Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Mama Got Her Groove Back - Part I

Recently a friend and fellow mom suggested that I write a post about day to day fashion for moms. So I've been thinking it over... First, a little bit about me so you know where I'm coming from. I have three kids, ages 4, 2, and 8 months (it's been a busy four years, and yes, i'm being cheeky). Now, I've had lots of amazing, crazy, and thrilling experiences in my life, but nothing compares to the exhilaration of having a child (and another, and then another...). Pregnancy and motherhood have been a great blessing, but like any dramatic life change there have been phases of difficulty, and even a sartorial identity crisis or two. The best way to describe it is that I would lose my "groove," that sweet spot of being where I am confident in my appearance and feel really "me" in my outward expression. I want to share with you [Part I] some of the reasons this occurred (they are probably common to many woman), what helped me get my groove back, and [Part II] some very practical day to day fashion advice. 

One year before our wedding (the date stamp isn't correct). I still had my groove then.

the first born.

the boy.

the youngest.

With progeny like that, who wouldn't want more?

WEIGHT GAIN AND LOSS: The first challenge to my personal style was a body in flux. Getting pregnant, gaining weight, having a baby, losing weight, getting pregnant, gaining weight... You get the picture. And its not just a matter of pounds. Proportions change. When I wasn't looking, go - to's that used to be oh so flattering became enemies. That flat stomach I had taken for granted gave way to a (temporary, thank goodness) post partem pooch. Even when back to my pre-pregnancy weight, there was a span of time when my jeans wouldn't button over my [literally] birthing hips.

LACK OF OPTIONS: The second challenge was that my sense of style identity was obscured by lack of choice, real and perceived.  For maternity wear, my shopping options were limited to one pregnancy consignment shop, a teeny section in the Old Navy thirty minutes from my house, and specialty boutiques that were mostly beyond my budgetary constraints. Online sources were an option, but a good fit is elusive if you can't try things on. There was also, I think, a subconscious refusal to devote overmuch resources to dressing, because each stage/size of pregnancy and post-partem come and go so quickly. I think we've all been in that place where we cringe at the idea of buying jeans 3 sizes bigger than what we think they should be. Discouraged by limited options, I eventually just settled for things that were ok and not completely contrary to my sense of aesthetics. 

CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE: The third challenge was meeting the needs of a new lifestyle. I have always been very active, but pre-children, you wouldn't find me playing in the leaves on a Wednesday afternoon. I'm on my feet a lot, and I'm busy with kids who tend to be a hot mess. And I need to be comfortable. At first, this hands on approach to the messiness of life seemed to clash with my pulled together sense of style that tends towards a minimalist take on the classics, with a dash of glamour (for any of you who knew me in my faux-hawk days, keep your comments to yourself). Throw in the clothing limitations caused by nursing, and I was feeling downright thwarted. To add insult to injury (isn't that always the way?) the amount of time that I was now able to devote to dressing and shopping was drastically reduced (we all think we are so busy in college, we have no idea...).

Meanwhile, as these three challenges played out, I became uncomfortable with myself. The more uncomfortable I became, the more I played the comparison game, and the more I played the comparison game (which never has winners, by the way, only casualties) the more confused I became about what my personal style was.

Now I know you are dying to know - just how did mama get her groove back? Well... I discovered the three elements of style. A friend lent me a copy of a book called It's So You by Mary Sheehan Warren, you may have heard me mention it before.  Sure, this book is packed with great, no-nonsense advice on how to discover your personal style and build your wardrobe and I recommend it to everyone, but why do I keep going on about it? Because I had always experienced fashion and style as purely intuitive, and it was an amazing revelation to discover that it could be divided and conquered in a rational way. Great style is based on dressing in a way that accentuates your (1) body type and your (2) coloring, and is expressive of your individual (3) style personality (i.e. personal tastes and preferences). Sure, I was confused, but there were principles to looking great, and I could use them to my benefit. Now you know my secret. Check out my [KNOW YOURSELF] series - the links are included in the previous sentence - and come see me next week for Part II!


  1. I love this post, and I love you, Mary!

    1. Thank you, Seza! When I was looking through the old pics, I found a great one of us. Can't wait to show you! Love you, too!

  2. To the outside world, you've never lost your groove! I relate, however, completely! Thanks for this post! I wish our 6 small children could play in the leaves while we drank a nice cup of coffee.

  3. Oh, me too, Ann! Thank you for the post idea, it's actually turning into one of my favorites. I forgot to include that my impending 30th birthday also caused a mini crisis - completely irrational- but it happened nonetheless!


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