How to dress like a mom without LOOKING like a mom

Yesterday, I made my way downtown to the County Clerk’s office to track down yet another elusive form needed for the adoption. When I entered the building, I decided to run into the bathroom before heading up to the sixteenth floor. Friends, what I saw upon glancing in the mirror both shocked and horrified me.

I looked like a mom.

But Kelli, you ARE a mom.

Yes, I know. I know I’m a mom. I’m a mom who drives a minivan, no less. BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE I LOOK LIKE IT!

I had put zero effort into my appearance before leaving the house yesterday. I hadn’t even brushed my hair!

(But I did brush my teeth. Go me.)

(For Real. GO! ME!)

I had simply pulled my dirty, greasy hair back into a ponytail, slapped on a little mascara and chapstick, threw on the first clothes I managed to grab out of the drawer (in the dark, no less, since I woke up before the sun) and I skipped into a very public place looking like I’d been hit by a truck.

Case in point:

A couple of months ago, I bought the above picturedย shorts at GAP. I didn’t try them on when I bought them which means I came home with a pair of shorts that were one size too big (which is always more encouraging than coming home with shorts that are too small, mind you).

Because I am the most orgainzed scatterbrained person on the planet, I almost immediately lost the receipt and decided they weren’t really that bad as long as I belted them. They were kind of comfy, actually.

Lee came to me the second time I wore those pants and leaned in close. “You know those are Mom-Shorts, right? They totally give you Mom-Butt.”

I’m not entirely sure what Mom-Butt means, but the way he said it did not lead me to believe that it was something I should be striving for. I was a bit disappointed as I really loved the shorts, so I decided they would just be around the house comfy shorts from there on out.

Until yesterday, when I had a moment of terribleย mombrainitis and decided to leave the house in said Mom-Shorts. I also had Tevas on my feet, which let’s face it, scream Mom-With-A-Minivan.

At least it wasn’t a skort and Keds! Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Upon seeing my unkempt appearance, however, I made a resolve to try juuuuust a scooch harder to put forth an effort in my appearance before heading out in public. Thus, I give you:

I generally tend to leave the house looking a bit frayed for a few different reasons. Sometimes it’s pure laziness. I don’t feel like washing my face, or brushing my hair, or putting on a semi-cute outfit.

Sometimes it’s because I’m running late. We moms generally have to attend to all the chicks in the flock before we can fluff our own feathers (how do you like that metaphor, eh?) which means we run out of time to do anything more than make sure we at least have the proper undergarments on before leaving the house.

(Um…there’s a chance I’ve left the house in the past without even getting to this step. Maybe. I mean, I won’t say for sure, but…)

Sometimes I have high and lofty expectations of getting to the gym after I drop children off where they need to be and I have no desire to try and look cute only to go work out. More often than not, though, I never make it to the gym so I walk around looking like a drowned gym rat without ever having worked a muscle.

*hangs head in shame*

So what is a busy mom to do? How do I dress like a mom without looking like a mom?

First things first. I will fix my hair!

Even if I’m throwing it into a ponytail, I can still brush it. And if it’s dirty? Well, that is the perfect excuse to invest in a couple of cute hats. Am I right?

Second – Never underestimate the power of accesories:

Yes, it’s only September, which in Florida means we are now enjoying temps in the mid to high ’80’s every day. Not exactly scarf weather, but how cute is this lovely? I have been dying to wear it, so yesterday I put it on over a tank top with a pair of jeans and voila! Cute outfit in less than ten minutes!

Third: Wear clothes that fit. I dunno, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Mom-Butt has something to do with shapeless formless clothing, giving one the appearance of a wide, saggy derriere. Just conjecture, but I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the nail on the head.

Fourth: Make up. I know some of you are so naturally beautiful that you simply don’t need make up. I salute you (and I’m secretly envious).

I am not one of those people. I mean, I’m not afraid to leave the house without make up, but I also feel MUCH more secure with a little bit of color on my cheeks and some mascara to give the old eyes a lift. Just me. Even if I’m going to the gym, I’m putting on a little make up.

Because I would rather not scare everyone in my path!

Finally – a pair of cute shoes goes an awfully long way. They can make or break an otherwise drab outfit. I mean, even a skort can be dressed up with the right pair of shoes.

Hmm? What’s that? Forget trying to make the skort sound good ’cause you’re not buying it? REALLY?!

Is it time to give up on the idea of the Skort? *sigh* Fine…back to the shoes.

Listen, just because I have three kids, am nestled somewhere in my thirties and drive a minivan doesn’t mean I have to abandon all hope of dressing sassy. Even if I’m headed to the gym, I can do so looking cute and put together. I can look like a mom without LOOKING like a mom.

Know what I mean?

Have any cute fashion tips for us frazzled, busy Moms? Do share!

*PS-Please know this is all written very tongue in cheek. It’s not meant to offend. Here’s the obligatory winky face emoticon so you know I’m only writing in jest:ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰


  1. I wear a scarf almost every day, even in summer. I have lots of light-weight, jersey knit & cotton ones for when it’s hot out. Scarves always make you look like you got dressed on purpose! I have had some weight issues the past two years, and so I rarely find shorts I like that fit and flatter. So I have a ton of stretchy skirts (mostly procured from sporting goods stores like REI & Sport’s Authority – for real!) and cute yoga pants and capris. I know, I know- yoga pants. But the trick is to have some that you take care of so that they fit well and are not faded or gross. All of these clothes are very low-maintenance and comfy for running errands. Tank or tee + skirt + scarf = put together!

