In this first installment of my new mother survival guides I start with something that was the hardest and maybe most important: figuring out my style as a mother and feeling good about my body. When we feel good about ourselves, everything in our lives is easier, isn’t it?
It goes without saying but childbearing does a number on your figure. One of the most critical things I’ve done in the last 10 months was work with a stylist to rebuild my wardrobe in a flexible and stylish way. You may know Stephanie Madewell from her wonderful blog, but I bet you didn’t know that she has a thriving business helping the rest of us get dressed! A talented illustrator and writer, she also has an incredible eye for styling. I was something of a charity case for her: when I casually mentioned one day I was in need of a make over, she jumped at the chance to banish what she called my “mom uniform” (two ratty JCrew henleys, two black Gap nursing tops that had been washed so many times they were almost grey and three indistinguishable pairs of black yoga pants). I can admit it: I needed professional help. And that is exactly what I got.
We started with a wardrobe assessment which involved Stephanie bringing her sharp eye and common sense to my dated corporate wardrobe. She swiftly identified the few items in my closet that I simply loved (an ikat print jacket, a swingy black skirt, all my shoes) and we got rid of 90% of the rest (either donated or sold some of the nicer items on ebay). She used the items I loved to build me a wardrobe blueprint.
A Wardrobe Blueprint
In a stroke of genius that really sets her apart from other stylists, Stephanie created a wardrobe blueprint for me, shown above. This is a blueprint for me to use when I shop alone and it keeps me focused on building my wardrobe overall. She correctly identified that I was just buying the same type of clothing over and over (black cardigans, tank tops and yoga pants). I didn’t really have a wardrobe.
A Wise and Gentle Shopping Companion
Finally, Stephanie took me shopping a number of times over the last few months and created a simple, stylish and versatile wardrobe that works for my life as a new mom, as a design blogger who does lots of networking and goes to events, and also for my professional life in a relatively conservative environment. This meant finding some great casual tops at Uniqlo, a pair of insanely flattering skinny jeans at Gap of all places, and jackets, skirts and shoes at T. J. Maxx and Filenes’s Basement (although she’ll also take you to sample sales (Steven Alan!) or to fancy department stores (Bergdorfs!). She also helped me find an amazing amazing shade of lipstick (Korres shade #55) that makes me feel like Angelina Jolie every time I put it one. Kabow! I look 5 years younger and feel really happy in my clothes for the first time in a long time.
Getting Started Yourself
Stephanie works in a variety of ways with clients; for people not in NYC, she can do e-styling over email — she is a genius at making “imaginary outfits” using Polyvore for specific occasions (say, what to wear sailing, or for your work trip to London). She can also create wardrobe blueprints you can shop for yourself. Then, if you’re in NYC or visiting NYC, she can take a day or half a day and go shopping with you. Her rates are affordable and totally worth it. Email her (evencleveland AT gmail.com) your needs and your budget and start looking and feeling better.
NB on costs: As my favorite commenter Bernie pointed out, not everyone thinks they can afford a stylist! This is true, and I certainly didn’t think I could either. So, first, I’d say, email Stephanie with your budget! You might be surprised what you can afford and what she can do over email. For example, I bet every woman reading this post knows what her three favorite pieces of clothes are: the pieces she wears again and again or that always guarantee a great day whenever you where them. Take a photo of those three and email them to Stephanie. With a few emails, she can create a wardrobe blueprint for you that you can work on slowly. Second, I’d say that I don’t think new moms can afford to feel bad about themselves.
Heck, since not everyone who reads this blog is a mom, I’d say no one can afford to feel bad about themselves! If you’re in a fashion rut, consider that for the cost of selling a few pieces of your old wardrobe on ebay, Stephanie can help you get started on a new look! So, take the time to invest in feeling good: a little preachy of me, but, I’m speaking from hard won experience.
The new wardrobe in action in San Monica!