Before becoming a mother, I imagined that my wardrobe would become a redundant, frivolous irrelevance. My new life phase would inspire entirely different tastes and demands. While it is true, practical has become a greater priority, as soon as my daughter was born I could not wait to take my slouchy maternity clothes to the charity shop and go shopping again. As a mother, you definitely get a heightened sense of who you are. You are less likely to tolerate items that arent easy, good quality and most importantly you. You buy less, regret less, and feel more confident in your choices. Here are some ideas to inspire you to get back on your fashion feet.
The T-shirt: the foundation upon which every outfit thrown together in less than 30 seconds is based. In soft jersey or crisp cotton, you will need a wardrobe of them for last minute play dates and fashion emergencies. Try label-of-the-moment Être Cécile for a luxury investment, Bassike for super soft (and stylish) jersey, Uniqlo for budget buys or J.Crew for great mid-range in different shapes from white to soft grey.
Have a print run
Colourful, joyful and perfect for concealing countless grubby little fingerprints this seasons tribal and Aztec prints or bold painterly brushstrokes are a new-mummy style godsend. They work best worn together or as separates with a neutral. For great prints that cover a multitude of sins try label-of-the-moment Stella Jean or Suno, or TopShop for affordable buys.
Wipe clean at will
It sounds unappealing, but you will be amazed at how grubby you get in literally seconds. Glossy, high-shine fabrics were a key trend for spring. We are thinking along the lines of a pair of Joseph leather leggings or J Brands new second-skin-style Stocking jean, which comes in coated denim. Just keep the baby wipes at the ready.
Explore your jean pool
Funnily enough, it is the practical, roomy Mum jean that is the style of the moment. Tapered at the ankle and less masculine than the boyfriend, it looks best in classic stonewash blue. Check out the Mom fit at Topshop and MiHs cropped styles. If this seems a bit too fashion, a great skinny never fails. At denim doyenne Donna Ida, their best-seller is the J Brand 811 mid-rise skinny (especially in the photo-ready fabric) followed by the Ida Jeanie cigarette leg. Fashion and lifestyle consultant and new mum, Pippa Vosper, says: Having tried every style of jeans and trialed every fabric, I bought Current Elliott’s Ankle Skinny’ jeans in various sizes to get me through the post-pregnancy weight-gain and back down to my pre-pregnancy size. The fabric is incredibly soft, with stretch, and the fit with a slightly higher waist is just perfect.
Rethink your bling
You dont want to catch your babys delicate skin on your oversized crystal necklace or spiked cuff and besides, who really has time to accessorise? What appeals now are pieces fine and delicate enough to sleep in. Monica Vinader is great for (relatively) inexpensive jewels using semi-precious and precious stones. You could layer a few of the fine Lapis and Turquoise bracelets from the new Atlantis collection or choose some of the colourful stacking rings all with baby-friendly edges. Pippa Small is another great source and all her stones are ethically sourced.
Forget about finding a chic nappy bag
You can keep on hunting but it doesnt exist. I do, however, think the Anya Hindmarch baby emergency kit is brilliant. It has a changing mat and all of the pockets and compartments you need in a nappy bag. It comes in wipe-clean black nylon and is compact enough to fit inside your own tote. We must all make sacrifices as mothers but handbags are not one of them. In my work, I still needed to look like me as its not unusual to meet potential clients through friends or even at my sons nursery, says Vosper. I found the Givenchy Antigona tote to be the perfect alternative baby bag; it’s enormous, chic and very sturdy.
Layer, layer, layer
Versatility is the key to a stylish but hard-working wardrobe. Lightweight knits, (Uniqlo has an inexpensive selection for layering) loose fine linen or cotton shirts (try Isabel Marant, or even find it cut price on Yoox) and bright, fine cashmere scarves (Chan Luu has lovely ombre styles Net-a-porter.com) are all great to easily mix and match. Build your look so you can adapt it throughout the day: its about being ready for anything. Sofia Barattieri, mother of three and founder of social shopping site Motilo.com, agrees: I definitely think a mother should not compromise on being stylish and elegant. I think children love to see their mother dressed up, so long as she knows how to dress down. My essentials are a great pair of Prada flat boots they last forever. A perfectly cut masculine coat by Gucci you can dress it up or down. And I find a scarf hides everything. I love Tatiana Santa Domingo from Muzungu Sisters who sources hers from all over the world.
Go flat out
The pros at the shows thought nothing of wearing Adidas Stan Smith sneakers with their designer looks. Comfortable, practical footwear is really big right now so you may as well make hay while the shoe sun shines. You could go all out in Saint Laurent leopard-print slip-ons or try something more classic. Nike and A.P.C have recently collaborated on a covetable collection.
