Thursday, August 23, 2012

WAHM Style: Frumpy or Fabulous


Readers, since I’ve become a work-at-home mom - (Is there actually a non-work-at-home mom?) - I realized that I lack a whole range of clothes that would suit my new lifestyle. I should be blogging about it, actually!
I am not a sweatpants kind of girl, but there are days I would rather hide than show myself to the world. How do I want to look at home?

Source
Well... but it's getting warmer

‘STYLE IS LIKE A MUSCLE’ - Nina Garcia, the oh-so-fabulous judge on Project Runway. 

“If you don’t exercise it, you lose it.” So, how do you exercise the style muscle if you are a work-at-home mom with three toddler-to-teenager kids. In the morning, breakfast - bringing the toddler to the daycare - getting back - organizing home - working - writing - early afternoon, picking up the 6-year old from school - an hour travel back home (NYC subway) - homework - evening, cooking - dinner - kids bath - COMA.

With these frantic days it is just so easy to forget about style, knock it out of your consciousness, pretending noone will ever care or notice. “...if you have a job that doesn’t require you to check in at an office or take the occasional meeting,” Nina Garcia warns in her ‘Lookbook’, “you can be on a very slippery slope from being home and comfortable to looking like a disheveled mess who panics every time the doorbell rings and you realize someone may actually see you in this state.”
So, here I am: I am losing it. The style, that is. 

Or, do we need to be stylish, actually? Anyone out there in the mood of directing it into a discussion about feminism - please, feel free. What I think is that the way we look reflects very much the way we feel, the way we are, who we are... Who are you? THE QUEST FOR STYLE
I am looking forward to your answers, readers! Meanwhile, I need to declare a war to my personal home-wardrobe frumpiness, readers! And I am asking you, WAHMs or non-WHAMs, what are you wearing at home? Do you think we need to be stylish at home? Are you a who-cares person, or do you want to be and to feel fabulous at home too?

49 comments:

  1. I have friends who stay in sweats or workout clothes all day. I personally don't want to be like that. Obviously I can't wear silk and cashmere every day as it would be ruined by the kids and all their mess. I can, however, go for at least getting dressed in something somewhat nice and doing hair and a touch of makeup. Right now I'm not dressing all that stylish at home, but that has more to do with nothing fitting me- and that, I can work on.

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    1. I have the same situation: on the one hand office clothes (the skeletons of my full-time work life) and more comfortable clothes I worn couple of years ago after my youngest was born. I lost a few inches since then, so here I am..

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  2. I tend to change several times a day...nice clothes going out, home clothes at home...unless my out clothes are comfy and I am not cleaning at home...but even then, I strip off the jewelry and shoes the moment I get in the door and load them on to go out again. SO the important thing is for my "out" clothes to be quick change ones. If I am wearing a dress over a slip, I may spend home time int he slip and throw the dress on to go out. Ditto for camisole and leggings under a dress.

    It would be nice for my home clothes to be fabulous, but fabulous is not always practical.

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  3. I have been trying to wear outfits that make me feel good about myself, but are still practical for my work at home life. In the winter that usually means a pair of jeans, very low heel boots, a loose blouse and a jacket. I usually end of taking the jacket off when I am hanging out at home, but I find that this particular type of outfit works for me at home and I feel put together when the doorbell rings and also feel like I can do what I need to do at home without feeling way overdressed. My husband does usually ask where I am going. That's when I know that I look good and am still dressing in a way that is practical at home. I just find that when I feel bad about how I look I don't get a whole lot done around here.

    Great discussion topic! It is really hard to still dress and feel good about yourself when you don't feel like there is much of anyone to impress. I say you have yourself to impress and that is all that matters!

