If I can give my fellow stay-at-home mamas one piece of advice when putting together their capsule wardrobe, it is this: You need to make it work for your everyday.
But how do we do that?
I think moms generally fall somewhere in the middle of the style spectrum – trying to find a balance of practicality, comfort, and still looking put-together. Obviously I’m not an expert on this, because I’m learning as I go. But I can share what has worked for me so far. Look at your lifestyle and get realistic about where you go and what you do all day. (I used Caroline’s wardrobe planner as a guide.) Once you see how your time is really spent, that will help you get an overall feel for where you want your wardrobe to be.
And as with most things in life, this is not a permanent decision. Styles and routines will change, especially with little ones. So make a plan for now, leave room for flexibility later.
When I am getting dressed each day, I start with a base outfit.
The base outfit is what you wear around the house that is comfortable and functional. Stretchy jeans (which are practically yoga pants, let’s be honest), a cute tee with a sensible bra, and bare feet. That’s how you’ll find me most of the time. Playing on the floor with cars and trains.
When it’s time to go somewhere, then I use the add-ons.
Headed to a doctor’s appointment? A museum? The park? You’re already dressed, so throw on a vest or jacket and some cute shoes. Give the outfit a little jooj. Maybe add a bracelet or earrings you aren’t afraid will be yanked out by chubby grubby toddler fingers. Five minute face and sunglasses. Sunglasses are everything. I could kiss whoever invented sunglasses.
Listen, it might not happen every day. I know sometimes we are lucky to catch a shower. But this system has made it easier for me to leave the house feeling alright. Even if I’m exhausted and covered in shmutz (I could also kiss whoever invented baby wipes), I can pretend that I have it together a little bit. And with the capsule wardrobe, the whole point is to have items that you love wearing. So no matter what you pull out of your closet, you should be feeling pretty good about it.
Now go forth and conquer, my beautiful mamas of the world!
Top: old from Old Navy (similar)
Shoes: Aldo (on sale now!)
Vest: gift (similar)
Bag: old from Old Navy (similar)
Bangle Bracelet: part of an old set (similar)
I love this outfit and your thoughtful advice!
Base outfit = brilliant description.
I love this. I like how u say to start with a comfy base outfit that’ll work around the house and build on it if u go out our someone comes over. That way you’re halfway there already. I also like the party about figuring out your style where u are now in life. I tend to like fancier clothes like flowery chiffon type fabrics and I love long shirts with belts but I am quickly learning they don’t go with my stay at home/nursing lifestyle so I’m having to not pick them up when I’m out shopping and its hard. Lerve this blog! It’s like love but more.
I’m glad to see a stay at home mom talk about wardrobe tips! I’ve recently become a stay at home mom after working for many years and these days I stare at my closet and see all these clothes that don’t fit into my lifestyle anymore… And I hardly wear. It’s true now when I think about purchases I’m always thinking about practicality and functionality yet wanting to look pulled together! Still working on it as I’m in my sweats a lot :)
Such a great concept! As a new mom, I’ve been struggling these past few months with looking put together. I love the idea of a base outfit and add-ons for leaving the house. Thanks!
Jaana — I have that buffalo check shirt from Old Navy, and it’s held up surprisingly well! I also cuff it for a bit more polish.
Carolyn — if/when do you imagine you’ll open up a next round of guest blogger applications?
Yikes, sorry for the careless misspelling, Caroline! xo
Hi Maria! :) I havent totally decided yet, but if so it’ll probably happen near the end of February! Woohoo! xo Caroline
Rachel H. says
I love it all Jaana!!! It’s nice to see a stylish stay-at-home mom (which I strive to be) tell it like it is. And thanks Caroline for featuring someone with a very different lifestyle from your own.
Jackie (York Avenue) says
I love this! So easy and simple: base outfit that’s what you would wear around the house, then add-ons. I wouldn’t have thought of that but it’s a great thing to keep in mind. Definitely going to check out the wardrobe planner as well.
Love the idea of a base outfit! I’m not a stay at home mom, but I work at home, and that idea would work perfectly for me!
