Jul 12, 2012  •  In Motherhood, Personal

Dressing the Part: Should Moms Dress More Conservatively?

Now that I have lost most of the baby weight (just a few more pounds to go!) and can fit into most of my old clothes, I have come to a realization.

“Did I always wear clothes this tight?” I asked J.

“Yep. That shirt looks just the way it used to on you before the babies.”

Because I became pregnant with Aerin just a few months after having Claire, I can safely say that I have spent the majority of the past 2.5 years pregnant and obviously well above my usual weight. I was also no longer working, thus being prompted to dress in loose shabby clothing or maternity wear.

Being able to fit into my old clothes is exciting. But because it has been so long since I have worn these clothes, I had forgotten how they fit. More specifically, how form-hugging they were.

My mind flashed back to a conversation I recently had with a girlfriend. I had treated myself to a girls night out, and we were sipping drinks at one of our old stomping grounds: a lounge that is popular for pre-partying before heading to clubs. As I checked out the scene and noticed the other girls — the majority of them clearly in their early twenties — I asked my friend, “Can you believe what girls are wearing these days? I would never let my daughters walk out of the door like that.”

My friend rolled her eyes. “Oh Jenny, please. We used to wear stuff like this all the time when we went out, remember?”

“No we did not!” I retorted.

“Yes we did. And some of our outfits were way more scandalous than what these girls are wearing. Go look at pictures of us from back then.”

And she was right.


Me, circa 2002. You can’t really tell from this picture, but the
top I am wearing has a lace-up neckline that bares a lot of cleavage. 

Has having kids transformed my fashion tastes? Have I become a typical mom in conservative clothes?

I then did a quick assessment of my closet. Can a mother of two pull this off? SHOULD a mother of two wear this?

I know that I am still relatively young (31), and I am constantly told that I look more like I’m in my mid-to-late twenties. I am pretty certain that if I were to don my old, form-fitting clothes, most people wouldn’t bat an eye. I know that I should wear whatever makes me happy, just as long as it is appropriate for the venues I may be attending.

But now I can’t help but ask myself if I feel comfortable wearing these clothes.

And the answer is no. At least, not all of them.

I have always said that my biggest motivation to lose the baby weight is economical — I did not want to buy new clothes! But now that I have become a mother whose fashion sense has become more conservative, I may need to add more mature pieces to my wardrobe.

What do you think? Should mothers dress more conservatively than they did in their pre-baby days? Have you found your taste in fashion growing more conservative as you get older?

12 Responses to “Dressing the Part: Should Moms Dress More Conservatively?”

  1. Laura:

    Congrats on losing most of the baby weight, way to go! I have many friends who have a hard time achieving that so I applaud you for making the effort since it’s not easy. It’s such a great example for your children to take care of yourself! I wish more mothers would take a little time for themselves, but I know it’s not easy when you’re pulled in a million directions. Although I’m not a mother, I find myself dressing a little more conservatively as I get older. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things – for one, I can now afford better quality clothes that focus more on fit than showing skin off (more along the lines of clearance at J Crew and Banana Republic than clearance at Express and Old Navy! :) ) and while my office has a casual dress code that allows me to wear jeans everyday, just like college, I still have to look professional, unlike in college. Anyway, I can only imagine that as a mother, practicality would be the main reason to dress more conservatively. When you have to carry or run after kids, I’m guessing the last thing you want to deal with is worrying about showing cleavage or bra straps peaking out, exposure from short hemlines or tops, etc.

  2. Sarah:

    I feel the same way! I don’t have kids but I am a teacher who now always dresses like one. I find myself buying bigger clothes even though I haven’t gained weight.. I guess it’s just a part of getting older!

  3. I don’t have kids, but when I started doing clinicals, I suddenly realized that I wanted clothes that were made of better fabrics and cut more generously (kind of like what Laura said). I think it’s just changing your image. If I had little girls, that would probably be another incentive, because I know that they’re absorbing everything you do/wear. Maybe you can get some cute cardigans (or those short-sleeved cardigans) to just update your wardrobe. I wear cardigans or jackets over my tighter, sleeveless shirts and it changes the look completely. Congrats on your weight loss!

  4. Jenny, I was just having this conversation with someone just the other day. Even though, I’m in my mid-30’s and I don’t have kids, I totally see myself gawking on what younger women are wearing these days. I think it’s a function of two things: (1) The styles are just soo different. Back in my 20’s, when we went out, we put on a cute pair of jeans, a cute/sexy top and great shoes (mostly heels). Now women in their 20’s are wearing these super short dresses that barely cover their butt and sky high heels that just weren’t being sold back in my hey day. This is the prevailing style. (2) I am just getting more conservative at this age. To be honest, I’m not out to attract attention/men (just being honest although I didn’t like unneeded attention when I was younger as well), and I think that as I get older I just feel like I need to presen myself in a certain manner. That being said, I think some women (mothers or not), take that to mean being frumpy. You can be stylish and even a little sexy without showing a lot of skin. Fight the frump!

