New Style “Rules” For Moms, Part 2



Photo This article is the second in a multi-part series based on "rules" I've applied again and again when doing style consultations / closet clean-outs with moms….  

Gang, I loved reading all of the comments on our first Style "Rules" for Moms article last week.  If you missed it, be sure to check out both the article and the hysterical, insightful comments. 

Doesn't M look great in this pic?  She's a perfect poster child for the topics I'd like to discuss today.  While last week we chatted about fairly easy updates – the importance of longer camis and more interesting sweaters…this week we're really going to get to the heart of the matter:  waists, hips, and the importance of cute shoes. Oh-oh.  

So without futher ado…here are my additional Mom style "rules" up for discussion: 

3.  Embrace Your Waist

 Without fail, virtually every closet clean-out I've done includes some variation of the following discussion:

Them: "You want a belt where?"

Me:  "Around your waist."

Them: "Here?"

Me: "No – that's your hips.  Your waist."

Them:  "Way up here????"

Me:  "Yes"

Them:  "Now I look fat." (they don't) or "Now my butt looks huge!"  (it doesn't) or  "I look too dressed up!" (they aren't)

I think the rationale for this line of reasoning simply stems from the fact that most of us are used to seeing the female form in some rendition of low-waisted bootcut jeans.  The low waist of the jean bypasses the actual waist entirely, giving the impression (muffin-top notwithstanding) of a ruler-shaped body.

Which few women actually  have.

As styles have shifted over the years, there's been a larger emphasis placed on the waist.  But for many moms, this constitues a radical shift in thinking:  we've all been so busy trying to look like rulers for the last 10 years, that hourglass now equates to fat.  At least when looking at ones' self in the mirror.

"I like belts on everyone else" said one Mom.  "Just not on me".    

But trust me on this:  belts are fabulous on just about everyone.  They are an easy way to add a whole 329770_IMG_0035 bunch of style to your look.  Style is something many moms equate with dressiness, but it doesn't have to be so.  For example:  Try a brown leather boyfriend belt, like Nicole S (pictured at right), a "26 year old misanthrope from Vancouver".  I love the nonchalant way she belts a man-style shirt over leggings and flats…and throws it all together with a fab Marc Jacobs bag.

So give the belts a try — pick up a few cheap options (Forever 21 sells all widths for under $5) and layer them over your cardigans or under your blazers.  Try them in varying widths to find which looks best on you.  (Not sure where to start?  Let me know in the comments if you want more details on getting started with belts).

 4. Consider Your Last Bootcut Jean Purchase…to be Your LAST Bootcut Jean Purchase

Now before you start spitting and throwing things…notice that I didn't say that one must abandon all bootcut jeans.  I'm merely pointing out that most of us have more than enough bootcut jeans to go around.  And since this is one area where styles have seriously shifted, enough is enough.  Bootcut jeans, while something of a classic…are starting to feel a bit tired these days. 

Even worse, as LA Stylist Mom asked last year…Are Bootcut Jeans the New Mom Jeans?  The comments on her question were very illuminating.  As one of her readers put it, "I just took 5 pairs of Seven and Paper Denim boot cuts to a consignment store and had to do the walk of shame out of there, still laiden with every pair. Hipster lady at the counter said ‘yeahhh. we don’t take thooose’."


So what to do?  (You know where I'm going with this) 

Girls, skinny jeans aren't going anywhere for a looong time.  And why am I so confidant about the longevity of this trend?  Well, for one, while we've been off having babies, skinny jeans have been coming on in full force.  And just when the stores try busting out flares, or wide-legged trouser jeans….the skinnies just keep getting skinnier.  We've gone from straight-leg styles, to skinny styles, to super skinnies to jeggings.  

Br762485-00p01v01 And the biggest reason I see skinnies sticking around?  Even uber-conservative Banana Republic Men's are starting to offer a "slim" fit for their pants.  Once corporate Joe-schmoes start rocking the skinnies, it's all over, baby.  It takes a looong time to get the guys on board.  I don't see the skinny trend changing anytime soon.

But I honestly believe that just about anyone can wear skinny jeans.  Picture 1298 Really.  We did an article a while back, featuring fellow fashion blogger FashionAddict, looking hot in her size 12 skinny jeans. Now, almost a year later, she is still rocking her skinny jeans and looking completely adorable (recent pic at right).