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  4. I completely agree with Katherine. I do it up to run to the supermarket. But I'm not sitting around the house dolled up. Right now, I'm in PJ pants and a cami. It's simply not practical.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Erica. I always imagine you in some super fab outfits that you post on your blog) I am sure your PJs are fancy too! I hope )

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  5. I don't wear clothes at home, but I only live with my husband. I've actually made a deliberate effort to purge my closet of frumpy things so there's no temptation to go back into old frumpy habits. When I shop for or make clothes, I don't necessarily do so with the mindset of layering outside of leggings or socks, everything I get must look great all on its own, so I own tons of dresses and all I have to do is throw one on with a nice pair of shoes before I leave. I don't really accessorize much outside of a bag and shoes, so my style's pretty simple and low maintenance anyway, but people are convinced that it's much more complicated than that.

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    1. And the prize for the best comment goes to Anonymous)) I am smitten - you are not wearing clothes at home?

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  6. My situation is different. I'm 58, recently retired (via corporate reorganization), and have to work constantly at not falling into a frumpy and lazy lifestyle. Problem with me too is that the longer I am home, the more weight I gain (10 lbs since last year). In fact last couple of dresses didn't fit from muslin to finished dress. So the struggle is constant and I focus on perfecting technique and learning as much as I can. Work in progress is the theme for me. I also invested in a new summer wardrobe of easy to wear dresses in bright colors and easy to launder fabrics. So I dress every day with light make up and jewelry for sure.... My worry is winter in suburban Chicago ---- those sweats and hoodies are just dying to rear their ugly heads;). That slippery slope that Nina talks about is alive and well.....so reaffirm determination not to succumb! Btw, my age might be up there, but my style is much younger and that helps a lot.

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    1. We need to make jersey wrap dress a la Diane von Fuerstenberg, amsans! It would easily adjust to weight changes!

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  7. I often spend the day in workout clothes, because it is practical. My days typically involve walking the dogs, exercising, and of course the typical around the house straightening and such. When I go to the market in August in Florida, well, workout clothes are more comfortable. I wear nice workout clothes, not frumpy or oversized. If I have meetings, or am headed to the department stores/malls, I dress more appropriately. For my casual lifestyle, it works!

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    1. I know, house work and fab clothes don't combine well, unfortunately.

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  8. I have to admit, having no one visiting me is a good thing. I can be frumpy and won't care just for a day. But most days, dressed up in skirts or jeans and plain shirts. Dresses are confined for going out. Perhaps I do need to rethink my style when I move to a new house. On the other hand, it occured to me that this few coming months would be tough to wear fitted dresses. I have to find new patterns that won't me look hopeless and frumpy.

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    1. Melissa, I consider adding to my home wardrobe wrap dresses, like those von Diane von Fuerstenberg. Made in quality jersey print they can be super attractive, practical and comfortable

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  9. Great topic Marina! I also work at home, but my kids are all out of the house now (except for visits). My normal uniform is dressy jeans, a cute T-shirt, and in the winter some kind of cardi or jacket. I try to mix it up with knit wrap dresses or skirts and Ts as well. Since I am a sewing teacher, and my focus is on garments, I think frumpy would be a business turn-off in addition to not really being my style! Of course, there ARE days when it is hard to get out of my pajamas.....but they are the exception :-)

    I also worked in high-tech for years, and I came to hate those who said "I just want to be comfortable". PEOPLE! If your clothes fit you WILL be comfortable! Stop using "comfortable" as a synonym for sloppy! I swear there were people I saw in the halls daily who must have left home without ever looking in the mirror. Scary.

    Bottom line: I don't look dressed up most days, but definitely try for a little polish and edge to my clothing. Thanks for asking!

    Maris

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    1. Yes, Maris. I think especially because we are sewing we need to look polished, right?

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  10. Love that pic we should all cook in our biggest heals. I find nice shoes with more dressy tops matched with jeans is a great way to be stylish and comfy. Jeans wear well so you don't have to by them too often.

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    1. Imagine opening the door to a UPS guy in those heels, Nai! I would probably need to throw on a frumpy terry housecoat before I open that door...

