Updating the Wardrobe: Tips for a Busy Mama

OK – I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been a shopping lover. (Not that I can’t spend money with the best of them, as my husband might add! HA!) Much to my mother’s disappointment, more than an hour or two of shopping and I am about the crankiest person you will ever meet. It is totally WORK for me! But recently, I have found myself really at a loss as to what to wear. After 3 1/2 years straight of pregnancy and/or nursing, my wardrobe is – capital C – Crazy. Literally a span of 6 sizes, not including maternity clothing in storage or borrowed to a friend. And some of the things that do fit are just really summery looking and I’m not sure I can make them work for fall/winter. AND don’t even get me started on fitting bras! I think my bra size changes every 3 weeks. I sometimes feel like “Oh my gosh, I have a ton of clothes!” but still…“this is too big…this is too small…Crap what am I going to wear?!” I’ve lost 18 pounds since this time last year BUT a lot of my pre-pregnancy stuff is either worn out or still doesn’t fit. I’m working towards a goal of fitting back into my favorite Silver jeans, BUT I’ve still got to get dressed today. Plus my life has changed a lot in these 3 1/2 years, from single college student to wife, mother of two and ministry partner…my style is evolving with those changes (not to mention my body changing. Sheesh! Let’s not go there).

So in the last couple of weeks I have been trying to assess my wardrobe a little bit and kind of rebuild it. It is so hard. A 1-year old and 2-year old are not ideal shopping companions, but no way am I getting another babysitter after having them watched twice a week for me to do schoolwork. A couple of times my husband has watched the kids for me so I can have a little more focused shopping outing and that has been helpful, but mostly they are with me. Shopping takes time, money, effort…I am just realizing it is quite the process.

Here’s a little bit of what I have learned that might be helpful for you if you can relate to this shopping-loathing + tight-budget + evolving body & style that I am experiencing:

1) Try everything in your current wardrobe on. This takes time, but it’s good to know what you’ve got, to check what condition it’s in, how it’s fitting, etc. And you might try pairing that jacket with a different skirt or dress with a belt…then make a ranked list of what you’re needing. Make sure to prioritize things that are conducive to your lifestyle. For instance, I don’t need a lot of the ‘business casual’ staples that another woman might need, but I do want some nice casual clothes and some dressier church clothes as a student and stay at home mother.

2) Get rid of what you won’t wear. It’s taking up space. It’s stressing you out (even subconsciously). It’s making getting dressed in the morning more complicated. If things are still in good condition, give to a friend or try selling to a consignment place for cash or store credit (I have liked Plato’s Closet but of course it’s kind of hit-&-miss with second hand stuff). Drop the rest off at Goodwill and don’t.look.back. It’s hard! But worth it.

3) Pinterest. Pull together a Pinterest board with looks you love so that when you have time to go out and shop you have a pretty good idea of what you like and what your personal tastes are. When I need some inspiration for how to pull an outfit together or some new fun color combinations, I pull up pinterest on my iPod and take it shopping with me. It’s a great guide. Here’s my own personal lil lookbook. You can make notes about things too. 😉 Pinterest may even lead you to a great style blog that will give you some more ideas of how to dress your best. Maybe you’ll realize half of what you pin is from J. Crew (helloooo, LOVE!!). If you’re not on Pinterest, you can do the same thing clipping magazine photos, etc.

4) Ask your friends. Women in your area might have great input about where to find a good deal, a flattering fit, etc. Ask especially those ladies whose style you admire or who might have a similar body type. Even though we all love to hate on Walmart, a friend of mine told me that they had inexpensive skinny jeans that were mid-rise (so they work with my booty! lol) and it saved me a lot of time (they’re Levi’s – $20!!). My mom reminded me of the Gap Outlet at the Legends here in KC, where we found some great deals on nice basics, and Kaya scored this sweet headband for $3. (She calls it her ‘crown’ and prefers to wear it flat on top of her head…;-p)

5) Check out websites first. Sometimes stores nail or fail a season. It will save you time when you finally get to go out and shop if you know what places want to make sure to hit, and what things you are most interested to try on! Plus, you can add specific items to your style pinboard to make sure you look for that when you’re out.

6) Know what you’re willing to spend $ on. Motherhood necessarily brings about changes in our bodies and lifestyles. Knowing that we have a quickly growing family and Lord-willing will continue this trend, I need to have a wardrobe that can kind of shift with me. Having a few staples in a couple sizes and a cardigan that I can wear all through pregnancy and subsequent weight loss is good. A great necklace will look great no matter the size of my waist. A slimming pair of jeans is always in style. You might be more willing to spend for something that will transition well in different seasons. That super trendy dress may be really cute, but it might not be an ‘investment piece’ so don’t pay an ‘investment price’…& don’t build an entire wardrobe in a size that you are not planning to be for very long.

7) Keep your list with you. I have made a copy of my prioritized clothing needs list for my purse. That way when I get a little caught up and don’t need to totally rebuild my wardrobe, but am out with some girlfriends shopping and stumble into a cute boutique or local thrift store, I’ll know what to look for and won’t spend money on some random item.

8) When shopping with little ones, keep it short. Better to have a good experience and only stop at one store than find everything you need at the expense of nap time and snack time and play time…;)

I’ve never been one to be able to order clothes online and have confidence in that, but ohhh if I did, modcloth.com has got some cute stuff! Shoe sizing might be a little more dependable for ordering online.

For hair ideas and cute style, I like The Small Things Blog (I’m sure you’ve seen her hairdos all over!). Trina Holden did a cute series on practical fashion for mommas. AND, it will take some saving up, but I love the Noonday Collection for accessories (and a great cause). I am marking some of these for Nels to keep in mind for my birthday/Christmas, etc. 😉

Anyway, hopefully some of these things will be helpful for those of you who, like me, are working through some changes and don’t have lots of time and money to spend on shopping (who wants to do that?!?! lol). I am trying to be patient and know that it won’t all come together in a day…;)

Something my mom reminded me of is that it seems like a waste of time trying to find nice clothes that fit well and are in your price range, but in the long run being able to get dressed quickly, confidently and well in the morning will save you time lost to wondering what to wear or having a breakdown because you just can’t find anything that looks nice!

Sweet mamas! Dressing well is worth it. It’s not THE most important thing, but it matters. To you, your husband, your children and the Lord. Take a little time with me and work out the kinks to create some outfits that you are comfortable and confident in.

Where do you love to shop? What’s the most versatile, flattering thing in your wardrobe? What pieces do you like that work in multiple seasons? How do you save time and money while still dressing your best?

I need all the help I can get! 😉



2 thoughts on “Updating the Wardrobe: Tips for a Busy Mama

  1. Well…..my new fav thrift store is SAVERS – but not the one on Shawnee Msn Pkwy. There is one in Independece, 95th/Nall, and Sante Fe in Olathe. I’ve gotten some NAME BRAND stuff for cheap – and I get tons of compliments on everything I’ve bought there. It’s worth a time – yes, takes a little more time to sift through the racks – BUT, they have it well organized! Get hubby to watch the kids and I’ll go with you! (not that I don’t LOVE your adorable children………but you know what I mean 🙂
    Oh – and sometimes they have 1/2 off sales. I’ll let you know when the next one is!

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