Mamas! Fall is around the corner, and we're juuust about ready to start talking Fall trends. In September. So stay tuned.
However, each time we start discussing trends here on Ain't No Mom Jeans, our inboxes flood with requests from Mamas asking us about the basics.
Reader Lauren wrote in:
"...my clothes are woefully worn, outdated, and too big. I've been saving money for a "reward" shopping spree when I hit my goal weight, and that day is coming quickly. I feel overwhelmed with where to start with my buying, though; I literally need a whole new wardrobe."
Reader Kammy agrees:
"I'm a long-time reader, but am ashamed to admit that my wardrobe has consisted of the same sweatpants and tank tops since my first son was born over 3 years ago. I'm ready to dress like a grown up, but am feeling so completely overwhelmed! I've glanced back through your mom-drobe series, but I am still feeling so lost and just don't know where to start!"
And by the sheer number of requests we've recieved over the last two years, these Mamas aren't alone.
So. Before we start yapping about trends, let's talk basics. Below I have gathered up 14 key pieces that can be considered a cornerstone of any Mama's wardrobe. These items represent only the business of being moms (including a simple date night look). Black-tie event? No. Workin' Out? Nope. Going to the office?? Not unless your workplace is very casual. But for trips to the park, days at the museum, afternoons running errands...this is your starting point.
DISCLAIMER: The starter mom-drobe shown below is based on my style sensibility. Which may not be yours. That's OK. This list is intended to be inspiration for the types of pieces to look for, not necessarily the exact pieces.
I think Mamas need three types:
a. Basic Plain, Drapy Tees
Find ones you love, buy multiples. Wear with everything. My new favorites? Everlane. OH. MY. WORD. As awesome as my James Perse, but their drapy v-necks are half the price ($25), and the Box tees? $15. No joke.
b. Patterned Long Sleeve
Any pattern would work, but I personally love a good long-sleeve striped tee. Wear it under everything and let the sleeves peek out. Instant style. J.Crew's striped tissue turtleneck peeks out nicely at the neck, too.
c. An Interesting Short-Sleeve Tee
Cool t-shirts are the easiest way to add style, especially on those days I'm feeling a bit uninspired. My favorite tees have come from Stylemint lately, but I do love Madewell's dot tee (shown above). There's no rules here, just find one you love.
2. An Everyday Dress
Featured: Clu Ruched Cotton Jersey Dress
Find something comfy, something that doesn't require Spanx, something that will look great with tights and boots (for day) or with heels and a tiny purse (at night). I've had luck shopping for day dresses at Zappos (especially good for nursing Mamas), and recently picked up Banana Republic's Luxe Striped T-Shirt Dress. I'm going to hem it super-short and wear it with leggings and ankle boots. (Or WOW - Gap and Clu collaborated on this one!)
Day dresses can be warmed up by layering them under a fab jacket (denim, perhaps?) and adding a scarf. Or tie the flannel shirt around your waist.
3. Denim Jacket
Featured: AE Denim Jacket
Mamas, bust 'em out. Denim jackets are back in a big way. Wear them with everything (especially pretty skirts). More on this later.
4. Cozy Flannel Shirt
Featured: Quiksilver Flannel Shirt
Mixed prints continue to be a BIG THING this Fall, and plaid is no exception. A cozy plaid is a washable dirt-hider that a Mama can nurse in...a total score, right? We find plaid so mom-friendly, that we even did a whole series on styling Plaid shirts two years ago!
Wear your plaid long with leggings (under that denim jacket!!), or tied at the waist (to show off curves) or with an animal print scarf. Really. J.Crew and Madewell make the best flannel shirts. They are thin and drapy, fit perfectly, but still retain that cozy flannel feel.
*J.Crew and Madewell are currently really low on stock. I'll let you know when their fab plaids come in.
5. An Updated Sweatshirt
Featured: Oak Split Front Sweatshirt
We first talked about modern sweatshirts here. And there are now so many iterations of the updated sweatshirt, it makes my head spin. I'm totally in love with Oak's Split-front sweatshirt (shown), but each year J.Crew, ASOS, Forever 21, and Gap all have their spin (I've linked to my favs). (Try it in cashmere for a totally luxe spin.) I wear mine over a striped long-sleeve tee (push the sweatshirt sleeves up) with a pattterned scarf.