Yes! I’m so glad. I hoped this would appeal to those who worked from home as well.
totally concur, jaana! i’ve been a mostly stay-at-home mom for quite a big chunk of my life. shoes/boots and a cute jacket can totally pull you together when leaving the house. finding a cute, comfy style for days at home is also good for helping us not feel like we don’t do anything all day…’cuz, we are not doing nothing!!! there are lots of cute outfits that don’t involve yoga pants…but i do also like to find cute ways to incorporate my leggings! i think if one really likes long skirts or dressier items, it looks cute (to me) :) to mix them in… fitted or slightly cropped tee with long flowy skirt or crisper pants… or put the dressier blazer on as your out-the-door layer.
Heidi C says
What a great concept! I’m not a stay at home mom, rather I work M-Th. But Friday through Sunday, I’m always in, shall we say, less than optimal clothing, for all the playing that goes on! I agree, baby wipes are the best. :) I think I’ll try to incorporate this into my Fri-Sun outfits.
Loving this guest blogger series, and I love that you picked women who have different lifestyles and shapes and wardrobes than you. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE your posts! But it is nice to see how different people make it work for them!
Awesome that you can apply the concept where needed in your life. I love it!
I appreciate your use of the word “jooj”–I was never sure how to spell it and it hasn’t left my vocabulary many years post-Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!
I was obsessed with that show!! And I learned the proper spelling is actually “tszuj”. I didn’t even think it was a real word!. Jooj works.
Love the base outfit idea! So practical. I’m going to try to implement this since me and my leggings are BFF. Hoping this helps me feel more put together. Thank you!
Hey, leggings can look cute too!
You are just sooooo real. I love it.
I am another stay at home mom with a base outfit. At this stage in my life, jeans are so incredibly uncomfortable that I had to figure out an outfit that worked around yoga pants/leggings while at home. I was spending too much time and energy (and money) trying to find comfortable jeans that I had to take a break.
I do wear jeans while out and about because they don’t tend to get dirty as quick as lounge pants. My base is a nice top (usually with some pattern that has a bit of black in it) and black lounge pants while at home. When I go out I quickly change into one of the three pairs of jeans I own. I like the juxtaposition of distressed and dressy so I wear a dressy top w/ distressed jeans.
I like how you said that you have to make it for YOUR everyday life. I don’t necessarily want to spend my days in lounge pants, but is my reality right now and I’m trying to make the best of it. It does make it easy to go out and go for a walk!
Thanks again for this post – I found it very encouraging!!!
Samantha Roberts says
I love this! Really practical tips.
Love this outfit Jaana! That vest is everything–
Even though I am not a stay at home mom (currently a grad student), I love your idea about the base outfit! I could wear a base outfit to school/work and then add on as necessary depending on the activities I have planned for after work. I look forward to Thursdays every week now to see your feature on Unfancy!
I think I’ve been doing this subconsciously for a while now. SO great to have it spelled out. Jaana, you’re a genius. Caroline, you picked a good one. Keep her around!
Ann Marie says
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
That top pose… perfection!
ruth d. says
I’m not a mom but I love the idea of a base outfit! I don’t know why I never thought about this… but makes so much sense and sounds better than trying to put together an entire outfit for the whole day every morning! :)
Ann Marie says
Great post, coming from a fellow stay-at-home-mom to a special needs ninja on the autism spectrum, plus 2 other awesome kiddos. Thanks for this, because I was feeling a bit – “Do I really need the extras, beyond jeans and tee shirts?” And this has shown me I can wear the basics around the house, and when I need/want to get out of the house I can add the extras to “jooj” it up (I love that you used the word jooj!). Love this!
I love this and the idea of a base outfit. I kind of do the same thing but sometimes lack in adding the accessories department. Thanks for showing how you can be a stay at home mom without being frumpy. It doesn’t take a ton more effort to look put together and you’ve done a great job of showing that! Thank you!
