Friday, July 30, 2010

on the calendar: bathroom remodel

It isn't going to happen immediately, but we have our first bathroom remodel in the inspiration/planning stages now. Probably at some point this fall, we'll actually bust out some tile and have a whole lotta fun reworking one of the upstairs bathrooms. The other, we hope, will follow soon after this winter.

I've been saving some images and thought it was time to share them with you all. We're drawn to a vintage-y, "old house" feel, but we have to be careful about trying to pull that off. This isn't an old house, after all. I'm skeptical that we could successfully integrate a claw-foot tub into our split level home, for instance. So, we aren't going to try. We are, however, planning on making some less dramatic, period-inspired choices that we think will go a long way. Things like sinks, fixtures, lighting, tile floor patterns.

Well, I'll just let these inspiration images give you an idea of what's grabbing our attention. If you click on the pic, the photo's source will be mentioned in the address bar.

Don't you just want to take a long soak in a tub, now? A pretty tub? I do. Right now we only have one bathtub in the house and it's in the children's bathroom. I admit that I miss the soaking tub we had in our previous house. I love taking baths and that thing was huge and very, very comfortable. I'm thinking a bathtub in the master bath is a pretty high priority. If at all possible.

We need to figure out what configurations are possible, exactly. It won't do much good to plan to move the toilet if the plumbing can't be done or to put a tub in if there just isn't space. So, a floor plan, Stan. That's what we need to start working out.

More soon :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

stay at home mom style: something to dress up in

I originally wanted to squeeze this post in last night, but it didn't happen. Better late than never, though! We're wrapping up Stay at Home Mom Style Week, and I just want to say that I've had a blast. Thanks so much to those who took the time to comment - I hope you had fun reading, too :)

Now that you've spent some time thinking through your own personal style and considering your body type, you might be beginning to get an idea in your mind of what sort of dress clothes you could add to your closet. The examples I have for you today are rather taste & body specific. They're choices that I would personally make for a flexible dressy wardrobe. I don't often wear long, flowy dresses - my best cuts are usually more tailored, and even suit-like. You'll see that reflected in tonight's style board. You'll also see my preference for colors and dress cuts that flatter my hourglass (with pear tendencies, mind you) shape. The shoes? I love heels. Love 'em. You may not, and that's okay. The thing to really consider from the style board in this post is how you might collect dress clothes that work with one another instead of just collecting isolated outfits. This board isn't complete. It needs a long-sleeve jacket, for instance, but it still gives the idea of mixing and matching with some core pieces.

Here's what I came up in the Dressy, Classic, Hourglass department.

First of all - I really love that Calvin Klein shirtdress with the mandarin collar. I already have a little black dress that's working just fine right now, though. But, isn't it lovely?

Okay, you'll notice that the red & white suit can function as a separate jacket & skirt - mixing with black or gray. Notice, too, that the overall color scheme of this dressy wardrobe isn't too different from my casual one. The black turtleneck or black tuxedo shirt from my casual clothes could do double duty with these dressier pieces. There are a zillion combinations you could make from this board. The black pants with the khaki suit jacket or the white skirt with the black vneck cardigan or the white pants with the red jacket. See, the idea is to shoot for flexiblity. With interchangeable pieces, you can come up with a combination that is appropriate for virtually any scenario. You won't have to run out for "something to wear" when a special event is on the calendar. You'll be able to choose from the wonderfully versatile pieces that you've already collected. With a core wardrobe you have all kinds of versatility, versatility, versatility.

Have you all worked out any core wardrobes on Polyvore or another program this week? If you have, I'd love to see what you came up with! My email is :)

Thanks for making this week fun, guys!!!

p.s. I tried to link in the comments, but had trouble. Here's the link to the red pumps :)
And here's a few more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

stay at home mom style: putting it all together to build your perfect core wardrobe

I don't usually post much for Saturdays. I still had two more posts I wanted to share with you, but I also want to keep Stay At Home Mom Style Week down to just... well... a week. So, I'm writing these posts ahead of time to get them in on Saturday. They are the culmination of everything we've thought about and discussed this week - putting all of our new knowledge and inspiration together to build a beautiful and flexible core wardrobe.

To sum up for those new to the idea of a core wardrobe or "capsule" wardrobe, the goal of such a wardrobe is basically to collect 12-15 basic pieces that have a reasonable degree of fashion longevity and are easy to mix and match as well. These pieces should also work together for a variety of different social situations. The aims are quality, longevity, and versatility.

