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Dear Biki

I am a new mum who lives in the States and I need your help finding a new style. Pre-baby, I had my style (all the way from my hair to my shoes) and invested a lot of time in planning my look for each day/event/occassion. With a new baby and a growing corporate career, I struggle to find time to plan my outfits, accessories and most times just pick the easiest thing to wear (which isn’t always the chicest :-)) and I haven’t had any time to go shopping in a while. I don’t want to fall into a style rut and need your fashion advice.
Ideally, I would like fashion guidelines for (a) work outfits (b) saturday outings (mall, park, playdates) with my lil’ munchkin. Your ideas would need to be low maintenance, build off some base pieces and not take too much time to make work.
Thanks so much!
Ebony mama

My Answer

Dear Ebony mama

The key here is to invest in pieces (which you may already have or need to buy) that can accommodate your new lifestyle.  I believe that for both your casual and corporate look you can have a uniform, stylish look.  Reason being, a uniform look saves you the trouble and time of having to search for a new X to go with a new Y every morning.  Furthermore, a uniform look need not be boring, when the emphasis is on quality not quantity.

My advice is that your Saturday afternoon look should revolve around two essential and low maintenance base pieces‘the jacket/blazer and denim jean’ combo.  If you don’t already own a pair of fitted denim jeans- a dark-wash pair (as opposed to a faded or distressed version which never looks as sophisticated) should give you freedom of movement whilst running after your lil’ munchkin.  A statement jacket or blazer will give you a polished air as you nip around the grocery store to do your weekly shopping. 

Katie Holmes is one of my favourite stylish mothers as I believe she flies the ‘Practical yet stylish looking Mum’ flag well-

Two more pieces that should be part of your ‘uniform’ look are a statement oversized bag, that allows you to chicly carry all the vital items for your little bundle of joy and a pair of flats or leather boots with a heel that is stable and wearable for long hours.  With the vertiginous heels that Victoria Beckham wears she would probably give the opposite advice, but then maybe flats would put a smile on her face as opposed to the trained scowl that we are so accustomed to seeing.

To take you out of your ‘style rut’ and bearing in mind it is Fall season in the States, the following pieces will give you new ways to regularly and quickly add variety to your uniform, ‘Denim jeans and jacket/blazer’ combo

  • A few machine-wash friendly jumpers in your favourite colours
  • An array of oversized scarves in your favourite colours and textures- accessories are the cheapest, most effective way to update an outfit.

Your corporate look should revolve around the same ‘uniform look’ principle.  For your corporate look I would advise on 2 main looks-the skirt suit and the shift dress suit. When choosing the style and hue of these two looks, make sure you go for what suits your figure and skin tone, as opposed to the latest trends.

Variety can be incorporated into your skirt suit ensemble by investing in-

  • Different styled smart blouses with interesting detailing like, the pussy bow detail
  • Button-down cotton shirts in your favourite colour

If you don’t have one already, investing in a smart, shift dress suit (in a similar tone to your skirt suit) will offer you a more chic way to effortlessly take you from work to office drinks or events.

Naomi Campbell in tailored jacket and shift dress combination, courtesy of Xfinity.comcast.net

The following pieces will allow you to quickly and easily spice up your shift dress suit on a regular basis-

  • An array of skinny belts in sombre colours– as I mentioned before, accessories are the cheapest and often, most fun way to update an outfit.  The great aspect of a skinny belt is that if it is in a separate but complimentary tone from your shift dress, it will ‘break up’ your outfit nicely, making you look taller and leaner.
  • The same blouses and shirts you have for your skirt suit(this was why I mentioned earlier to buy a shift dress in a similar tone to your skirt suit).

I would also advice you to get a shift dress and skirt suit with similar length and tone, so that either style can be alternated with a pair of the same style shoes.  This will save you a lot of time on those busy, multi-tasking mornings, when the last thing you will want to be agonising about is what pair of shoes to wear.

On a side note, a great way to wrap up your new, stylish corporate look would be to invest in a S-wonderful floor-grazing overcoatOpt for a lean, tailored style that will give your city-slick drama.

Paul & Joe- A/W 2011, courtesy of http://www.style.com

Finally, you mentioned that you hadn’t found the time to go clothes shopping in a while, so I have listed a few e-tailers which you can browse through on the go, that offer you great style at the click of a finger.

 www.net-a-porter.com (The luxury womenswear Mecca)

www.reissonline.com (Great for affordable stylish, corporate wear)

www.donnaida.com (The authority for women’s denim jeans)