The Mom Uniform

Real Style on 10.10.11
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Photo: Polyvore

My sons wear uniforms to school: navy shorts or pants, white polo shirts, school sweatshirt. On Thursdays they trade the polo for a dress shirt and they add a tie. They would give up the tie if they could, but we all love the uniform -- no worrying about what to wear, no arguing, no disappointment because some favorite shirt is in the laundry. The uniform makes our life one million times easier (no exaggeration).

A Mom Uniform can do the same for your life, whether you're going to an office every day or staying home with the kids. When you have the right pieces, getting dressed in the morning is easy, and a uniform requires no thought or planning -- just put it on and go.

A sucessful Mom Uniform does two things: it makes you look great, and it makes your life easy. This leaves out yogo pants and track suits, in case you were hoping to make either of those your uniform. What's the alternative? Here are three options.

Jeans and a sweater: The outfit pictured here is a perfect Mom Uniform; it is both flattering and comfy, and could go a variety of places (the park, a playdate, parent-teacher conference, out to lunch, running errands). The pieces are simple and basic -- slim jeans, slighly slouchy sweater, boots. There is nothing complicated or difficult about this look. What makes it interesting are the accessories -- and even here you can default to a uniform approach. Who says you can't wear the same necklace or earrings or scarf all the time? Think of it not as being lazy but as having a signature look.

A dress: The dress is a great option for working moms -- one piece and you're out the door. If combining separates is not your forte, think about opting for the dress. Choose a silhouette that works for you all the time and invest in a variety of dresses in that same shape. To spruce up a neutral dress, add a bright belt or quirky shoes -- think of the dress as the blank canvas. It's easier to pick shoes when you're racing to get dressed than it is to pull together an entire outfit. And again, don't be afraid to repeat accessories; a basic neutral dress with fabulous shoes and a beautiful necklace says polished and chic, not harried and running late. Even if it is essentialy the same thing you wore to the office last Monday.

Consistent separates: This is the trickiest Mom Uniform to pull off, but it can be the most versatile. If your day is a blur of work and kids, with no clear separation of the two, then some carefully planned separates outfits can be your best option. Start by choosing silhouettes that work for you -- the pencil skirt is big this fall, and can be a perfect Mom Uniform foil for virtually any shape. Pair it with a slim blouse or a fitted tee or a sleek sweater, depending on your taste -- but decide ahead of time what your look will be and stick to it. Buy multiples of the pieces that work for you -- neutral pencil skirts and tees or blouses with a pop of color -- and then repeat, repeat, repeat. As with the first two outfits, add accessories to personalize your look; I like a belt with a pencil skirt, and you can wear either heels or flats, depending on your hemline (slightly above the knee is good with flats, below the knee calls for a heel).

The real secret to the Mom Uniform is not so much what you wear as it is your plan for getting dressed. Create a go-to outfit and then, well, go to it when you're getting dressed. Having a consistent look means that you'll be ready to face the day, every day, without any fuss or stress. And while you may feel like you're wearing the same thing over and over, all anyone else will notice is how pulled together you look, every day. I promise.

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