New (Mom) Wardrobe Essentials

Saturday, May 14, 2011
Michelle emailed me months ago about what essentials to get now that her body is back to normal after having four kids (Wowza!). None of her clothes fit/work for her anymore so she has to start from scratch. Her budget? $600. She is already set in the shoes department and was wondering what items she should focus her attention on.

For a young mom with kids, comfort is very important. You're probably thinking, "She wouldn't know. She doesn't even have kids!" But I know...that I love to be comfortable. Pain doesn't have to mean beauty. Sometimes it does but it doesn't have to be all the time.

Here are my top picks on items you should focus on NOW..

1. the white button-up

With kids, it might be hard to keep this white but it is so easy and such a classic. Plus, there are so many variations of this you can get creative with it! Get the classic button-down in a couple sizes bigger so you can wear it loosely and comfortably. I also advise getting it in a fitted size for the mature/professional audience.

2 and 3. stretchy skinny jeans/thick leggings/jeggings and tunics

Okay, before you start getting all judgmental on me, listen up! I hate leggings as pants just like the five of you out there. BUT I think we can all agree they are too comfortable to ignore. The best way to wear leggings without embarrassing yourself is to make sure you cover your butt. The answer? Tunics. Wear them with boots so you can further hide the fact that you're wearing leggings.

4. t-shirts (crewneck, v-neck, whatever!)

T-shirts are the definition of comfort!!! least they are for me. I love them in different fits and styles. To offset their casualness, you can pair them with feminine items such as floral skirts or fancy(ish) jewelry.

5. full skirts

I LOVE full skirts. I have bigger hips and thighs (in my opinion) so full skirts are the best way to hide them for me! Plus, I love that I can MOVE in them....not like pencil skirts. Great for chasing kids, right? And they're so much fun to twirl and spin in. A++ in my book!

6. a hot pair of jeans

Everyone's bodies are different. Skinny jeans could look good on you but not on me (so true). But there is always that one style that looks BOMB on you. Find that bomb pair and wear it for the rest of your life!! I picked out my faves:  wide leg, boyfriend, and skinny.

7. a great coat

If you live where it can get a little (or a lot) chilly, I suggest purchasing a good coat. It's going to be one of the first things people see on you and you don't want to be wearing something that doesn't flatter your figure at all. Or if you do, that's cool, whatever. But be sure to get them now while they're on super sale!!!

8. fun, colorful blouse

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I love my neutrals and simple tops. But it also makes getting dressed not as fun since I lack color in my closet and life. Tear. So I suggest getting one or two FUN and COLORFUL blouses that you can wear when you're feeling especially spunky that day. And I say splurge on this item as well because blouses can last a long time if you take good care of it and it is GOOD quality!

9. statement necklaces and earrings

I'm not a huge jewelry person. I love to adorn myself with one or two statement pieces and try to avoid layering and piling on jewelry. I'm assuming most moms are the same? Looks like I'm already prepared then. Psh. Kids should be easy.

10. _____________________________?

What do you think her 10th must-buy item should be?


  1.  I'm pretty sure "cover thy bum" should be added to the Ten Commandments.  But even I'm tempted by leggings for the comfort factor, even if it makes me feel disgusted with myself.

  2. LOL! That's funny! : ) I think on top of the fact that they're tight in that area, it's also awkward for the other person standing behind!
    A Modest Fashion Blog:

  3. Your picks are great! I would add to that some colorful cardis and definitely some comfortable knee length dresses (easiest outfit ever) and she can find some affordable ones at Target, H&M, Old Navy, F21...etc. Oh also some belts to cinch in outfits (they have really cheap ones at F21)!

      Lidi @ Eclectic Flair

  4.  ha, no idea, partly because i barely know what'd in right now. BUT. i think having solid t-shirts, long or short sleeved is a must. you can pair them with ANYTHING and have that pop of color as well. :)

  5.  if she's starting from scratch she'll definitely need some camis and cardis!

  6. Ha before seeing this I just posted about my odd relationship with leggings. I'm wearing them with my outfit and I'm 'eh' on the look - but oh the comfort factor! Definitely not to be ignored.  -R (

  7. cardis = mom's best friend!  also, some good fun flats! 

  8. I love your picks. I'm on maternity leave and I litteraly live in my jeggins. They are better than leggings and more comfortable than regular jeans, add a t-shirt, a cardi and ballet flats and you're ready to chase your kids around. I would invest in accessories since they can change an outfit at a low cost. I for one am a fan of  scarves and statement necklaces.

  9. I'm not a mommy yet, but this is a great post Elaine. I have to agree that leggings and/or jeggings are a great choice for new moms since the material can expand depending on whether you continue to lose weight :)

  10.  I think you've got it covered pretty well here! If you know your size and your body, and what will fit you really well, you can find screaming deals online on really great stuff! I'm a student, and dead broke, so 90% of my wardrobe actually comes from eBay. It works for me, because I know what will fit!
    -Heather from

  11. As a new mom myself, I have to say that the white shirt is most definitely out - as is pure black.  There's no way to keep it clean and you wind up looking like a terrible mess.  What you need are patterns!  Patterns hide food stains that baby wipes on you.  

    Loose jersey dresses also look great, but allow a full range of motion as you stand, lie, crawl, squat, etc with a young child. 