If, however, after reading this article, you find yourself in tears, chanting, "NO! NO!"…then I encourage you to embrace the flare trend.  Whether you just add a bit of fun '70s styling to trick out your bootcuts as flares, or invest in an actual pair of flares, is up to you…but either would work.  And boyfriend jeans, of course, are another good alternative.

Note to Moms over 55:  ignore this advice.  Just find some cute jeans that make your bum look good, and don't worry about skinnies, flares, boyfriend, bootcut, whatever.  (Mom, I'm talking to you).

5. Play With Your Pant Hemlines

Br762418-05p01v01 Croppedwithoxford Server Gp791585-00p01v01

I'm not sure if you've noticed…but pant hemlines are all over the place.  Whether cropped or rolled, one way to breathe new life into a tired mom uniform is to show a little ankle.

The first question I get, when working with moms, is often, "how high do I roll them?" followed by a demo of how silly they look with their pants rolled to their knees.  Ummmm….yeah.  That's not what we're talking about.

The most flattering height of roll is just above the ankle bone. STEER CLEAR of rolling these babies half-way up your calf.  The goal is to show off a skinny little ankle, not the widest part of your calf.  The pics above illustrate this point perfectly.

P7292012 The good news is that some of your bootcut jeans may be able to be rolled.  Look for you older, slightly softer bootcut denim, or denim that has just a slight bootcut (petite girls, you are in luck.  Most of us have tailored much of the bootcut away).  The overall look is still a bit slouchier than the looks pictured above, but it works.

You can just barely see my bootcut-masquarding-as-boyfriend jeans in the pic at left.  At officially 8 months preggo, I currently can't fit into any of my old jeans, so am making due with an old pic!  And besides…I like to see myself without a ginourmous belly.  Vanity, I know.

Of course, the real answer to the rolled leg trend is a straight-leg or skinny pant option.  M's pic at the top of this article shows how great straight-leg jeans can look when cuffed…and is a good way for the nervous to ease into the skinny jean trend.

The one trick to this trend?  Footwear.  The cuffed look was made to show off cute ballet flats, oxfords, mocs, sneaks, or short boots.  Make 'em Fall-ready by messing around with socks.  And when the weather gets really cold, the sleeker pant styles will tuck nicely into tall boots.

Sooooo….Moms, what do you think?  Ready to take the plunge?  Or are you sticking by your bootcuts this season?  And are you feeling the belted look yet?  (I know M is a convert – she swears belts are a post-partum mom's best friend).





  1. I’ll be continuing to live in my boot-cut jeans and my boyfriend trousers, thank you. Otherwise I look like a camel. It’s unpretty.
    That belt thing, though….maybe.

  2. THANK you for this guide! I am trying to change my look at the moment, playing with layers, just decided to get rid of some bootcuts and bought slim jeans today… wondering what to wear them with tomorrow. Going with cuffed and orange flats and will even try a belt, tyvm. 🙂
    Have I mentioned I love this site? I love this site. 🙂

  3. Ok, you are giving me a little more confidence in both skinny jeans (I am such a pear shape AND just had a baby) and the wide belts that I just bought and have no idea what to do with. I am going to try to start branching out! Thank you, this was sooo helpful! Please keep up with the Rules!

  4. I’m all about getting rid of my boot-cut jeans (that I just bought a few months ago think I was looking sleek and stylish). I want to try the belt thing for sure, but there are too many to choose from – it makes me want to hyperventilate. So where do I start? Are there “staple” type belts?

  5. Hi there,
    I quite like the skinny jeans things, so i’m definitely trying it soon. However, on the other hand, BELTS: I’m a size 10 with a… ejem big butt and narrow waist, so I always always have to use a belt to eliminate the hole created above my hips and the top of the pants. I can usually fit two/three fingers in my behind with every pant, even the ones with high waist. My question is then, how do I manage to use belts around my waist if the pants don’t fit me completely? i can’t use two belts?
    I you understand my problem, hooray to you! and If you can suggest something to solve it, a triple hooray for you as well!!!
    Many thanks!

  6. I love the belt around the actual waist trend. I’ve actually been sporting it for a few years because I dislike the shape of my legs, I accent the slimmest part of me. Now after baby, the shirts are a little longer to cover a bit more, but it’s comfortable and looks great! Thanks for the reminder that I have these belts in my drawer!

  7. OK, I have resisted wearing skinny jeans except when I have them tucked into tall boots, but you’re making a convincing argument here. And I would definitely like to hear more about belts!!!