There are lots of articles and blog posts online giving examples of core wardrobes and recommendations for which items and how many and so on. I haven't found one, though, that adequately addresses the wardrobing needs of a mother at home. Whether you are a working mom, stay at home mom, or simply a mom that needs a more casual core wardrobe than the standard "two suits in neutral colors" variety, I'm hoping this post will be helpful for you. I have a Core Wardrobe for Mom to share with you. This one is specifically for fall and it is also specifically fairly casual in nature. Using this wardrobe, I'm going to show you how a core wardrobe should ideally serve you - how you can mix pieces to get new looks for variety and versatility.


This wardrobe includes the following pieces (all in 3-4 coordinating neutral colors):

* 1 pair of cotton pants
* 1 pair of casual jeans
* 1 pair of dressy jeans
* 1 moderately casual dress (versatile)
* 2 shirts for layering (tank & tee)
* 1 button up shirt
* 1 jacket
* 1 cardigan
* 2 knit shirts (I chose one to be turtleneck)
* 1 pair of boots
* 1 pair of flats
* a "go to" scarf
* a "go to" necklace & earring set
* a "go to" coordinating bag (not pictured - woops)
* tights or other hosiery for dress (if needed)

Let's work through a few outfits, using the pants and dress as our starting points.

First, let's make up three different looks using the casual jeans (they don't need to be distressed, that's just what I chose).

Look #1 is very simple with just the jeans and a black button-up shirt. Look #2 uses the turtleneck and the "go to" scarf - a black and white stripe that I tried on at The Limited last night. Love it. I'm trying to decide if it's worth the $25 price tag, though. Look #3 layers the striped tee under a gray cardigan. There are, of course, more combinations you could put together from the basic capsule. You could layer the black tank under the cardigan and add the striped scarf. You could wear the striped tee alone without layering it. You could put the turtleneck under the cardigan. You could put the tank under the button-up but wear the button-up open, possibly adding the scarf. The only thing I wouldn't do is wear the denim jacket with the jeans or pair the striped shirt with the scarf. Beyond that, just about any shirt combination works.

Okay, now the dressy jeans.

Did you see what I did? All I switched was the jeans! Now these three looks are ready for a slightly less casual situation. As before, there are still at least 3 more top combinations you could make using the capsule wardrobe. Wearing the boots instead of the flats would change each look, as well. If the jeans were straight enough, they could be tucked inside the boots for the cardigan ensemble. Remember, too, that accessories can add quite a lot to a capsule wardrobe. A wide, red belt, for instance could really shake up that black button up look or a chunky gold necklace could spice up the turtleneck. It's really easy to add pieces in once you have the basics in place.

Now, looks for the white pants (or whichever neutral you choose).

Look #1 makes use of the denim jacket. You could use the scarf here, too. Somehow, if the rest of an outfit is pretty simple and straightforward, the right scarf can just totally finish it off. Look #2 looks very French to me - and a little Jackie O. Look #3 combines the denim with the striped tee. You could also use the cardi here with the white pants. You could put the denim jacket or cardigan with the turtleneck, too. You could add a scarf or belt in your favorite, most flattering color or use a brightly colored bag with all of these ideas. Lots of looks, ladies. Lots of looks. When you have the basics all ready to go, playing around with combinations and additions is really the fun part!

Now, the dress. Do you all ever wear dresses with your kiddos around? I know they aren't always practical, but sometimes they can be. It's good to check out the movement factors in the dressing room, though. Ask yourself: how easily can I bend down to pick up my toddler? Will I flash anyone in the process? How short does it get when I reach up? Am I going to be fidgeting with this silly dress all day if I wear it for this situation? Trust me, though, there will be times when the dress will work. Times when your youngest kiddo will be in a stroller come to mind. I'd wear this shopping by myself, too. Or on a date :)

Look #1 keeps things simple and feminine with just the dress, "go to" jewelry, and flats. You'll have noticed by now that it's important to keep your casual "go to" jewelry versatile. You don't want anything too look-specific. Something simple that encapsulates your general fashion style is always a good bet. Look #2 introduces those fab, fab, fab boots that I'll nevr buy because my family has to eat. They're pushing $500. But, in my style boards, they're free :) Paired with opaque tights, a neutral cardigan, and your go to scarf, it's another look. A pale pink scarf would be lovely here, too. Or houndstooth. I really want to find a great houndstooth scarf for this fall. Look #3 changes things up a bit with the denim jacket. This may or may not work, depending on the dress. I think this combination may need a black scarf in this style board - something to bring more contrast up top. The idea is to try out different options with your casual dresses. Every once in a while, for fun in the evenings, I play in my own closet and come up with new combinations. If you do that sort of thing now and then when you have time, you aren't as pressed when time is short. You have a number of possible combos in mind already.

