Dress Your Best!

Single Mom Wardrobe

"Just around the corner in every woman's mind - is a lovely dress, a wonderful suit, or entire costume which will make an enchanting new creature of her." 
~Wilhela Cushman

I Have Nothing to Wear!

Who hasn’t said this?

It can be darn hard as a single mom to dress your best! You are busy, tired, and you just finished dressing everybody else!

As the mom, you tend to put yourself last, and if you even have yourself on the list!

How many times have you seen adorable kids with the cutest looking outfits and an exhausted mom who looks like she is wearing the clothes she's slept in…for the past last week!

It happens, and we don’t like it, but we don’t always know exactly what to do about it.

I would tell you to move yourself up on your priority list but you will likely laugh at me. Fair enough.

If you gave me this advice, there was a time when I would have laughed at you too.

When you are exhausted, struggling to cover the basics, and short on cash, it can easily feel like there is no way you are ever going to have an opportunity to focus on yourself, or maybe you only get to do focus on yourself in rare and sporadic free moments.

Maybe you have a free afternoon so you run to the store hoping to pick up everything you need for the season. I used to do this a lot!

I would need three days of clothing for a work conference, and that would be all I got for that entire season…three days of new clothing, on sale, all from the same store. Not exactly the way for a single mom to dress your best.

Problem is, you get to the store and can’t find anything that fits! I don’t know how many times I have walked out of a clothing store practically ready to slit my wrists because I could not fit into anything I saw! You just feel so dejected! It is very easy to feel like something is wrong with you!

Good news! There is nothing wrong with you at all! Seriously. I don’t care what size you are…there are clothes out there for you!

Further...even on a budget, and without a lot of time, you can absolutely build a versatile wardrobe filled with timeless pieces that never go out of style, leaving room for you to top of each season with a few trends just for good measure. 

7 ways a single mom can dress her best:

1. Disregard size

Purchase clothes that fit you well. Unless you are going to wear your tags on the outside, no one will know what size you are. If they ask…tell them you don’t remember. I know size is an easy place to get hung up. (I have to confess that there were times I left the store because I couldn't bear the thought of size number. It took me some time to work through that one!)

2. Check out the show "What Not to Wear"

(Look for Re-runs and YouTube Vids). This show has been so instrumental in teaching women what looks good on their bodies…whatever their body type. You will be amazed at the before and after pictures of these women. (Even though the styles in the reruns might not be reflective of current trends.)

Purchasing the right fabric, drape, and cut goes a long way toward making you look fabulous, put together, longer and leaner than when you wear clothing that doesn't fit properly. You will realize the problem is that the clothing that is wrong for you…instead of thinking that it's your body that is  wrong.

For even more direction, check out Clinton Kelly and Stacy London’s book Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body. In Dress Your Best, Stacy and Clinton review every body type, covering wardrobe recommendation work, weekend, and evening styles. The book even covers suggestions for men, so you can dress your growing boys, or significant others.

3. Assess your wardrobe

When my mom was young she pulled all the clothes that she didn’t like, didn’t fit, etc., from her closet. That left her with just a few items. She was so depressed she put all the clothes back in the closet!!

I have been there, and I bet you have too!

Taking a serious look at your wardrobe can be tough! Our clothing can become kind of a security blanket. We hold on for too long for lots of different reasons:

  • We have good memories about what we were doing while wearing particular outfits
  • Our body has changed and we haven't noticed that the clothes don't fit as well anymore
  • Fabrics have lost their shape or color slowly over time and we haven't really noticed.
  • Our stuff has gone out of style, but they are so comfy we missed it.
  • We would rather go to the dentist then shop for new clothes.

If clearing out the clothes that don't work anymore leaves with an empty closet that you can't bear to look at, move those items to the side, as you  start building your new wardrobe.

4. Consider your lifestyle

For years I needed professional clothing, and that is where my effort and money went. I really didn’t have any casual wear.

When I began to work predominately from home, I found I needed to increase my casual wardrobe. I know it sounds ridiculous to say that I had nothing to wear to hang out in my home, but it actually happened!

Not having something to wear to the gym, grocery store, or PTA meeting is just as stressful as having nothing to wear to the office. 

5. Buy the classics

While it can be fun to wear the latest and coolest styles, if you don’t have a lot of money and time to replace your wardrobe with each fad, you need to stick with the basics. You can always trend up with accessories…jewelry, shoes, boots, scarves, etc.

Accessories can be inexpensive and so much fun to buy. And bonus...they are going to fit!

Save your time and money for those classic items that will last many years.

6. Money is no object

The dress your best rules are the rules to dress your best. Meaning...you following the rules whether you spending a lot, or a little.

It doesn’t matter if you are shopping at the most expensive boutique in Manhattan, your local thrift store, or your girlfriend's closet. The rules always apply.

7. Make a wardrobe list, and build a little at a time

Stacy and Clinton’s wardrobe must have’s list:

  • A black pantsuit
  • A softer neutral suit with pants or skirt (gray, brown, khaki, or navy)
  • 3 pairs of neutral trousers
  • 3 winter-weight skirts (1 should be tweed) 
  • 3 summer-weight skirts (1 should be tweed) 
  • 3 cotton button-front shirts
  • 3 blouses
  • 2 sparkly tops
  • Leather jacket
  • Denim jacket
  • Trench coat
  • 3 pairs of jeans (all hemmed to different lengths for flats, heels, and sandals) 
  • Black dress
  • Solid-color dress
  • Print or embellished dress
  • 6 sweaters (3 neutral, 3 color, and vary necklines, crew, v-neck, and cardigan) 
  • 3 blazers (1 summer weight, 1 three-season weight, 1 winter weight) 
  • ¾ length wool coat
  • Watch with 2 bands (leather and link) 
  • Black bag
  • Brown bag
  • Color or print bag
  • Black heels
  • Brown heels
  • Color or print or embellished heels
  • Black boots
  • Brown boots
  • Black flats

Know your colors

single moms ask sara color palette(courtesy of katberries.com)

While fit, fabric, and style are all a must, wearing colors that compliment your complexion ensures the clothes makes you sparkle! 

A coordinated color palette makes it so easy to confidently mix and match. You never have to wonder what goes with what. 

Just remember to give some thought to color. Are you a Summer, Winter, Fall, or Spring …and which colors will you pull out to build your wardrobe? If your blouses are yellow, orange, and white, but you are a winter and should be in intense jewel tones like rich reds, purples, and blues, you are not going to look your best even though you have the correct pieces of clothing and the correct fit.

Having the right pieces in your closet decreases morning stress and gives you fabulous self-confidence. You are fabulous, and you have every right to feel fabulous as you dress your best!