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  11. I too an wrestling with this situation. I don't want to be sloppy about my dress at home, but also don't want to be wasteful about my clothing choices. I don't get a lot of daytime visitors, so not too worried about that. Jeans seem to be my go-to anymore. I'm trying to keep the workout clothes confined only to times I'm actually working out. My aspiration is to have sturdy cotton everyday dresses to replace the Jeans most of the time.

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    1. Jeans are my uniform when it's cool outside. Like you, I wish I had more options though...

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  12. Not a WAHM but whenever I'm home I like to be comfortable, and that often means not very stylish. Which makes me uncomfortable sometimes. For a while I've been wanting to work a sewin plan for comfortable but stylish pieces to wear at home but haven't yet managed to take it forward.

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  13. I have a giganourmous amount of coats and jackets of all sorts style and color. I mostly wear jeans, a t-shirt and a cardigan at home, then I'll put out a new coat every day. That's the winter strategy.
    In the summer, I'll wear my loud skirts and dresses.
    If I was to give you a tiny bit of advice, I'd say, make yourself a stunning house coat, something glamorous that you you feel good and warm in and that won't make you feel frumpy but chic when you open the door to the delivery man. It's become a wardrobe staple around these parts.
    Oh! And don't forget that the clothes you wear are your best business card, so wear them!

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    1. love loud skirts and dresses! I know you got quite a few fabulous ones!

      House coat is on my to-do list :D As well as a few other things, thanks for reminding) In fact I was thinking about a caftan in some gorgeous print...

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  14. Oh, I can sympathise with so many comments. I been forced to be home due my back illness and I started to wear only sweats, once I staters my MBA I had to make an effort to look better and I also gain a stone since my last operation. Be ause I'm so tall it doesn't show but my clothes feel so uncomfortable and many don't fit. I felt that mmm helped me to make an effort to dress too. I love dressing up I just lost the motivation. I'm sure it's a bad phase but I need to regain my style at home too... At least I made loads of styling home wear but I still need to work on my home style.

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    1. Yes, MMM is great wardrobe test! I participated once, but then realized I didn't have enough me-made clothes to keep on going. Bravo to you for making it to the end. Hope you have more relaxed time soon!

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  15. What a fun topic, Marina! I find that I "do" better when I look better! I'm more productive, have more energy and smile a lot more. I also find it interesting when I get compliments even in the grocery store. Obviously, other people notice when you make an effort. So I try to stay out of the PJ's and sweats as much as possible. Also, I love to sew -- and I sew what I like and not necessarily what my jeans-and-tshirt lifestyle calls for. That means I have lots of dresses and skirts to choose from, even on days like today when my only outing will be to the farmer's market! I'll be the most dressed up person there for sure!

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    1. What a great attitude, Cissie! That's what I aim at too. Hope in the near future I can replace my office wear with fun and fabulous pieces! What are you going to wear to the farmer's market?

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  16. I'v always worked from home, through kids and now that they are out of the house. I do much better at taking myself seriously when I dress nicely. Well fitting clothing that flatters, some makeup and even jewelry certainly makes me feel good about how I look and at my age that is certainly helpful! I dress for me, but the side benefit are lovely compliments from people I see out and from my husband of 40 years when he comes home. I have never bought into the idea that feminism and looking good are mutually exclusive.

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  17. Oh that's my eternal problem too. Though I work full time, I don't like looking frumpy at home. So all tips here are great for me! I normally wear yoga pants and a fitted sleeved top.

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  18. I don't think that wearing comfortable clothes at home means one has lost all interest in style. The only potential problem is allowing oneself to overeat and under exercise because stretchy baggy clothes mask weight gain. If you're really concerned, I suggest you run up some one-piece shift dresses and some simple A-linish skirts that can be worn with T-shirts and tunics. Add a pair of comfortable but nice loafers, and, come the cool winter, tights, and you're done. At least I would be.

