August 22, 2011

Southern Gal Style For Modern Mamas: Madras!

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Readers – Do you know BiblioMOMia?  She is a fabulously fashionable mom blogger (and academic) who always leaves honest and thoughtful comments for us at Ain't No Mom Jeans.

We love her.  So when Amy took us to task last year for hating on Southern gal inspired critter flip-flops…we listened. And boy-oh-boy, are we glad we did.  Keep reading for a Southern Mama's perspective on fashion.  Love it.  Thanks, Amy!!!!

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Are you hot yet?  Yeah, me too.  I was raised in the cradle of the American South, which often felt more like an armpit by August.  I now live in DC, and it’s absolutely disgusting by the end of the summer.  Heat and humidity like you wouldn’t believe (like S is discovering over in Philly!).  Time to put the hair up and the sunscreen on, here below the Mason-Dixon line.

There are lots of things about Southern Girl Style that are hard to understand:  Ribbon belts and monograms.  Vera Bradley.  Pearls with polo shirts.  Maybe one day I’ll try to explain some of those, too.  But if there’s one thing that a southern gal knows how to do, it’s dress for the heat.  In the South, women don’t sweat – we glisten.  And my mama would be horrified if I “glistened” too much in public!  But, she’s never walked a toddler to the Metro in the blazing sun, or walked all over the city pushing a stroller in this god-forsaken humidity.  When the end of the summer rolls around, and you’ve sweat through everything else in your closet, I have a simple answer for you:

 Madras.

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(A is wearing a vintage madras jacket, JCrew skirt, left of center tee, Nine West shoes, art fair necklace.  The Pup is wearing shirt by hartstrings, shorts by hartstrings, shoes by lil raggia.)

 You mean that stuff old men’s golf pants are made out of?  You mean that crazy patchwork plaid stuff?  Absolutely, mamas.  Madras fabric was invented in India in the nineteenth century, then imported to England and the colonies.  Especially in the American South, people fell in love with the lightweight cotton and vibrant plaid patterns, and it’s been a staple in our wardrobes ever since.  The thin cotton keeps your skin cool, and the pattern hides any potential “glistening.”  There’s nothing better for the dog days of summer, especially for moms.

 So how do you wear madras without looking like, well, your mom?  There’s so much more to this fabric than golf pants and sailing pullovers.  Remember that madras can be either patchwork in style (lots of little squares of different plaids sewn together) or used on its own, but it’s almost always bright or pastel in color.  The key to wearing it stylishly is to play up the preppy elements of the fabric while modernizing the silhouettes and accessories.  Here are a few outfit ideas:

(Personally, I’m wearing a vintage madras jacket that I stole from my grandmother’s closet.  You have to love southern grandmas!)

Classic Casual

 This version is both the easiest and the most Southern – bright pastel colors, Rainbow flip flops, and pearl studs.  Everyone has those random tees from summer vacations (the one I used here is from the Salty Dog Café, a classic beachfront destination in Hilton Head, SC.  But how do you wear them without looking boring or frumpy?  Toss a bright madras button down over your tee (with the sleeves cuffed, of course), then add cut-off jeans or Bermuda shorts in a ridiculously bright color.  With your Rainbows and pearls, you’ll fit right in at the Salty Dog.

 

Madras - Classic Casual

 

 

 

Relaxed Schoolboy

Here, the vibe of the madras is a bit funkier and more relaxed.  The muted peach tones in the madras blazer will match pretty much everything in your closet, but I love it most with earth tones – like these olive cropped pants and mushroom relaxed tee.  The metallic boat shoes are the perfect dash of fun (although a pair of TOMS would work well here, too).  With a straw fedora, you’re ready for errands on the island with baby in tow (or a night out for drinks at your favorite dive bar).

 

Madras - Relaxed Schoolboy

 

 

 

Girly Bohemian

Madras isn’t just preppy anymore, though, as evidenced by this awesome flirty maxi dress.  This thing would be SO COOL (literally, as in temperature) for a summer evening at the park.  I’d add a crocheted cardi and some fun wedges or espadrilles, along with a big pile of ethnic and bohemian bracelets.  With an embroidered tote bag that’s big enough for both a bottle of wine and a change of clothes for the kiddo, you’re ready for an outdoor movie.

 

Madras - Girly Boho

 

 

 

Madras Overload

If you’re worried about madras overload, think small – like a head scarf or belt for beginners.  There are tons of gorgeous madras scarves out there, not to mention feminine madras blouses.  And a simple madras dress works great as a beach cover-up.  Any of these elements will add a little bit of spice – and a little bit of the South – to these horrible final days of summer heat.

 

Madras Overload!

 

 


So go find some madras.  And I promise – you’ll glisten instead of sweat!

