/fall-wardrobe-essentials-for-mommy/
  • Gerlock, Jennifer. "Top 5 Mom Style Don'ts." SunSentinel.com. May 3, 2010. (Dec. 5, 2010)http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-05-03/features/moms-stylemct--lifestyle-700-words-20100503_1_mom-jeans-personal-style-sweats
  • Haver, Sharon. "Put An End to Frumpy Mom Jeans." Focus on Style. May 2, 2006. (Dec. 5, 2010)http://www.focusonstyle.com/In-Focus/Trends-Style/ageappropriatejeans
  • Slater, Audrey. "Sexy Mom Style." Redbook. 2010. (Dec. 5, 2010)http://www.redbookmag.com/beauty-fashion/tips-advice/signature-style