I told my sister I was writing a piece about how my wardrobe helps me as a parent. As a mother of three beautiful but boisterous boys she said that sounds like a bit of a stretch, but I persevered.
You see in every other aspect of our lives we use our wardrobe to make us feel a certain way; more powerful for an important interview, more attractive for a first date, less hungover the morning after. Yet ever since procreation, I have found myself in an apathetic rotation of jeans and navy Uniqlo jumpers. I am alarmed at how quickly I have abandoned my wardrobe post children. It is probably why I felt a jolt when I pulled out a soft pink coat for the school run recently. It wasn’t waterproof, stain-resistant or in any sense practical, but it instantly made me feel more capable and put-together. Suddenly, as I negotiated the morning wrestle of scooters, schoolbags and pushchairs – a piece of toast between my teeth – I felt less harangued. I tried to remember at what point I stopped trying to create (at least) the image of a competent, able person and have become a bit sartorially, well, un-done. It’s not as if I have ever thought of clothes as superficial and short-lived – Net-A-Porter is my happy place – and yet here I was in my delicious pink coat enjoying a hit of pure, quixotic joy – it impacted me and in a small way it did my girls. So I have resolved to make a few simple changes – here are the ones already making a difference.
1. Making more of my shower
Even through their incessant chatter, (my little ones like to dangle their feet over the side of the bath every time I try to bathe/shower) I am trying to savour a therapeutic hot shower every day. I have always used Aromatherapy Associates (it smells like showering in a five star hotel) and my favourite is the Relax – Restful and Tranquil body wash from the Self-Care Is Your Healthcare range, (£22, netaporter.com). I then have a quick skin brush. I let my mind wander – come up with great ideas, quickly forget them and feel set up for the day.
2. Adding even a hint of make-up
I am not ashamed to admit I enjoy watching Trinny Woodall’s Instagram-live beauty videos while vigorously massaging various emollients along with her in a bid to “wake up tired skin”. I have yet to join the ‘Trinny Tribe’ but her can-do approach to beauty has left me resolving to wear more make-up. For every day, I have always loved Guerlain. The Terracotta bronzer in Clair (not biased), the Maxi Lashes mascara, and The Eye Pencil, which just glides on (guerlain.com) are all in my make-up bag. And when I conceal my greys with my Color Wow Root Cover Up I even do my brows too (sssh).
3. Uncovering my ‘Joseph’ coat
By that I don’t mean ‘technicolour’ – it shouldn’t cost a fortune as you can’t be precious with it – rather one that always makes you feel fantastic and ‘together’. Weekday is good for that effortless Scandi style, Zara has the most incredible black wool wrap coat with patch pockets at the moment that I have to have, and Marks & Spencer has a lovely long-line checked coat that is well cut and not expensive.
4. Choosing not so basic basics
The Times fashion editor, Anna Murphy recently decreed that she had discovered the ‘perfect white T-shirt’ – I think probably the holy grail in fashion. It’s from Arket (the latest addition to the H&M group), £12, and, as she described, it’s well cut, not too see-through. Suffice to say I’ve bought three.
5. Elevating my denim
No, I don’t know why something so mundane as a pair of jeans is so incredibly hard to find either. The best I have seen recently are Meghan Markle’s ankle-grazing Mother jeans and Isa Arfen’s tartan turn-up tartan style, but both are a considerable investment. On the high street, the consensus seems to be that & Other Stories is the best. I like the Super High Slim jeans (£59, stories.com) but I think the answer for now is to put aside denim for a while and embrace the corduroy trouser – likes these wide-leg ones (£69, stories.com).
6. Bagging a no-brainer
I got chatting to another mum at my daughter’s nursery simply because we both had the same Aurora London Gigi bags. The brand was created by two mums and I have to say it shows. The designs are practical, thoughtfully designed and lightly on trend. I like that mine fits my bulging wallet and enormous keys (I have around 50 keyrings so I don’t lose them) but it still looks neat and compact, and it comes in lovely luxurious leather. I can’t recommend it enough.
7. Polishing my boots
I love the kick-ass vibe of the lace-up ankle boots this season. They are cool, practical, look as good with jeans as a miniskirt and are made for mums. My favourites are the Sezane Eugenie boots – for a more elegant Parisian take. Kurt Geiger’s Regent mock-croc mountain boots with cosy fur lining and Inch2’s handcrafted gloss leather lace-ups, with studded toes for when you really mean business.
8. Lounging in loveliness
Karl Lagerfeld said: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” Working from home, I do feel my first pair are just a click away. Everyone wants to be comfy – no one wants to look like a slob so I am investing in some luxurious loungewear, glam trackies, posh joggers (whatever you prefer). I like mine soft, knitted and neutral. And thanks to We Are Twinset’s recommendation, I am trying out Mischa Lounge for size.
9. Embracing the normcore
Finding clothes that make normal life fabulous, not fabulous clothes that you can’t wear in normal life – I think that is the secret. And one essential is a big, cosy, beautiful knit. Correct me if I’m wrong (and I’d love to be!) but like boots, I don’t think it is something you can buy inexpensively. Reasonable, yes, but on the high street they never seem to wash or last. My latest find is Winser London. Gillian Anderson has just collaborated with the brand and Meghan Markle wore the swing coat from the collection to the opening of The Invictus Games. The cashmere jumper, £99, and cashmere scarf, £150, are good quality and in lovely colours (winserlondon.com).
10. And finally, finding my style superpower
Even when your outfit is muted, sunglasses can snap it into quite the opposite – as Victoria Beckham said in Vogue: “They turn a nothing-outfit into something pulled together and cool.” I can go crazy with the shape and colour – so long as it has a retro vibe but you try whatever makes you feel great. I love Jimmy Choo’s latest collection with detachable jewels so you essentially get two pairs in one. My favourites come with detachable Swarovski earrings clipped to the arms – for when you really need to pull some super-fast bling out of the bag.