Breaking out of the Mom Uniform rut

7 Sep

Shalini at Reading and Chickens asked if we could help her break out of a style rut. She said she has nice dress-up, work clothes, but no “at home mom clothes” she likes. She ends up in her running clothes all day.

“Also, I suck at jewelry,” she said. (Well, technically, tweeted, but you get the point.)

Here is Shalini:

With her permission, I snagged this from the style section of her blog. I loved this outfit when she first posted it, and I think it illustrates why I was surprised Shalini felt she needed to get out of a rut in the first place. Look how put together she looks! Admittedly, I am a sucker for stripes, puffy skirts, tights, cardigans and cute flats, so basically this outfit is a collection of my favorite things, HOWEVER, there is no denying the cuteness of this outfit.

Still, it is a universal truth: We all fall into style ruts. We all have days we hate every piece of clothing we own.

So, my first bit of advice is to stop dividing up your closet into “work” and “at home” clothes. Unless you’re wearing suits or a specialized uniform everyday, chances are pretty good your work clothes will do just fine chasing kids — just maybe switch out heels for flats, you know. If nothing else, you’re giving yourself more options by losing the closet divisions.

Secondly, repeat after me: It’s not being vain, it’s called self-esteem. My hairstylist sister said this in my last post, about the importance of a decent haircut, but it’s true in general. You deserve to wear your cutest clothes, no matter what it is you’re doing. I think Elizabeth at Princess Nebraska has done a great job illustrating this point with her What I Wore posts on Fridays. You think you’re overdressed, but some other mom is going to be looking at you wistfully thinking, “How cute is she?”

Anyway, enough philosophizing. What Shalini wanted were some suggestions.

These bootcut jeans from Madewell are pricey, but might be worth a splurge if they’re flattering and comfortable. (I like the look of the whole outfit on this headless model. Red shoes make any day better.) In the interest of full disclosure and the spirit of camaraderie, I’ll admit I, too, need to suck it up and spend some time trying on jeans to find a pair that doesn’t make me cringe when I see my butt in the mirror.

Moving on, this shirt from Anthropologie struck me as looking like you, Shalini, but I could have linked to half a dozen others from Anthro’s new arrivals page. (That link is to them all.) Wait until they go on sale or check out some place a little cheaper (Ruche is good. Boden has lots of cute things on clearance right now.)

Retro spot shirt, Boden

My point here is to find shirts that are fancier than a T-shirt, but not so fussy that you can’t wear them everyday. These shirts with those Madewell jeans and a pair of boots or flats would be an easy and cute outfit for any mom-type activity. Add a cardigan or blazer or a scarf for colder weather.

I also could see those shirts with a poofy skirt and a wide belt. Or maybe this skirt from Boden:

I like the inverted pleat.

And because you suck at jewelry, let me suggest prints.


From Gap. I like the ruffle detail.

The busier the print, the less you need jewelry. Maybe a chunky bangle (Target clearance racks) and/or a simple necklace. Etsy has a million; this is the first one that caught my eye. It’s from JulianaWJewelry. And not to be all obnoxious and hipstery, but check out thrift stores for costume jewelry. I’ve found some very cool and cheap bangles and pins for next to nothing at antique/junk shops.

Finally, you asked about comfortable flats. My very favorite shoes right now are these Kenneth Cole Reaction flats. I have them in leopard, but here’s an ikat version. I wear mine with everything and everywhere. (And for the record, I love those brown ankle boots you sported in many of your style posts. LOVE.)


A couple summary thoughts:

1. Don’t be afraid of prints. If nothing else, they make jewelry less necessary.

2. Find clothes you love and then wear them, whatever you’re doing.

Tell us, what are your favorite pieces for everyday wear? 


3 Responses to “Breaking out of the Mom Uniform rut”

  1. readingandchickens September 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Thank you! I love all of those suggestions, but most especially the jeans. I can’t wait to go shopping now that I know what to look for. You’re the best, Hillary!

    • andrea September 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      I just got some new flats. They are the Cole Haan Nike Air ballet flats and they are so comfortable. I got them at a discount store (Century 21 in NYC) but the Cole Haan website has some options on sale now too. i highly recommend them if you’re looking for comfy flats.


  1. Outfits of the Day - September 10, 2012

    […] so I figured it was high time to ask for help from the Internets. Hillary did a post over at Style All Over helping me out, and then I went on an online shopping […]

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