This article is the first in a two-part series based on “rules” I’ve applied again and again when doing style consultations / closet clean-outs with moms….
If ever I had a mom uniform….the outfit pictured at left is it. I’ve been wearing it for years: JBrand skinny jeans, brown tall-ish boots, cute shirt (or sweater layered for cold) and some kind of moto-styled jacket in sweatshirt or sweater material. And, of course, black/brown & navy all mixed together (I’ve never been picky about this…and now I don’t have time to be). I think it all works – I honestly wear this outfit (or a version of this outfit) almost daily once the weather turns cold. And I love it still.
But after several years of wear….it’s time to branch out a bit. And while women’s fashion trends, in recent years have been all over the map….there’s a few constants that have started to emerge. And as I’ve been doing a few more “closet clean-outs” with friends and other moms…I’m finding that these constants are passing many of us by, unnoticed. The problem? Ignoring trends year after year after year is exactly how you wake up one morning, 20 years later, with a permed mullet and legwarmers wondering why everyone else looks so different.
I’m not a huge new trend devotee…but staying somewhat current (and still being true to your own personal sense of style) is the sweet spot to aim for.
So while I normally hate the word “rules” (they just beg to be broken)…here are two of the most essential style “rules” for moms:
1. Go Get Some: Long Layering Tops
In the past few months, every mom closet clean-out has unearthed a plethora of too-short camis, tanks, and tees, in numerous colors, sizes, and stages of wear. “Oh, THAT? Yes, it doesn’t really fit, but I only wear it with this one v-neck sweater where the lace kind of shows at the top….let me find the v-neck….here! Wait – it has a hole. Hunh.”
or my personal favorite:
“Oh yeah – that cami is way too short. I don’t actually pull the straps over my shoulders…I just fold it down, kind of like a bella band? Like this. See? NOW it’s long enough!”
While I’ll give points for such environmentally-conscious, reusable behavior…may I point out that camis (like the gray one pictured above) retail at Target for $8?
Here’s the deal: long, fitted layering tops are THE easiest way to wear skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, and numerous other pant trends that have surfaced in recent years. If you don’t have camis (or layering tops) that are long enough…you are probably stuck wondering why you can’t wear <insert current trend here>. And by long….I don’t mean grazing your hip bone. I mean long enough to fully cover your hip bone, with an inch or two to spare (see pic above).
Part of the problem, I think, is the sizing. Often, if you shop big box retailers (Target, J.Crew)…you’ll need to go up several sizes in order to get the right length. Luckily, when it comes to layering camis, there is very little difference between sizes in width…but a big difference in length. So play around with sizing…and don’t be afraid to bring 2-3 sizes into the dressing room with you.
2. Pick a More Interesting Sweater
The other glaring hole in many a momdrobe is one really fabulous sweater option. This piece can transform any spit-up stained tee-shirt and jeans into something with style.
It seems that many moms tend to rely on an army of short, boring cardigans or sweaters…but that one perfect, drapey, add-instant-polish topper? Missing. Which makes quick dressing tough – in order to make either of the sweaters pictured at right stylish, you’d really need to focus on cool pants and accessories, which are much more time-consuming options.
Interesting sweaters can be more expensive…but once you factor in the style and ease of dressing, as well as calculate the CPW (cost per wear), it’s the much better option. However, if you are the very frugal type, even Old Navy comes up with great options from time-to-time.
What to look for:
Bottom line: You are looking for something fabulous, BUT something totally versatile that can be thrown on over anything.
