Clothes for Moms / Storytelling

I like thinking about style. Fashion—meh, trends are trends, and I once heard the axiom, “If you can remember it the first time around, you’re too old to wear it the second time,” and that’s stuck with me in an age of black plastic chokers and flannel shirts worn tied around the waist. (I have not been enjoying the grunge resurgence, as I am old and cranky.) Style is something much more personal than trends. It’s the process of creating ourselves through clothing, whatever that ends up looking like. It is the cover of our book, the veranda on our house, the ornaments on our Festivus pole.

I think style’s great purpose is allowing us to craft a narrative about how we want the world to see us. I often think about who I want to be when I get dressed in the morning. Different fabrics, drapes, silhouettes, textures, volumes, and adornments will each hide or reveal an element of that persona. It’s not quite costume design, but the ideas that inspire outfits are often romanticized, larger than life, idealized and aspirational.

Of course, in the middle of an identity spasm like the early days and years of parenting, style can sometimes fall by the wayside in favour of more practical concerns like, can I put it in the dryer or do I have get undressed to go to the bathroom in it. Gone are the American Apparel onesies that would befuddle three-drinks-in Kaitlyn in a karaoke bar. Gone are the pencil skirts that I would wear to job interviews. Gone are the fetish-goth-rave dresses. Gone are shoes with shoelaces. In their place? Nursing bras, stretchy pants, and a lot of slimming black.

But there are still opportunities for style, for storytelling. Here are some that I’ve found that marry the functional needs to active hands-on parenting while evoking something other than pulverized Cheerios and naps. These clothes tell stories, have a hint of glamour, leave room to take a break from mom-ness…or, better, incorporate maternal energy into a larger story of self, paving the way for a holistic and maybe even stylish take on mom-clothes.

Happy Hike Studio Pants // Patagonia
I love these pants. I’ve had a lifelong boner for Patagonia, but it can be hard to shell out nearly $100 for leggings. But when I found out that they guarantee their clothes, and that includes repairs and replacements, I was like, “Hmm.” I am hard on my clothes. I wear favourites five days out of seven, and I do my whole life in them: walking, cycling, cooking, chasing a tiny human who yearns to eat food off the floor. Anyway, I’ve been searching for a pair of pants that aren’t leggings that make me feel polished and pulled together while retaining full range of mobility, and these are them. Slash pockets on the front, drop pockets on the back, funny tapered ankles that recall both 1980s sweat pants and military garb, a nice wide waistband that won’t insult my c-section scar, and they come in black. I live in these pants.
MOM PERSONA: no-nonsense 40-something installation artist whose children are worldschooled during trips to Japan.

Boob Tote Bag // Alisha Davidson Shop
I keep all my pumping supplies in this bag and I think it’s hilarious. Every mom I know uses tote bags 24/7 for everything from pee-and-poop diaries to toy storage to on-the-fly diaper bags, so adding another to the mix seems inevitable. This one is from a local Toronto designer and features a variety of very familiar-looking boobs.
MOM PERSONA: sunburned IDGAF rugby mom on her second margarita of the annual girls’ weekend.

Silicone Teething Necklace // NomNomNecklaces
There’s no way to be cute about this: babywearing jewelry usually looks like anal beads. At least these ones have a nice black and “marble” option (the beads are food-grade silicone, making them great for teeny teeth), and the necklace is capped by an architectural-looking ring. This is a necklace I’d wear even if the baby is nowhere in sight, a necklace to add a bit of a focal point to an all-black ensemble, and a necklace the baby can hold onto as he’s breastfeeding. Winner in my book, honestly.
MOM PERSONA: partner in a Danish design firm who runs a LLL chapter every other month.

Mama Bird Tank // The Bee and the Fox
I went through a phase in high school where I owned a bunch “____ do it for ____” tee shirts. I had ones for hairdressers, army wives (!?), bartenders, and a handful of other professions and identities that I had no connection to at all, and that were entirely inappropriate for a seventeen year old. Most used that blowsy serif font that was everywhere in the 1970s, which was also popular during that decade’s trend of wearing a shirt with your own name on the front. This Bee and Fox tank recalls that put-it-on-your-chest mentality, and updates it with mama-centric slogans and sayings. Against all odds, wearing this shirt makes make me feel chic and sort of cool. (Full disclosure: I just cannot most days with their white-hippie social media, which is full of waifs breastfeeding and perfect unbrushed shags, and no one has any acne and everyone looks good in hats. It’s science fiction.)
MOM PERSONA: ten pounds skinnier than I actually am.

Blundstone 558 // Blundstone Boots
“But Kaitlyn,” I hear you saying, “I already have a pair of boots! I don’t need these reminders of the two university Marxist group meetings I attended / my WWOOFING days / the summer I spent going door-to-door for the Green Party / when I thought I was going to be a glassblower!” To which I will say, “Internet stranger, you may already have boots, but are they slip-ons? With a little loop to help you pull them onto your foot without looking down?” And if the answer is no, then get a pair of these workhorse boots. Here’s why: babywearing. Suddenly, bending over or crouching to tie your shoe is impossible. Slipping into undone laces is a disaster waiting to happen, because when you wear your kid on your front, you can’t see your feet. And honestly, these boots are great: functional, stylish (the Chelsea boot is having a moment), classic, and they look super cute with tights and a skirt.
MOM PERSONA: farmer’s marketeer who handknits the family’s socks and who will bake banana bread on a whim before everyone else wakes up. Also I keep bees.

About the Author

Kaitlyn Kochany
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Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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