I think by now you have a pretty good idea of how a core wardrobe can simplify things for mamas and, if collected well, also keep us stylish. How many variations were we able to pull off with the original pieces shown in the first photo? Over 20, I'd say, and that's not counting the other items you're bound to have in your closet. A capsule wardrobe isn't meant to be all you own, you can certainly have shirts, skirts, dresses, and pants that aren't officially items in your core. The capsule is just meant to be a basis - a foundation of versatile, timeless items that can easily form the starting point for other looks.

Keeping in mind your own personal style, your body type, your daily needs, and your budget, are you ready to begin thinking toward a core wardrobe for fall & winter now? Pieces like the layering tees and tanks can be year round choices. You can buy them for the hot weather now, but layer over them for warmth and style later this year. Are you planning on revving up your mom wardrobe?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

stay at home mom style: building a personal wardrobe

This post has been removed due to links no longer connecting to the original content.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

stay at home mom style: better than yoga pants

Did you glam up your mom uniform today? If you did, I'd love to hear how :)

I wore my swimsuit all day, and I have the pink nose to prove it.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes! I told you that I had taken some of the yoga pants style boards and changed out the yogas for more stylish (but still comfortable!) options. I also switched out the sneakers for shoes that are only slightly less comfy, but loads cuter. Those are the only changes I made! Switched out the pants & switched out the shoes. Easy! I think you'll like the results :)

But, first, we might as well go ahead and talk about comfort and get that out of the way. Comfort is often a tired mom's #1 priority in clothing. I'm not at all in agreement with the famous French philosophy that adheres to the "you must suffer to be beautiful" line of thinking, but on the other hand, I do think that too much comfort during the day can amplify feelings of sluggishness, low energy, and even the blues. Moms need to think through what they want when it comes to comfort. Super cozy clothes make you want to take a nap! Dress codes are in place in work situations for more than one reason, but among them is the thought that clothes that look the part make you feel the part and that makes you act the part. If you're dressed in clothes that might as well be jammies, what's that going to do to how you feel about yourself and your day? The answer isn't the same for everyone, but it is something to consider. We all have days where we just want to snuggle up on the sofa with the kiddos and watch 3 videos in a row (those are great days for actual jammies), but most of us have things we need to accomplish each day. However small our list, I believe that the clothing we choose will influence our attitudes more than many of us realize.

So, comfort? Yes! But within limits and kept in its place? Definitely!

I think, too, what we find to be comfortable is somewhat learned. It's what we're used to. Men, for instance, that never wear neckties practically die when they have to put them on. They hate them. Men that have been wearing neckties regularly for years still may not love them, but they don't wince at the idea of them, either. High heels are in a similar vein for women. I have friends who aren't used to them at all and can't fathom choosing anything but tennis shoes for a date night. That's fine if they're good with that - but I think if they gradually worked their way out of their comfort zone, they might find that they could try a flat or a stylish sandal without much fuss. Sometimes all it takes is breaking (or even just stretching) a habit or preference.

Yoga pants and sneakers are undoubtedly comfy. I know that my suggestions in this post are not exactly comparable in the coziness arena. They are, though, still reasonably comfortable for a mom who will be bending, stooping, crawling, sitting criss-cross-applesauce, running, and standing all day long, every day. Worth a try, anyway.

The first item up is jeans. Very familiar. Very standard. Easy.

Easy except for that whole fit thing. I can hear the scowls and growls now. If you're really starting from the bottom (no pun intended) with finding a fit that's right for you, I'd recommend spending a little time online reading up on a google search like "jeans for body type" or "right jeans for you". I often will click through two or three pages of results before I find a site that's actually useful, but - if I persevere - there's almost always a helpful article or two to be found. I mentioned in a previous post that Stacy London and Clinton Kelly have a great little book called Dress Your Best. It has lots of valuable info for dressing for your body type.

