There is nothing like having children to make you question every aspect of your existence. And whilst it may be one of the most superficial, defining your sense of style as a Mum can actually be one of the most challenging. After reflecting on my own style evolution, I can clearly break it down into three definitive phases: Before kids, Pregnancy and Motherhood.
Phase 1: Before Kids
It was a time of excess, of expensive impulse purchases. I had no one to spend money on but me. Why shouldn’t I treat myself to that sequinned blazer I would only wear once? It was also a time of perky side boob (long gone) and impractical, but fabulous footwear choices. Fashion was fun and I was accountable to one person only, and that was me. My closet was bursting at the seams, a mish-mash of styles and trends, tags still swinging from a multitude of items. And there was black. Lots of black. I wore a new outfit every weekend; it was all about instant gratification and maximum impact. Was it fun? Yes. Was it sustainable? Absolutely not. I can count on one hand those items that I still own. The rest have succumbed to a fate of eBay auctions and the bottom of The Salvo’s bin.
Phase 2: Pregnancy
It’s a 40-week roller coaster ride of emotions and sartorial hits and misses. Early pregnancy is a breeze in the style department: just stick to your usual game plan and try to ignore the fact you look like you’ve had one too many burritos for lunch. Then, as your belly really starts to grow, it’s all about denial, denial, denial. That is, believing you can still wear your pre-pregnancy clothes in a pre-pregnancy way. I can still picture myself at a dinner with the girls, dressed in one of my favourite t-shirts and some drop-crotch pants, my bare belly making its presence known between the two. I shudder at the thought of ever leaving the house like that. I’ll blame the hormones for my poor decision making.
And what is it about growing a child that makes you want to dress like one? Think overalls, pinafores and nonsensical layering. It wasn’t all bad though. I had some memorable moments, like printed t-shirts under vintage slip dresses. And oversized knits under loose linen playsuits: that is, until my belly got so big that the crotch started reaching new heights and it was swiftly pulled from rotation. Come the third trimester it really is a matter of practicality and sheer desperation: which pair of jeans will best hide my compression shorts? Which top can I fit these gigantuous breasts into? Will these shoes fit my puffy, fluid-filled feet?
This leads me to the Final Phase: Motherhood
Coming to terms with your post-partum body is a feeling that all new mums can relate to. Getting dressed in the morning becomes a big effort. And let’s be honest, whatever I do choose to wear will end up covered in spit-up milk and dried in mashed banana by the end of the day anyway. Whilst active wear becomes the easy option when deciding what to wear of a morning (actual exercise not required), not even that is safe. Of this I am harshly reminded as I bend down to pick up my daughter, my mummy-tummy flinging itself over the waistband of my leggings. And if I do decide to make the effort to choose an outfit, exactly how many pairs of jeans can I try on until I find a pair that fits? The pile of rejects builds higher and higher on the bed, a towering reminder of my pre-baby body. I slip into my final option (and, let’s face it, the only option that was ever going to work): my stretchy pregnancy jeans.
But just as the nights get easier (we won’t talk about the four-month sleep regression), my body confidence has slowly returned. And with it, so has my sense of style. Albeit, a little different. Since having my babies I have found that I am no longer drawn to black like I used to be. My colour palette has become softer, possibly to counteract those dark bags under my eyes. It is less about maximalism and more about minimalism: fewer options equals easier decision-making in a Mum’s time-poor day. My purchases are also more considered and less trend-based. I shop with my daughter in mind, so that one day I can pass down to her my most loved and treasured pieces that she can wear and love in return.
And while I most certainly own fewer clothes than I did before becoming a Mum, my sense of style has only grown. I feel more at ease with my personal style than I’ve ever been. My kids and Husband don’t care what I look like. They would love me in track pants and a decrepit old band tee. I get dressed for me, and that I believe, is the key to great style.