Ahhhh. . . the sun. . . the surf. . . the sleeping in past 7:30 AM. There's nothing like a spring getaway, Mamas, especially when you haven't been anywhere with your BFFs in 5+ years and you've spent much of that time being pregnant, recovering from pregnancy and coping with sleepless nights and the near-total dependence that defines early child-rearing. We all need a vacay, chicks, so let's take a moment to live vicariously through ANMJ reader Susan, who wrote in with the following dilemma (which I'm sure we're all too familiar with):
I love reading your blog and I was struck by your recent post about quality over quantity. I have a girls' getaway to Florida coming up and it's the first time I'm flying somewhere fun in over 5 years (and leaving my 4 and almost 2 year old for more than one night). I had just loaded up my Old Navy shopping cart with lots of cheapy items figuring I could pull some looks together, but luckily I read your post before hitting the order button. So can you help me? I'm going for two and a half days which will probably include pool time, kayaking, drinks, dinner, and who knows what. I would love to travel light and use this as an opportunity to start rebuilding my spring and summer wardrobe. I'm almost back to my pre-baby weight, but things sure don't look the way they used to! A swimsuit is of special concern, since my one piece and baggy tankinis seem matronly, but I don't know if I'm all out ready to sport a bikini yet.
Susan, you so clearly deserve a spring break! I've put together a capsule vacation wardrobe of items that are highly interchangeable, giving you tons of looks, but letting you pack light, which will go the distance both on vacay and when you come home.
Please first excuse me for including a $500 canvas bag as an accessory. Handbags are my kryptonite. I seriously cannot help myself. Please ignore this specific bag and shop around a bit for something like it–something roomy, neutral, textured, and summery. A bag like this (or maybe this very one, when it goes on sale) would be perfect with absolutely everything, spring through summer and probably into the early months of fall. And I cannot imagine a time or place (maybe a zombie apocalypse a la "Walking Dead"?) when a bag like this would not be appropriate or in style. It's perfect. Except the price point. I drool even as I digress.
Anywho, on to the quality. Many women never go back to bikinis after babes, what with loose skin, stretch marks, mummy tummys and the like, and that's always been a symbolic (and kinda sad) turning point in many a mama's life. But in yet another stroke of fabulous luck for the mommy set (first it's flats, then drapey tops, flippin' high rise jeans for tucking in muffin tops for Pete's sake, and now. . . drum roll, please. . . ), one-piece suits are back in style with a vengeance. Meaning, not only will you be in fine company with one-piece-wearing college coeds on the beach, you will also have a lot more flattering, youthful suits to choose from. I've chosen just two. First, the Vince Camuto snakeskin, to show you how ca-razy hot a one-piece can be these days–throw the Athleta Ad Hoc skirt on over it and you're off to cocktails by the pool. And second, a fab J.Crew suit with heavy ruching (to disguise a potential pooch and other such mom torso quandaries) provides nice coverage and support for kayaking with the chicks and playing at the pool with the kiddos this summer.
Next up is a fab boy shirt that has the potential to become your favorite go-to basic. On vacation–and at home this spring!–wear it over a white tank to pop a neutral printed jean like these yummy 7 For All Mankind cropped skinnies. With flat sandals and the shirt half-tucked or thrown over your shoulders, this ensemble is ready for travel day to and from cooler climes, or for a day of shopping/errands/casual Friday. Throw it on over your suit as a preppy cover up on the beach, give your denim cutoffs a more polished feel, or wear it belted over the J.Crew engineer striped maxi with a straw fedora if you run into a hazy day–you'll still look resort-ready.
The 7 For All Mankind Ikat print crop jeans may look a little crazy, but the printed denim trend is so fun that I can't see it going anywhere soon. Treat this pair like khakis, but also play with them. Nordies has them styled with a French dot peasant blouse, or I'm thinking this gorgeous J.Crew Natasha in crinkled silk chiffon would be perfect for a more creative work environment, lunch with the girls, Mothers Day brunch and the like. I love how they look with coral, tangerine, electric blue and neon yellow, too.
If you want to invest in a few fabulous, comfortable tees, Splendid is your best bet. Splendidly soft, they wear well and keep their shape and color. I usually don't pay full price for more basic Splendid items like tanks and basic tees, however–there's often a good stock of it at Nordstrom Rack (am I a Nordstrom fanatic? Yes. Yes, I think I am) and I never regret picking up a few pieces when I see it–but items like this Beach Blanket top usually do sell out. You can easily dress this top down with cutoffs as shown, or up with white skinnies or a sherberty pencil skirt and wedges.
I am in love with the J.Crew column maxi. I love the preppy navy stripe, which still somehow manages to be sophisticated and sexy, the blouson top is highly mom-friendly (perfect for nursing mamas!), a classic style like this will look current for at least a few years to come, and the length makes it perfect for chasing kiddos without flashing undies. It will look equally fabulous in the cooler months of spring with a white oxford or the Indian voile boy shirt belted over it as it will stripped down to the minimum during the dog days of summer.
Perhaps you are shocked that I am writing up something from Athleta. I am too. It sure doesn't look like much on the hangar, but this Ad Hoc skirt is definitely going to be a summer staple for me. And if I ever get to take a vacation, it will be wadded up and scrunched into a tiny corner of my bag. The Tencel/Lyocell blend means it's super-duper soft and comfortable, breathable, fast-drying and won't wrinkle or smell. The "ad hoc" part is this–it can be worn in a number of ways: as a long skirt, as a high-low skirt (turn the drawstring ruching to the front and pull), a short skirt (fold the ruched top band over) as a strapless dress and as a halter dress (super-sexy). I'm sure there are other configurations I haven't thought of, but this is a seriously versatile and travel-friendly wardrobe item. It looks just as good as a pool cover up as it does as a cocktail dress (add strappy sandals, some fab accessories and pull your beachy hair into a messy bun). At home, I bet you could even pull it out from under that pile of laundry that's been sitting there since last week and it would still look pretty hot.
To wrap it all up and keep your bag from busting, pack light on the shoes. I love these braided "Friendship" Corso Como sandals and they'll pop with everything here. I'd add a pair of TOMS or some lightweight sneaks and Havaianas or Reef flops for versatility since they pack flat, or a fab pair of sling back wedges would be great too, if you're planning to spend time off the resort in an actual city.
Susan, I truly hope this helps. A capsule wardrobe like this can get you through not just two-and-a-half days, but with a few minor additions, a whole spring and summer. Have a great time on your spring getaway with the girls!