Now, you know about the Mom Jean. If your jeans are a light color, possibly pleated, with a tapered leg, and a high waist (or even an elastic waist!) - they might very well be Mom Jeans. The jeans I have pictured above are going to be a leap of faith for some gals, but they're the direction you want to head toward if you're trying to get out of Mom Jeanville. Keep the wash dark if you have any doubts, even very dark, and look for a nice, thick denim that will help smooth out and flatter your shape. I have a softer middle, so I steer clear of low-rise jeans, opting instead for a medium rise. This basically just means that my softer areas are not pooching over the top of my jeans (not much, anyway - ahem), all of my drawers stay covered when I bend down, yet the waistband is still below my belly button. If you're postpartum, though, or if you wear a larger size, I think a higher waist is totally fine as long as your shirts come down low enough so that no one really knows the difference.
These Lands' End jeans in "dark denim" are good examples - on sale now, too! I had two very similar pair this past winter when I had a few extra pounds on. But, you should be warned, all Lands' End "classic", "traditional", and "natural" fit jeans should be regarded as highly likely candidates for Mom Jeanhood. Oh, and another hint: don't tuck your high waisted jeans in with a tiny flower print shirt. Lands' End. Tread carefully.

The jeans in these mood boards are from Banana Republic, I think. I have a pair of their medium rise jeans and they actually work just fine for my mom body. Now... getting to the style boards. Here's one of the yoga pants boards that turned out pretty cute. It could be much cuter, though, if our hypothetical mom would trade out those yoga pants for a pair of well-fitting jeans and some comfy, but more stylish, shoes.

Here's the yoga board. Cute enough?

Now, only changing the pants and shoes.

We've crossed over into Stylish Mama territory. Maybe it's hard to tell from the photos, but in person those changes would make a huge difference! Do those sandals look like torture for your feet? (I bet they aren't bad once broken in), but here's another option with flats instead.

I would totally feel cute in this! Where would I wear it, you ask? Well, I think this is an area similar to ideas about comfort in that it's learned. I dress up way more than all of my friends when we do "normal" things together. I'm just used to it now. I would wear this - silver shoes and all - to the library, the grocery store, the mall, a kids' museum, lunch at a fast food place, you name it! If I were going to a park where I'd be likely to walk a lot or climb on the playground with my children, though, I'd opt for a cross between the yoga look and this one. I'd wear the jeans instead of the yogas, but I'd wear the sneaks instead of the flats. No scarf at an active park, but the necklace would be fine.

Actually, you know what I'd wear? I'd wear these.

With broken in black flats, since the silver flats seem more than a tad overdone for a park situation. What do you all think of these jeans? I actually own jeans like these. I roll my cuffs a little more neatly and my jeans aren't quite as distressed (meaning - I have fewer tears and holes), but I have 'em. And I love 'em. Love them. They keep my dressier tendencies in check and give a relaxed, youthful feeling to my preppy side.

Plus, they're very comfortable.

I know, I know. Someone wants to know why jeans with holes and tears are more chic than yoga pants. If you can't wear yoga pants in public, why can you wear torn up jeans? Good question. I will say that I was careful to buy distressed jeans that didn't show skin. My tears still have all of the cross threads, so they're technically not holes (as I explained to my 9 year old). But mostly, the answer is just marketing. These jeans are trendy right now. Somethings are just the way they are because that's the way they are.

You know I'm not one for lots of trends, but one here or there is fun. These jeans were a great buy for me this summer :) Here they are replacing the yoga pants along with those black ballet flats I mentioned. But, first, the yogas...

I actually do wear this. My cardi is a lightweight sweater, but it's about this shape, length, and color. And I wear a black tank beneath, because I haven't bought that adorable striped Lands' End Canvas tee, yet. These shoes and jeans took those yoga pants and made this look almost French inspired. So cute for any errands or meeting up with friends! Not to mention, of course, at home.

Another look with the trendy jeans.

The gray striped tee would look adorable here, too. Gray and pink are so sweet together. Could you guys imagine running to the post office in this? Is there anything about these style boards that just seems totally NOT mom friendly to you? Even if these sandals turned out to pinch your feet, there are definitely comfortable metallic sandals in the world. Everything in this board seems very easy and manageable to me. But, that's me and I'm the one who threw it together. What do you think? Too much?

Well, if it is, you may not like this next suggestion. I'm putting it out there, though. Lots of moms steer clear of white because it gets dirty so easily. I admit, there are certain places I wouldn't wear white to, either, and there are certain stages of momhood where it maybe isn't the best plan. BUT, there's a good chance of an appropriate white day sneaking in here and there for most of us, and when those days come, you might want to take advantage of the opportunity.