  8. Please do a whole post on belts–I haven’t worn one since 1992 or so, and who remembers that far back? Plus of my weight is around my waist, and I just can’t see this being a good idea.

  9. I’m with you on the skinny jeans…I resisted for a while, but I now truly believe ANYONE can wear them when done right!
    As for the belts…I’m willing to try it, happy to try it, dying to try it…when I have a waist again.

  10. I’ve gone to straight (Gap Straight Jeans are WONDERFUL) and gotten rid of the bootcuts, but haven’t taken the skinny plunge yet…maybe this fall it’s time.
    One quick addition, there is a lot of talk about skinny jeans, but those of us office 9-5ers need some conversation about work appropriate pants. I have switched over to straight leg pants and feel so much more confident with the proportions.
    Whole posts on belts and scarves are also needed. I added a ton last fall and it’s really improved my options.

  11. I thought I was too old to wear skinnies (I’m 30) until I read part one of this awesome series. I love the way you understand our mom-centric body issues and give us a practical way to be stylish. I have long wished for someone to give me a reliable formula for dressing cute and you have done just that. Keep up this series! It is critical to women like myself. And btw, last week I bought Gap’s straight jeans and some decent skinnies at (gasp!) Target for tucking into tall boots. I feel stylish for the first time in years!

  12. Okay, I was all about belts–pre-baby, but I am between a size 10 and 12, very Marilyn, and I’ve tried on about 50 belts since giving birth nearly two years ago. Here’s the thing: I have lost all the baby weight, however I have a small pooch that won’t disappear. Belting something at the waist makes this increasingly obvious. I feel it actually *highlights* instead of hides the pooch, which is how I ended up sporting tents for the first year post-baby. Second, my torso is non-existent, and I am permanently cursed with DDs. A belt enhances this as well. So, what’s your suggestion for those of us who aren’t as blessed physically as you and M.?? What’s a curvy girl to do? A belt looks good from the front, but when I turn sideways… uh oh. Suggestions??

  13. I really like the way the belts look, but I feel like I would be self-conscious trying it myself. Maybe you’ve encouraged me. I would like tips, too, on different widths, etc.
    As for skinny jeans…I’ve thought they looked stupid from day one and I still think they look stupid. Even if they are popular. And they can’t possibly stay around as long as you are predicting, can they? *shudder*. I love my bootcut/flares and will continue to wear them!

  14. LOVE this, and its exactly what i’ve been looking for! I love the comfy (not blah) sweater and skinny jeans picture of the lovely blond…Love the red wall too!
    I am a big fan of the belt at the natural waist, its about the only skinny part of me so I want to draw as much attention to it as I can!
    Your two part monolog is so stinkin’ funny :o)

  15. Wow!! It sounds like there’s still much debate on skinnies, LOL!
    And yes Jodi (and others) – I got the message: talk more about belts! I’ll work on it…
    Emily – this might be splitting hairs…but I consider trouser jeans to be in a class by themselves. I still love mine, too.
    Seanna – am loving the cuffed + orange flat combo. Feel free to send pics!
    Lisa – Thanks for the feedback! I was hesitant to write up “rules” (so subjective, so easy to break)….but now I might reconsider…
    Anne – I’ll work on “staple” type belts…but also keep in mind that you don’t have the throw out the bootcuts (esp. since you just bought them). Just trick them out a bit with a ’70s vibe…hmmmm…this might be worth a post for the (many) of you still hanging on to the bootcuts…
    Maria — Have you tried Gap’s curvy jean? I know many nice-bootie girl who swears by them. They are a cross between a bootcut and a flare…if you are looking for straight leg or skinnies, RUN (or click) to Levi’s. Their new line of jeans requires you to take a quiz to determine your “curve ID”, and then custom makes the jeans for you. I haven’t tried it just yet (too preggo), but I’ve heard good things!
    Nell – I swear, if I threw out half my stuff I’d be in better shape. I “forget” about good outfits all of the time.
    Krista – That’s how it starts, girl. Soon you’ll be addicted, LOL!
    Kerry – Got it. But in the meantime, try a wider belt….
    Lane – You and me both, chicky. Although, I keep belting over the belly. A co-worker today asked me why I keep using belts since they are obviously not functional over the belly (ENGINEER!!) so I told him it was to make me look skinnier. Snort. I don’t think he got the joke.
    Lisa – Work appropriate pants are a whole different category. Menswear-style trousers are always a safe bet (and have been popular now for several seasons). For a skinny option, I’ve been loving the Audrey Hepburn inspired skinny black capri pant…J.Crew calls them the “minnie” I think. Hmmmm…we’re getting more questions on mom work-wear these days, might need to add this to the queue as well.
    LAStylistMom – thanks for the kind words! Much appreciated!
    Heather – That’s fantastic! Which Target skinnies are you loving? Spill!
    Maria G – To best hide the post-partum pooch, wider belts are usually best. BUT…if you are a DD with a shorter torso, I would recommended sticking with skinny belts. So I get your dilemma. The one option I’d try is to layer a very thin, ruffle-y cardigan (like the one M is wearing) over a tank that shows a *bit* of cleavage….then try belting with a skinny belt. OR try a cozy knit wrap sweater with a belt. The cozy knit can sometimes be too bulky…but I’ve also seen a few Marylin body types taking these types of knits to a whole new level of sexy, so you just never know. Let me know if either of these ideas work…
    Sage – You aren’t the only one, LOL! And flares are totally fabulous and on-trend. AND…with a higher waist, also mom-friendly.
    EmmaKate – Doesn’t she look great? I love that outfit. And am so glad you liked the “monolog”. I cracked up each and every time I had it.