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  19. Great question! Not being a WAHM myself but having a job which allows me to work from home occasionally and even when in-office, be pretty casual, it's certainly very easy to slip into the routine of not getting dressed or letting one's dress code become more comfortable than chic. While I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with this in itself, I do think there is something very healthy about maintaining one's look when going out, even if it's for coffee or a casual business meeting.

    As much as we can pontificate about how people shouldn't care how we look, (and that's true), unfortunately we live in a society which will first judge you on how you present yourself physically. Certainly if one is willing to take that risk, I don't think we should be obligated to care, but do be aware that not everyone will be of the same mindset, and it may be more difficult in some ways, to earn the respect of potential employers or clients.

    The other, and more important, part of the equation is how we feel about ourselves. I do love lounging around in my comfy clothes at home but I also VERY much enjoy how I feel when I've taken the time to dress well and do my hair and makeup. That's not to say I think everyone should be this way, but I think we should be aware of what we personally need for ourselves to be at our absolute best, and not be shy about ensuring we hold true to those standards - because we care about ourselves, not what other people say! :)

    And just a personal opinion... I LOVE Dita Von Teese! Her attitude and style are a constant source of inspiration for me, and I think she looks fabulous in her heels and apron! :)

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  20. Marina, I love your work. Check out the youlookfab.com website. It's easily searchable and Angie has great suggestions for stay at home moms (SAHM) and moms on the go (MOTG) and it's a supportive forum of women from many spots around the world. Elle

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  21. New commenter here; I love your blog! I find that after helping the children decide how to dress (and getting them out of the house etc. etc.) I don't have the mental energy to decide on a cute outfit for myself. I mostly dress in uniforms; if an outfit has worked well in a particular week I will sort of keep repeating it until the weather chages or I run out of clean clothes. That could be dresses when it's warm, colorful skirts and tops, jeans and cardigans or tunics over skinny pants. Since I have a job that requires rather formal dress (that I work in only a couple of days a week) I make an effort to dress more colorful at home; not only does it match my kids but it also improves my mood!

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  22. First of all, Marina, your blog is an inspiration to me. I'm taking Susan Khalje's Couture Dress Class on Craftsy, and am loving learning to sew with couture techniques. Part of the issue here is that we live in a much more casual world and that frequently translates into frumpy if not downright sloppy (check out most people at the big box stores). I grew up in small town Texas with a mother who idolized Grace Kelly and Jackie O and still in her 80's is one of the most elegant women I've ever known. It's difficult to find that balance between practical and beautiful. If you look through high-end department store catalogues (i.e. Neiman Marcus), you'll find work-out style clothes in elegant fabrics. I myself prefer to wear a pair of neat looking jeans and a stylish tunic/shirt of some sort when at home. Earring and even a small amount of makeup go a long way to alleviating that frumpy feeling. My kids are now now grown (youngest in college). I am a professional pianist at a university and even professional attire has become much more casual. Many of my colleagues wear jeans to work on a daily basis. We do pull out the bling for performances though. As for the connection between our dress and feminism . . . the way we dress is powerful. Those of us in this world who have choices about our attire should always remember the many women in this world who would love to have the freedom to choose. Keep sewing and enjoy those children. The time flies!

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  23. This is topical for me too. My youngest is nearly two and I've theoretically lost the baby weight. My oldest will be in first grade this fall and none of the other moms there are home full time. I feel a little on display at pickups there. I want to look pulled together, but comfort and wash ability are an issue with toddlers! Recently, I'm working on two dresses I chose for a combination of good looks and comfort: Rae's brand new Washi dress and Megan Nielson's Darling Ranges. I also can't wait to try the shirtwaist dress in Gerties new book. Washi is super comfortable and flattering.

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  24. o love your work. I really looking a this type dress. O thanks. Its really good.