White is so crisp and scores big time chic points instantly.

Mine are from New York & Company (and I wear them ALL the time), but the ones in the photo are Ann Taylor, I think. White jeans. White cropped pants. White cotton trouser pants. You pick :) But just check out how sophisticated and elegant they make this yoga pant ensemble look. First the yogas...

Then, the yogas swapped out for white pants and stylish shoes.

Ba BAM! You'd feel like a million bucks :) This outfit is now straight up ready for date night!

3 pants made those changes - dark jeans, trendy/casual jeans, and white pants. Just three pants! And just 3 shoes, too. Silver sandals, silver flats, and black ballet flats. All reasonably comfortable, relatively easy to find, and not too pricey. So, tell me - does all of this just sound totally unrealistic to you? Which part seems the hardest? What would make it easier?

I'd love to hear your feedback! :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

stay at home mom style: redeeming yoga pants (?)

My wish has been granted.

I had time tonight to play around with style boards, which is always fun. I wanted to try to put together some ideas for those of you who are hoping to wean yourselves from baggy t-shirts paired with sweats or yoga pants. This is known elsewhere as the ubiquitous "mom uniform", and anyone who refers to it as such isn't doing so affectionately. As I said before, girls, I've so been there. I've ranged in size from a 4 (when we were married) to a 16 after a few pregnancies close together, and I've stood in the closet that had literally nothing that fit me. Nothing, that is, but those elastic waist exercise clothes. If this is you, you are not alone. Countless moms have been there with you, including me.

But, now what? Now you're thinking maybe it's time to shape up your style, but where do you start? I can tell you that, for me, things came along gradually. The first step was getting out of my husband's tees and into something that at least acknowledged that I was a woman! I picked up inexpensive tshirts that looked halfway decent in colors I really liked. My favorite was a gorgeous bright turquoise from Lands' End. It fit generously enough to accomodate my rather poochy middle but still gave me that shot of happy (and flattering to my skin tone) color around my face. I loved that t-shirt.

So, this post is all about redeeming the yoga pants and making them more feminine and injecting a little more style than hubby's frat tee. I put the question mark in parentheses there because I don't wear yoga pants and these style boards were a little challenging for me. For those of you who are already breezing your way through the stores picking up chic clothes left and right, this post isn't really written for you ;) I'm glad you're reading it, of course, but please don't say anything negative about Lands' End cuts or criticize any of the looks. It's pretty hard for anyone to go from sweatpants straight to white pants and silver wedge sandals!

A small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction.

I wanted to say, too, that some ladies are just naturally athletic. That is their style. If you wore athletic pants and hoodies before you had children and you've always felt wonderful in them, this post isn't really for you, either. This is all about giving ideas to those who wear athletic clothes often, just because they don't think they can wear much else right now. We're talking yoga pants, and wearing them in a feminine way that says you've put some effort in.

Ready? (by the way, the yoga pants featured in most of these boards are the Athleta
Chaturanga yoga pants, recommended by Shana.

Okay, first up - the really natural look. This is for moms who have been wearing over-sized tshirts and yogas or sweats. This is a step in the right direction :)

The first thing to notice is the shoesies. Blog post after blog post and online article after article reinforced the assertion that running shoes should be reserved for... wait for it... running. Lace-up shoes that are intending for actual exercise are best worn only when at the gym or going to and fro. There is an entire other category of "sneakers" out there, gals. And, some of them are actually pretty cute. I'm partial to the Mary Jane styles (probably because they feel akin to a flat), but there are plenty of options. Piperlime is a great place to browse to get an idea of what's out there. Clicking firstly on "sneakers" and then on "fashion" will take you here. Happy browsing!

For this style board, I took a cue from the shoes and went with several very conservative, basic tops in shades of blue. (Remember to keep in mind your body type and what cuts look best on you. If you aren't sure, see if you can take an evening to go to Barnes & Noble, sip a drink, and flip through Stacy & Clinton's highly readable book, Dress Your Best.) Nearly all of the shirts were from Lands' End, with the exception of the turquoise-y one from Athleta. I chose Lands' End because their shirts generally have a little more length to them - something I'd recommend with yoga pants unless you're super proud of your derriere. They also fit real women, not teenage daughters ;)

Do you wear earrings everyday? I know, the JCrew models don't wear earrings. But, trust me, a little jewelry close to your face really has impact. If you usually wear earrings but they are often very, very small - consider trying something just slightly larger. You can still wear stud earrings, for instance, but something with a little more presence can really help you look put more together. I wear big earrings sometimes, but most days this spring and summer I've been wearing these large ball studs from The Limited. They're a jump if you're used to diminutive studs, but they're fun once you get used to them!

