Sportswear as fashion is nothing new; it first emerged in the 1930s in New York, most notably from designer Claire McCardell, and reached a new zenith in the ‘70s with collections from Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene. So the recent trend of “athleisure” is really just a 21st century version of a 20th century concept.
Some credit this latest emergence of the trend to women who began wearing their gymwear everywhere, and some tie it to the rise of Lululemon (and maybe even back to Juicy Couture), but it’s come a long way since then, as designers have entered the category and begun to merge it with the recent emergence of technical or “smart” fabrics.
For Sporty aesthetic mamas in particular, this means you have more choices than ever. Here’s how all of us can work athleisure into our wardrobes.
How to wear athleisure
- Be careful about wearing it head to toe. Some athleisure pieces are more athletic than leisure. If you have on nothing but gym clothes, then you’ll look like you’re dressed for the gym. Mix in your athleisure pieces with others and now your outfit is more transitional: Weekend Casual, not Gym Ready.
- Use them as layers. I began mixing athleisure clothes into my everyday wardrobe when I realized how much more comfortable some of the technical fabrics were. Lightweight, wicking and often smooth to the touch, they make great layering pieces.
- Go beyond the ordinary. The athleisure wear category has expanded so greatly that it’s no longer just a matter of fancy running tights or $100 yoga pants. You can find designer collaborations like Mary Katrantzou and Stella McCartney for Adidas, niche brands like Splits59 and Outdoor Voices, and specialty lines like Tory Burch’s Tory Sport. Even Beyoncé has entered the game with her Ivy Park label. You’d never know some of these pieces are athleisure (and at some of these price points, I’d never wear them to the gym!).
Athleisure pieces also work well in situations where you might be, well, sweaty, if not sporty, such as a day at a theme park or a summer festival.
How (and where) to buy athleisure
- Labels & collections to shop: Mary Katrantzou x Adidas, Adidas by Stella McCartney, Outdoor Voices, Splits59, Tory Sport, Ivy Park, Lululemon, Athleta (2% cash back from Ebates), Beyond Yoga x Kate Spade (3.5% cash back from Ebates).
- Stores: Net-a-sporter (4% cash back from Ebates), thredUp, Title Nine
Not sure whether you’re Classic or Modern, Sporty or Chic? Discover the style that’s right for you with “What’s My Style?” Available now for instant download.
One fun way to explore your personal style and maybe even uncover some unexpected truths is to take a quiz. Pretend you’re interviewing yourself about style. How would you answer these questions?
The Style Profile personal style quiz
1. If I had an unlimited budget and could choose just 3 designers or brands to wear for a year, what would they be?
2. Most of the clothes in my closet are
_ black and/or grey
_ other neutrals (navy, brown, white)
_ patterns and prints
_ bright colors
3. I prefer jewelry made of
_ anything sparkly
4. Favorite thing I’ve ever worn and why?
5. What makes me feel frumpy when I wear it?
6. What makes me feel like a million bucks when I wear it?
7. Whose style would I like to steal the most?
a) My favorite actress
b) A supermodel
c) A fashion editor
d) My stylish friend
8. My favorite fabrics and textiles
_ space-age synthetics
9. I would never be caught dead wearing _____________.
10. If I won $1,000, I would run right out and buy ______________.
Were some of these questions easier to answer than others? Do you see any patterns in your answers? Did any of your answers surprise you?
These are just starter questions, too. There are so many other ways you could be curious about what you like to wear and why.
- Fab mamas: What questions would you include in a Style Profile quiz?
The Style Profile is just the beginning. Get the full scoop on your personal style with “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the fun, easy-to-follow style course. For less than the price of a new pair of jeans, learn how to look like a million bucks. Get started today!
The Core Wardrobe is a list of the classic, fundamental clothes around which you can build outfits for any occasion. Each week in this series we’re exploring another clothing category. Today’s Core Wardrobe category: skirts.
The Core Wardrobe for skirts
The goal here is to have the minimum number of skirts in simple silhouettes and neutral colors–grey, black, tan or navy–that can be paired with almost any kind of top you might own.
A slimmer skirt, like a pencil, pairs with larger volume tops and a swingy skirt, like an A-line, works with slim blouses or sweaters. Either can work with a blazer. And look for a length just above your knee; this tends to be the most flattering on every body.
- Pencil skirt. The workhorse of the work wardrobe. If your office dress code is mostly Level 4, you’ll want something lined in a fine fabric, like wool or linen. Level 3 ladies might choose a cotton. [Outfit example here.]
- A-line skirt. A flattering silhouette. You can find A-line skirts with pleats and without. As with the pencil skirt, where you’ll wear it most often will dictate how dressy to go.
- Denim / chambray skirt. In whichever silhouette you prefer. This is a more casual skirt option to round out your wardrobe, especially if the first two are office appropriate. A cotton khaki skirt is a good alternative here.
As with any category, this recommended list of basics is just that: recommendations. It starts with pieces that are most universally wearable and flattering, but your personal style is the ultimate guide.
Would you rock a miniskirt with anything the A-line skirt could be paired with? Add it to the list. Wouldn’t be caught dead in a pencil skirt? Try pleated or A-line. Is boho your vibe? Think maxi skirt.
- Fab mamas: What would you include on a list of basic skirts for every wardrobe?
Learn more about the Core Wardrobe and get a detailed, comprehensive checklist of what to buy in “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the step-by-step personal style transformation system. Get instant access today!
“Core wardrobe.” “Wardrobe essentials.” “10 (or 15 or 20) items every woman must own.”
