I am going to talk about fashion, can you believe it? Not fashion in the sense of giving tips and trends on the new spring-summer 2013 season for example that’s not me at all, but about what fashion means for me now as a new mummy and how difficult I find to create a personal style.
The difficulty mainly comes from all the changes that have occurred in my body and my ‘social’ roles. In the last ten years I used to be a strict size 8 and used to buy clothes in various shops without being wedded to any particular one.
H&M and Zara was an all time favourite during the student years and occasionally I would buy from more expensive brands, from the gallery Lafayette for example during sales, or independent shops and vintage boutiques. I liked to think of myself as a free spirit who could wear anything as long as it didn’t make me look too old, ‘mumsy’ or too conventional. I didn’t think having a non-conventional style was too difficult and I was pretty comfortable with it.
All this changed in the last two years during the pregnancy and the whole year after it.
The young non-conventional style couldn’t work any longer and the alternatives were maternity and not-very-yummy mummy looks. I managed to go through the first five months of the pregnancy wearing the same jeans as before but done up using an elastic band tied around the waist to give some breathing space to a growing belly. When this trick couldn’t work anymore as the belly got bigger I got myself into the ‘leggins’ mode wearing long stripped T-shirts or jumpers on top. That was very comfortable and at the same time appeased my inner older self. I wasn’t too far from the young student wearing almost the same top and leggins but without the in-growth. During the last months I bought some maternity working trousers and jeans which I have to admit were also very comfortable. Going through a pregnancy for the first time is exciting although quite tiring as every week is different and you discover new things about the baby.
So the baby is growing and so are you but by some magical tricks of our minds we seem to ignore the degree of change and only realise the scale of it when it is all over. By the end of the pregnancy my belly was massive and my body weight had some extra 20kg. I didn’t look in the slightest as the same skinny younger person I was before but that didn’t trouble me much.
Once the baby was born things started to come back to normal, although very gradually and in the first weeks I was still wearing the same maternity jeans. Going back to my size 8 (UK size 26) jeans wasn’t an option until very recently – one year and a half later! And in the meantime the transition from being at home with the baby and adapting to a new life and a new role back to work brought up some challenges.
Who is the new me – a girl, a woman or a mother? I guess all three and while it is easy to accept that intuitively, practically translating that into a style I am comfortable with is difficult. I cannot shop at H&M forever although I still do; I need to find a new mix of styles and brands that work for me. I was a student in France, a young professional in Albania and a young mummy in London. All these places have different fashion styles and some which are most popular with different social categories. For instance in Albania women are very glamorous, almost always use make-up and have a high (healed) image of themselves.
In France students adopt alternative styles a la ‘baba cool’.
Not having a picture I ‘borrowed’ one from the internet
And in the UK people aspire to look smart.
Various brands offer the yummy-mummy look, a mix of smart and sexy, very British styles that Albanian women might for instance not like at all such as Boden, Jon Lewis, Cath Kidston, L.K. Bennet. But the problem is that I don’t feel a yummy-mummy at all. And I probably don’t look it either. And this is not only for the ‘middle classiness’ it represents but also for the ‘conventional’ side of it and the social wealthy status associated with it.
So not wanting to be a yummy-mummy leaves me with the choice of being simply a mummy that doesn’t know what her style is.
I am working on it though, looking at fashion websites online and receiving free fashion advice by email which has got quite close to what I like and has defined my style as being ‘feminine, practical and independent’. I can be happy with that and in the meantime I browse through Miss Selfridges, Topshop and Joy who I think is my favourite shop at the moment.
This was my experience about fashion and my evolving personal style and how a changing body and a new role as a mother have blurred my previous fashion lines.
What about you, new mothers or fathers, mums-to be, girls and women what is your fashion experience, what makes your style evolve and how? I would love to hear from you.