Basic Pieces Every Woman Needs To Get Real Mom Style

Real Style on 03.01.11
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Photo: GAP

How would you describe your style -- are you a Yummy Mummy, or a Martyr Mom? Not sure what that means? Oh, you know -- the Yummy Mummies are the ones who do the school run in skinny jeans and sky-high heels (think Elle McPherson and Stella McCartney), while the Martyr Moms are the ones who are schlepping around in pilled, faded sweatpants (the kind with the elastic at the ankles). Yummy Mummies are determined to stay sexy despite the kids, while the Martyr Moms feel like they lost the right to look great when they brought the baby home from the hospital.

My guess is that most of us fall somewhere in between these extremes. Some days, we’ve really got it all going on: cute shoes, great top, bold accessories. Other days, we’re just happy to be out of our pajamas when it’s time to pick the kids up (or thankful for the drive-through carpool line, which makes the pajamas a moot point). In the real world, there's a huge space between the Yummy Mummy and Martyr Mom stereotypes, but moms often get caught between the two and don't know what to wear or how to shop -- we either overdo or give up.

That’s where I come in.

Chic moms know that a few wardrobe staples make it easy to look great all the time. These aren’t expensive or complicated pieces -- and they’re all kid-friendly.

Dark wash, mid-rise jeans.
A perfect fitting dark wash jean automatically makes you look chic, no matter where you’re going (or how little sleep you’ve had). Choose a style that works for your shape; universally, a boot-cut or trouser jean, with a wider leg that falls straight from the widest part of the hip, is the most flattering. Opt for a mid-rise in order to keep your backside covered; the waistband should fall about two fingers below your belly button. Anything higher than that falls into Mom Jeans territory, and we're not going there. Finally, choose a hemline that will work with the shoes you wear most often -- you cannot wear the same jeans with heels and flats, so if you move between two different heel heights, you’ll need two pairs of jeans.

A great white shirt.
The classic white shirt is a button front, collared shirt, but don't assume that this is your only choice. Tunics or wrap shirts are flattering on curvy figures, while great white tee can be a mom’s best friend. Again, choose a shape that is appropriate for your body type -- a V-neck works for almost everyone, because it lengthens the neck and draws the eye up to your pretty face. Be sure your shirt fits properly through the bust, and that it is long enough to cover your backside when you bend over to pick the baby up. And be sure to treat any spills or stains as they happen. I carry Tide To Go pens in my bag all the time -- they’re easy to use and they truly work miracles.

A bra that fits.
Oprah has been telling us for years that most of us are wearing the wrong size bra. She’s right, and it’s worth taking the time to get a bra that fits properly. You should have a professional bra fitting any time you lose or gain weight; even five pounds can completely change your band and cup size. Pregnancy and nursing will also change your bra size, but don’t tell yourself that you’re going to wait until the baby is weaned to have a proper fitting. Your nursing breasts deserve a bra that fits right -- they’re working hard! The best place to find a fitter is in a small boutique lingerie store, but there are also some hand online calculators that will help you find the right fit. (We’ll cover those in a couple of weeks.)

These are the fundamentals -- great jeans, a terrific white shirt, the right bra. You can build on them in a million ways, by adding different accessories (pretty shoes, a beautiful bag, a statement necklace). Or you can toss your jeans and white shirt on over that great bra and look pulled-together and crisp, no matter how rough your day has been.

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