This week, I joined Rebecca Rowe on her Instagram Live to talk about designing luxury clothing for moms. Here’s what we talked about (including some questions from moms) with a little more thrown in because mom brain is real and you know I forgot some stuff I wanted to say lol
Q. Did you go through a style evolution when you became a mum?
Yes. I’ve always loved fashion, but I have actually mostly played it pretty safe. I always envied the women I saw who dressed a little wilder but never felt like I could go there myself. After having kids, I did go through a period of wearing a lot of yoga pants and basic tanks with shelf bras. One day when I was visiting a mom friend, I complimented her on how great she always looked. She told me that she had made a decision a while back to be a “hot mama” and since then has put a little effort into herself every day. She felt much better about herself having done that. I decided that sounded so much better to me than throwing on the nearest puke-stained top and piling my dirty hair into a messy bun and followed her lead. Don’t get me wrong, I still didn’t have time to shower half the time in those early days, but I’d at least grab something a little cuter to wear, whip on a dash of mascara and aim for an artfully messy bun with some (not too grabbable) earrings or other accessory
Q. How did you balance your new responsibilities and your need to be your own person?
It was definitely tough when the kids were tiny and it continues to be a challenge at times. Fashion has always been a way for me to remember myself as more than simply a mom. I can run around from one rink to the next or bake bread and help with homework and still feel like myself when I’m wearing a cute outfit I feel good in. I love being a mom and I’m not against having a go-to look to make it quicker to get ready in the morning, but I don’t want a boring mom uniform. I like to stand out. I’m not someone who wants to blend in Stepford wife style (though to be honest, I do like that 50s look!) My first baby-free outing after I had baby #1 was to meet a friend for some retail therapy and it felt great to take care of myself for those few minutes (no, it didn’t last long that time - baby was NOT impressed with the bottle!) I would recommend that every mom wanting a fast and easy way to look put together in the morning take a look at the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Include comfy, stylish pieces that mix and match easily and that work for your current lifestyle (no dry cleaning!) Think about things like breastfeeding and weight fluctuations when making selections within your closet and when buying new pieces. I wish I’d had the Stretchy Jill pants and the Ava Sweater dress postpartum. I would have worn them to death! Nothing wrong with a uniform, but why not make it a killer stand-out uniform you feel great in?
Q. What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their style identity? Whether it’s because of motherhood or quarantine?
You may have to make little tweaks to your style - especially when kids are little. Certain colours (white!) are tough and dry clean only fabrics might not be ideal for a while, but you can essentially still dress like yourself or better yet, take this opportunity to try out something new, something a little edgier or brighter or fashion forward than you felt comfortable with pre-kids. One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of moms is that they often don’t sweat the small stuff in the same way as they did before. If nobody is currently puking on you, you’re doing great!
Q. Did you ever have an, “oh heck no” moment after having kids and putting on your old clothes?
There’s a certain disconnect when you first have a baby and you don’t immediately go back to what you looked like before. I was blessed to have my BFF have a baby a little before me so I could see that it’s not like in the movies. It takes time and you might not ever get back to what you looked like before but that’s all the more reason to figure out a new style that works for you. I had a lot of fun (and sometimes not) dressing my surprisingly large) breastfeeding boobs. There was a period when my low cut tops started having a very different look to them as I filled them out much more. Sometimes, it was fun (yay! Cleavage!) and other times, I felt a little self-conscious. I also had to contend with a tummy I hadn’t experienced before and didn’t know how to dress. I’d suggest putting your favourites that don’t work right now aside for the time being. You may bring them back out later, but for now, they probably just make you feel bad and lead you to dwell on the past instead of concentrating on the present. It’s not always easy to appreciate yourself as you are, but remember that you just birthed a whole other human! That body is incredible and miraculous. Be kind to it. Try to disconnect from it a little and imagine it’s the body of your best friend. You would help her find clothes that look great on her now. You certainly would never tell her she just needs to go back to how she looked before to look great again!
What would you suggest for women who are looking at their closets thinking, “should” - regarding fit, style, etc. (Instagram follower question: “I want to change up my style but I’m not sure what suits my body type now.” help!?)