Did you know that a stylish pair of sunglasses can help you look chic even when the only makeup you're wearing is chapstick? It's true! Sunglasses and good hair can totally take a decent outfit and improve upon it 100%. Ann Taylor has reasonably priced options - it's worth a visit just to try some on. Don't be afraid to ask the sales assistants for feedback! If the AT prices are still a little too high, just study up there and then go see what our old stand-by (Target!) has for you.

Okay - there was a lot of info in that one little photo! But, I want to throw a bit more out there before I call it a night.

This is another basic look, but I "girled it up" just a little more than the last one. The shirt, Athleta I think, actually fits fairly close to the mid-section with scrunched up shirring on the sides. The result is a rather feminine silhouette. A necklace & bracelet watch were added for more femininity & dressiness. I think you can dress yoga pants up a little. As long as they're still in good condition and not too faded or stretched out - this look should work. That lovely necklace is from CMaille on Esty.

I really like this next one...

I think I may have to get pink pearl earrings soon :)

In this board, I switched out the "fashion sneakers" for wedge flipflops from Old Navy. A black sandal would be even better, but if you've been wearing running shoes or canvas tennis shoes around, consider something like this to shake things up a little. You'll have to paint your toenails, but if you do a good job with 2 or more coats, they should last for a while. The cardigan is jersey knit, so it's a similar fabric to the yoga. (I'm not listing sources because links will be obsolete in no time flat anyway - but you can always ask in the comments if you'd like a source). Just as an idea of what might work - the vneck white tee & jewelry would be fine when you're home, but if you were going out you could add the cardi. I don't generally wear all my layers in the house. I often add a few things before we step out, though.

Don't forget your sunglasses! ;)

Isn't this one cute? Really, though, if you can at all bear it, black sandals or even the flipflops above would be better than the sneaks in the photo. (But, the sneaks are better than running shoes.) The jewelry here has more sparkle and sophistication because I felt like the striped top and cardi in those neutral colors were already taking the yogas in a more grown up direction. I know, horizontal stripes are every woman's enemy - but the cardi serves to break them up and actually adds a vertical line down each side of your mid-section. There's only a peek of stripes showing. Promise. Hair & makeup here would need to be very simple to keep from feeling like you were trying to dress up the yogas too much - a sleek pony with a far side part maybe and just a little mascara & gloss. Isn't this a much better look than University tees?! You'll want to remember with a tee like this, though, that fit really matters. Stripes like this won't do anyone any favors if they're too tight across the tummy.

Okay. How ya doin'? Get ready, all right, because I'm going to throw in another accessory and I know not everyone is comfortable with these guys. Have you ever worn a scarf?

You think I'm on crack now, don't you? Putting a scarf with yoga pants? But, if the scarf is lightweight cotton, and if the scarf isn't too embellished, and if the rest of the ensemble is fairly subdued, then I think you can pull it off. Scarves really aren't scary once you get used to them. Just like larger stud earrings :) You wouldn't wear it around the house - just throw it on if you need to head out somewhere. Oh, yeah, and I also threw in silver sandals when you weren't looking. Those are from Target, they're cheap, and they just might be good for you to branch out and try! Painted toenails, of course. I left the polish out of the pic. The shirt is jersey again, keeping things casual enough for the yogas.

Okay, I've been emboldened by the scarf. I'm going sleeveless! Lookout!

Actually, I almost never go sleeveless in public, except for the pool. My arms just aren't my biggest asset. I'd wear a cardi with this, personally. But some of you might have great arms, so for you - sleeveless. I think this cowel neck tee is just lovely. Old Navy, no less. I think I'm going to see if my sister wants to try some of these on when we go out shopping soon. They come in beautiful colors, and I think the neckline would really flatter her. My sister has a very elegant look & style. She'd wear the pendant and earring set I featured two photos up and she'd look drop dead. If she winds up buying one of these, maybe she'd let me take her photo in it with her yoga pants :)

There you have it, ladies. The best I can do with yoga pants. Now, can I say just one thing more? Some of these outfits might have turned out pretty decent looking with the yogas, but - trust me - they would look infinitely more put together and chic with something other than an athletic pant. In fact, I took a couple of these boards and replaced the yogas with other options. I'll share those with you next.