Thanks for this. So nice to see advice for us stay-at-home mamas who need to dress practically but also want to look stylish! My uniform this winter has been skinny jeans or leggings plus tunic-length sweaters. This is pretty easy to “jooj” up with a cowl, some earrings, boots, etc. I often don’t take the time to make the extra effort but now that you spell it out … it sounds so simple! Love it.
carrie nichols says
YES!!! thank you jaana for the sahm mom perspective!
caroline, I love everything about unfancy, but admit I have been craving some wardrobe advice for us moms. from nursing to sitting on the floor all day my clothing has certainly changed a lot from pre-baby. I love the idea of a base outfit. keep ’em coming!
Great post. Yep, the base outfit – leggings/skinnies and a tank + tunic sweater is my staple here in cold wintery NJ! Two boys ages 6 and 3 keep me active but I too like to look put together when running around town ( if not in my yoga pants coming from yoga! )
Wise advise! Shopping for the life your living now is key. Thanks for sharing your style with us all;)
I love this idea. I was a stay at home mom for 12 years. One bit of advice I have been thinking about. Caroline talks about how she has a small “dressy” capsule. I would recommend to stay at home moms to do the same with a small amount of business clothes that you feel really good in. Just one outfit. I found that 99% of the time I did not wear it BUT when I did need it, i never had anything to wear. I had “church” clothes but they were not business clothes. When I needed a suit I never had anything and ended up feeling like a frumpy stay at home mom. Just keep something that fits and makes you feel strong and fab.
Excellent advice! I do the same.
Vest = Great way to add variety to your wardrobe!
To be perfectly honest, when you said that there would be guest bloggers, I didn’t completely love the idea. I totally understand your reasoning behind it, but selfishly I just identify with your style so much that I only wanted to see how you’re making your outfits work :) But I’ve changed my ways, and I’m sold with this idea now! This week especially, both of the guest blogger posts have been so wonderfully honest about the process of minimizing and making it work with their lifestyles (thank you Jacquelyn and Jaana!! You two seem so wonderful and I love how you’ve embraced the process). I felt like I could relate to both of their efforts to minimize in spite of some of life’s curve balls, and I was happy to hear (and see) how they made it work. Thanks to all of you for encouraging everyone to have flexibility and fun with this idea of a capsule wardrobe, while also prioritizing the quality of our lives over the quantity of items in our closets! I’m so glad that I stuck with you all (insert clapping hands emoji here haha)!
Yay Julia! Glad you came around to the idea :)
tammy t says
I just adore you Jaana & your outlook on life and fashion! As a former stay at home I find you so relatable and cool! Cheers to your guest blogging here!
Absolutely love this! I have a six month old and am breastfeeding, so I’ve been working on a nursing-friendly capsule wardrobe that’s cute but also functional. I love your idea of building on a simple (comfortable!) outfit. Will definitely be implementing this.
What a great approach to dressing! It makes it so simple. I don’t have kids but I’m recently out of college and work as an aquarist so jeans and t-shirts are most of my wardrobe (though this blog is helping me develop my own style). Thank you for showing that you can be stylish and still wear clothes that are baby (or in my case -fish) appropriate
I love the base outfit idea. Before I was a mom I depended on accessories to spice up a plain outfit or to take a day outfit and make it into an evening outfit. Now I can’t really wear necklaces or dangly earrings because my daughter yanks on them (ouch!). I’ve experimented with bracelets etc. which seems to not get yanked on as much. Do you have any advice on accessories for moms dealing with busy little hands?
I wish I did have advice on this! But I hardly wear any jewelry at all anymore. And the few items that work for me, I just wear over and over – hoops (that pop off if they get pulled), a watch + a bracelet, and dainty rings that you barely notice are there. Once the kids grow up, then we can be fancy again ;)
Not a mom and don’t stay at home- but love your outfit, style and advice!
on the site looking for ideas on how to wear the hem plus the ankle boot (I currently only do the thin roll to show a sliver of ankle skin) and found this image which gave me a legit LOL because I’m wearing the exact. same. thing. today. Vest and all. Only thing separating me and my twin is I have a gray oversized tote bag.