Summer Style Rules For Moms – Part 1

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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:  

Screen Shot 2012-05-06 at 7.39.03 PM

Here's the deal:  

A.  Shoes

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.

B.  Bag

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 LeggingJames 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 – similarSalt 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 LeggingJames Perse Cotton Scoop Neck Tee  – I sized up two sizes for extra slouch, Fringed bag – similar, DV sliver wedge sandals – similarSalt 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 LeggingJames 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 - similarSalt 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 LeggingJames 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 poppySalt Hathaway Sunnies) 

Here are a few additional flat sandal + bag combos that caught my eye (most are affordable):


Flat Sandal / Bag Combos


Frye braided sandals
$148 -


Minnetonka boho shoes
$54 -


BC Footwear strappy shoes
$50 -


Blowfish checkered shoes
$39 -


J Crew striped beach tote
$50 -



O Neill canvas bag
$44 -


O Neill flap bag
$33 -







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.)


About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

Shop Shana's Closet


  1. Love this rule, but here’s the thing–if it’s too hot for a statement necklace or a scarf, no way is it cool enough for my favorite skinny jeans. Is there a great wear-with-everything substitute for summer?

  2. I had the same question as Kristen! If it’s cool enough for jeans then I am good, flip flops, converse or ballet flats will do the trick. My problem is what do I wear when it’s hot – shorts hot – and I want to look put together but also be able to walk to the park and chase the kiddo around.

  3. Great bags….if you are on a budget…you would be surprised on the cute bags you can find at Target:) Found a kahki cloth one military messenger bag 2 years ago….and I still can use it as a summer bag!

  4. I tend to wear a lot of lightweight skirts in the summer. They’re so comfy but feel a little more dressed up than shorts. And I don’t have any problems chasing after my kids in them. I wear them with a tank top or t-shirt and some cute sandals (and a cute bag, of course 😉

  5. Rebecca – you are NOT the only one!!  🙂
    Megan – I do lots of maxis, but an juuuust starting to get into skirts.  Which length are you rocking?
    Sent from my iPhone

  6. What about flip flops? I live in them in the summer – I have a pair of silver wedge sandals for the occasional days/nights I feel the need to look a little dressy, but honestly I wear flip flops everyday and nobody is going to change my mind.
    What kind of a bag would you pair with these?

  7. I can’t imagine summer without my sport sandals. I put them on in April and don’t want to take them off until October. I’d sleep with them on if it didn’t create logistical difficulties. I think they’d go with your sling bag or rucksack. White T or tank w/ cut offs or a skirt. I do a lot of skirts in the summer too. I generally go just below the knee (because I think all knees are ugly in general but I’m not slender enough to do the maxi length yet).

  8. My skirts tend to be knee length. I can’t get into the maxi skirts ever since attending a birthday party and watching all of the maxi skirts and dresses drag through the dirt in the backyard!

  9. LOVE this post – and while I agree, it would be tough to wear jeans in the hot, humid summers up here in Boston – these are perfect for the spring days right now! Truly simple and chic.
    I have now seen you wear these Levis enough that I think I might need to try them. Do you think they will work on more muscular calves? And, what wash do you have on?
    Love the idea of a maxi skirt too- my body doesn’t seem to be one meant to wear shorts.

  10. I love your ideas, but as someone with a wide forefoot and muscular calves I’ve always had a tough time with sandals (comfort, style, how to mask the forefoot and also not make my legs look even shorter!). What do you suggest for those of us with unsightly bunions? Most of your sandal pics show a good deal of that part of the forefoot, something I cannot do without grossing out people. This time of year always sends me into a style panic – help!

  11. Cami – at the urging of the salesgirl, I bought two:  a size 1 and a size 3.  Both work with different outfits.  I'm wearing the size three in the pics.
    Sent from my iPhone

  12. Megan B – thanks!  Am thinking about them…
    Beth, the wash of my Levi's are diver dark wash.  In terms of muscular calves…hmmm…once on, I'm pretty sure they would fit.  They are very tight, but also very stretchy – almost more legging than jean.  So yeah – worth a try.
    Sent from my iPhone

  13. Pam – I can respect a funky pair of havanianas!  In terms of a bag…let me look around and get back to you..,
    CBA – are you sure you want sandals?  I ask because I spent most of last summer in my TOMS and Sperry's.  If cute sandals are hard to find…skip 'em.  My TOMS were just as cool as anything else…and my Sperry's are probably the most comfortable shoe I've ever owned.  (I have the woven sperrys which now come in metallic…)
    Sent from my iPhone

  14. Do you like your Salt sunnies? Are they worth the price? Rocking some Loft sunnies right now, but need a pair in brown!

  15. Bonnie, my Salt sunnies have RUINED me.  They have simply ruined me.  I can no longer wear anything else.  The lenses are SO good (and polarized) that all other fashion frames (even high-end stuff like Gucci and Dior) pale in comparison.  I save fashion frames for rainy days.  I'm actually thinking of begging my husband for another pair of Salts, just so I have a choice…but yeah:  they're TOTALLY worth it.  Every last little penny.
    Sent from my iPhone

  16. How about some ideas for us girls sweating in Florida already? I wear tanks and cutoffs almost everyday any other cute ideas?

