My New Mom Survival Guide: Hire Stephanie As Your Stylist

March 24, 2010

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.

The Process
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 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!

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

stephanie March 25, 2010 at 9:08 am

Aw, man – I’m blushing, Abbey!

I’m jusy happy you have some new things to wear (and everytime I think of those jeans, it makes me smile!)


Kate F. March 25, 2010 at 9:30 am

Bookmarked! The funny thing is that knowing I was going to start trying to get pregnant helped me refine my personal style last fall, thinking about a few things that would work belted or unbelted, etc. I didn’t do a visual layout of what I needed, like Stephanie does, but I had a picture in my head and asked before every purchase “where does this fit in the new plan?” I ended up trading in my incredibly dull work-from-home clothes (which, granted, I still fall into when I’m not leaving the house) for jeans tucked into boots or leggings and boots with various belted tunics and knit dresses. Casual and comfortable and easy, and I feel good about my look for the first time in years. And sure enough, I’m almost 5 months pregnant and am still wearing almost all of it! (Now switching to flats in place of boots.) Including the Gap “Real Straight” jeans (with a rubber band at the waist)–I don’t know what they did with their new denim line but this small-waisted, big-hipped girl approves.

Still, Stephanie has been bookmarked in case things need a bit of help come fall!

Bernie March 25, 2010 at 9:46 am

Well, good for you, but I seriously doubt most new mothers can afford to hire a stylist.

Paige March 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

A wardrobe overhaul after baby is something that I wasn’t prepared for but is so true. Work clothes, mom clothes, party/occasion clothes, date night outfits – I was tragic and seemed to have none (that fit). I like the idea of a blueprint. Often when I stand in a store and debate an item I think about what in my closet will go with it and always come up with “Jeans?” :)

Love everything on the second row of your blueprint!

erica March 25, 2010 at 10:14 am

not only does stephanie have an amazing eye for outfits, but she also perfectly verbalizes the mood or associations that are just as important when shopping for and wear clothing. she’s also fiendishly good at finding bargains. one of these days i’m going to borrow her for a wardrobe reassessment. and maybe makeup, too. i have yet to find a lipstick shade that doesn’t make me shudder. you look put together and comfortable, which are huge points in my book!

pleasesir March 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

What a great idea! Stephanie does have great taste and it’s lovely to see it on you. I believe I need a stylist as well…this would be a good time to live in NYC!

Nancy March 25, 2010 at 10:32 am

You look fabulous, chic and full of energy! Love that shade of lipstick on you.

kate March 25, 2010 at 10:57 am

how did I not know that Stephanie does this? it makes sense, girl dresses like she stepped out of a Sartorialist photo every time I see her! damn her and her perfection. :)

christina March 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

You look great! Shephanie has added energy and style to your look. She really understands what is flattering and fashionable. She can make a few pieces into a variety of great looks.

Abbey March 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

Bernie — I love that you always keep it real! You are right, of course not everyone can afford a stylist! However, I think anyone is a fashion rut should consider emailing Stephanie with a budget — you never know what she can do over email — she is a genius! And, consider that for the cost of selling a few pieces of your old wardrobe on ebay, Stephanie can probably help you get started on a new look! xoxo Abbey

Abbey March 25, 2010 at 11:25 am

kate miss — Stephanie does always look like she stepped out of a Sartorialist photo! Kate F — congratulations on being pregnant!

joanna goddard March 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

you look beautiful! i adore this. xoxo

Jane Flanagan March 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I love Stephanie and she has the most amazing eye for styling! This is so much fun.

Amanda March 25, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Yay! S. is the brilliantest in all the land. How very wonderful.

Amy@OldSweetSong March 25, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I had no idea! I have looked into hiring a stylist/personal shopper before just because I feel like I need help stream lining and knowing what looks good on me. This is a great bit of info though and I will have to remember this. Good for you, pretty lady.

p.s. I am jealous of the blueprint and want one for myself.

Nancy March 25, 2010 at 7:19 pm

That shade of lipstick is fascinating on you.
I can’t stop looking at your photo. Mesmerizing. It just pops. WOW.

I am so over my big weird empty post-partum body. Why are my arms chunks? :(

You look great. Inspiring me to find the smoking hot babe inside this new momma. IT’S TIME to trade in this figure for something that has _skinny_ in the name!!

Kayla Poole March 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Abbey, you look beautiful! Have been a devout follower of your blog for awhile and just wanted to (finally) tell you how much I love reading it :)

M March 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I want every single thing in your polyvore set! GENIUS!

Joanna March 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

You look wonderful, Abbey! Being comfortable in your clothes and skin is terribly important (it’s what I strive for and sometimes manage to feel from time to time). I imagine that there is an incredible sense of lightness and freedom that comes with giving away 90% of your wardrobe. I’m so impressed! The wardrobe blueprint is just genius. I’m so inspired!

KD March 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Hmmn, great idea for my sister who just had her baby. We have a photoshoot coming up so that would be a great time to start.

Kelly@TearingUpHouses March 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

What a fun (and helpful!) thing to do! Love her selections — ESPECIALLY the brown boots!


Melissa March 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I couldn’t agree more about the importance of body image as a new mom. Body is changing so much, but just what you where can make a huge dif. I have made a serious effort to take better care of myself after my baby, especially with makeup and skin care and excersize, and I have never felt better!

Denise | Chez Danisse March 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Such a great idea for a new mom or anyone really. I am seriously tempted.

Rachel @ La Bella Bungalow April 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Love it Abbey! I’m a new mom too and it definitely makes your rethink your style. Thanks for this!


Jennifer April 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Cute and useful post! I was familiar with evencleveland blog, but did not know it’s creator was also a stylist.
Every gal has points where she feels like she could use a style boost- new mom or not. Very kind to do this for yourself- good self care- inspirational.
You look great!

Jo May 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

I loved reading this! I couldn’t agree more about the importance of working on body image issues as a new mom.

But is /anyone/ willing to drop a number on hear to give us some idea of cost? anything? I love that she took you shopping at bargain places =)

evencleveland September 29, 2010 at 9:20 am

Hi, everyone. Just so you know, I am no longer taking on new clients. Thanks!

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