Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Mama Style

Thank you to Jessa Sexton for contributing the following post. I'm sure many young mommies can relate and can learn from her tips!

A couple years ago, I was feeling fairly secure in my personal fashion style. I had embraced my adoration of dresses and learned how to co-ordinate pieces to assemble a cohesive “Jessa” look I was proud to identify with.

And then, after seven years as a professor at a design school, a recent career change to stay-at-home mama of three (age four, two, and new) has become the most intriguing, fulfilling, and exhausting challenge of my life. Inside all the personal upheaval such an adjustment brings, one particular difficulty is renovating that “Jessa” look. My previous style isn’t even remotely conducive to climbing under pillow tunnels or having a picnic in a blanket fort. However, my go-to appearance of yoga capris (with socks…because my feet get chilled), tee shirt, and hair-in-a-bun isn’t always conducive to a positive self-attitude.

Let me start by saying I began writing this article on a yoga capris day. They happen. I don’t fight it. But I’ve noticed an incredible difference in how I feel about myself when I dress in such a manner that I wouldn’t run and hide if the doorbell rang.

So I began doing some important online research (aka Pinteresting studies) on a style that could suit my life and my outlook. I’ve come up with a couple key elements for the summer mama:

1)     Hair
With the combination of a hair-pulling baby and the heat of summertime, I just cannot leave my hair down. I looked up a couple of ways to avoid reverting to just a ponytail or bun (which don’t look like those cute messy up-dos when I do them). Sometimes a simple braid on one side of my head before pulling the rest of the hair back is all I need to feel a little more intentional and expedient.

2)     Cute Top
Why spend money on a cute shirt the kids might ruin? I understand your fears—my baby spits up on my shoulder with regularity—but fear not. As I have browsed H&M or, I’ve noticed the cost of something cute is often about as much as a regular tee shirt. Find tops that are a good marriage of comfort and charm. 

3)     Flats
My love affair with flats is an old, old story. Wearing a pair of shoes with personality is an excellent way to step up your look, and I found flats can make it through most of the activities of my day.  Since I haul a wagon of children at the zoo, you will see me there in my sneakers. In general, though, flats blend practicality and panache. (Some of my favorite finds are from Goodwill.)

4)     Accessories
I must admit that the accessory category is one in which I have always lacked strength. Fall is my favorite season: I understand the scarf. But what about summer, with a baby? At this point in my life, earrings are really the best I can do—but I feel an admitable distinction on the days I wear them and the days I don’t. Fabric-covered button earrings are my favorite with little ones (who tend to get curious about those lovely dangling ones that look a little like the toys Mama is so proud to see baby grab and shake). I’ve become obsessed enough with this accessory that I have all the materials to make them. Taking the time to pick out complementary earrings is a fun moment in my manic-mornings. Do I feel like mixing my prints? Do I want to match colors? Accessories are a sign I’ve thought about myself. 

5)     Pants
I noticed I can mix all the other mentioned items with jeans or shorts depending on the weather and the occasion. I’ve even purchased some of those things that look like a skirt but actually have a small spot sewed in so they never get pulled up by your two-year-old. Also, different stores have pants that are incredibly comfortable and also dressy looking. I have a couple from NY & Company I wore to work that felt like pajamas. Such a find is rare and should be revered.  

6)     Make-up
The final quick mention I have is make-up. I think each woman has to consider her “must have” item. Mine is eyeliner; I think I look the tired-that-I-am without it. I’ve also fallen in love with the face wipes that can refresh me in two seconds. One of those and a couple swipes with my eyeliner pencil each morning, and I feel pretty. 

My life isn’t as glamorous as it used to be. Daily I am used as a napkin or hand towel. A small, blue paint footprint stains a favorite pair of pants. But at the end of the day, when my four-year-old hugs me and says, “I want to be here with you forever because I love you,” the importance and beauty of my new life is validated. Still…my own importance and beauty shouldn’t be ignored. I can dress in a way that is “me” and also “mama.” If my clothing speaks of who I am and how I feel—I want to make sure it focuses the world, and myself, less on those moments of haggardness and more on this life of happiness.  

Other contributions from Jessa:

Jessa R. Sexton is a write-at-home mom of three. Though she spends most of her time managing that crew, she also works with the Hilliard Institute and is Executive Editor of a small academic publishing company called Hilliard Press. Click here to learn more about Jessa and her charitable organizations

Anyone else interested in volunteering a blog post to the paNASH Style blog 
please contact us for more information.

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