Unless spoken by Amy Poehler in a pink tracksuit, I dislike the term "cool mum." I have various issues with it, and for the sake of our collective sanity, I won't unpack it here. But the main problem I have with it is that it implies mums, as a rule, aren't cool. That the moment you become a mum, however that happens, you immediately start looking and behaving a certain way. Well, spoiler alert, you don't. Okay, sure, do I cry at adverts more? Yes. And am I unable to watch any show where a kid is in danger? Yes also. But when it comes to me as a person, who, let's face it, has always been a bit of a crier, then no, I haven't changed. I am still me. And that also extends to my wardrobe.
Fashion, as I repeatedly say, isn't frivolous, and it is part of our personal identity. Just because I grew a person in my body doesn't automatically make me reach for dark clothing that doesn't show the mud my toddler gets on me at the park. Or that I must forsake wearing pretty dresses in case a sticky banana hand touches them. These things will happen, but does that mean you can't enjoy your wardrobe anymore and instead just wear utilitarian items that are all function over form? No, of course not.
I reached out to three mums I follow on Instagram and whose style I love and asked them to give the best advice to any parent, really, on how not to lose your sense of personal style. There are some important words of wisdom that are not only great for fashion but also great for looking after yourself in general. I've also given some of my advice. Keep scrolling for more and to browse the shopping picks.
"Getting dressed and doing my makeup at the start of each day set me up to feel in control and that my identity wasn't just being a mum."
“My style didn’t change at all when I became a mum. I was quite young when I had my first (26), and it didn’t really occur to me to change how I dressed! I think the only real change I made was investing in tops that made it easy to breastfeed. I didn’t wear much white or lighter colours for years, as it just wasn’t wise. As hard as I tried, there would always be some kind of stain on me by the end of the day!
“It’s such a shame that mums let themselves slip into an uninspired mindset. Getting dressed and doing my makeup at the start of each day set me up to feel in control and that my identity wasn’t just being a mum. You give so much, and it’s a long journey (mine are all teenagers now, and it’s still full-on!), so it’s important to invest in you.
“My best advice is to take it a day at a time, even an hour at a time if need be. It’s a roller coaster of emotion and a new level of giving of yourself that feels so tiring but is a very beautiful thing. And don’t compare yourself or your child to anyone. You’re the best mum your baby could have.”
"All I can say is that things change, and you will feel more yourself if you follow how you feel."
“I still had the same wardrobe before and after both of my pregnancies. At the time and a lot now, I don’t wear one specific size but choose a size to how I like it to fit my body, so I had lots of loungewear and leggings to wear and oversize T-shirts, shirts and knits that saw me right through. I don't think I ever stopped wearing anything in particular.
“I don’t think there is a ‘mum’ style, only your own style. If you’re a mum, then I think that it should be separate to what you choose to wear. I don’t dress a certain way just because I am a mum. I find this one hard to answer, as I always felt like myself throughout.
“All I can say is that things change, and you will feel more yourself if you follow how you feel. Do what is good for you, and be flexible with yourself. Try not to compare.”
"Fashion and beauty are so important to our mental health. It's a type of self-care."
“I couldn’t get my head around the fact that people assumed you automatically wear frumpy clothes just because you grew a child. I was still me, I still had an obsession with clothes, and I still dressed in the same style, but I have to admit, I did swap out stilettos for chunky sandals and trainers quite early on.
“I cracked a rib toward the end of my first pregnancy so couldn’t wear a bra! So I had to work out new ways to make it less obvious that I didn’t have a bra on. My sister got married when I was eight months pregnant and wanted everyone in white dresses. I sewed a giant bow over the bust on the dress so hopefully no one would notice I was braless. Hugely pregnant in a white dress with no bra was quite a difficult look to style! My style isn’t defined because I now have children, so although I’ve managed to use my stylist expertise to learn some hacks along the way (like about how my wardrobe will work when I’m in a hurry to get out the door with two kids), the basis of what I’m wearing is still the same as before.
“If I didn’t have kids, I’d still be in the same clothes 100%. And this is the reason we started @ThisIsMothership. When I had my daughter almost six years ago, there was nothing out there saying it was okay to wear the same clothes as in your pre-mum life. As soon as you fall pregnant, everyone tells you to buy maternity clothes and breastfeeding outfits, but this isn’t necessary at all. As superficial as it sounds, fashion and beauty are so important to our mental health. It’s a type of self-care. A well-put-together outfit, some tailoring and a red lip can take little effort but instantly lift your mood, and when you are in the depths of motherhood, a quick and easy mood booster is essential.”
"If you don't wear the pieces you love, you'll never wear the clothes that truly make you feel like you."
I was shocked when I had my son that my body didn’t return to how it was before. I didn’t expect it to do so immediately, but I thought six months after having him, it might have changed back. It took until I stopped breastfeeding (19 months) for me to really feel like my body was similar, and a lot of that is to do with genetics. Some people can bounce back; for others, it takes a bit of time to feel like themselves again, and I wish I’d known that sooner and been kinder to myself about that.
But this impacted my personal style for sure. The major obstacle was that I had a much larger cup size, which meant tops I used to love wearing were no good. I had to find tops that were loose enough to fit my bigger chest but didn’t make me feel frumpy. I found decent tees (some great vintage ones) that still felt like my style, and paired them with some cool faux-leather trousers (which I sized up in) and floaty leopard-print culottes, which were ideal for warmer weather. Oh, and don’t forget to go for a bra fitting—it will make you feel so much better.
Now, nearly three years on with a toddler, all of my old clothes fit, and I still refuse to compromise on my style. While plenty might shy away from wearing their favourite wardrobe items, if you don’t wear the pieces you love, you’ll never wear the clothes that truly make you feel like you. Whether it’s my favourite red cardigan, which has seen more than its fair share of yoghurt, or a white coat that can get a bit muddy, nearly everything is washable, and that’s the important thing to remember.