Thanks so much for reading, guys. This has been a ton of fun!

stay at home mom style: loungewear

This week's series is meant to be an encouragement to moms - whatever their age, size, style, and personality. Not all of my opinions or the opinions of others that I share in my posts are going to frost everyone's cupcake, but I hope at least that you can take something positive away from them. I'm interested in these topics because I think caring for myself is one way to show love to my husband and is a good example for my daughters. It's my prayer that, in this, I would glorify God and seek to be a blessing to others. If you don't really give a hoot for talk about clothes, this week's posts may not be for you. But, if you're a mom at home, thinking a change in the right direction might be nice, read on Sista :)

Do y'all watch Stacy and Clinton? Believe it or not, we don't have cable television, but I love to pick up a few episodes of What Not To Wear when we visit my in-laws in Wisconsin (my poor mother-in-law... do you hate that show, Susan?). They can get awfully snarky, I agree, but in the end, they always make such a hugely positive impact on the men and women they try to help.

Well - if you watch - then you know that Stacy and Clinton have some pretty strong opinions about loungewear. Clinton goes as far as to say that no one needs sneakers in their closets ;) Running shoes for running? Sure. But, he totally puts the nix on sneakers for regular wear. And hoodies? Oh, don't get him started on hoodies! His bane.

I did own a hoodie - once. And, really, I never felt cute in it. It was even hot pink.

Anyway... loungewear. There are about a bazillion legit style blogs that slam yoga pants and all other athletic gear like there's no tomorrow. One site went as far as to say that yoga pants in public were like the grown up equivalent of teenagers wearing their pajama pants in Target. I don't wear yoga pants, but my sister does - at 6' tall and Slender City, she can carry them off. I can't. After thinking about it for a little while, I think that's kind of the bottom line with loungewear. You really, really have to be honest about what does and does not work for your body type.

I think that's the main beef Stacy & Clinton and all of the bloggers that agree with them have concerning athletic pants as daywear. Generally speaking, yoga pants are not very flattering.

There are, of course, moms that we see really rockin' the yoga pants. They show up at the grocery store with these teeny, trim little bodies and they make us think yoga pants will look that cute on us.

Maybe you're someone who can really rock the yoga pants. Like this gal...

Or this gal...

Yeah. Sure thing.

Actually, if you look like either of these ladies, you might as well stop reading this right now. You can wear absolutely anything you want. Bless you. Goodbye.

But, ladies who still continue to read, we need to remember that very, very few women are really going to rock the yoga pants in real life. If we're wearing yoga pants, it probably means we're also wearing a baggy tee or one of our husband's sweatshirts.

I can honestly tell you that I looked exactly like that nearly every day after the birth of almost all of my children. Postpartum is killer. Who gives a flying fig about layering shirts and wearing stylish shoes when you're functioning on 3 hours sleep, nursing every 2 hours, and caring for two preschoolers? I hear ya. I hear ya. And I'm not going to tell you that it's horrible if you wear your yoga pants and your pink tee when life is hard. Maybe skipping the Irish sweatshirt is a good idea, but there's a time and a place for yoga pants. And a tee in a nice color is good to have around.

Amen? Amen.

After Little Dude I pretty much lived in black pants like these...

And a black tee shirt like this...

Four children in six years. 'Nough said, right?

But... and here we get to the point of the post. How many paragraphs later? Sorry - I'm squeezing this in during naptime ;) The point of this post: We will all have days where the yoga pants and pink long-sleeved tee are all we're going to realistically manage, but there are other options that are just as easy and nearly as comfortable that will make us feel much, much better.

Notice I said "nearly" as comfortable. I'm not sure I can compete with the comfort of what basically feels like pajamas, though. And, besides being easy and comfortable, these options are easily ten times more stylish and will make you feel infinitely better about your appearance. That totally makes them worth it!

The easy part comes with a little planning, but it does come. Right now, I get dressed every morning just as quickly as I did when I wore those athletic pants and a tee. Sure, my jeans are a little tighter around my middle than the stretchy waist band would be, but I feel a million times better about how I look in the clothes I'm wearing today. I'm not going to get into jeans in this post - this is supposed to be about loungewear - so here are some great finds from the lovely internet and the baby beginnings of a PLAN.

