Ah, mom fashion. If you’re a mom, this may sound like an oxymoron, but say it with me, it doesn’t have to be. You may remember the days when you would wake up, head to your fully stocked closet and pick out a silk blouse that came straight from the dry cleaner, that you were so excited to wear with the new boots you bought over the weekend. After brunch, with a slight mimosa buzz.
Now, you head to your closet floor and pick up whatever it is that you took off yesterday, and pop that on with those same boots you bought post-brunch five years ago because you haven’t been shopping (or to brunch) since. OK. I’m being a little dramatic here. But not that dramatic because you can probably feel some hard truths in this embellished little story.
The thing is, when you’re a mom you have a huge shift in priorities for both your lifestyle and your clothing. For one, you don’t have time to just shop all afternoon like you once did. You probably get your online order from J.Crew and then keep it whether you like it or not. Because who’s got time to make returns these days? And also, dry-clean only might as well be a four-letter word in this house.
So let’s get to the good news: There are lots and lots of ways to look cute as a mom these days. Athleisure is a thing, thank god, and there is so much Instagram-inspiration that you’ve probably absorbed fashion trends through osmosis during your scroll. Classic outfit ideas are also a good idea, since they’re effortlessly stylish.
Whether you’re looking for stay-at-home mom fashion, or easy work outfits you can throw on in the middle of a busy morning, here are a few of my favorite ideas for getting a hang of your mom fashion this year (Plus some outfit ideas, with links to shop).
First a few broader ideas and tips I have for mom fashion that I’ve used myself.
Try a subscription box or clothing rental.
I could mom in this.
I was opposed to this for a long time, for some unknown reason. I felt like my personal style was sacred, and that no one else would understand the nuances like I did. But then, I realized that my personal style had been distilled into some camoflauge Lululemon leggings and a quarter-zip fleece, and I broke. I tried Stitch Fix for the first time in December 2019, and while it wasn’t a perfect match (they send you 5-6 pieces, I kept one), I did end up with a cute new sweater that I liked, and didn’t have to think about or spend time shopping. I just got my second box, and it had some cute joggers to pair with a denim jacket, which is definitely an outfit I can get behind for my stay-at-home mom days and weekends.
Plus, you can customize your selection so you get mostly work clothes, or weekend/casual clothes, or a mix, and you can send feedback to your stylist on the brands, price points, etc you prefer.
Eventually, I switched to Nuuly, which is a clothing rental service. You choose 6 pieces per month to wear all month long, then send them back and choose 6 new pieces. I love it because it feels like juuust when I start to get sick of an item, it’s time to find something new. It also eliminates some of my “I have nothing to wear” moments, because if I have a work or social event coming up, I choose an outfit for it in my Nuuly rental.
Build a Capsule Wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is basically one where you buy things for their ability to mix and match with other things in your closet. So basically, you have something like 10 sweaters, four pairs of pants, two jackets, a couple of skirts and some dresses, and by mixing and matching these pieces, you end up with dozens of different looks without buying a ton. I love this idea for mom fashion because this is basically how I dress my kids. I decide that this fall, we’re going to go with olive green, navy blue, and burgundy, for example, and I look for clothes, coats, shoes and tops that all fit that color scheme so in the morning when I get my kids dressed I grab a pair of pants and a shirt and theres a 90% change that it’ll go together.
Go for un-fussy fabrics.
I don’t know why it’s taken so long for this principle to get through my head, but when you’re a mom, it doesn’t make sense to buy dry clean only fabrics like silk, cashmere, or even wool. If it can’t be tossed in the wash with some paw patrol PJs, I’m not buying it.
Get great basics.
I used to be more of a fast-fashion person. I loved keeping up with trends and buying whatever was new, even if (or especially if) it was cheap and loud and I’d only get a few wears out of it. Now, I buy things that may be a little more expensive, but I know they’ll last (both in terms of quality and style) so I don’t have to go shopping every week for new things to wear.
Stay true to your style.
I think personal style is super important to maintaining your identity as a woman outside of just being a mom. So don’t give yours up! If you’ve always loved bold colors and big prints and designer bags, rock it as a mom and take those compliments at preschool drop off with gratitude! If heels make you feel closer to heaven, buy some cute ones and wear those bad boys to date night whenever you get a chance. Don’t give up your style.
All that said, here are some great mom fashion staples I love.
A good leather jacket.
A leather jacket has made me feel chic AF for decades now. I’ve had my current one for about five years, and I wear it with joggers, jeans, and dresses, and it goes just as easily from preschool drop off to date night.
Jeans in a “now” cut.
My opinon if that if you’re wearing the latest denim style, you’ll pretty much always look hip and put-together. Denim silhouettes tend to go in and out about once a decade, so get the stylish ones, they’ll probably last longer than you think. Right now skinny jeans are definitely still a thing, but wide-led cropped styles are also back in a big way. Either will do your mom fashion well.
Booties by Marc Fisher
Booties you love.
Flat booties, whether you like pointy toed ones or combat ones or riding ones, are a must-have because they’re versatile and you can wear them pretty much for three seasons of the year. Get good ones that’ll last.
Duh. Joggers have the ease of leggings, but you can wear them with a wider variety of tops (like a leather jacked, or denim jacket) and you’ll actually look cute! I love leggings and yoga pants something fierce, but I feel like this is the default mom look I’m trying personally to get away from.
Classic white sneaker. Shop it here.
Sneakers are the ultimate mom must have, but because you probably wear them more than ever these days, why not make sure they’re the raddest sneakers you can find? There are SO many options out there.
They go with everything. I wear mine with leggings and a tunic on days I’m feeling lazyish, or high-waisted jeans and a knotted t-shirt when I want to try a little harder, or with skinny leather pants and a button down for client meetings.
A flattering jacket for each season.
Jackets can pull an entire outfit together. Example this adorable Abercrombie shacket, which you can pop on over jeans and a t-shirt to look like you actually tried.
They’re polished and practical, what’s not to love?
I use printed t-shirts to add some fun to my basics. I’ll get a few each season in animal print, or striped, and pair with jeans or joggers, or to layer under jackers,
So how do you put it all together? Here is some Great Mom Fashion outfit inspiration I Love:
Blogger Brighton Keller in a simple cotton midi-dress (or skirt) with sneakers = a practical but stylish outfit for family time.]
Simple skinny pants, and t-shirt and boots is a work outfit you can copy time and time again.
Chicago blogger See Anna Jane rocking another timeless outfit: the blazer, jeans and booties. This works as well for the office as it does for drinks with friends (so, the three times a year you go to drinks with friends, you’ll be ready)
Blogger Love in a Bubble is wearing the outfit I wear on literally most days of my life: J Crew’s Sweater Blazer, with a button down (or t-shirt) with jeans and classic flats. It always looks put together, but it casual enough to chase kids in. Note: These blazers are dry-clean only, but I try to buy the darker colors so I have to wash them less, and have had luck handwashing and hang-drying.
Ok one more blazer and jeans combo because that’s how here for it I am. This one is by chic Chicago mom/ blogger Kelly in the City.
Image: Eltaire Boutique
Image via Madwell
Image via Garnet Hill
Midi dresses that hit below the knee and sandals or flats are my go-to-combo for nice weather because they’re cute and comfortable, so when I squat down to pick up a child or change a diaper, you can’t see up my dress. Yay!
Shop some of my favorite mom fashion pieces here: