Category Archives: mom style

Revenge of the Mom Jeans

Yesterday I got a promotional e-mail from American Eagle about a program that they are running called Old Jeans, New Hope. The idea is that the company is asking people to bring old, worn out jeans to any American Eagle store for recycling; the jeans are then turned into insulation for homes in communities in need. In exchange for a denim donation, people will receive 20% off store purchases.

Although I think this is a great recycling program, the program promotion reminded me of a post I’d been meaning to write for awhile now on my new favorite jeans.

Between being a mom to a toddler and working from home, I nearly live in jeans. Consequently, I own a lot of pairs of jeans. I’ve bought more expensive brands like 7 For All Mankind and also really cheap kinds like the Mossimo junior jeans I picked up at Target for less than $14 this past summer. Although when you find a great pair of jeans, they most often are worth whatever they cost–7’s for example really do make anyone’s butt look good–I do kind of get off on finding deals on less expensive jeans that fit just as well as the pricier pairs.

My latest find was at American Eagle. I don’t usually shop at American Eagle, mainly because in my head it’s in the same category as Abercrombie & Fitch. And frankly, I’m too old for how short the shorts are, if you know what I mean. But I had a twenty-something friend visiting from France who just loves American-style clothes and she wanted to do some shopping at American Eagle, so I went with her to the store.

I had been wanting a new pair of dark wash jeans and they had about a gazillion pairs on display. At the time I visited, the store was running a promotion where all jeans were around $25. So, I figured why not try a few pairs on. Never having tried on AE jeans before, I didn’t know what I needed or even wanted in terms of style and size, so the sales associate grabbed about five different styles for me in what she estimated was my size.

I kid you not, I have never tried on five pairs of jeans and had them all fit really well. There was no gapping in the waist above the derriere region and there wasn’t four inches of excess material drowning my ankles. And the pockets were big and sat low, just the thing for minimizing assets. The fits were so good I debated buying all five pairs–I mean, really, when you find good jeans you just have to buy them. But then I decided that was a little excessive since I had just scored on some Target jeans a couple months prior. So, I talked myself into just buying two pairs. But which ones?

Making Moms Look Good

I was well stocked in the skinny jean department, so I had tried on the Slim Boot, Original Boot, Hipster Flare, Favorite Boyfriend, and Artist styles. After trying every single pair on at least two more times to determine what was a good versus great fit, I finally decided on the Favorite Boyfriend and Artist jeans. As you might imagine, the Favorite Boyfriend are a bit more relaxed, although they are pretty low rise, and the Artist have a little bit of a trouser twist on the classic jean.

About the only drawback I’ve found after wearing one of those pairs probably four or five days out of the week is that I think I would’ve maybe gotten a size smaller. The denim is kind of light and soft, which I like, but it also means that it sort of stretches out after a few wears, especially with all the bending and running I do chasing a toddler around all day. But that can be said for a lot of jeans, so I don’t know that I would really categorize it as a negative for these jeans.

And I’m definitely not the only mom who’s fallen in love with AE jeans. I was recently stocking up on some makeup in a department store when one of the sales reps at a nearby counter came up to me and asked, “Are those American Eagle Artist cut jeans?” Turns out that mother of two also recently purchased a few pairs and was loving that she got a whole lot of mom jean for the money.

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Filed under fashion and style, mom style, moms, shopping, stay-at-home moms, working mom

Dadchelor Parties: A Dream or a Disaster?

I saw this segment on ABC Nightline last week about “Dadchelor” parties becoming all the rage among soon-to-be daddies. In fact, according to one expert interviewed during the segment, roughly 1 in 5 dads has a dadchelor party.

If you’re like me and don’t know a single dad whose had such a party, a dadchelor party is a man’s version of baby shower. And because its usually given by men for men, it tends to end up looking seriously similar to a bachelor party, with loads of booze and questionable entertainment generally lasting well into the wee hours of the morning.

It would appear that most soon-to-be mommies aren’t exactly big on this idea. It’s totally immature, but I personally think it’s brilliant.

Leave it to men to figure out how to take the idea of a baby shower to the next level. How lame do ladies lunches with traditional shower games seem next to a party bus full of raucous friends with a final destination of the nearest casino? And the diaper keg is ingenious. Basically how it works is every dadchelor party participant brings a box of diapers to the party in exchange for booze. I also really like the idea of bringing a new stroller full of beer or drink-with-me Elmo games, as shown in this dadchelor party spoof:

But while I find this whole dadchelor idea totally creative on the part of soon-to-be dads and their degenerate friends, I sincerely do think it’s a good idea. From what I gather from a lot of my mommy friends, nearly every husband has a freakout moment before the birth of his first child. (Mine most definitely did.) It most often looks nothing like a soon-to-be mommy freakout. Rather than coming on fast and furiously like a freakout does for soon-to-be moms (thanks, hormones!), soon-to-be daddy drama usually builds builds slowly and sort of festers before exploding, usually after some serious nagging by the moms to get off their duff and do something on that honey-do-for-baby list.

That trigger for a lot of soon-to-parents is the issue of the nursery. Moms totally stress about getting the nursery ready and especially about setting up the crib. Dads generally don’t have the same urgency in dealing with those tasks, which drives most moms absolutely nuts. I see this lack of urgency almost as a subconscious refusal to deal with the reality of having a baby. It’s like a last grasp to hold on to life as they’ve known it. No crib roughly translates to more time to still be the kind of married-without-kids carefree that they’ve enjoyed for some time. Conversely, the crib is a physical reminder that those days are seriously numbered. And this reticence has nothing to do with not being excited about a baby or the prospect of being a dad.

So, maybe a dadchelor party is just the cathartic experience that some dads need to reconcile their fears with reality. Sure, life changes in a big way post baby, but it’s in a good way. You don’t just stop being the person you were, but you do start to learn more about the person you are. I get that for a lot of dads it’s scary to be looking at an overnight change. Personally, I wished I’d have known about these dadchelor parties back when I was pregnant. I think my husband would’ve totally benefited from one last blowout before getting down to the real business of baby.

Admittedly I would’ve also been jealous had he had one. I’m not sure when I’ll get a night on the town dadchelor style. But maybe that’s where a compromise is in order. Dad gets a dadchelor night out and mom gets a post-baby moms-gone-wild night. Sounds like a deal to me.

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Filed under daddy care, dads, diapers, family, infants, marriage, maternity, mom style, mommy care, moms, nesting, newbie parents

Becoming a Fashion Forward (Or At Least Not So Behind) Momma

This post on a friend’s Facebook page about Diane von Furstenburg collaborating with Gap to produce some limited-edition GapKids must-haves for wee ones reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for some time.

At one of my baby showers (one of the only blessings that come with divorced families), a nice friend gave me this book called Baby Steps: A Little Handbook for Happy Parenting. Rule No. 3 in the book was: Yes, the baby will dress better than you for awhile.

I remember laughing at reading that at first. But then something happened and I almost took it as a challenge.

I have never been really concerned with fashion. Sure, I want to look good. But for years, I have been a believer in basics. Accessorize black, white, gray, or tan with some fun earrings, funky jewelry, and/or cute shoes and you are all good. It makes perfectly logical sense except that what you don’t realize (especially when on a budget) is that, year to year, your clothes never change–and quite possibly neither do you. I started to realize this in college when, as a joke, my roommate outlined my wardrobe–a black long-sleeve turtleneck for winter, a black short-sleeve turtleneck for spring, and a black sleeveless turtleneck for summer.

Point taken. And while in my post-graduate years, I took this all into consideration, I’m not really sure I made many significant strides. I actually hated skinny jeans until I realized that they were way easier to tuck into riding-style boots, which is one trend I absolutely adored. (Still do.) But cargo skinnies? No way. Gladiator sandals? Definitely a little too bold. Flat t-straps were okay, but the big-heeled version seemed a little excessive. And fancy shorts? Not a chance. Who  (other than celebrities) can get away with wearing silk shorts out to a bar or club anyway?

I still cared about looking current, but I didn’t really care about being trendy. In fact, I was willing to forgo trends for my own style comfort. But then came baby.

Ever since my little bundle of boy arrived, I’ve been so more interested in what clothes I’m wearing than I ever was. (Ever.) I don’t need expensive, designer duds, but suddenly I do want things that at least look trendy even if they come from Target. I will admit that one of the first things I bought for fun once I lost my baby weight was a pair of gray skinny cargo pants. (A lesson in never say never.)

But I’ve bought also sorts of crazy stuff in the past year because it was hot, cool, trendy, or fun. (By definition that would mean it also would totally qualify as impractical as a new mom. I think I might be taking “Pregnant in Heels” to a new level.) Yes, I actually bought a gorgeous pair of grey suede, over-the-knee, chunk-heeled boots this past fall. I don’t doubt that I made a statement when I wore them to my first French mommy group.

Similarly my last two shoe purchases for summer were as follows (the one on the left is Nine West and the on the right is Franco Sarto):

These gladiators were made for strollin'...

