P. has shown me how precious time is. In her wonderful, indefinable way, she’s shown me how the time we have together here on this earth before she turns into a rebellious teenager who hates me is really very short. Every moment I get to spend with her needs to be cherished.
In the same wonderful, indefinable way, I’ve also learnt that every moment I get to spend in the bathroom getting ready in the morning should also be cherished, because it is equally as precious, and equally as short.
It’s taken time, and lots of mistakes, but I’ve fine-tuned my morning routine so I can go from bedraggled to ‘how you doin’?’ in minutes. Here’s my artillery of quick style fixes to help you feel wonderful and not so worn out.
These are just the ones that worked for me, and needless to say don’t put yourself under pressure to use every one every day. I just found that a few of these are enough to put the smile back on my face!
- A good primer. A primer is a thin layer of normally transparent fluid you can apply to your face before applying foundation; it takes seconds and lasts all day. It smoothes out your skin and fills out any pores or lines on your face so your skin glows and looks and feels smoother. When my days are really hectic or tiring this helps me stay looking composed and I think primer makes me look less tired if P. has been up during the night. Some have anti-ageing properties and vitamins as well. I know some mums don’t wear make-up – even if your only staple is a tinted moisturiser you could still try wearing a layer of primer underneath as it would transform your face and make your moisturiser work all day. I know I’m wearing primer when I look in the mirror at 4pm (typically the hardest time of day) and think ‘Not bad.’ I am currently using Mac’s Prep and Prime (£21.50) but I’ll be trying Boots No.7 Airbrush away £19.50) as it looks great:
The beauty of online shopping means you won’t even have to leave the house for this essential style fix. I used to suffer from flushing and blemishes especially when run-down or stressed and wish I’d known that Boots No 7 also did a Colour Calming Primer (£11) as it looks perfect for stressed out new mums.
APPLICATION TIME: 5 SECONDS2. My second quick style fix is mascara. I don’t wear mine every day, but on the days I can be bothered, I’m always grateful I made the effort. This is one of those magic face fixers which takes me from tired to groomed in seconds
- I don’t wear lipstick during the day when P. is around as I don’t want to smear her face with it when I kiss her, so mascara is a great stand-in for quick and effective definition. It also seems to make a hastily thrown together outfit feel a bit more deliberate. I have a cheap water-proof mascara as well for when I take P. swimming.
APPLICATION TIME: 10 SECONDS3. A good hair-fix. There are days when brushing, washing, or styling my hair seems out of reach. Those are the days I reach for a dry shampoo like Battiste to cheat a freshly-washed hair look, then pull my hair back in a scrappy sort of pony-tail and fix it with a hair-band. I don’t know how these humble pieces of elastic manage to turn messy mum hair into chic hair but do it they do without asking for anything in return. The look is very fashion-forward; just ask this model sporting the look:
And look at Natalie Portman wearing this low-key look at a premiere; it will take you anywhere!
Accessorise are fab for hair pieces like this and you can also pick up some simple ones at Boots, Superdrug, or Tesco next time you’re buying nappies. Just remember the understated look is much easier to pull off; if you go for something too floral or girlie it is harder to look effortless.
APPLICATION AND STYLING TIME: 1 MINUTE4 PERFUME. There’s something about a spritz of scent that lifts my mood and makes me feel like myself. Even on the days I have no time for make-up, then perfume and earrings make me feel ready to face the world; as a wise woman once said, you are never fully dressed without perfume. I love Chanel no. 5 which mum gave me for Christmas a few years ago but to be honest a dab of sandlewood works just as well. If your birthday is coming up and you have generous friends, check out this list for inspiration: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/23/last-minute-perfumes-presents
Too pricey? The Body Shop is also fab for good value perfumes and they often have on-line deals.
APPLICATION TIME: 1 SECOND5. A TAKE-ANYWHERE JUMPER It may be June, but as I write it’s been raining on and off for a fortnight. This is one of those times when all I want to do is pull on a soft and simple jumper in the morning. I think it’s worth investing in a jumper that will see me through for years and with the right accessories they can be one of the most versatile and luxurious pieces in my wardrobe. They are fab for mothers because they are fuss free and practical, rarely need ironing, can hold their shape for ages and can be extremely figure-flattering. They are perfect for mums everywhere because after a hard night looking after a sick or teething or breastfeeding child, jumpers provide the ultimate solution to being stylish with no effort. Check out this American Apparel one from Asos (£32) – all it needs is a bold necklace and you’re good to go:
- I also love this Paul Smith Black cable knit jumper (Black here refers to the line diffusion, not the colour; it IS red, you haven’t momentarily gone colour-blind) £116:
This Boden Chic-Revere jumper (£60) is perfect for mums; understated enough for coffee mornings and singing sessions at the library, but elegant enough to make you feel wonderful when you wear it. If my husband is reading this, I would love this for Christmas. Thank you. Also check out Gap, M&S ( I love M&S jumpers so much they make my heart explode sometimes) and charity shops for some real finds. We Brits do jumpers a lot, it won’t be hard to find a good one.
APPLICATION TIME: 30 SECONDS TO THROW ON IN THE MORNING
6. A PETER PAN DETACHABLE COLLAR This is a wonderful style trick; a small collar you can wear individually with anything:
Detachable collars are like necklaces; to be worn with individual pieces. I wear mine with a jumper but they also look fab with plain t-shirts, vests, and dresses. I love how they elevate a simple top to chic without being too showy:
You can also get slightly more glitzy ones for when you’re heading out for well-deserved drinks with your girlfriends or boyf:
Check out the Etsy and Asos websites if you like this look. Ebay also has vintage lace ones which can be stunning.
