Busy mums need wardrobes which are practical but don’t compromise on style. Thankfully there are professionals on hand to help – Absolutely Mama talked to two women helping mums get their style mojo back without breaking the bank.
Words: Holly Kirkwood
There’s no question that returning to your social life, let alone back into your job can be intimidating as you emerge from the cocoon of new motherhood. In some ways you feel like a new person, but of course you’re also still your old self at heart. Plus, your body’s been through enormous changes, and it can be hard to just pick up where you left o_ in the style stakes. Shopping trips can be reduced to smash and grab sessions, and you just don’t have hours to put together out its when you are juggling little ones. In short, when it comes to your new style as a mama, a reboot can often be welcome.
Thankfully, a number of entrepreneurial women working in fashion provide help to mums and busy women in need of a style edit. As stylists who appreciate the needs of time-poor women who still want to look current, they are becoming the go-to people for those of us who are keen to update our wardrobes in a user-friendly way. Helping clients to develop a personal style which suits all their needs, from the day-to-day to the one-off event, developing a killer capsule wardrobe is often at the heart of their work. Absolutely Mama talked to two brilliant women about how they help their clients to look their absolute best from the school run to the sashimi date night.
Erna a is a gorgeous Armenian mother-of-two who originally trained in fine art, but subsequently moved into fashion. She trained at FIT in New York, and worked for names like Betsy Johnson and Calvin Klein jeans before arriving in London. After she had her family, she realized that an industry where full-time jobs involve working punishing hours might not suit her new work/life balance. She already had her own label, and so she decided to use her knowledge and love of fashion, style and art to launch a new fashion website.
Launched this spring, Mercer7 (www.mercer7.com) is a go-to site for fashion inspiration which Erna edits on a daily basis. She aims to spend the time curating the very best pieces, from designer labels to the High Street, so users can hop online, see her suggestions, and buy pieces there and then. _ e site has a lifestyle feel: the magazine section interviews inspiring women
from fashion and design, while the style notes identify special pieces you need to achieve a certain look. Mercer7 has a very particular aesthetic – one Erna herself has been developing for years – and it’s based around minimalist styling and classic tailoring:
“The whole idea is around sustainability through timelessness,” she explains.” Being on trend can be very hard work – you can pay a lot of money for a bad quality piece which will date quickly, but if you choose to always invest in timeless pieces, and throw in some on-trend accessories which don’t break the bank, this is a sustainable way of building a wardrobe which is functional but also very beautiful. Dressing in the morning will be easy – you won’t have to agonise over what to put together every day.” Erna’s own favourite item of clothing is her Maje jacket, which she bought in 2011 in Harrods and wears endlessly: “You can wear it for the school run but then also dress it up to go out later. Change your shoes and your top, and you’re ready to go!”
The colour palette of Mercer7 is very monochrome, which allows users to build up pieces that go together, creating a perfect capsule wardrobe for dressing up and down, which is exactly what busy women – and let’s face it, us mamas – are looking for. As Erna says: “Shopping changes when you’re a mum; your time and patience is
limited and you’re really conscious of things like price-per-wear. Although Mercer7 isn’t particularly a site for mums, it’s a perfect resource for women who have little time but still want to look current.”
As a stylist, Erna also does do wardrobe consultations and personal shopping, mostly on a word-of-mouth basis and she’s keen to encourage collaboration across the board with other designers and stylists; it’s why she interviews so many people herself. “It’s all about seeing what’s possible,” she explains. “Perhaps I can put some people who always wanted to work together in the same room and they can create something wonderful?’ As a resource for busy mums, and women tired of being let down by online shopping sites, Mercer7 seems like an ideal solution, and seeing more working mums collaborating and supporting each other is always inspiring. Carefully assessing the quality of each piece before it goes online, she is able to recommend a mixture of high street and designer pieces which combine to produce a sustainable collection for busy women who don’t want to compromise on the way they look.
Erna Leon photo credits:
The Style Coach @thestyle_coach
She wouldn’t call herself a stylist or a personal shopper – but Therese is a Swedish mum living in
Barnes who works with women who need a bit of ba refresh in the style department. Starting out on the shop floor in Selfridges 18 years ago, Therese later moved into buying and then styling: “I have always loved the world of fashion and I’ve been lucky enough to work for some incredible brands both here in the UK and in Sweden,’ she says.
“But I reached a point where I was working for a big brand, doing a 60-hour week with a toddler and an eight-month old, and something had to give… The change happened very organically: I was already doing informal wardrobe ‘detoxes’ through word-of-mouth, when a good friend suggested that I help women with their style full-time.
“I call what I do style coaching: it’s not styling, or personal shopping. It’s a consultation to help busy mums _find the right wardrobe for their daily lives which is tailored to their needs. “Often they lack the courage to throw out old favourites which no longer work, and need to be encouraged to try new ideas.” Therese only launched her business, The Style Coach (www.style-coach.co.uk), in April last year, but the business grew quickly, mostly thanks to social media: “On Instagram I love to share great looks or pieces I’ve seen, and ideas for my followers, and I write blog posts for @londonmothersclub (www.londonmothersclub.com), which always generates leads from mums interested in finding out what I do.”
There are two elements to Therese’s service: a wardrobe edit followed by a shopping trip: so out with the old and then in with the new. But before she comes to your house she sends you a detailed consultation which covers a lot of lifestyle questions around how you spend your time, what your budget is, and how your commitments work throughout your day, from work to managing the family. “I like to say I am mixing fashion with function” she points out.
The wardrobe edit involves an honest tour of your current wardrobe. Over about four hours Therese will take you through the pieces she thinks will work for the future, and which need to go. “What I aim to do, because this is what the majority of busy mums need, is start from the ground up with a killer capsule wardrobe of pieces which all work together, and you build it up from there,” she says. the shopping trip is also tailored to clients’ personal style and budget – but there are shops she returns to again and again. “For some reason one really big gap in most British women’s wardrobe is really good quality knitwear,” she explains. “And I’ve found that unless you’ve got a limitless budget you’ll find the quality of cashmere at Uniqlo can’t be bettered.” She also recommends the revamped Jigsaw, Zara for fun pieces and Massimo Dutti, as well as contemporary designers like Isabelle Marant as good starting points for shopping trips.
Like Erna, she advises women to spend on the items they’re going to wear over and over – so a kaftan from Zara is a fun buy for the beach, but when you’re looking for something like boots you need to be prepared to invest. “I also like to play around with what mums wear day-to-day” Therese says. “Lots of women say they don’t often have the chance to dress up, but I say why not wear some beautiful leather trousers on the school run? If you look good you will feel good.”
Both Erna and Therese are distilling decades of industry experience into wisdom all of us can use – and the key message seems to be keep it simple and don’t get carried away with impulse buys. It’s worth spending serious money on pieces you will wear for years; think about cost per wear, and be prepared to experiment with brands and shops you didn’t think were for you. Ultimately you should never have to compromise on style, whether you’re going into a big meeting or caring full time for your family. And thanks to ladies like these, it’s easier than ever to get a little helping hand.
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