Everyone talks about the glow a woman has directly after giving birth. That is often where the beauty legend about motherhood ends. After the sainthood of delivery, it’s an easy downhill slide into sensible shoes, sleepless nights, “no-fuss” haircuts and endless pants. The habits formed in the first year of looking after a baby can linger longer.
Mom clothes — jeans, knitted stretchy tops and a glazed rain coat to cover everything up — make every day a Sunday. Ah, yes, but comfort breeds complacency. The trouble with dressing like a yoga teacher every day of your life is that you exist in an orbit so far out of planet fashion there is no safe way to re-enter the atmosphere.
I propose 10 steps back towards reclaiming your edge, your cleavage and the right to wear red lipstick to breakfast.
1. Be visible
The sexual neutrality of the Mother began with Mary and reached its peak with June Cleaver. But a lot of women look pretty bad in baby blue. Wholesome cardigans and oatmeal colored clothes do not make you a better mother.
For inspiration rent “Mermaids” and “Erin Brockovich”. For better hair revise the cut you’ve had for the last 12 months. Even sensibly short hair can look sassy with a feathered fringe or radical highlights.
2. Burn your catalogues
The only thing you should be ordering by mail are slipcovers and gardening equipment. Just because you can’t get to amazing boutiques that easily anymore doesn’t mean you should slip into a miasma of boat neck T-shirts and elastic waisted trousers. Get a sewing machine. Shop vintage online or organize a group of girlfriends to go on quarterly shopping trips to stores that don’t sell “Mom clothes.”
3. Lift your hemline
If Florence Henderson could manage a mini-skirt on the Brady Bunch so can you. Fake tan in summer and a pair of Wolford lacy tights in winter permit you the pleasure of having legs again and kitten heels (as opposed to Birkenstocks) give the thickest ankles some oomph. Don’t rule out 50 percent of you body. Work it.
4. Spend on skin
Dehydration, pigmentation and perpetual eye-bags are the legacy of pregnancy and the late nights and early mornings that follow. Try to get a regime that is simple but steadfast even if it means wearing a moisture mask around the house or keeping eye cream at the kitchen sink, in the car and at the office. One thing worth spending money on is skin. Vitamin E capsules, an unscented cleanser, a quality moisturizer and sunscreen should be with you at all times.
5. Banish coral lipstick
Wear the makeup you’ve always loved and don’t you dare ditch that black eyeliner. Tasteful natural shades and matte lipstick are for newsreaders and Edwardian missionaries not you!
6. Exploit your curves
If you gained weight after pregnancy and some of that weight stuck to your hips and bosom, dress to celebrate that luscious goddess poundage instead of hiding under extra layers. This may be the only time you have real cleavage so indulge in a low-cut cashmere sweater and a gorgeous Italian bra. Who says you can’t wear maternity pads inside a La Perla? Adjusting to a new body shape demands different clothing. Don’t despair about not fitting into college jeans. Go out and buy a bias-cut skirt.
7. Ask your husband
He remembers a favorite dress or a pair of earrings that are now in mothballs at the back of your closet. Reviving the date dressing you once took for granted rekindles the romance of life before Pampers.
8. Demand a gym subscription
Getting your confidence back after one year or 20 years of mothering is a physical thing. Getting to the gym three times a week may seem incredibly optimistic but it could be your only truly private time, so seize it. Don’t ask for flowers this year, ask for CRUNCH.
9. Embarrass your kids
If your children whine when you turn up to PTA meetings in a leopard skin pillbox hat politely ignore them. The conformity that children want will only stifle their little spirits in the long run. What seems horribly eccentric to a seven-year-old may also be on the front of Italian Vogue magazine. Conversely, your children may also give you fashion tips. Why not wear matching plastic bobbles and polka-dot ankle socks to the supermarket one morning? You’re only young twice.
10. Don’t forget scent
Your house doesn’t have to smell like apple pie. Patchouli oil, Ylang Ylang and Anick Goutal also form brilliant childhood memories. Scent, more than clothes, lingerie or even heels ground you in the sensuality and individuality of being a woman. Whether it’s a dab of vanilla essence behind your ears or a bath oiled with Chanel No.19, perfume remains your invisible weapon against sensual mediocrity.