Look for interesting details around the collar, cool buttons or toggles, ruffles, interesting drape, or – my favorite option – a jacket style (moto, blazer) made out of a soft sweater or sweatshirt material. Look for something that makes your heart beat fast, look for something different. Your new signature piece, if you will. Here are some that make my pulse quicken:
FullListofFabSweaters by aintnomomjeans featuring a knit cardigan
Old Navy Womens Button-Front Cable-Knit Cape
$25 – oldnavy.gap.com
Old Navy cardigans »
Trouve Roll Sleeve Drape Pocket Cardigan
$78 – nordstrom.com
Knit cardigan »
Dex Batwing Sweater
$114 – piperlime.gap.com
Crop tops »
Wilster ‘Griffith’ Oversized Sweater
$246 – nordstrom.com
Cardigan sweater »
$80 – modcloth.com
Floral cardigan »
$128 – anthropologie.com
Leather tops »
Leifsdottir ‘Twist’ Knit Cardigan
$168 – nordstrom.com
Knit cardigan »
Calvin Klein Fleece Moto Jacket (Plus)
$80 – nordstrom.com
Motorcycle jacket »
Womens’s NEW ARRIVALS – jackets & outerwear – Sweater Blazer -…
$168 – madewell.com
All Saints Vasu Cardigan
$120 – allsaints.com
Bobeau Flyaway Tiered Cardigan | Nordstrom.com
$40 – nordstrom.com
Salty Cable Trim Wrap Cardigan | Nordstrom.com
$128 – nordstrom.com
Fairisle Belted Poncho at ASOS
$71 – asos.com
So if you do nothing else this Fall, be sure to have a few longer, layering pieces and an eat-your-heart-out-I-look-fab-sweater…and you’ll always have something to wear. Who cares if it’s the same thing over and over again? So very French, n’est pas?
ps. Next week…a few more “rules”….
ok, ok you’ve convinced me to donate my too short camis. I love them, but I haven’t worn a single one since H was born. But honestly, is there going to be a time in my life where I want to be pulling down a cami while chasing my little guy? nope… But this does mean I get to shop for so more longer camis this week 🙂
What happened with those shorty camies anyways? I look at my pile and try to figure out which part of my body changed that much that a shirt can “suddenly”, two babies later, be about 4 inches too short! LOL. Glad I’m not the only one.
Love the sweaters!
MOMDROBE. Love it. I also totally love your tips. I have a uniform too and it consists of a deep v-neck tee (usually grey) from J. Crew and skinny jeans (usually black). Every outfit I wear is a variation of this and it’s BORING. At least now that the weather has finally cooled down I can throw a fun scarf into the mix.
The transition to longer camis suddenly made EVERYTHING in my closet better. Why on earth did we ever wear those short things to begin with?
Target’s basic tanks are on sale for $6 this week. I pick up a handful in white every year to restock and wear them under just about everything.
great tips. just ordered the old navy sweater for $20. Looking forward to part 2.
and an add’l 20% off at ON with code: ONSECRET20.
Seriously? You rock! I so needed to read this today as I’ve just been thinking about what I need to buy for fall/winter and how my wardrobe semi-sucks. Funny part is that I had the Old Navy cape and returned it. I just couldn’t see myself wearing it often. I am not a risk taker! But I will check out these other options. Love the variety of price points. Thanks!
SO guilty of A) hoarding too-short camis and B) buying boring sweaters. I’m embarrased to admit how many plain v-neck sweaters I own. NO MORE.
I LOVE the jacket you are wearing in the photo! Where did you get it? Great styling advice at the perfect time as I just cleaned out my closet. Thank you for the great tips!
This was so funny! I wanted to chime in and let everyone know about my favorite cami. I buy mine from The Buckle (yes..the teen store), but they are like $12-$16 and come in every color under the sun. The best part is that they are long and hold everything in! I have so many of them and they are perfect! You know how sometimes you have a little extra skin that doesn’t look right under a tissue tee? These will hold it in. Then…when they come old I work out in them or wear them to bed. I seriously love them and now three of my friends are addicted!
LOVE all of the comments, girls!! They are seriously cracking me up!
Nell & Karissa – Sing it, sisters. It’s a mystery to me, too.
Lauren – Your uniform rocks…but I can see why you get sick of it (I’m in the same boat). Have you tried some of the shorter boot options? I’m totally in love with a pair of rocker-ish short boots that are helping to revive my standby uniform a little bit….
Amy – isn’t it amazing how that works? Seriously – everything IS better.
Lisa – thanks for the sale tips and the secret Old Navy code!!!
TM – Down with boring sweaters, LOL! We should seriously do an article on reviving the boring sweater since we are ALL stuck with one or two. Or twelve. ):
Beth – The jacket I’m wearing in the pic is an asymmetrical zip fleece moto jacket, bought last year from Roots Canada. Of course it’s now sold out, but Old Navy actually has something similar….http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=772465002&tid=onaff2687457&ap=2&siteID=onafcid89 or for something more upscale, try this one at Revolve Clothing: http://www.revolveclothing.com/DisplayProduct.jsp?product=MIKE-WO389&c=Mike+%26+Chris
Christy – Just checked out the BKE tanks you mentioned…awesome! They are perfect! I’m going to have to check these out….