These phrases are talking about the same thing: your wardrobe foundation. After all, the foundation is the best place to start building something new, including your wardrobe.
This foundation, or Core Wardrobe, is a list of the classic, fundamental clothes around which you can build outfits for any occasion.
Think of it like a set of basic building blocks for style.
Some lists include only a few items, while others are more expansive. The Frantic But Fabulous Core Wardrobe identifies foundational pieces for different types of clothing because we fab mamas often need to create outfits at a range of Working Mom Levels.
For this series, we’re going to look at the Core Wardrobe for selected categories:
In each category, we’ll look at the shapes and styles to start with—and talk about how to vary them for your own personal style and preference.
And these categories are just the beginning. You can access the complete, detailed Core Wardrobe shopping list in two ways; choose the option that’s best for you:
Whether you choose the wardrobe-focused guide or the comprehensive workshop, you’ll be taking the first step to a more fabulous you.
If you’re used to “safer” palettes, like lots of black or the standard neutrals—navy, tan, white, gray—wearing color might seem daunting. (Or you might have a case of All Black Syndrome.)
Maybe you’re unsure what colors work with what you already own.
Maybe you’re unsure if you’re supposed to wear certain colors.
Maybe you’re unsure about wearing color because you’re afraid it’s too noticeable.
Fear not, mamas!
Adding color to what you wear is easier than you think.
Here’s how to add (more) color to your wardrobe
- Pick one color first. It can be your favorite color (yes, you can wear it!) or one that complements what’s already in your wardrobe.
- Start small. If you want to wear more red, say, that doesn’t mean you have to start wearing it head to toe. What about a top? A scarf? A belt?
- Use patterns. A patterned piece is a great way to incorporate multiple colors at once. Plus patterns work well with both your existing neutrals and any pieces you’ve now acquired in your new color.
- Build up. Go from a belt to a whole top. Try an entire dress in a pattern. Add another color that works with your first color, or one of your patterned pieces.
- Have fun. Yes, there are lots of rules out there about color. But your first rule should be to have fun. It goes back to the Frantic But Fabulous mantra: if it doesn’t make you feel fabulous, don’t wear it!
Before you know it, you’ll be sporting brighter hues, and maybe feeling a little brighter, too.
- Fab mamas: How do you incorporate color into your outfits? What’s your favorite color to wear?
This is your year to be more fabulous and less frantic! Sign up for the Style List to get more working mom style advice and a special bonus: 7 Days to Better Shopping, a free guide that will teach you how to shop smarter and save money.
Or: the tale of the discounted designer skirt
Oh, how I wanted to love this Opening Ceremony skirt. It’s stylish, it’s designer, it’s comfortable, it fits.
It should be right, but somehow it’s wrong.
I gave it my best shot. I tried it styled with a shrunken sweatshirt and booties. And I felt … bulky, in all the wrong places. I tried it styled with a bow-tied blouse, vintage heels and a wide belt. Better, but I still felt like I’d have to talk myself into wearing the outfit again.
The deciding factor was seeing the outfit photo. I had to conclude that the skirt may be great, but it isn’t great for me.*
So how can you tell when something you’re wearing isn’t right for you?
How to know when a garment doesn’t work
- Take pictures. What you suspect when you look in the mirror is often proven in a simple outfit photo snapshot.
- Ask a trusted friend. If you know someone who can give constructive criticism, not negative feedback, ask her or him. (This was actually the second factor in my decision; thanks, Jenn!)
- Instinct. What do you feel like when you wear it? If you have to talk yourself into putting it on–don’t.
I took one final step: I tried the same Casual Friday outfit again, swapping out the iffy skirt for another long, black pleated skirt I already own. This skirt is made of a thinner material with narrower, sharper pleats. It’s also a little bit longer. To me, these proportions make all the difference in the world.
And off to the consignment store I go …
- Fab mamas: How do you decide when it’s time to edit an item from your wardrobe?
*This is an important point to remember. If an item of clothing doesn’t work for you, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you—or even with the garment. It’s just not a good match of your particular shape with that particular item. There are plenty of sartorial fish in the sea. Keep looking!
Get fabulous. Be fabulous. Declare your right to discover your personal style with the Fab Mama Style Manifesto.
Last week we were talking about how to incorporate a specific color–Emerald, the 2013 Pantone Color of the Year–into your wardrobe.
And what better time to add color than the tail end of winter, when we’re longing for spring but it isn’t quite here, no matter what the groundhog says?
Adding some new color will also freshen up the cold weather clothes you’re growing weary of wearing.
Here’s how to brighten your winter wardrobe with color
- Accessorize brightly. If your scarves and mittens and hats are all in shades of grey and black and tan, trade them in for brights! Bonus: red gloves are easier to spot when you drop them in the snow.
- Make a statement. Ditto for inside accessories, like necklaces and belts. Find a color that makes you happy and find a way to wear it, whether it’s a chunky bead necklace or a shirt under your cardigan.
- Sneak in spring. Who says your scarves have to be wool? When temperatures moderate in late winter, ease into your spring things: a cotton scarf in pastels, a lighter weight shirt worn as a layer, something in florals.
Just think of it as wearing your own sunshine!
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find many winter items on deep discount. If the mall shops have cleared the coats away to make room for swimsuits, look online. Seasonal sales tend to last longer there.
- Fab mamas: How do you wear color in winter? What are your tips for getting through the late-season doldrums?
This is your year to be more fabulous and less frantic! Join the Style List to get more working mom style advice and a special bonus: “7 Days to Better Shopping,” a daily series that will teach you how to shop smarter and save money.