    • Mina:

      fight the frump–i love it!

      i echo what the others are saying–i don’t have kids but at a certain point i just wanted to dress a bit differently. for example, i bought some shorts a couple of years ago and these days i’m uncomfortable, both physically and mentally, with how much they ride my up thighs when i sit down. gotta buy new shorts!

  5. Maybe it’s me… But you’re 31. You’re not 51. I wouldn’t suggest you walk around town in the strollers with Jersey-dresses and short-shorts and tube tops. But a lil form-fitting that just skims off your body is flattering. I think new moms who lose their weight find it difficult to accept their new bodies back and still yearn for drabby loose fitting clothes… Which isn’t flattering to anyone. Not even a round tubby asian pear like me!

    That being said, you don’t have to get rid of all your clothes, you may have to get rid of some pieces but learn how to dress/style certain pieces differently. Like a dress showing a lot of cleavage can be fixed by wearing a cami underneathe. Strapless tops can be paired with shrugs and cardigans. Pick up a few pieces that you love and get rid of the un-salvageable (ie: clubbing wear).

    My point: Be a Mom. But be a hot mama! :D

  6. Emma:

    I’m 27 and not a mother but the past few years I’ve started adding camisoles under almost all my t-shirts and tops that might have a questionable neckline. And I pretty much ditched all the short hem lines post college. I don’t see anything wrong with showing off the figure you’ve worked so hard for as long as you’re dressing appropriately and, of course, are comfortable =)

  7. Teresa:

    I was having this debate with myself just last Saturday! I bought a new sundress (a bit low cut, hemline above the knee) to celebrate losing the baby weight and then spent the whole night wondering if people were looking at me and thinking “doesn’t she know she’s too old to get away with that style?” So I have no answers, but I’ll be interested to see what other people comment!

  8. Christine:

    Congrats on the weight loss!! As for dressing conservatively, I think when you become a parent, you’re usually older, your view on fashion, life, comfort, etc. changes Noting such, your taste in clothing will change. Before I had kids, I wore 4 inch heels every day with very form fitting clothes and on nights out, admittedly, I could wear some scandalous stuff (backless tops or dresses, plunging necklines, short skirts, etc.). Now, as a mom of two? I wear flats 24/7 (newborn + 19 mos old), I wear less form fitting clothes, I don’t wear plunging necklines because I have stretch marks on my chest from nursing, I don’t wear anything backless because I’m nursing and I need support, I don’t wear anything short because I have some stretch marks that run down my thighs… and my body has just changed. I still like conservative, yet fun and a bit flirty clothing (DVF dresses are the best balance!), but based on bodily changes, I’ve adjusted accordingly.

    If you’re confident enough to wear it, then so be it, but I will say, when I see mothers dressing like teenagers… I often wonder what message they’re sending their kids.

  9. I’m kind of the total opposite. After having Charlie, it’s like the less clothing, the better! Then again, I’m in Texas (by the coast) where it’s often a 105 heat index with 90% humidity, so the more you wear, the more you sweat! Most days I’m in cutoff shorts and tank tops, or a sundress. But all that said, I have a very boyish body type (including a tiny chest) so even if I wear tight or sparse clothing I look much more sporty than sexy.

  10. Hmm. I still wear the same clothes I did before I had my baby. I was never particularly risque or trendy to begin with, though. I wear dresses with cardigans most days. But my style didn’t change. I wonder if it’s because my style easily translated to my life as a mom — i.e., I find it easy to chase after my toddler in the clothes I wear; if you wear form-fitting jeans, for instance, it might be more uncomfortable than a dress. In short, I don’t think you need to “cover up” now that you’re a mom, but maybe you need to invest in a few functional pieces that are stylish.

  11. Coming from the other direction myself – my mom always made fun of me for dressing “like an old lady” when I was a kid. Frumpville was what I think she meant. I never ever had cleavage, still don’t, so while I am changing how I dress a bit, this is trying to find a happy medium between my two poles: work me who is very staid & conservative because she doesn’t know how to mix/match (button downs and trousers), and home me which is totally slovenly and wears old jeans and cargos with a geeky tee.

    Overall: loosen up a little and be more fun without going overboard. I’d think that would be perfectly appropriate for a young mom too. For any age mom, really.

    I’m guessing you could make some minor adjustments to your existing wardrobe to creatively change it without having to go too far in the other direction: throw on a half sleeve cardigan or a vest and belt it, etc.

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