If this totally isn't your style, I'm currently loving Banana Republic's Textured Knit One-Button Blazer. Translation: a sweatshirt in the shape of a blazer.
6. An Interesting Sweater
Featured: Joie Dixie Colorblock Sweater
We coined the term "Interesting Sweater" in our original Style Rules For Moms article. Basically, find a sweater you can throw on over anything, instantly making your outfit chic. I have two: a cape/poncho and a big drapy one. Both are awesome pooch-hiders.
7. Jeans, Leggings, and Tights
a. Skinny Jeans!!
I think everyone needs a pair of skinnies. Yes. Still. I know people are buzzing about flare jeans, but buzz buzz buzz whatever. Go buy these. I don't think skinnies are going anywhere (here's my rant).
We still haven't decided on the best leggings (I have a ton I can rule out for you...) but every Mama should have a pair. If for some reason you continue to waffle on the legging front, for God's sake grab a pair at Forever 21. $5. Done.
d. Denim that's NOT skinny
Cause we're all getting kinda sick of skinnies. Flare denim, boyfriend jeans, whatever. Just something to change it up.
8. A Non-Diaper Bag Diaper Bag
Featured: Madewell Transport Rucksack
Mamas, we can do SO. MUCH. BETTER. than diaper bags. The vaaaast majority of diaper bags are pricey and overly cutesy or just blah (Ok - except for these 50 that M found. Of course. I stand corrected.). Anyway, try a chic cross-body bag, or my current fav, a back-pack. A cool bag makes a difference, Mamas.
9. A Go-To Jacket
Featured: Topshop Varsity Jacket
Varsity jackets are big right now (and Topshop's caught my eye)....but the point here is that virtually any outfit can be made by a great jacket. Remember reader Catherine in her Parisian trench? Or Viani's Burberry Anorak? So whether your style is more rain jacket than military, find a gorgeous topper that you love. Wear over everything.
10. A Patterned Scarf
Featured: J Crew Polkadot Scarf
Find a scarf that makes your heart beat fast. Don't over-think it, nothing should match perfectly. Also, did you see this crazy-amazing scarf tying tutorial? Inspirational.
11. Tall, Flat Boots
Featured: Frye Melissa Button Back Boots
Many of us are getting sick of the tall boots-and-skinny jean combo, but tall, flat boots are a classic. And once the snow hits, pretty much the only things you'll want to wear (snow down your ankle boots is NOT fun). So if you are still missing this wardrobe basic, consider adding it to your list. Personally, I prefer my boots in a shade of tan or camel - they look amazing with black, brown, grays, navy, etc.
12. Glam Sunnies
Featured: Madewell Hepcat Shades
13. Ankle Boots
Featured: DV by Dolce Vita Java Bootie
These little babies have been coming on the scene for the last few years (we first talked about them here), and I think they're here to stay. I'm especially loving the low-heeled options: look for Isabel Marant-inspired westernish boots, or try a classic Chelsea bootie. Awesome, awesome, awesome. More on these in September.
14. Flat Shoes
Featured: TOMS Multi Glitter Shoes
Every Mama needs a pair of comfy, flat shoes to run around in. I'm a TOMS girl myself (and Oooo...these are glitter) but really - any flat shoe would do! Try a pair of oxfords, or Sperrys, smoking loafers or ballet flats. My next pair will be either these moccasins or a pair of Bensimon sneaks, since I'm insanely picky about comfort.
A note about color & patterns: We often get emails from readers asking us which pair of TOMS they should pick, or which color of ballet flat - basic black, or leopard? There's really no wrong answer here, but if you want my advice...here it is: Go with something that makes your heart beat fast. Leave the safe option in the store (unless, of course, the safe option makes you swoon). Outfits become better styled when they are slightly imperfect. And to have on shoes that are fabulous, but don't necessarily match is very, very cool. My $.02.
That's it! My starter wardrobe recommendations! Any questions?