Try to get away from shoulds. It’s hard to let go of an idea of yourself you’ve had for so many years before having kids. If you loved Audrey Hepburn and previously had a tiny frame and small bust, you don’t have to abandon that whole esthetic. Just break the looks down. Maybe that boat neck isn’t as flattering with your larger chest so try a little deeper of a V or scoop neck. You can still rock an LBD (little black dress) but maybe it’ll be a little straighter of a cut or fuller of a skirt to accommodate your new tummy. Or go for some Breakfast at Tiffany’s style pearls or other accessories that give you the feeling of that look you so enjoy. If you have trouble with that, try to find new style icons that fit your current body and lifestyle better. Surf Instagram and Pinterest, look around when you’re out and about. Notice the women in your day to day life that have amazing style. This might not be the body you’re used to but it’s a body many many women already have and dress fabulously EVERY DAY. If you’re really disconnected from your new shape and can’t see the good in it, ask a good friend or your partner - I bet they see everything that is fabulous in how you look right now. Let them open your eyes up to these things too, then play up these features. Just figure out what you like about yourself and try to highlight that with colours, prints, cuts… Also, find a good tailor - trickier nowadays but so worth it. Don’t let your clothes wear you. They need to fit YOUR body. (Find out more about fit here)
Also, HIGH WAISTED. I’m not sure why there are still some moms resisting high waisted pants. They are so much more flattering to most moms whose tummies aren’t as flat as they once were and they allow you to wear a shorter top without flashing your midriff! Having a great pair of high waisted pants really opens up a lot of style options. The main thing is finding clothes that make you feel great so I don’t care much about rules. I’d say you can follow some guidelines to help you find a place to start, but you don’t need to give yourself hard rules to follow - don’t box yourself in. Fashion is FUN! Have fun with it. Experiment! This is a great opportunity to try new things.
How should women go about figuring out their new shape/new body?
I think a lot of moms find it easier, at least at the beginning, to just ignore their own needs and ignore their changed body. That’s why they gravitate towards leggings and baggy tops. They don’t want to accept themselves as they are because they’re forever looking to their pasts for what they were. The body you had then is just your package, but you are the same...I would argue you’re even better now! You’ve expanded in more ways than one. Most moms get stuck on the belly area and just see that as having changed their entire look but they probably still have nice curves and a small waist - that’s why I’m so big on high-waisted pants and skirts because they highlight the smallest part. Hiding your curves behind baggy clothes doesn’t usually help you look better. If you really don’t want to wear clothing that’s fitted at the waist, try showing other parts of yourself so you don’t look like you’re wearing a sack. How about a flirty little dress. Try a straight cut one that skims your curves and show some leg or show your clavicle or maybe a lower back neckline to show some skin there.
IG: “I became afraid of ruining my “good” clothes” - how to overcome this?
When kids are little, they are messy little creatures so I get why you’d worry about this. First off, know your stain remover tricks! Oxy powder and boiling water get out sooo many stains but be sure the clothes can stand hot water or you will damage them. Dry clean only is probably not your friend during that time, but it won’t last forever. A weird old-timey trick is robes or smocks (think 50s) if you’re dressing for the office when you’ll be away from kids. Put it on over your outfit and just take it off at the door. White is not your easiest option with young kids, but prints and dark colours are great - love a good camo or floral - they really do camouflage stains. Washable fabrics are ideal. This is where polyester blends have their place - super durable and washable. Most clothes won’t be fully ruined from everyday mom wear if you can spritz them with stain remover and let sit quickly enough, but maybe steer clear of delicate silks if you can’t cover them while around your super puker! (Read more about making your clothes last here)
IG: How to deal with breastfeeding! Tops that have easy access but still look cute?
I’ve been out of that for a long time now, so I know there’s much more available in this domain than when my kids were babies. I always went with V necks, but I was also mostly happy with my increased cleavage and never one to care about nursing in public. Stretchy, looser fit tops are great because they’re easier to pull up. Wrap dresses are awesome because they’re adjustable as your body shifts and offer quick access for nursing, but otherwise a good deep V is the only dress you can nurse in unless it’s actually sold as a nursing dress. Normally easiest to go for a top and bottom unless you’re wearing bike shorts underneath your dress. Personally, I always preferred a V neck to pull down or buttons to undo rather than fumbling blindly under a top. Would you believe that this jumpsuit is actually not bad for breastfeeding? Look for low V necks in stretchy fabric for this to work!
Q. Why did you decide to focus on clothes for the cool mom with your brand?
Not all my clients are moms, but I’d say that many women, whether moms of humans or not, have a tendency to put themselves on the back burner. I want women to have fun with their style, experiment and try new things. I want them to feel like they can express themselves through clothes that really show their personalities. I always let my kids choose their own style; which led to some very creative and interesting looks over the years, but inspired me to be as playful with my own style as I saw my daughter being. Why not try out those two prints together? Have fun with it and you may discover a whole new, happier, more stylish you in the process!