  • Consider opting out of yogas, athletic pants, and androgynous sweatshirts/tees altogether.
  • Also, consider a sandal or comfortable flat instead of tennis shoes everyday.
  • If you can't give up your yogas, learn how to style 'em up - no football team tee shirts or relics from your husband's college rugby days!
  • If you can't give up your sneakers, make sure they're super cute - pretty much everyone I read agreed that running shoes are for exercising, but fashionable sneakers could look stylish while keep the casual vibe going. Target has good options for good prices.
  • If possible (really, only if possible), consider spending more on a few pieces that really up the style quotient.

For those of you who really are interested in ditching the Ohio State sweatshirt and Adidas look, but still want to keep a high degree of lounge-ability, check out these awesome links below! These are some GREAT ideas for how to replace those gym clothes with choices that make you look & feel fantastic.

Wardobe 911's post on lounge wear/active wear has a complete outfit photo to show how comfort really can be stylish and 100% female.

Shana at Ain't No Mom Jeans (one of my new fave blogs to waste time reading when I should be folding laundry) has several wonderful examples of very comfy and very stylish ensembles for moms. Her post focuses on travel postpartum, but the tips are great for all of us!

Sam works late on Monday nights - hmm... I may just have to play around and make up a few comfy & casual looks of my own ;) Have great evening, everyone!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Our VBS week went really well and it was, truly, such a joy to give ourselves for all of the children. None of the decorations came crashing down on anyone's head and my little Bible story acting part wasn't too scary after all. (I was an intergalactic time traveller - complete with fake eyelashes, red lipstick, and purple glitter on my cheekbones - but I wasn't the picture-taker this year, so no photos - bummer!). It was a lot of work, but a whole lot of fun!

By the time we were finished up last night, though, I pretty much felt like this...

And, taking a look around the house when we got home, I knew that today we'd have to spend plenty of time doing this...

It's been pretty much a total disaster area all week. After a few hours of laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and general cleaning up, though, it's shaping up. Tomorrow the big game plan is to REST.

Hope you all have a restful Sunday, too :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

it's that time again

Our church is hosting a vacation Bible school every evening next week. Like last year, I'm the gal in charge of decorations. That means I get to dream up all kinds of fun ways to turn our church into a spaceship on the cheap ;) Things are coming together, but we're in crunch time now. Our entire family was at the church until 10 tonight, and tomorrow night will be more of the same. Thursday night is the official decoration "install" (this is the closest I'll get to the designer/client relationship, ha). It's a lot of work, but it's so fun to see our children getting more and more excited and to begin to see things coming together.

I'm signing out until VBS week is well underway and I'm sure I have all my comets and robots in line. Look for a post later next week!

Thanks so much for continuing to read, guys. I'm always so encouraged by comments :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

like watching paint dry

Or maybe actually watching paint dry - not merely "like" watching paint dry. The closet door is finished, but it still has to cure for at least a week before I trust it on the door frame. We've put doors up too soon after painting before, and the door paint sticks to the paint on the door frame. That just doesn't make anyone happy.

So, it's curing.

And I'm watching it.

Now, poor unsuspecting blog friends, you're watching it with me.

In the meantime, I've put the closet shelving in. The shelves had to cure, too, but now their time has come. These are all the baby clothes that I'm storing in there. You know, for the baby we maybe, might, could, possibly have someday but don't have right now. Down the road.

Baby clothes are so sweet. I'm not just hanging up girl clothes, by the way. They were just the pile that was creating the most obnoxious barrier in the master bedroom while they waited for a home. It's been very nice to not have to step over them every night.

I like them much better here.

Punkin and Little Dude have had great fun making the floor of the closet into a napping nook. I haven't let them really take a nap here, yet. But that isn't because they haven't asked. Several times. Maybe when the heavy mirrored door isn't perched on those saw horses. Maybe.

If they improve on those nightly foot rubs and if they keep the chips and dip comin'.


There's an adhesive film of some sort over the glass right now. We assumed - rightly, I hope - that it's there to protect the glass while you paint the door. With the film on, the glass is a little wonky. It basically makes me look about 20 pounds heavier than I really am. We're kind of banking on the mirror being much more flattering without the film. Please?

Sam wants to be home when it's time to take off the film (maybe tonight). There is something kind of weirdly fun about peeling back such a big piece of film. I hope we don't have to scrape too much paint off of the mirror.

That's all for now. I'm scheduling this post to publish while I have the kiddos off at swim lessons. I thank God everyday for our pool membership. Seriously. Hope you're enjoying lovely weather wherever you are, too! :)