TIME TO APPLY: 30 SECONDS
7. A STRIPEY TOP Don’t even get me started on stripes. Stripes are amazing – Coco Chanel single-handedly invented the idea of women wearing them and if it’s good enough for her…
James Dean also looked nice in a stripe. I know he wasn’t a mum but he sure was pretty. And he’s eating a cake in this picture and looking a bit moody. Maybe he’s pretending to be a mum?
If James Dean isn’t enough to convince you, I have opened up the doors of my wardrobe and flung all the contents on my unmade bed to show you: look at how many stripey things I own!
The evidence of a woman with very repetitive shopping habits? Think again. Stripes are one of the most versatile patterns for a wardrobe that has to work hard. You can wear stripes with khaki trousers or skirts for egalitarian chic:
You can wear them with with a maxi skirt for a vital and wonderfully casual look – perfect for mums:
And finally, of course, you can wear them with a great pair of jeans. Just ask Brigitte Bardot! I have tried doing this pose but I think it’s best left to the French. C’est chic!
This is such a wonderful, timeless look and that’s what mum fashion is all about; effortless and easy chic. Definitely a winner for time-pressed women anywhere. The only thing about stripes is, know when to stop. This is when stripes go bad:
TIME TO APPLY: 50 SECONDS
8. A great pair of jeans These are obviously a must for women of any age or size, but I think they really come into their own once you have children. Like all the clothes on this list they are completely fuss-free with no need for ironing and if you have the right size and fit for your body they are worth their weight in gold. I would recommend not buying any good new jeans until your baby is at least one as over the first year your body changes a lot; it would be such a waste to spend nearly £100 on a fab pair only for them to become too saggy a few months later.
You don’t want to try this look:
For the period of time between having your baby and losing your baby weight, I recommend jeggings. I know they have been a bit maligned in the press recently because they became so ubiquitous (and, really, the name – jeggings?) but if worn well they can work wonders. The elasticated waistbands are much more comfortable than too-tight jean buttons and when they fit right they can flatter and support any wobbles. Marks and Spencers do a great range for a very good price of £25.
Once you feel that you are back to your pre or post baby weight, I would definitely recommend investing in a pair of jeans. I call it investing when it is expensive. You should try this, it makes shopping sound like something you’ve been hired to do by the IMF.
You are going to be wearing these so-called expensive jeans through every single season and probably once if not more a week. If you get the fit right they will flatter and support your legs and bum like no other item in your wardrobe . Because they work so hard, it’s definitely worth spending time and money getting good ones. I got some wonderful Levis Curve jeans (approx £90) from my local House of Fraser that fit like a glove but I also found some brilliant cheaper ones at Mango (£45) for when they are in the wash. If £160 seems too expensive to spend on three pairs of jeans, consider this: if you wear your jeans five times a week every week of the year, that’s 260 times a year. If you divide £160 by 260, it’s working out at about 62 pence per day. That’s a very small price to pay for a great pair of legs and a good bum! ( I am very good at this sort of woolly economic thinking. But it is true.)
Tip: to get great jeans, visit a department store and ask an assistant for help. Try flirting if it helps the assistant stick around and become more like a free personal stylist. Getting good jeans is definitely a two-man job.
APPLICATION TIME: 20 SECONDS TO PUT ON
9. A COLOURFUL PAIR OF SHOES
When I look around at the baby groups and coffee mornings that I attend, I see a lot of trainers and boots on mums. Now these are very practical and have their place, but I yearn occasionally to see a pair of shoes which don’t quite fit the mould of functional efficiency. I want to see colour, adventure, and a shoe which makes me SMILE. As a mum it’s important to break the rules and reassert your individuality; I think any of these beauties would be a great way to introduce a little bit of sunshine to your life.
H&M Ballet Pumps, £14.99
Office Marigold patent flats, £35:
Clarks Orsino flats, £44.99
APPLICATION TIME: 50 SECONDS
10. SOME FABULOUS PYJAMAS When I got back from the hospital after P. was born, I spent almost a week in bed, trying to get to grips with breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. How I wish I’d had a pair of lovely pyjamas to comfort me and cheer me up. I made do with some old maternity leggings and several shapeless t-shirts, even when friends and family came round to meet P. Next time round, I’m going to invest in stylish cotton pyjamas (and several bottles of champagne) to keep me going through those mad first weeks. These beautiful floral pyjamas from online boutique Hush, £50, will do the job. They would also make a great present for first-time mums.
APPLICATION TIME: 60 SECONDS
11. GOOD FRIENDS There is a wise saying: ‘The best mirror is a friend’s eye.’ It’s so important to your well-being, mojo and sense of self to spend time with true friends; people that love you and that you love back will make you glow and won’t cost a penny. Here are some of my friends who always make me feel gorgeous:
Anna one drunken NY:
Me and Mel:
Meg (holding P. when just a week old):
My oldest friend Claire, me, and our girls:
I could put many more photos up here but come on; this ain’t facebook. Suffice to say, I love the women in my life.
APPLICATION TIME: NOTHING
COST: FREE – THE ONLY THING YOU HAVE TO SPEND ON A FRIENDSHIP IS TIME. (AND A FEW COCKTAILS ONCE IN A WHILE)
So there you have it. Eleven fast and effective style fixes that will take a grand total of FOUR MINUTES of your time in the morning. I hope it’s been useful; I’d love to hear any other tips and comments that you use to feel fabulous quickly.