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  25. I had two months leave last year (mainly at home in the garden) which made me realise I had two wardrobes - office wear for work, and gardening clothes and not much else. No wonder I always felt frumpy on the weekend! So I set about making some skirts and neat jumpers which are now my weekend staples. Except when I am out in the mud. I do still need to replace my warmest jumper with something a bit more stylish yet still indestructible.

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  26. Well I'm not a mom, but yes, style is very important, even if there's no one else home to see you but your cat! I really like cotton and flannel robes for staying at home. My mom has a black cotton robe that I wear around the house, it's black with gold details. For errand running, black knit capris and a knit shirt. My mom always went to the grocery store with earrings on, a watch, perfume and makeup so that was always my model for style.

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  27. Just found your blog and really enjoy it! Interesting topic. I work from home so when I'm not traveling and wearing 'business' clothes I wear yoga pants or short/jeans depending on the season. I'm not totally frumpy - more casual than frump - but it seems silly to get all made up for my dog and cats. Plus, if I have to work all day, I want to be comfortable - that's one of the benefits! I make sure I'm decent and not totally slovenly because I regularly see neighbors when I take the dog out. Now, if I'm going out in 'public' I'll step it up a bit - jeans and boots, makeup, jewelry, etc...

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  28. I agree that how one dresses reflects on ones mood, outlook etc. I'm not a mom but in my years working independently and generally without any specific dress code it is a constant challenge to keep up the energy wardrobe-wise. I am happier when I dress well regardless of the occasion or type of work. I used to teach Pilates and I grew so tired of even really nice workout clothes. I used to teach preschool also and my work wardrobe was just stuff I didn't care about messing up which was kinda depressing after a while, even though it wasn't technically frumpy or messy. Now, in sewing for every day I get the most use out of easy skirts (full with elastic waist or bias styles) in fun cotton prints and linen solids to pair with classic tanks and tees all of which are easy to wear and wash; Flannel pj pants and vintage style robes (like a house coat with buttons, not wrap and tie) that I wear to relax in the evening or if I'm doing laundry before I get dressed; and my favorite dresses that are easy to throw on with a sweater or jacket to go out whether it's shopping, lunch, or an evening with my husband. I personally get sick of jeans... Thanks for the fun discussion!

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  29. I havce a real defecit in this area- I wear a uniform at work, like to get frisked up for going out, but at home I rely heavilly on the giveaway t-shirts from the local blood drives?! It's bad. I feel guilty that my husband doesn't get 'cute me' at home.

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  30. I laughed when I read this and saw that photo. I am currently at my computer in a sports bra and faded leggings with a one year old rubbing his runny nose on my thigh. Definitely praying no one rings the door bell! I am struggling with the idea of what to wear as a WAHM! I joke about getting a yoga cert so I can run around in cute yoga outfits for a good reason. Really, what I need to do is plan a casual set of sewing projects that can survive a toddler!

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  31. Great post and so relevant for me right now. I work from home 50% of the week and from a home office the rest of the time, so I can be pretty casual. I have to say I am getting pretty sick of wearing jeans everyday and am in the process of planning my wardrobe for the upcoming spring/summer. I am going to make some nice shorts and/or capris and some nice summer tops so that I am a bit less casual all the time but still comfortable. My fear is looking like a frumpy person older than I really am!

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  32. I just found your blog via Burdastyle. Am following your couture challenge projects. Loving it! Was reading back thru some of the older posts catching up and found this topic. Know I'm a little late but so had to comment because I have been having issues with this problem for quite some time now. Up until two years ago I worked as a Human Resources Officer for a local community college. My job required that I dress professionally everyday-suits, stockings, heels, the whole nine yards-but then I was forced to resign due to my health. Now I am home all the time and have no need for my former wardrobe but find I miss my suits, skirts, blouses, even my heels terribly. I see no point in wearing them just to clean, do laundry, and cook. I look in the mirror each day and barely recognize myself. I feel like my whole identity went with my job!! What should i do?

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