Have you ever noticed that when you wear an outfit that you love or associate with something really positive, you feel more confident and even happier? You walk taller and are more engaged with others.
On the other hand, when you wear something you don’t love or feel good about, you don’t feel so good about yourself. You might even feel like withdrawing or hiding away. You probably think about it throughout the day, taking precious attention away from other things.
Why our clothing choices matter
Studies have shown that our clothes can change how we think and feel.
Based on her research, Professor Karen Pine (University of Hertfordshire) recommends that we put on clothes that we associate with happiness, even when we’re feeling low, because they can create feelings of happiness. So, rather than pulling on the “sad pants” we should put on something like a favourite dress. As well as lifting our mood, this choice of clothing sends a different message and influences people’s responses to us. For example, we might receive compliments, which also lifts our mood.
In another study, participants were given a white coat to wear. One group was told it was a doctor’s coat, and the other was told it was an artist’s coat. The group who believed it was a doctor’s coat performed better at the tasks they were assigned. The meaning they attributed to the coat helped them perform better.
Every day, when we select our clothing, we’re making a decision that could affect our entire day.
Even if you would’ve previously called yourself stylish, once you get caught up in raising your family, getting dressed can become more of a chore than a pleasure. You can’t spend hours trying things on and your body isn’t quite the same shape and size it once was. Things you loved might not fit well now, or you don’t even like them anymore.
Your clothes also need to do different things when you’re a mum, for example, accommodate breastfeeding, lifting, getting down on the floor, running after escapees and climbing. Stains constantly threaten light colours. And is anyone else tired of the velcro that’s on so many children’s items always pulling threads on your clothes?!
Even though life has changed, we still deserve and want to feel good about ourselves.
So how do you adjust or rediscover your style in this phase of life, especially with limited time, energy and money to invest?
Mum style with less effort and in less time
I don’t have all the answers but I’m delighted to have met Bernadette Payne, Personal Stylist and founder of That’s My Style by Bernadette. With over 20 years of fashion industry experience behind her, Bernadette is passionate about helping women find confidence, self-worth and happiness through their wardrobe.
I invited Bernadette to answer the burning mum style questions of our More to Mum community members.
Bernadette, thank you for sharing your confidence boosting style tips with us! Our first question is, how can mums deal with “mum issues” such as mum-tum?
Skim NOT cling is my mum-tum solution. Really choose your fabrics. Avoid slinky knits and tight tees that cling to every bump. Think about the fabrications and avoid cheap tees that don’t flatter. Go for cotton / linen tees or a woven blouse / shirt that you can tie or tuck at the front.
The trick to tucking is to wear a singlet top underneath and tuck the top into the hemline of the singlet. Your tuck is now positioned under your mum-tum. Genius and totally works. It’s so simple.
Many mums find themselves in a comfy trackies and sneakers rut. How can they get themselves out of this habit?
Don’t underestimate the power of clothing. Wearing trackies can be a way to feel invisible. Feeling invisible leads to feeling like you’ve lost who you are.
The key is to invest in a few key basics that are easy care and quick to put on in the morning, like pull on pants and tees. Add layers with a scarf and denim jacket.
If you’re not an organised morning person, then getting your clothes out the night before also helps. I have a little rack at the end of my bed to plan my outfit for the next day.
How do mums select the best neckline and colours for them?
I love open necklines on women. It makes you look more approachable and frames your neck and face. A safe option is a V neck, as it suits most body shapes.
Colour is a lot more straight forward than many women realise. The only colour that matters, is the one close to your face. If the colour makes your face look aged or pale, it’s not right for you. Aim for colours that lift your complexion and make your eyes pop.
I always consider the way a colour makes a client feel, as I think that’s also powerful. Colour can empower and give women confidence or even a sense of control.
How can mums create a stylish capsule wardrobe, that allows them to look great in less time, and with minimal effort?
It’s amazing how easily you can get dressed if you have only a few spot-on options, rather than a large cluttered wardrobe, hence why I always hear “my wardrobe is overflowing and I still have nothing to wear!”.
By getting rid of things that you don’t love, you’ll be able to see the things that you do. You’ll also be able to identify what’s missing and what’s stopping you from having a functioning mix and match wardrobe.
What you need in a capsule wardrobe really depends on your lifestyle but there are six core items which are often missing from my clients’ wardrobes, or they don’t have the right fit to suit their body shape and style. When purchasing core items, you want to be able to wear it 2-3 different ways. For example, a top that can be dressed up for work or made casual with jeans and a loafer.
1. The basic black pant and jean
Stick to a straight leg as it’s the most flattering and easy to mix and match. If you’re feeling adventurous then play with a culotte style for this spring / summer. Dark wash jeans hide stains, are more flattering and can be dressed up for nights out.
2. Blouses / shirts
Add some prints and plains. Go for non-iron soft flowing fabrics (that skim not cling), that can be worn tucked in or out. Think about open or V necks to highlight your neck and face, plus they suit small and larger bust lines.
Make sure you have a plain black and neutral heel and loafer style. A pair of black or white kicks / trainer style shoes are great for running around with small kids and getting things done. Wear back with jeans, dresses, skirts etc.
4. A blazer, trench and / or longline cardigan
Pick a colour that will work back with all your blouse colours and prints. If you’re not keen on plain black then go for a texture or marle finish. Lightweight longline cardigans with pockets are a stylish mum essential. Thrown on over jeans and a singlet top / tee and the pockets are super practical for tissues, phone or car keys. Leaves hands free for chasing little ones.
5. Add colour
Introduce 1-2 new season colours into your wardrobe to keep it fresh and easy to mix and match. At the moment, I’m adding pinks and muted yellows that work back with my existing core wardrobe. Colour helps with your mood and should be embraced
6. Hand bag
A quality leather handbag in a black or neutral colour that can be used every day for work, socialising and mum life.
7. Personality hero pieces
Introduce hero pieces that show your personality. Add interest or colour via earrings, necklaces and printed scarves. Wear a lip colour that stands out and compliments your skin tone. Invest in shoes that are fun, colourful and make people remember you.
Do you have any final tips for mums who want to be effortlessly stylish?
Quality, not quantity, is the foundation of a perfect wardrobe. A few key items outweigh adding loads of items taking up prime space.
As mums, we tend to lose who we are. Our wardrobes need to move with us and stay aligned with who we are right now. Say goodbye to items that looked and felt fab pre-children. They often don’t make us feel amazing in our current life. Make sure you have clothing that enhances your body and makes you feel good.
Don’t miss the woman you once were – embrace and celebrate the stronger and more capable woman you are becoming. No matter how challenging life is as a mum – you are strong, confident and fun and you can do it all feeling stylish.
So, there you have it, lovely mum, with some simple adjustments, our mum style can help us feel confident in the midst of raising a family.
Based on Bernadette’s expert advice, what’s one thing you need to do to rediscover your style and feel more confident?
Bernadette Payne is a Personal stylist with a difference. As the founder of That’s My Style by Bernadette, she is helping everyday women find confidence, self worth and happiness through their wardrobe.
It’s creating a personal connection that drives Bernadette, who has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry. For many, she was the face behind women’s wardrobes, creating and presenting ranges to buyers from some of Australia’s leading mainstream retailers. Today she steps directly into the wardrobes of women across Australia to help them define and embrace their own style.