Mamas, there's a whole big bunch of crazy you can hide underneath a stylish winter jacket and a big scarf. Spit-up stained tee? Yup. Grungy nursing bra peeking out? None's the wiser. Too-big maternity jeans with the panel showing? It's all bunched up under there – but nobody knows. A flash of bum, due to an unknown hole in your leggings? Oh, yeah – I can still feel that surprising little breeze…but HEY! Cute jacket! Great scarf! Bum totally obscured!
I think you see where I'm going with this.
The summer months, Mamas, are tricky dressing months. Because it's so hot, your clothing choices are not only limited, but on full display. There's none of this Oh, this shirt doesn't really work so I'll throw it under an interesting sweater and add a scarf. Nope. Anything you wear is pretty much front-and-center. But the whole so. flippin. hot. thing makes it hard to care. I go through a period each summer when I'm choosing outfits based only on one thing: which pieces touch my body less. And chunky jewelry aka statement necklaces? Uh, NO. Getitoffgetitoffsweatysweatysweaty!
Summer style: Not as easy-breezy as it sounds.
So. Many of you have asked us to do a set of style rules for the summer months. And while I have the same reservations about "rules" (break 'em if you can!!)…there are a few, uh, guidelines that do come to mind which might help to keep us mamas both looking and feeling cool (in all senses of the word).
RULE ONE: Your Shoes and Bag ARE the Outfit (Every. Outfit.)
Mamas, if there is one offender…or, um…pet peeve, if you will…it's this:
Here's the deal:
I get when Mamas are sportin' a sport sandal. I don't love them, but I get the practicality. However, I'm left completely speechless by the thinly disguised comfort sandal. The one above uses a flower. Others use strange colors (green? rusted leather?) or weird heel detail. No matter what the disguise, the result is the same: a sandal that just isn't chic. At all. And unlike a sports sandal, these babies won't even let you play soccer. You aren't going to be running down the street comfortably. And the worst? Most of these sandals are expensive. So if you are going to drop $100 on a sandal….find a better sandal. There are a TON of really amazing, very stylish sandals that are just as comfortable as the thinly disguised 'comfort sandal'…but don't require some teenagery flower to prove their mojo.
If the bag you carry all summer is big and dark and leather…rethink the bag.
C. Shoes + Bag
Find a comfortable, chic sandal and a summer-worthy bag that look good…together.
Now, let's not go nuts here. I'm not talking about investing in some It-Girl bag and Choos. Nor am I saying that they must match exactly. I'm just saying that your sandal and bag choice should be intentional. They should be cohesive. On a hot, sticky day, they are often your only accessory. Your only way of injecting style into your outfit. When you have a cohesive sandal-bag combo, no matter what else you are wearing, you will look great. And it's easy – just part of your daily mom-i-form.
Here are five pics, hopefully(!) illustrating the point I'm trying to make. The white tee-n-jeans is pretty much my mom-i-form once the weather starts to warm, but over the years I've amassed a little collection of shoes and bags which help to keep things interesting.
First up…my Makr Farm Rucksack. Longtime readers are probably sick of this bag. But I love it still. And I'm wearing it to death with my new summer sandals – The Whistlestop Sandals from Madewell. Shockingly comfortable…but probably best for mamas with a narrower foot.
This is the closest I get to matchy-matchy:
(wearing: Levi's Juniors 535 Super Skinny Denim Legging, James Perse Cotton Scoop Neck Tee – I sized up two sizes for extra slouch, Makr Farm Rucksack, Madewell Whistlestop Sandal, Salt Hathaway Sunnies)
Next is an oldie – I bought this Marc Jacob's bag many, many summers ago when I was flying alone with Raines and two laptops (don't ask). It was the only bag I could find that could fit both laptops, a billion diapers, wipes, snacks, toys and books. GAH – my shoulder hurts just remembering that flight.
(wearing: Levi's Juniors 535 Super Skinny Denim Legging, James Perse Cotton Scoop Neck Tee – I sized up two sizes for extra slouch, Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon Medium Tote – similar in dots, snake, or stripes, Jessica Simpson Sandal – similar, Salt Hathaway Sunnies)
The next outfit is cheating, a bit. My husband bought me the bag below for Mother's Day last year. I LOVE IT (M picked it out, of course). But it can hardly be considered a diaper bag. It fits a couple of diapers, yes…but that's it. So I only wear it when Mike is carrying all of the kid-crap around. My weekends-only bag. But still! A fun, fabulous bag, with some of the most comfortable shoes I've EVER worn. (Yet strangely…not comfort shoes. hint…hint…)
(wearing: Levi's Juniors 535 Super Skinny Denim Legging, James Perse Cotton Scoop Neck Tee – I sized up two sizes for extra slouch, Fringed bag – similar, DV sliver wedge sandals – similar, Salt Hathaway Sunnies)
This whole shoe-bag thing doesn't need to be complicated or even…girly. If you are a sporty mama, just throw on some sneaks (or TOMS) and add a cool backpack. My sleek Lug is great for those times I just need a couple of diapers and wipes, but not the whole array of kid paraphernalia.
I know, I know – you can barely see the Lug. But P looked so. stinkin. cute. I couldn't help myself. Sorry. Here's a better one:
(wearing: Levi's Juniors 535 Super Skinny Denim Legging, James Perse Cotton Scoop Neck Tee – I sized up two sizes for extra slouch, Lug Sling Bag – GAH! No longer in production…this one is sorta similar, TOMS - similar, Salt Hathaway Sunnies)
Lastly, I know most of you have seen this outfit before, but it's a good reminder that bright color is HUGE this summer. Throwing on a shoe/bag combo in big pops of color is a fun update to any mom-i-form:
(wearing: Levi's Juniors 535 Super Skinny Denim Legging, James Perse Cotton Scoop Neck Tee – I sized up two sizes for extra slouch, Nine West Bag – but also love this one, J.Crew classic leather ballet flats in poppy, Salt Hathaway Sunnies)
Here are a few additional flat sandal + bag combos that caught my eye (most are affordable):
$148 - zappos.com
$54 - zappos.com
$50 - zappos.com
$39 - zappos.com
$50 - jcrew.com
$51 - asos.com
$44 - zappos.com
$33 - zappos.com
$80 - zappos.com
$70 - zappos.com
$60 - zappos.com
Ok Mamas, I think that's enough of my ranting and blathering for one night. More "rules" next week….
ps. I also have a review, per reader request, of my new fav summer sandal coming out later this week. It's flat, it's cute, it's comfy, and it's $40. Seriously. (UPDATE: The Saltwater Sandal review is out! Read it here.)