Not the greatest picture, but also arguably not the greatest selection, if you are talking about heel height versus functionality when it comes to lugging car seats or diaper bags or chasing children around. But, at the time, I felt that I needed (and deserved) them, so I bought them. (I still feel justified.)

I mentioned this sudden new-found interest or commitment or whatever you can call it in fashion–or at least trends, because who am I kidding, I don’t dare spend my husband’s hard-earned deployment money on essentially a label–to a couple of other mommy friends recently and found I wasn’t alone. Many of them were feeling the same, like they needed to make an extra effort to look good anytime they went somewhere other than the grocery store or gym. Showering was no longer just enough; we needed to have the whole package together. It’s like a passive-aggressive refusal among new moms to fit the stereotypical image of a new mom.

I say this, but I certainly don’t mean that women like me are trying to forget or hide that we are moms. I mean, we’re all cool with being a mom and having a lifestyle as a mom. I think the question is, do we need to wear t-shirts, khaki shorts, and flip flops or sneakers (or worse, Crocs) everyday? Hells no!

The only unfortunate part to this new sense of fashion daring for mommies like me is that we don’t have all that many places to go. The options are seriously limited–grocery store, Target, gym, church, work, and anything else pretty much is extra effort that may or may not require a babysitter. So while I’m buying these cute wardrobe goodies, I’m not really putting them through their courses for a night out on the town or anything. (In this sense, I actually look forward to meetings at the office because it means that I can get semi dressed up.)

But I buy the clothes anyway, despite some of its impracticality–I also recently bought a black, silk tulip skirt, which totally qualifies–because it’s really the only way I feel connected to the normal world. I’m so busy chasing, cleaning, feeding, bathing, and putting to bed that I barely have time to turn on the TV or answer e-mails, much less keep up with the all the latest happenings from around the globe. (That totally sucks, especially for a journalist by trade, to be constantly behind the power curve when it comes to knowing what’s going on in the world.) So, wearing something that looks sort of trendy is almost like a last stretch to stay connected with everything around me.

Maybe it sounds completely shallow. And maybe it is. But I completely feel more human and more together as an urban momma when I’m pushing my stroller wearing gladiator wedge sandals.

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Filed under babies, baby clothes, daily life, fashion and style, infants, maternity fashions, mom style, mommy care

Match Dot Mom

Back in my swingin’ single days, I used to spend all week waiting for the weekend to kick off with Friday night happy hour. Although I think it really should be called happy hours since many weeks I found myself still lugging my work bag around town at 1am on a Friday night. As a mommy now, obviously things have changed. But I still look forward to Fridays, but mostly because that’s the day I meet with my French mommy group. It’s a far cry from the happy hours I used to have, but it still is one of my happiest hour and a halfs every week.

But finding the right mommy group is hardly easy, as many of my mommy friends can attest. In fact, when I think about it, it’s kind of like dating all over again.

The ideal is to find a group of educated women who have laid-back personalities and a sense of humor, varied but complementary interests,  keep to a similar schedule, live relatively close to you, and, of course, have (at least) a kid around the same age as yours. It’s a tall order by any standards. I’m not sure I had as many requirements when looking for my last boyfriend. (Thank god my husband found me first.)

But where do mommies go to meet other mommies? The options are somewhat finite:

But let’s get real… chances are you’re looking for a mommy group because you don’t work at the moment, don’t go to church (or at least aren’t active in the community), don’t get to the gym as often as you’d like to admit, don’t have time for volunteer activities, and don’t want to shell out anywhere near $70/month for a membership to a baby club. And if you had friends with babies who lived in your neighborhood, you’d already be hanging out with them.

I lucked out and found a mommy group on the Internet, through http://www.meetup.com. (I totally get why people Internet date now and would admittedly be going down that road if I was single, as it’s an efficient and economical way to meet people.) I had to give on some of the said requirements–I drive roughly 40 minutes (although it’s probably less than 10 miles from my house) to get there–but the French connection outweighed the distance.

I think I lucked out, too, in that I’m sort of an inaugural member of the group. I found out about the group and was able to show up for the first meeting, and that likely made all the difference. It’s so much easier to try something new when everyone is new at it. I definitely think it would be much harder to jump into a very established group.

With that said, I always look forward to seeing if there are any new people at our weekly meetings and even if it’s a bit awkward and forced, I feel like my group’s organizers really try to make everyone feel welcome. But I can tell almost immediately who is never going to come back. In our group’s case, it’s usually someone who realizes the second she walks into the room that her French language skills maybe aren’t as good as she remembered them being in college.

But even as one of the regulars, more or less, I still find myself trying way harder than usual to have these women like me. I literally get up a half hour early, so I can spend extra time on my hair and make-up. I also spend an abnormally long time (for me) deciding what I’m going to wear; I always feel like I want to look fresh and chic and not the strung out and underdone that I usually am. I even stress a little over what baby is going to wear.

That’s when I know this is so like dating. Only minus the drinks and the free dinner.

And perhaps that’s why I find mommy groups, at least the one I’m in, a little awkward. Basically we sit around and watch each others’ kids play and make small talk about breastfeeding, nap schedules, and our husbands’ jobs. We don’t even have coffee or donuts, which makes me think that maybe I should bring some next time. Then again, everyone is currently thin, so maybe that wouldn’t go over so well, if it became a regular thing.

Maybe this whole blind-date, first-date feeling lasts for so long when getting to know other mommies because everyone sort of knows that they either (a) would never have crossed paths or (b) never become friends, if there weren’t babies in the picture. That fact is just sort of the Barney in the room. No wonder so many of my mommy friends who have tried some mommy groups have never gone back to them; that’s kind of a hard thing to get over if the chemistry just isn’t right. And seriously, when you have an infant, who has time to make an effort to spend time with women they don’t necessarily like?

But for as awkward as it can be during some of our meetings, I’m so glad that I’ve stuck with the group. Of course, I love getting the chance to practice my French, but every week, I get to know the women, at least the regulars, a little better and I like them not just a little but a lot more every week.

I just hope they feel the same way about me. I don’t want to have to try to pick up another mommy group any time soon.

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Filed under babies, bilingual baby, child development, daily life, foreign language, infants, mom style, mommy care, moms, parenting, play time

The Making of a Mortifying Mom Makeover

Usually when you see the word makeover, you assume there will be an improvement, that you’ll come out looking better than you did before. I fear that with my last trip to the beauty salon the opposite has happened. And I wish I had someone else to blame.

I don’t know why, but it seems like as soon as women find out they are pregnant, they start making some other changes. As if packing on an average of 40 lbs and trading in a tight tummy for a beach ball isn’t drastic enough. Some quit smoking or commit to eating healthier, but the vast majority make the biggest changes to one thing: their hair.

For as many women who stop coloring their hair–I was not one of them thanks to my hairdresser’s preference for organic dye–even more opt for the proverbial chop. I count myself among the throngs there. I just felt like I couldn’t deal with the longer locks and went for what I thought was a very sleek, chic bob. In retrospect, it might have been the beginning of a mom do. By the time my super straight locks hit my shoulders, my fear was full fledged: My haircut could be best described as “soccer mom.”

So, recently I figured I might try to put some style back into my hairstyle. I wanted to go back long again. That was going to take some time, so I needed something to change up the look in the meantime.

Now, I haven’t had bangs since the seventh grade, when I had a severe case of the fuglies–a bad bob, bad bangs, big glasses, and blemishes. All that was missing were the braces. (Those came later). Apparently all that had slipped my mind because as I sat down in the salon chair, I told my hairstylist to start cutting bangs.

The Look I Was Going For

Now, in my head, I was going for a fresh, edgy, urban mom look. I was thinking heavy, blunt bangs à la Zooey Deschanel. Cute, right? Instead I think I made a Katie Holmes-degree mistake, ending up with a do that probably makes me look a decade older than I

The Look I May Have Ended Up With

really am. On a good day they might look a little like Sandra Bullock’s Golden Globe bangs, oh which incidentally landed her on at least one Hollywood insider’s worst dressed list.

The biggest problem is that my super straight bangs–at least I got the blunt part right–keep splitting, leaving the fringe looking piece-y, dare I say stringy a lot of the time. And no amount of hair drying or brushing seems to consistently solve this problem. Plus, I didn’t realize just how fast my hair grows, so a week goes by and the ends of my bangs are literally obstructing my vision.

My husband says that he thinks my bangs will look better when my hair grows out more. That’s pretty much how I know they are as bad as I think they are. So, the next question is what to do about them. Do I stay committed to them, but get more cut to add some heft to them? Or do I just leave them as is and hope that all the hair that felt out postpartum will grow back soon enough and fill out the fringe? Or do I just say “uncle” and start growing them out (again)?

Decisions, decisions. And to think all this deliberation when the most exciting places I go are the gym and the grocery store.

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Filed under daily life, mom style, mommy care, moms, working mom