    For more Mommy and Fashion adventures check out my blog!

  12. Love all the pieces you chose !

  13. I'm horrible at accessorizing, 

  14. I'm one of those 5 people that hate jeggings. And I actually don't think they are comfortable because it takes to much work to pull them over my thighs. Real leggings, however, are indeed comfy, but I've only worn them for exercise.

    The 10th item should be an LBD. Good for church, work, fancy events, it's good in any season and is extremely versatile.

    North Meets South 

  15. Layers are a must!  Add a cute cardigan to the list, and I think she's set!

  16. If she has a baby then any color that gets a lot darker when wet is out.  Think drool.  I also agree that white and black are out. 

  17. A nice dress that can be dressed up or down. Probably in jersey so it is easy to wear and easily washed. Although a cotton would be nice, too. You did a great job with her "essentials"! Good job! Cheers!

  18.  Good job, Elaine.  I just had to buy a complete new summer wardrobe since I'm two sizes smaller than I was last summer.  Yea for me!  I would suggest a sheath dress (sleeveless) in a neutral color that can be dressed up or down with jewelry, scarves, jacket, etc.  I went last week to my local thrift shop and bought 11 items of clothing with good name brands for less than $100.  My biggest score was a gorgeous animal print blouse from Talbots never worn with the original price tags still on it ($134.00) that I got for $12.00.  Smallest price was a pinstripe skirt for $2.00.  Thrift stores are a good way to fill in the gaps in a wardrobe when you're on a small budget.  You just have to look through a lot of junk to find the treasures.  

  19.  This site gives you dozens of ways to wear scarves.  They are cheap, colorful and versatile and can dress up a tee or a dress.

  20. EVERYTHING has to be easy to wash. It's not just baby puke, it's also when the kids get bigger and throw cereal, watercolors, gooey marshamallows, etc.  And choose fabrics that don't ride up where you don't want them. 

  21.  love this post elaine! i think the 10th item should be a nice quality purse/tote/diaper bag- every mommy needs that!

  22. I'm a new mom too and my wardrobe now is different than pre-baby - especially when everything shifts after pregnancy! 

    I'd throw in scarves and cardigans too.  Easy layering pieces to add dimension to a basic tee and jeans outfit.  Cardigans are perfect if you're planning to nurse so you can buy a couple of nursing tanks and throw them over.  Also a nice printed jersey wrap dress.  Printed to hide stains, jersey so it's washable, and wrap because it's a flattering fit. 

    I agree with other readers that black is pretty much out (shows all spit up, slobber, food, etc), which is hard for me since that's pretty much my entire wardrobe.  White is ok, but make sure it's an easy washable fabric b/c you'll be washing it a lot!  Instead of a basic white button up, what about a printed menswear type shirt like JCrew does?  Same idea to dress up or down (and also convenient for nursing), but hides stains.  Do you see a trend here?

    Also something I've had to avoid are scoop neck shirts.  I like v-necks and scoop necks for petite women because it's more elongating.  However, when you're carrying a baby that's pulling your shirt in every direction, scoop necks tend to slide around more than a v-neck. 

    I have a list of classics for your wardrobe here if you interested.  I definitely think you could make the listed pieces work for you.

    Congratulations on the new little one!!
    finley {mommy chic} latest post: lucky you

  23. Also some suggestions here with lots of different ways to tie a scarf - as a headband, a wrap, a purse or even a blouse!
    {mommy chic}

  24. unpretentiousteacherMay 14, 2011 at 10:07 PM

     Cardigans are great too, as they quickly change an outfit!  Also, they can easily be stuffed inside a diaper bag!

  25. unpretentiousteacherMay 14, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    I agree Andrea!  Flats are a must!

  26. hi kari, i just wanted to say that i am a big fan of your blog. we decided to do a weekend with some recommendations and yours is already there.
    thanks for all the inspiration!

  27.  I really loved this post it's really helpful even from regular women who don't have much time to coordinate fancy outfits :)

  28. A great bag... a sturdy leather tote for day time in either black or brown and a fun clutch for dinner dates with her husband :)

  29. Elaine, you're looking ultra fab as usual.  I love the necklace paired with the top.. great contrast.  Also, great advice on building a wardrobe.. I think the items you suggested is a great foundation to a remixable wardrobe. :)

    Happy Sunday!

    xx Love & Aloha 

  30. very cute post! I love the tips :)

  31. My pick is shapewear: a must to hide the few lumps and bumps that inevitably come with pregnancy. I wear a shaping singlet to pull me in at the waist but is still super comfy for day to day wear :) 

  32. I LOVE your blog. You are so inspiring!

  33.  I second the shapewear suggestion. It's so crucial to making sure the clothes you love love great on you! Personal faves: Incredible by Victoria's Secret and Body Shapers from New York and Co!

  34. I say definitely a nice pair of dress pants. They can be easily dressed up or down, and they always make me feel a little more "put-together." I have two young kids, and I still wear my maternity pair with the elastic waist- so comfy, yet classy-looking! 

  35. Great job on this. Other than the white button down I agree!

    A button up yes, esp. if you are nursing...but white, is really hard with a new baby who is still spitting up, and having those nasty baby diapers that stain everything...

    But I did love this post! Now I wish I had $600 to spend on a new closet! :)