  16. Hi there,
    LOVE your blog! It is really just so spot on for everything “mommy” in my life!
    Questions for you:
    I have wider calves. So I am fine in the winter wearing boots over the skinny jeans, but then in the warmer months, I feel self-conscious with the jeans being so tight over the calves. Thoughts/Suggestions?
    Belts. I am looking forward to your post as i need serious help in this department! I haven’t worn a belt since middle school when the whole slouchy sweatshirt a la Flashdance style with low slung belt was going on! Needless to say, I am out of touch with how to wear the newer trends! And, any recommendations on stretch belts? I find that the leather ones, even if loose, make me feel constricted.
    Thanks for the blog! You guys rock!!!

  17. What a wonderful post – I am beginning to branch out into the world of straight and skinnies too. I agree with the poster who loves the GAP straights – I recently bought them in both washes and am very happy. I also bought their legging jean and man they are comfy.
    My husband hasn’t been a fan of the trend as he refers to the look as “Peg Bundy” but oh well – I guess we will be married to Peg for awhile. 🙂
    Thanks for the link to the fashionable for the economically challenged – it is nice to see all body types rockin this look –
    as well as the different price points to achieve the look
    On another note I don’t think anyone should “get-rid” of boot-cuts in their denim wardrobe – they are great of certain days or looks but maybe don’t run out and purchase any more for awhile.
    I have a pair of Hudsons – tags one that may go back to Nordstroms though – hmmmm
    One last question
    What shoes is M wearing

  18. Just came across your blog and love, love, love it! But, no more bootcut?? I really, truly believe I can’t pull off skinny jeans! I have a curvy/athletic build with big-old thighs…I don’t think there is any way skinny jeans will fit me or be flattering. I’m bummed right now because I just got a pair of Joe’s Jeans in their supposedly flattering Honey Booty fit on mega sale, but the cut is slimmer in the legs than I was expecting and I think they look awful!!
    I’m feeling a little stumped now. Do you do email consults? Like, if I sent pictures would you be able to suggest some things??

  19. RE bootcut jeans: Yes, agreed, they are passe’.
    You don’t have to thrown them out, or take them to Goodwill. You can TAILOR them. Take them to a tailor and it’s a simple thing to have the legs cut down to a straight or skinny-ish leg. You can also do this yourself if you’re savvy with a sewing machine.
    Upsides to this are:
    a) cheaper than buying new jeans (in general)
    b) eco-chic and eco-friendly – recycle, repurpose, etc.
    c) you already know they fit your butt (if they don’t, well, get rid of em)

  20. I am not a mom, but as a “fluffy” 4’6″ person I am always looking for style tips. is it possible for someone to be too short to sport a belt? Would it be better empire style?