  17. How far can you walk in some of those yummy sandals? I ask because I like to walk and do most of my errands – which could be a mile or so there and a mile or so back, pushing a pram. I need a shoe that looks good and I can walk in. I love my flip flops but they destroy your feet with too much walking.
    Love, love, love the jeans!

  18. I love your Toms in the photo above but couldn’t seem to find them on their website. Do you remember the style name by chance?

  19. Are leather bags in general out or is it just the winter neutrals? I have a Fossil shopper tote in turquoise from last summer that I love and was thinking I’d use again. thinking it will look great with the minnetonka sandles in black that I, um, just bought. 🙂 The turquoise is similar but different enough that I should avoid matchy matchy (I too cannot stand that, to the point that I split up clothing sets gifted to my girls. I try to steer them toward not wearing the set together!)

  20. I love that you still included the yellow Birks for the comfort shoe lovers among us. I ditched my Mephistos when I found your blog (thank you truly) but man I miss them! I think those Birks are coming home to Mama! Looking forward to the other Summer posts!

  21. Joy O – your comment cracked me up! I know you are not alone in your sports-sandal love….
    Lizzie – All of the sandals above (with the possible exception of the Madewell sandals) I can walk around in for a mile (or more). I don’t know about the Madewells yet. I suspect yes, but they need a little breaking in across the toes. Once that happens…YES.
    Kate – Those TOMS are no more….and I can’t remember the style name!! So sorry!
    A Facebook User – A bright turquoise bag sounds FABULOUS. Did you buy the black Minnetonka boho sandals? LOVE.
    Beth – Birks are a classic. I will defend them always. 🙂

  22. Yes, the black minnetonkas with blue beading on the ankle. so excited to get them. Cutoffs and a plain tee are my uniform come summer so I am thinking they should dress it up a bit:) Shannon

  23. Yikes! So guilty with the bag thing. I am going to put my winter bags away now…before it is too late. Anxiously awaiting Part 2 of the summer style rules! Dani

  24. Ok, so 1) you are SO right about the bag thing. I am very guilty of stretching winter bags WELL into June before I realize I’m doing it. 2) LOVE the look of the effortless white tee, but the best ones are always quite thin. Have you a favortite shaping cami to recommend? One that isn’t thick and cottony/bulky like some of the glamourmom type brands? I’m looking for something that will just provide a little smoothing, and wont get a cotton tee all hung up on it. Thoughts?

  25. ps – i SO just ordered the madewell whistlestop sandles you are wearing in the first pic. $138 buck splurge. I don’t know whether to thank you or damn you straight to hell! Hey, it’s almost mothers day, right? What’s $138 dollars compared to breastfeeding a zillion times a day for the past 11 months and counting…. 🙂

  26. Love your suggestions…as always. I remember a couple of months ago on FB that you asked for reader’s favorite white tee suggestions. Did you ever do a write up on them? I love the James Perse, but as a slightly larger gal (8-10), I’m not sure I can get the slouchy fit you are rocking here. I used to be a die hard lover of the JCrew wintage cotton, however, my last two tees have developed holes ON THE FIRST WEARING. Not okay, Jenna, not okay.

  27. I just bought bronze cork wedges with a big flower from Tar-zhay. Gotta tell ya, they make me feel sassy. There. I said it. And I’m not taking it back.

  28. What a great post! You have given me hope for this summer. You’re gorgeous as always & that Marc Jacobs bag – serious bag envy, my friend.

  29. Hey Shana! Can you give an update on the rucksack? I know when you first got it you weren’t sure how clean it would stay given the color and not sure how it would go through the wash. How is it holding up?? Thanks!!

  30. Hi! Totally love your blog. Sort of obsessed.
    Just an FYI that I bought the than Aldo McFarlane sandals and received them yesterday. Love them. But they don’t come in half sizes, so just an FYI to your readers. I will likely send mind back because going up a full size would be too big on me, and the size 9 that I bought barely fits! Bums. Cause they are way cute.

  31. Jamie – The bag!! Sorry – I completely forgot to respond. But YES. It sorta depends on how picky you are. 🙂 Which really says it all, perhaps? Anyway, I’m not hugely picky, so I’ve yet to throw it into the wash. HOWEVER…I’ve spot cleaned it a million times. And it does spot-clean coffee and chocolate and general dirt really, really well. I’ve used the Tide pen on it and just a bunch of soap and water (dish soap, even?). Like…bag is sitting in the sink and I’m swabbing at it with a dripping, soapy rag. Then rinsing. Sort of. Sooo…yeah. Not that picky. My mom would be horrified. But it’s worked great so far. 🙂

  32. Thanks, Shana!! I’ve been stalking this bag ever since I first saw it on the blog…after reading your comment this morning I went to the web site again to check it out and it’s ON SALE!! It’s a sign – I’m ordering now!!

  33. Well, I’m happy you included birks because that is all I wear anymore. It’s not enough to just have a flat shoe/sandal, I have to have serious support, too.

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