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?


Beth said...

Love the clothes. Where is the gray stripped shirt from? I've been looking for that type of neckline and haven't had much luck.

Anonymous said...

Great post -- and all the clothes are fabulous! Any chance you'd be willing to share where they're from? Thanks!

Jacci said...

Hi, ladies! Glad you liked the wardrobe :)

Beth - the striped shirt is from Lands' End Canvas. Canvas is their younger line, and there are some great choices available.

Anon - well, honestly, I can't remember all of them! But, I can tell you that the striped scarf is from The Limited, the gray cardingan is from Gap, the boyfriend jeans and black tuxedo shirt are Banana Republic, and the white pants are Lands' End - the weekend chinos in wideleg. The black flats are from Target and the boots are Frye, but I can't remember the exact name of the boot.

Hope that helps!


Jacci said...

Ack - or maybe the gray cardigan is from Piperlime instead of Gap. Either way, you'll have fun browsing both sites :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great ideas! Going to Polyvore to create my own. I'm in my 20's and a young new mom, so I need something a little different but thanks for the idea :D

Love Local Food said...

This post is EXCELLENT! Thanks so much for taking the time to do a new Mom it sure helps me figure out how to use a more casual, core wardrobe. So appreciate it. Would love to see you do this type of post at the beginning of each season since I'm getting it a little late...or maybe you've already got it for spring. Thanks again!