Just (yesterday) got my very first pair of skinny jeans! i’ve always been a bootcut/wide leg jean girl…it’s a safer bet for my ‘pear’ shape. I have hips and thighs! so here is my question: what to wear on top to ballance it out? I got a pair of rocking boots too 🙂 I have suddenly been inspired by a crazy-stylish lady i look up to. wardrobe overhaul!
Whoo hoo, EmmaKate! I honestly believe that skinny jeans can be worn by all. Pairing them with rockin boots goes a long way to balancing out hips. Throw on a longer cami and a long wrap\tie waist sweater, and youre set.
Actually, this is a really great question….let me work on a longer response!
Sent from my iPhone
My big question is “does it work for short girls too?” AND being a tad heavy on the bottom half? What do girls like me wear when everything long makes me look like I’m standing in a hole?
“Ignoring trends year after year after year is exactly how you wake up one morning, 20 years later, with a permed mullet and legwarmers wondering why everyone else looks so different.”
OK, this scares the crap out of me. I’ve dismissed a lot of trends the past few years as being too young or too trashy, but now I see where this will lead me!!! I love how you’re making the new trends and styles so accessible.
LOVE THIS ARTICLE AND THE FOLLOW-UP! THANK YOU!
Sarah Jane – Find yourself a tailor! My mom (who is barely 5 ft) has actually tailored a couple of long camis to hit just below her hipbone. The interesting sweaters might be a bit harder to find a good fit (and aren’t easy to tailor)…but my good friend J (also a tiny gal) has had amazing luck at Gap Kids. Or look for blazers in a sweater (or sweatshirt) material. Then you can roll the sleeves, and they’ll naturally nip in at the waist, hiding any heaviness of the bottom half.
Krista – It scares me too. It is all TOO EASY to do.
Mercedes – Thanks for the feedback!!
Oh how I wish I could know you in everyday life and take you shopping with me! I’m a mom in a rut – short or long sleeve T under a cardigan or (more often) sweatshirt with jeans and sneaks every day. I just blew a wad of money on more of the same! So wish I read this sooner! I’m starting my day with my jeans rolled just above my ankles with the cutest/most interesting sweater I have layered over a T, but I’m making progress!
I stumbled on this article last week by chance and I have to say it is the most helpful fashion advice for moms I’ve read in a long long time. When I was in college, I used to know what the trends were. Post kids… well let’s just say, I finally figured out why tissue ts and tanks were made so super long! I just got my shipment of long camis from Target. And, they are terrific. Thank you for writing this.
Tricia – it’s all progress, Baby! Even the small steps! Good for you – and thanks for writing in with such encouraging words!
Stacy – Wow girl, thanks! And post-baby, it IS hard to stay on top of things. We don’t strive for cutting edge here…just staying a bit current. SO glad you are finding us helpful.
I can’t believe how amazing your blog is! So much incredible advice for moms (women) stuck in a fashion rut. I found this by chance…and it made my day. I have have just finished four years of two pregnancies, maternity leaves and breastfeeding…and feeling very out of touch with fashion. I am so inspired to get out and shop with some of your well laid out ideas/suggestions…thank you, thank you!
Amy – Wow! Thanks for such kind words! Now you’ve made OUR day…
Just read this entry today…LOVE the boots you have on in the pic of you playing in the leaves with your son. I’m obsessed with your boots! Who makes them? Thanks for any info! Very cute pic!
I had no idea what a “moto fleece” was, so I googled. Whee. I love the concept of a structured jacket in a soft/cozy material. So practical AND stylish.
Can you guys do an updated version of this sometime? Would love your insight, whenever you feel things have shifted enough in fashion that it’s time to do so! ?
Thanks for your style inspiration and giving this mama many new wardrobe staples/absolute LOVES that just have IT to make me look and feel like I’ve got it together fashion-wise, without trying too hard. I’ve been following you for a little over a year now, and my wardrobe is hugely influenced by your blog, Shana and MomEdit Team!
Lots of love!