  21. FashionAddict – Keep up the good work, Girl!!
    Beth…hmmm…here’s what I’m thinking: Make sure any skinny jeans are hemmed at the ankle (so you aren’t dealing with a ton of fabric). THEN…I’d try rolling them (twice? maybe three times?)…roll them just enough to expose the smallest part of your ankle – right around the ankle bone. Then add flats, whatever. The eye *should* be drawn to your ankle, not the calf. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. And don’t be afraid of stretch belts – I have one also. They are more comfortable.
    Rachel – Well said!! I agree – I don’t think anyone should starting throwing away perfectly good bootcuts! They do serve a purpose…AND can be perfectly acceptable when paired with some of the more current trends on top. M’s shoes are Stuart Weitzman, purchased last spring.
    Krista – Got it. Will work it.
    Katie – I’ve never done an email consult, but would be up for it! I’m confidant that you would look great in skinnies – athletic thighs or not…but the fit is key. One to try…I’ve had my eye on a brand called “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans” for a couple of years now. I haven’t tried them personally, but others are raving. The waistband is slightly higher, and the cuts more forgiving…but they finally came out with a skinny version they are calling “Slim”. It might be worth a shot!
    Oh – my jeans in the pic above were purchased many years ago, and are by Hudson’s. I actually got this question from a few other readers…and have been trying to find them to no avail. If I do, I’ll do a quickie post on them.
    Vegeater — I’ve actually tried this! I failed, LOL, but I think my mistake was going from bootcut to skinny jean. I think bootcut to straight leg is a much smarter path. Thanks for the reminder – a great point!!!!
    Jennifer – There’s always the possibility that belts won’t work…but I think it has more to do with how much room you have between your hip bones and bust. There’s no magic formula, you’ll just have to give it a shot and see if you like the result!

  22. Thanks for the tip! I will try rolling the jeans and let you know how it goes. I think for me, the skinny jeans just hug the calf of my leg and I am self conscious about it…kinda silly considering they are called “skinny” jeans and are meant to be tight! Any recommendations for stretchy belts?

  23. I love the belts idea. But I must say, I don’t think skinny jeans work for everyone. Sure, someone a size 12 or smaller can rock em, but honestly… us larger ladies size 20, 22, 24 + just look ridiculous.

  24. i’ve been thinking i bet i’m a belt person for like, a year, but have never ventured into belt territory for fear of doing it wrong. tell us more about belts, please!
    as for skinny jeans – i’ve been thinking i couldn’t rock those out but you’ve inspired me to try again.

  25. I’m not sure I can pull off skinny jeans. Or maybe I don’t understand what they are. Lol. I am 5’3″, 125lbs, 34G (yay breastfeeding?! Makes it tough to find anything that fits!) with teeny tiny ankles and feet but thunderthighs and a bit of belly pooch still. I feel like they make me look like an upside down triangle and like I’m going to fall over, ’cause how can those tiny feet hold up that big body??? Am I being too hard on myself? Or missing something here?

  26. Hi there! I love love your blog and I am so glad I found it!
    Quick question…I live in New England and want to wear my ballet flats for as long as I can with my skinny jeans BUT it is chilly…SO what type of sock do you wear or is that a fahion faux pas?

  27. Beth – I’ll look for some!
    Maria – You might be right. But I did find plus-size models rocking our their skinny jeans at both ASOS Curve and Forever21’s extended line. Granted, both lines only go to size 22, but I think the Forever 21 model looks amazing:
    Rebecca – Glad to hear you are thinking of branching out. Change is fun, no?
    Maman A Droit, your teeeny-tiny ankles are obviously the problem, LOL! (I’m joking, of course). Yes – you are being waaay to hard on yourself. I think what is actually going on is a case of mirror-shock: You look in the mirror, don’t recognize the usual shape you are comfortable with…and BAM! You think it looks terrible. Try some skinnies with tall boots – it’ll help balance out that silhouette. Once you get used to it, you probably won’t feel so self-conscious, and can then branch out into scarier ballet-flat territory.
    Tamara – Get yourself a trouser sock. I like darker colors (gray, brown being my favs) but really, any color would work. In FACT…we have an article coming out on Tuesday that will talk to this exact problem!

  28. I need help finding affordable skinny jeans that come with a high waist. I find high-waisted jeans to be so much more comfortable. Are there skinny jeans made like this?

  29. I see some skinny conversions going on here–huzzah!
    Personally, I’m a complete convert–after my first pair of skinnies, I now own another 2 as well as a pair of jeggings (I know, shocking, right?). Like S said, I’m convinced they’re here to stay.
    And belts are the new staple of my wardrobe. They’ve made everything I have–skirts, cardigans, dresses–much more current, and it’s such a simple fashion and figure fix. Awesome.

  30. Oooo….Lori! Yes. Yes there are. In fact, the higher waist skinnies are ALL the rage. I might, in fact, do a post on this. In the meantime, check out Urban Outfitters.
    Amy – As always, stylish chick, feel free to send pics. 🙂

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