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Kristin Booker • January 25, 2010

Reader Question: Chic Leisure Dressing for the Carpool Mom Set

Every once in a while, I get questions or inquiries from readers. This one I thought was kind of cool and different (at least for me):

Reader Question:
“I thought of a “topic” for you that I know at least a few of your regular (ie: me) readers might relate to…it has been observed that many mommies are covering for not being dressed appropriately while dropping off kids (or picking up) by wearing workout wear and a ponytail or hat. The fashion rule I’ve always heard is wear clothing appropriate for the occasion, so since it’s happening, what is “up” in the fashion of athletic leisurewear and what can I – I mean, those mommies – get away with in the carpool path.” – Cat, Charlotte, NC

First of all, let me just say that I commend the fact that any mother can manage to stay bathed and clothed while trying to wrangle small children on a daily basis. Motherhood is one of the hardest things any woman will ever do and the last thing you want to do when attempting to juggle children, schedules, meals, running a household and being a loving wife is have to worry about what you look like.

I also know what you’re doing there, ladies, because we all do it. Not only are you basically too busy to live but fluffy clothes become protective armor that accomplishes two things: it hides your perceived imperfections and keeps people from looking at you. Whatever you think is horrible is really not as bad as you think it is and there are adorable ways to camouflage anything you think might not be so cute. Want some options that will make that bitchy PTA chick who’d asked if you’d “let yourself go” eat her manicure with envy? Here are some simple, fun and cost-effective options that are machine washable, fast and hot.

If you want an oversized T-shirt, then by all means go with one that flatters your shape. Some of the best ones out there come from Splendid, like this sleek Oversized Cotton Jersey T-Shirt ($55), which can be thrown on over leggings or jeans with some boots or ballet flats AND can be worn on or off the shoulder.

If you need to run around and you can’t give up the sweatpant comfort level, I recommend leggings but with two conditions: they should hit your ankles and no patterns of any kind (ease into the fashion waters, don’t jump). Think black, navy, charcoal grey, wine and hunter green. Uniqlo and Hue make some of the best out there.

Your other best friend? Cotton dresses. A jersey dress slips right over your head, is as comfortable as any well-worn cotton shirt (and cuter) and can make even the most frazzled woman dinner date ready in under 15 minutes. Collect many of them and rotate them as necessary. This pretty Jersey Knit Surplice Dress ($49.99) is a fabulous option with simple jewelry and could take you to date night in a flash. If you need something less dressy, try this Old Navy Raw-Hem Jersey Dress ($15.00). Layer these over tights and add a long cardigan now, wear them on their own in warm weather.

If you absolutely MUST arrive wearing some leisure item because there’s a mind-blowing yoga class you can’t miss before picking your kids up from soccer/music/school/dance/Space Camp, then there’s only one label I deem acceptable: Young, Fabulous and Broke. Their uber-chic Zen Pants ($118) hide a multitude of sins, are impossibly stylish and are the only yoga gear that’s street chic AND motion-ready. If you want a Eurochic take on this leisurely item, add a fitted tank, sleek athletic shoes and a cropped leather jacket.

Other options? Boyfriend jeans, straight or bootcut dark denim with a sleek tee and leather jacket, sweater dresses with tights and boots, wrap cardigans over a long tank and military-inspired pants: there are multiple options to make sure you’re ready to make your public appearance. Just remember to always keep lip gloss and oversized sunglasses in the car. No one ever said you’d have time to do a full face of makeup. 🙂

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