I'm not sure whether Kate intended for her striking mums post this week to be a particularly thought provoking one, but I've found it has stirred lots of memories so I might end up going off on a tangent but will try to come back to the main prompt questions for this week which are:
- Would you describe yourself as stylish? Has your answer to that question changed since becoming a mum?
- Describe a stylish outfit you wear/wore and loved.
- How important is it to have an individual sense of style as mum?
- Are you ever embarrassed about how you look when you are out and about?
- Do you judge people by the clothes they are wearing? Do you feel judged?
- Does having a sense of style all of your own help with self-confidence?
- A challenge – put together an Autumn outfit and post a picture of you in it on your blog. If that is too much, you could just photograph the items in the outfit. You can use things you already have or throw caution to the wind and go on a shopping spree.
1. Would you describe yourself as stylish? Has your answer to that question changed since becoming a mum?
I definitely would not describe myself as stylish. You will most often find me in tracksuit or jeans around the house and during our normal week. If we have a special occasion then I try to make a bit of effort, but comfort usually wins over style for me. The main reason being that I'm rather restricted when it comes to footwear because of my arthritis. The only shoes that are best for my back pain are trainers and whilst I can get away with wearing trainers day to day, they're not something you can get away with wearing stylishly with a dress for example!
So that means I tend to wear stylish clothes less often and even when I do I have to do so for a short period of time e.g. just for an evening out rather than a whole day so that my shoes, sandals or boots I'm wearing with my outfit don't impact on my backpain too much. High heels are totally out of the question for me. I used to have to dress reasonably smart when I was working pre-children and because I'm not in that corporate environment now has meant that things have changed since having kids. I have very little time to spend on myself these days so I barely get time to even brush my hair let alone blow dry it or straighten it. I'm lucky to have a hairdresser who understands that so he cuts my hair in really low maintenance styles.
One of the things I didn't appreciate before having children was how (relatively) slim I was. After having the boys I managed to get back into most my pre-pregnancy clothes after around 6 months or a year. Since having Miss T over 2 and a half years ago my weight keeps creeping up rather than down and unless I address that with either diet or exercise (which has its own complications again because of the arthritis) then I'm going to have to accept that I may never fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.
2. Describe a stylish outfit you wear/wore and loved.
I loved my suede skirt, black top, and suede effect jacket. These items were all charity shop bargains and I teamed them up with my Hotter boots for an Autumn look. I made the chunky necklace using beads from an old necklace that belonged to great nanny. At the moment I can't fit back into the skirt. (I've squeezed into it for the photo but can't do the zip up!)
3. How important is it to have an individual sense of style as mum?
We stopped watching ugly Betty after the first series when it started to get a bit too silly, but there is one quote that I remember well from it... When Ashley Jensen who played Christina said 'fashion is good for the soul'. Until that moment, I always thought of fashion as being a waste of money, far too superficial and used to think of the worlds problems that could be solved if the time, money, resources and effort that went into fashion went into doing good in the world. But actually when I thought about it, I realised that wearing clothes that look good and that you enjoy wearing, really can feel uplifting and make you feel good about yourself. I also realised that the two ideas (fashion and doing good) don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive which I hope I've showed in my above outfit example. Buying from charity shops, upcycling clothes, charity fashion shows, clothing specifically designed for children in need / Red Nose Day/ breast cancer awareness and many other similar initiatives mean that fashion and good causes can potentially be successfully combined. It's so easy to lose so many aspects of our identity when we become a mother that if style is one way of reclaiming a sense of individualism and help me feel more like 'me' then that's a good thing in my opinion.
Despite using that quote, I actually think that fashion and style are two very different things. There are people that seem to effortlessly look stylish whatever they wear, whilst others might be wearing items that are the height of fashion and yet it just doesn't work for them. So I guess it's important to find your own style rather than follow the crowd and make sure it is something that makes you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin.
4. Are you ever embarrassed about how you look when you are out and about?
Not too much. I've probably had times when I've been overdressed or underdressed for a particular occasion but I guess most people have been there.
There are probably a lot of tatty old clothes that I wear that should be thrown out a lot sooner. Old tracksuits, nighties, t-shirts that are really worn and sometimes even have holes in, I find really comfortable to wear. Although these days I wear really tatty things out and about less often and keep them for around the house. Sometimes I do feel like I'm the scruffy one because I don't usually bother about hair, make-up or nice clothes if I'm just spending the day doing school runs and toddler groups, but I don't think I actually mind too much about that because I always keep in mind another quote I came across as a teenager...'I can make myself ugly and I can make myself beautiful - Don't judge me by how I look'. It was a project we were doing at Youth Club and we made a poster with photos of us putting make up on to make the point about how we can choose to wear make up or not. So I guess I figure that I can put more effort in when I want to, but everyone can just take me or leave me as I am the rest of the time.
5. Do you judge people by the clothes they are wearing? Do you feel judged?
I am sure that to some extent I do even without meaning to. I remember watching a TV programme a few years back where some high profile personalities went 'undercover' as homeless 'tramps' to see what it was like sleeping on the streets, One lady who was a well known actress (although I can't remember who everyone was on the programme as it was so long ago now) went into a cafe and was thrown out purely because of how she was dressed (i.e. dressed to look like she was homeless).She had enough money to purchase some food and drink that day, just like any other paying customer, but because of how she looked she wasn't even able to go in the cafe.
So I think to some extent people do judge others by the clothes they are wearing and also feel judged by the clothes they are wearing whether they mean to or not. People will usually get a first impression of someone and that first impression can be influenced by clothes / style. But I guess what's more important is to get to know someone beneath that first impression and as long as people give me that chance, then I don't mind even if they have judged me initially by appearance.
6. Does having a sense of style all of your own help with self-confidence?
I think it does if you are happy and comfortable with your style.
Personally, I still think I'm finding my own style. I'm beginning to recognise clothes that I do particularly like and ones that I don't like.
7. A challenge – put together an Autumn outfit and post a picture of you in it on your blog.
See picture above for this as question 2 makes a great Autumn outfit in my opinion.
Thank you Kate for a great set of thought-provoking questions!