    I don’t have Tevas, but I did enter that “I-need-more-arch-support” place this year and bought some Keens. Same story- they are so mom-ish, but they actually look cute with shorter skirts. Still, a pair of flats are a must-have.

    As for makeup, I am a Mary Kay girl, so my “no-makeup” face is mineral powder, bronzer & mascara. For date nights I use a minimum of three eyeliners…. yes, I know I have a problem.

    • Comfort and sheek! Yes, they can be paired together. I’m in need of a new pair of yoga pants that aren’t scuzzed out. Must invest soon. And youre every day face sounds a lot like mine. Bronzer, blush and mascara. Perfect.

      And smoky eyes for date night? Yes, please! I think we could be good friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. TRESemme dry shampoo! Really, I was skeptical, but I was noticing I was having less and less time to “groom” myself with proper hygiene habits, so I bought a can. Shake it up, spray it on your roots, go and make sure all the kids shoes are on the correct feet, come back and brush it out. It won’t make you as beautiful as the commercial promises, but it does help with the greasy hair look that is so less than flattering.

    • That’s so good to know! I was actually think about trying out the dry shampoo thing because I don’t like to wash my hair every day since it fades the color so fast. And because, ya know, I don’t have time! I will give it a try! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I used dry shampoo on my daughter when she was in the hospital, and it actually worked pretty good. My hair is so short that I have to at least stick my head under a faucet in the morning, or I look scary.

      • Dry shampoo has changed my life! I happily only wash my hair every 2 or 3 days now. And I have oily hair. I started experimenting with it while I was pregnant so that I’d be ready for a shorter morning routine once my daughter was born. I like the Suave kind best–as it’s less than $3 at the Wal Mart ๐Ÿ™‚

        • I’ve never seen the Suave kind….I guess I better look next time. I don’t really care for the smell of the TRESsemme, so maybe Suave smells better.

  3. Oh, I WISH I looked as good as your “before” picture. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Btw, you have seen the old SNL “mom jeans” skit right? Please say yes.

    • No I have NOT! Will be checking that out ASAP..

      And whatever. Every picture I see of you is when you are make up free and you’re gorgeous. For reals. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Accessories are my go-to trick. I don’t do scarves enough, and I’m in love with yours, I’m gonna have to try that! I always start with the shoes! Even when the rest of it’s failing for the day, a great little pair of flats makes me feel like I’ve tried. And takes almost no effort. My next trick lately is the humongous chunky bracelet. I may forget earrings (or can’t find a matching pair). I refuse to wear necklaces yet because I’m still carrying around a toddler who might yank it into a million pieces. But I now own at least 6 different great bracelets that slip on, add a punch of color and give the illusion that, again, I’ve tried. Thanks for admitting that you have a few “look like a mom” moments out in public, though! I think you have an amazing sense of style!!!

    • Oooohhh…I love chunky bracelets. And necklaces. I’m not a fan of earrings, though. I hardly ever wear them. But you’re right, a couple of pieces of jewelry and it looks like you made some sort of an effort to put yourself together. It’s so good to be a girl. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Everything I need to know about looking cute I learned from Bethany Hockenbury. The key is big earrings and lip gloss. And sometimes a chunky necklace…IF you don’t have a drooly baby that will yank it off your neck.

    And I third or fourth the dry shampoo. I only wash my hair once every 2 or 3 days also and it’s been looking a bit greasy lately. Tried out John Freida’s stuff and really like it! And it smells decent. Just make sure you really rub it in otherwise your hair can look greyish if you have dark hair like me. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I love you and your fashionista-ness!

  6. Skorts are “mom-clothes?” Crap! There went 80% of my wardrobe… But I have not owned Keds since I was 19 and I will never wear a denim jumper. EVER.

    The Makayla Maroney face in photo #2 totally draws attention away from the mom butt (whatever that is) and Tiffany – anyone as cute as Bethany Hockenbury could make pillow cases and foam curlers look fashionable. I still don’t have a gravatar because, well, I look like a mom. Sigh.

    • Yes! Bethany is a style guru! We should make bracelets. WWBW? What Would Bethany Wear? It could be a national movement! We’re on to something.

      And Jenni – you rock the skort. You make the skort look good. You give me hope in the skort. (I’ll get rid of the Keds, though…)


  7. When I read something like this I am relly glad that I am a guy. Most of my hair fell out so I shaved the rest and washing my hair consists of running a wash cloth over it. I find that most women look better when they go natural with very little or no make up and hair pulled back in a pony. In my opinion most women have to work at it to look bad (wearing curlers, pants that are too tight etc). I prefer function over form comfort looks good on most everyone. I have been to the court house before and you looked fantantastic compared to some of the folks that I have seen there.

    • Haha! I suppose there are perks to being a dude, though you all get to miss out on a lot of fun. Good to know I’m not the only one who shows up at the courthouse looking like she just rolled out of bed…or worse. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Sean Cooper says

    Do we get fashion tips from Lee on how to dress like a dad?

    • You should ask him about the time I submitted an application for him to be on the show What Not to Wear. True story… ๐Ÿ™‚