And finally, relish a little shade
Any accessory that will hide under-eye shadows from sleepless nights when you dont even have time to apply concealer will become your new best friend, so it is definitely worth investing in sunglasses that make you feel fantastic. The hottest label right now is Prism by Anna Laub. The printed Capri style with winged frames, will give your face a much-needed uplift.
By Claire Brayford Portrait photos by Johnathan Crawley
Motherhood often drives women to make a career change. In the case of the inspiring Nicolle Sullivan, founder of Cultiver and mother to Maya Juliet, three and a half years, and Katarina Eve, seven months, having children made her completely re-think her occupation. Shed spent over a decade working in global investment banks. I loved it, but I didnt want to continue after starting a family. After I took a break to have my daughter, I started thinking about trying something new and hatched the idea of Cultiver, she recalls. Founded in 2012, Cultiver was inspired by the idea of everyday luxury and initially started with a range of classic, high quality, linen bedding, and quickly grew into a beautifully edited collection of designer rugs, cushions, candles and more.
Sullivan knew exactly what she wanted to achieve: I wanted to offer the type of products that I had become passionate about shopping online for: high quality, well sourced and well priced. I joke that I had to find an outlet for the years I had spent online shopping. I had no experience in importing, retailing or online business. I just thought Id give it a go until I came to an insurmountable hurdle, and have managed to get where we are now without one so far.
Sullivan and her family live in Sydneys lower north shore in a immaculately decorated home that clearly reflects her love of interiors. Ive always loved interiors, she says. Ive been restyling my surroundings for as long as I can remember. I really enjoy creating spaces that are comfortable, functional and visually appealing.
Motherhood, says Sullivan, has ultimately taught her the true meaning of multitasking. I had no idea! It has also reinforced the importance of having friends and family around, to share the joys and struggles.
Nicolles little list of loves:
Reading. Everything from blogs to magazines to fiction.
Watching an engrossing television series. I cant wait for House of Cards to start again.
Next Issue – an iPad app that gives you access to 70+ US magazines.
The Jerzy Michalski painting that my husband gave me for my birthday.
Watching my daughters play together.
Photography: Julie Adams Words: Georgie Abay
The minute you wander into Iwona Laus beachside home located on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, it feels like youre on holidays. For one, theres the spectacular ocean view, but theres also the model mother, barefoot and dressed in J brand denim shorts (with legs that go on forever) and a Proenza Schouler T-shirt, looking utterly relaxed. She looks far too rested for someone who has been up all night with a sick toddler. Its amazing what our bodies can handle, I think all mothers have a secret auto pilot button hidden somewhere and on those days we need it we just push through and get things done, she says. Theres a happy, holiday vibe running through the house, which comes from having two excited boys with bountiful energy. “I love the sound of their laughter, especially when it comes right from the belly,” she says.
She and her husband film director Anthony Lau gave birth to their first son, Henry, seven years ago. Their second child, Hunter, was born three years later. My career changed completely, she says. I was modelling and living overseas up until I became pregnant. Anthonys work was taking him overseas a lot, so we decided that it would be best for our family if I stayed at home caring for Henry for the first 18 months. Once Henry was a little older, I began doing the odd producing project for my husband. I realised how time consuming and stressful the role of a producer was and decided that it wasnt the career for me as Henry was my first priority. I was fortunate enough not to have to go to work just for the sake of bringing in some extra money, but did continue doing some modelling part time as it didnt interfere with my home life too much. While she still models part-time, this new life stage has taken her career in a new direction. Lau is launching a lifestyle and homewares brand, LOWLA, with friend Sami Simper in November. Being there for my kids before and after school is really important to me, thats I why I needed to find something I could do from home, creating my own business was the perfect solution.
Lau is also quick to express how important it is to value motherhood. I struggled with the just a mum tag throughout the years and the only thing I regret is allowing it to make me feel inadequate during that time. Being a stay-at-home mother is such an undervalued role.
Iwonas little list of loves:
Early morning or late afternoon walks and swims.
The sound of my children’s laughter especially when it comes right from the belly.
Seeing the look on their faces when they are proud of something theyve just done.
Having friends over, lazy lunches or dinner parties with a bit of lounge room dancing at the end.
Spying on the kids in their room, watching how they interact and listening to what they talk about. Its hysterical and heart warming!
Watching Anthony play with the boys.
Organic health food stores and cafés – this is where I spend most of my money.
Early morning strolls through our local farmers market.
Tuesday nights. Kids tucked in, house is clean and me watching Housewives of Beverly Hills with a glass of red and some Loving Earth Crunchy Mint Raw Dark Chocolate it is my guilty pleasure. Anthony will sit next to me and watch with a bemused expression on his face.
Anything to do with interiors; books, magazines, shops, products.