 

Contributing author Amy is working on two babies – her Ph.D. and her toddler.  She divides her time between crawling through the stacks of the library and crawling on the floor with her baby boy.  She still hasn’t figured out how to get dog hair out of cashmere, but she refuses to give up her heels (yet).  You can check out her blog on motherhood and style in academia at BiblioMOMia.

 

10 Comments
  • Amber
    August 22, 2011

    I love your girly boho dress! I have no idea if I could (would?) wear it, but it’s awesome. I’m a Texas girl & it is unbelievably dry and hot here. Those metallic Sperry’s have been my go-to shoe for the last half of the summer. On days I really want to give up on getting dressed, it puts a little spunk in whatever I throw on.

  • Seanna
    August 22, 2011

    I have an unhealthy obsession with madras. I just love the the palettes, that it goes with so many colours and styles, looks awesome with leather, with bling, with hoodies, with cashmere…
    I have that J.Crew madras schoolboy blazer that I stalked for months. It went on sale and was promptly snapped up. I moped for days but then some kind (insane?) soul returned it so it became mine in the end. And I love it with the heat of a thousand suns. Especially with my Natalie Dee hotdog tee shirt and grey mini. ;) And once my J. Crew metallic sweatshirt gets here I’ll be groovin’ in madras for early fall. ;)

  • L
    August 23, 2011

    Ok. Gotta get me some madras!

  • Crunchy Con Mommy
    August 23, 2011

    Cute! S-is this considering socially acceptable for those of us in northern climates too? I’m still scarred from being mocked by a cousin for buying pastel plaid capris in high school, lol. But I sure love the fun colors and cheerful plaid!

  • Amy (BiblioMOMia)
    August 23, 2011

    Awww, thanks everyone! It’s such a CRAZY HONOR to be on here, after loving ANMJ for so long.
    Amber: There are lots of versions of this dress out there, including one at Banana Republic (I think). I’m pretty sure it would look awesome on anyone. And I’m ridiculously jealous of your metallic sperrys!
    Seanna: Girl after my own heart! I bet that jacket will look ah-ma-zing with the sequined sweatshirt, and oh so comfy.
    L: Ha! A convert! You’ll love it!
    Crunchy mommy: Definitely socially acceptable in northern climes (I’m in DC now, and I see it ALL the time). It’s gone mainstream through brands like JCrew and Ralph Lauren. That being said, if you’re uneasy, start with something small like a bright belt or a cute scarf. I bet you’ll be stalking jackets in no time!

  • Seanna
    August 23, 2011

    I live on the Canadian Southwest coast (British Columbia) where it’s pretty drizzly (and where this summer, we have seen about four days of real warmth) so I’ve been getting lots of wear out of my madras blazer. Some compliments, no weird looks… :) I have a brighter madras skirt that I get LOTS of compliments on…
    And really, who cares. Madras is awesome (madrawsome? – depending on your dialect, I suppose). If you love it, wear it. :)

  • Amanda
    August 23, 2011

    I’m from the North originally but have lived in DC & Annapolis for the past 12 years. More comfortable w/this now but at first was shocked by things like “Gold Cup” and what the New York Social Diary refers to as “DC’s Madras Pack.” I’m not even kidding!
    http://washingtonlife.smugmug.com/2010-Photos/Virginia-Gold-Cup-Spring-2010/12101649_Gsm4w#859998433_iUrVn
    http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1906954

  • Nicole
    August 24, 2011

    How funny that you blogged Madras! I’m Southern too. But, when I last saw Shana and she was talking about the ‘prep’ of her new town was and she was going to choose her holey jeans instead….I said Madras. See Sha! This is what I’m talking about. :) Clapping hands and so excited. Shana has often looked upon me as a terrible fashionista. I don’t go with the trend. I wear pearls daily. I’m Southern. So this blog is going down in history as my favorite blog post ever to the ANMJ site! And you have the accessory that I would crawl over glass for the gold bangle from your grandmother. Good Lord you are Southern. I know girls that got them from their husbands grandmothers upon marriage. When one of them divorced she kept those and the silver. We were impressed. I am dying for gold bangles. Madras…. super cute for little boys too. I am glad they are back in style!

  • S
    August 24, 2011

    @Crunchy Con Mom – I think it’s fab for Northern climates! Personally, I’m coveting the blazer with a pair of destroyed denim. :) I love Amy’s advice to start small.
    @Amanda- OMG, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen some of those EXACT OUTFITS on the Mainline! LOL Man, it’s preppy out here.
    @Nicole – For the record, Fashionistas are over-rated. :) I’m more drawn to great style – whatever it may be. And you certainly have it, although I’ll admit to being confused by the monogram, LOL! Besides, we always agreed on the most important thing: when Happy Hour *should* start. :)

  • UGG Boots Clearance
    December 7, 2011

    friendship may our friendship be not like the tides, tides rise,tides fall.

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