It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, but if you’re a mum you already know that cos you’re busy putting in your specific pancake order (maple syrup, butter and whipped cream) for Sunday morning, to be delivered no earlier than TEN AM.
One (of the four billion) thing(s) they don’t tell you about being a mum is how much your personal style can (and will) change post-baby: you may end up with an entirely new fashion identity. It could even be guy called Merl, who favours bark-brown slacks and sensible sandals. Who knows.
I thought I was sartorially prepared for being a mum. I figured being a stay at home writer (‘dressing for comfort but courageously foregoing fleece for denim’) meant I’d be a gun at it.
And I was TOTALLY right!! Man am I the friggen best. The end.
Just kidding, I have way more bragging to do first.
But seriously, I was astonishingly wrong. The Newborn Days were the first fashion slap in the face. Huge, messy boobs jammed into daggy bras, tracksuit pants, Air Max, a hoody and a pair of bleary, shell-shocked eyes was my go-to look, and I gave zero toots about it. I’d stuffed all my maternity slops into a cupboard when I first got home from the hospital, then dejectedly got half of them back out again because, um, they fit, and were comfortable, and I didn’t care if I spilled meatballs on them. (Just so you know what brand of optimistic you’re dealing with here, I packed my old jeans in my hospital bag. I did not wear them home.)
At around 10 weeks, (of my son’s life/of eating cake twice a day/no exercise or even walking because of a fractured pubis) some work events forced me out of the fog. I’d squeeze and Spanx myself into a bright, fun dress that seemed right, like something I would wear, then tear straight back into my soft clothes to express milk and watch Survivor. When my Son was five months old, I did a series of national pop-up events for my skin care company, Go-To and realised that the problem was not the nine outfits I tried on for each one, but that I had no idea how to dress this new busty, materbity-bra-ed, wide-hipped frame I’d been given. All my old stuff (preppy, fitted shirts, high-waisted skirts and novelty sweaters) didn’t fit, and the cute, colourful young woman I used to dress as seemed wrong now, somehow. I was having a clothing identity crisis as a symptom of my new role in life, and was alarmingly judgey of all my old clothes. (Too tight! Too short! Too busty! Too non-motherly!)
Sonny was about a year old before I started to understand The New Me. I was acutely aware that couldn’t rely on the old me, or my old clothes, because not only did none of them ‘spark joy’ anymore, or fit well, I wanted to start fresh, with a zingy new look that made me feel happy, and like ‘me’, whoever that was now. I’ve always been a firm believer that if you look like shit, you will feel like shit, and after the dark newborn days, (dark sartorially and sleep-wise; thrillingly happy heart/family/pastry wise), and the not-fit-not-feel-or-look-right days, I decided to start over, and dress for how I wanted to feel: happy, polished and colourful.
I started investing in beautiful clothing again, shaking off the ‘Don’t spend good cash on clothes that won’t fit in a few months’ mantra that plagues all women in their baby-making years, to create a wardrobe that was simple, meaningful; a practical blend of casual and stylish, designer and chain store.
After all, I wasn’t only a mum. Or a stay at home writer pig. I was a godamn proper grown up career lady woman with a successful skin care business! An author with a new book about to come out! Associate producer on the TV show being created from my novel! A mid-level chainsaw juggler! A terrific lipstick-applier! It was time I started dressing like it.
My KEY wardrobe rules are:
- To spend cash on beautiful flats cos I will wear them 500x more than heels
- Collars always dress things up
- Layers indicate a level of thoughtfulness and effort even if it’s entirely faked (eg: shirt under jumper/blouse under trench)
- A few good jackets will do a LOT of heavy lifting (specifically: a leather biker jacket, a lightweight trench, a classic blazer)
- Colour and patterns makes everything better, my mood especially
- Flashy, fun earrings and necklaces are Holy Outfit Transformers
- If you buy it, it has to spark joy, as per Marie Kondo’s now ubiquitous don’t-accrue-so-much-shit philosophy
As an ambassador for Westfield’s new #ownyourstory campaign, I was asked to show my personal (mum/business lady/work-from-home-r) style using some of the shiny new AW16 clothes and accessories in-store. It was FUN.
My story? I’m a woman who is just as likely to be tearing around a park after a toddler and schlepping around Coles buying milk and salt and vinegar chips (my secret shame) or sitting at her laptop for six hours straight in her home office… as she is to be popping onto the set of TV production set of The Wrong Girl, or attending an interstate meeting for the day, or heading in to see her publisher to discuss her idea for a book about a sexy, angry teen vampire who attended a wizard school called Fogwarts and had a secret billionaire lover who was into S&M. I need something casual, but with some zing. Easily transformable, and with a punch of polish.
The Getting Sh*t Done Look
The light grey coat is stylish, warm and practical, the tote is tan and oxblood, two uber-neutrals, and fits a laptop and a nappy roll easily, the sunglasses are big and make me feel more fabulous than I have any right to, and the orangey lipstick brightens up my face and my mood immensely.
A jumper over a collared shirt or dress always looks fun, fresh and a bit dressy/efforty. I love adding at least one pattern into block colours.
Look at this happy woman! She got ready in 15 minutes!
Boxfresh trainers are beautiful, magical things that mean you can wear nice dresses, or fancy slacks but still be comfortable.
Shop and steal the look RIGHT HERE, you cute time-poor monsters: Ravishing Rampling Coat from Jac + Jack at David Jones, cute, playful gingham dress from Country Road, blindingly white sneakers from Witchery, bigass sunglasses from Karen Walker, handy tote from Country Road, jumper my own, from Country Road.
Anyway. So that’s my everyday look. But when I need to be a little bit fancy, well, then I go to the…
A Little Bit Fancy Look
This look takes me from a day time meeting (with brogues) to evening (with heels) should my husband and I decide to steal off to a show or dinner. I friggen love a good day-to-nighter; and each element of this outfit can be worn with a million other things. This pleases me.
A glitzy earring quickly dresses things up, and makes a boring hairstyle irrelevant.
I love a shirt or blouse all done up. Big fan. Add a blazer with pushed up sleeves if you remember, (some skin is important with all that chest covered up) and you’re cooked.
High-waisted pants have always flattered me more than low-waisties.
(It definitely took shedding some baby weight before I felt good in them again. Oh, high-waisted anything can be so cruel.)
Steal and shop the look right here: Fancy spotty pants from CUE, silky, slinky blouse from CUE, tuxedo jacket my own, from Country Road, earrings from CUE, clutch bag from Olga Berg at David Jones, heels my own, ivy from Simon my neighbor.
Head to Westfield to find out more about #ownyourstory and shop the HECK out of some very nicely edited looks and stories, actually.
And hey. If you’re a new mum, and you’re feeling like you’ve lost your fasho mojo and identity, IT WILL RETURN. It will! And likely in a whole new form, like mine did. An exciting new form that is more streamline, practical and confident. It just takes time, like a good roast, or getting to anywhere from Australia.
For now, just pop on a swipe of bright lipstick, and your favourite black jacket and off you trot, you beautiful bastard. Happy Mother’s Day!