Mom Style 101: Your Wardrobe Must-Haves
Laura Bennett's MOM STYLE 101: YOUR FASHION UNIFORM
By far, the hardest part of competing on Project Runway was having to make critical fabric purchasing decisions in Mood. It’s a huge store with endless options, which sounds like a good thing, but I tend to be overwhelmed and become paralyzed when faced with too many choices. Entering a jammed closet every morning with years worth of wardrobe choices, many of which are no longer viable options, is a lot like being in Mood with fifteen minutes to shop. It’s nerve-wracking, time sucking, and chances are you are going to get it wrong.
My solution (for my closet, not shopping in Mood, I still find that overwhelming) is to keep it simple by getting rid of what’s out of style or doesn’t fit (no matter how much I paid for it!) moving what’s out of season to another location (this could mean bins on the floor), and paring down my fashion choices by developing a personal fashion uniform. I’m not talking about a plaid skirt and knee socks, but a signature look organized into a series of go-to outfits that makes getting dressed fast and stress free.
Developing a fashion uniform is really about asking yourself some simple questions. Everyone’s question will be slightly different, but here are some examples:
Which silhouettes look best on my body type? Think about the garments you have loved over the years. The ones that made you feel great and look great. Is there a common theme that keeps cropping up? A certain length of jacket that perfectly camouflages the widest part of your hips? A particular skirt length that flatters your claves in just the right way? A brand of jeans that makes your butt look great? These are the types of clothing pieces to consider when you build your uniform.
What fabrics are comfortable for me to wear and easy for me to care for? You have to feel great to look great, so comfort is key. A uniform will only work if you actually wear it most everyday. Four variations of the same uncomfortable sheath dress, a pile of clothes that need to go to the drycleaner, or a stack of crisp white shirts that aren’t crisp because you don’t have the time to iron them defeats the purpose.
What message do I want my clothes to send? Are you a working woman that needs to look professional? A busy stay-at-home mom who wants to come off as capable and well put together? A lady who lunches? A sex goddess? An environmental warrior? Whatever your answer is, there’s a distinct look that will convey the message.
Do I already have a signature style that I can build upon? You may already have the makings of a uniform and you just aren’t recognizing it. Is there a color you are known for wearing? All black or all white? Is there a certain type of handbag that you can’t live without? One so distinct that it’s the starting point for your uniform style? Do you get your universal powers from a Wonder Woman style cuff and insist on wearing one every day? This, my friends, is the stuff of signature style.
The answers to the questions will overlap and that is where the solution to your personal uniform lies. For example, I like a longer jacket that covers the widest part of my hips. I also tend to carry all my kids’ odds and ends so I like large pockets in my jackets. I never go to dry cleaners so I need washable fabrics. The fashion message I prefer to send is a chic, worldly style. It’s obvious to me that this is all starting to add up to a cotton safari jacket. Two or three variations of a safari jacket, with the right supporting cast (for me it’s a dark sheath dress, big sunglasses, and heels) have the makings of a great uniform. To get started, look in your existing wardrobe for clothing pieces that fulfill the answers to these questions.
This idea may not work for fashion chameleons, but it’s great for busy moms and working women. It doesn’t have to be boring or mean you never get to shop again - just think of shopping as upgrading. You will be surprised at how little you actually need when you surrender to the idea of a uniform. A week’s worth of outfits for everyday situations and a fancy version for special occasions, organized smartly in your closet (you can even photograph outfits and make your own look book!) will save you time, money, and having to ask, “does this make my butt look big”?