How to reconcile slow fashion with a toddler mom lifestyle

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    A number of years ago, I shifted away from fast fashion in favour of buying a small number of more expensive, higher quality items that mostly go together and mostly get worn very frequently. I love nice fabrics, and this allowed me to fit mid-level designer silk, wool, linen, leather, etc, into my budget. I didn’t mind hand washing most of my clothes, or wearing the same things a lot.

    Now I have a 1.5 year old, and my clothes get dirty SO MUCH FASTER because he smears snot, mud, and food on me daily. I don’t really mind this. However, it means that I either have to wash my clothes a lot more often (which I don’t want to do because I work full time and am exhausted enough as it is), or buy a lot more clothes (which I can’t really afford unless I buy much, much cheaper pieces, because daycare costs more than my not-low rent).

    I know this phase of my life won’t last for that long in the grand scheme of things (I’m not planning on having more children), and think I might just have to suck up doing more laundry, buy more machine-washable clothes, and/or lower my standards for a while. However, if you have any creative solutions, I’d love to hear them.

    I’d also love to discuss parent style more generally. I didn’t breastfeed, so I didn’t negotiate the challenge of sourcing boob-accessible clothes, but I have found myself wanting to dress a lot more casually/comfortably since becoming a parent, and especially since my son has become more mobile.



    I do think there’s something in between ‘hand-wash only silk’ and ‘viscose rayon that dissolves like a Berocca when you wash it’.

    Blends and synthetics get dissed a lot here but they were created because they fulfil a need natural fibres sometimes can’t. A good cotton-elastane blend lends itself to easy wash and wear while retaining its shape. I have cotton-cashmere I throw into the washing machine with no worries, and ponte di Roma pants that look exactly as they did three years ago. There are some poly-blends with beautiful drape that I can wear without steaming.

    I think you can find that niche of ‘medium-speed fashion’ – items that are easy to care for while you’re living that toddler-mom life, that you can machine wash and dry, but are well-constructed enough that they’ll last for a good few years.



    Okay, I’m late to the party but I have insight into this and a solution that I myself utilize.


    I know it seems outdated but it’s actually a solution that harkens back to when people had fewer clothes, that they washed less often. Women cooked and cleaned in aprons because they didn’t want to dirty their clothes too much.

    A few years ago I stepped up my style and my cooking game at roughly the same time. I work from home and I wanted to start treating my job like a job by dressing for work. It made a huge difference in the way I felt about myself and the work I was doing.

    And because I began cooking our dinners in the morning before work I started wearing a simple chefs apron I’ve had for years, but never got much wear.

    What I realized is that it essentially became Mr. Roger’s sweater for me.
    It indicated when I was doing “mommy” domestic tasks and when I took it off it signaled I was working or leaving the house. Since after finishing work I generally am putting dinner on the table part of my saying hello to the kids was walking to the closet and putting on my apron. It stays on through dinner and almost through the kid’s bed time now. (Hello splashy bath 🙂 )

    Some of my friends have made fun of it when they drop by, but they also have noted that I am “fully dressed” every day in a way they maybe dress once a month.

    My kids now also have aprons, which they use when we cook together and I have more than one so I can watch it when it gets gross.

    Is it old fashioned? Sure. But its also practical. [And if you buy the right apron it can be flattering and it works very well with much of the slow fashion aesthetic.] (



    Mom of an active 5 year old here. I too love nice fabrics and fine things, but I have found those clothes are completely incompatible with my mom life. I now have pretty much 2 separate wardrobes, and far more clothing than I ever thought I would own. In my day to day, going to the playground/ trekking through mud/ collecting bugs with my son I need machine washable clothes. I don’t spend a fortune on these as they get utterly destroyed. I pretty much live in everlane tees, or rag and bone or nation Ltd purchased gently used on eBay. I have found Parker smith jeans pretty indestructible and they can go in the dryer. I still have my equipment silk, Vince sweaters and dvf wrap dresses but they really only get pulled out for the odd date night. As for my mom fashion, it’s pretty non existent. I don’t take my Tom Ford bag to the playground or to mommy and me ceramics. I use an everlane backpack over a t shirt or sweatshirt with jeans and sneakers.



    I wear different clothes with my toddler and cats than I wear to work or out on non-baby outings, so my nice clothes don’t get destroyed. That means I hate how I look when I’m out with my family, though. Basically [this post]( says it all.



    I don’t even have the energy to type about this. I am also here, feeling this pain. I tell myself: Someday. Now, time to go comfort the elder child.



    A lot of this resonates with me. My kids are 2 and 4. I work part time (30 hours) so at least a reasonable chunk of my wardrobe is for work and consequently nicer. Ive been doing a bit of investment – mainly second hand shopping – in my work wardrobe lately and am reasonably happy with where things are getting to there. But my “home/kids” wardrobe… that needs work.

    I have a basic uniform that I sort of hate but also recognise it’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s high waisted jegging jeans in either blue or black, striped boat necked top (I have a number), and sneakers (I have a number), when it’s colder, I tend to wear a a woollen sweater and then a padded down vest over that instead of a coat/jacket, because I like having my arms unconstricted to grab escaping kids and I find jackets restrict my movement a bit. For the last three years I’ve basically worn that every non work day with some small variations, so… great.

    Having said that, I’ve been trying to make a few changes to my basic kids wardrobe, with different degrees of success. Namely:

    – fun mini dresses in summer, with sandals. This can work! I wear bike shorts underneath bc of all the bending over.

    – different jeans: I got some high waisted straight jeans at the start of last summer and wore them a lot with plain white tees tucked in and sandals. I felt much more current in those, all the girls in their 20s in my city are wearing those. My trusty jeggings are very much the domain of moms in their 30s now. Which I am of course but doesn’t mean I want to look like it!

    – in winter, tights/boots/mini skirt instead of jeans. Just as comfortable and more of a “look”.

    – high waisted drawstring pants with a tee. Still working on this one! I like the look but it’s a new look for me so I’m still getting used to it and figuring out what works.

    In terms of wearing nicer fabrics and more expensive, high quality stuff though… this may not be the time. Buying nicer stuff second hand is always a good option though bc you don’t care so much about it getting potentially ruined if you didn’t pay that much.

    I’m so interested to hear about how everyone else navigates this!!



    I definitely have my “work clothes” and my “mom clothes” with very few crossover items. I change immediately after work and even wear a cami and wait to put in a top until I’m right about to leave before work.

    I don’t see a lot of conversations about it here, but the way you dress changes a lot after kids and it can be really hard! (Especially if you’re not a fan of athleisure.) My kids are 1 and 3. I used to regularly get 2-3 wears out of an item and now I’m lucky to get through the day unstained.

    I think finding mixable basics and caring for them is your best bet. I have linen and cotton tees from Loft and Old Navy that hold up really well to re-washing and I line dry them and wear with light-weight skinny jeans or shorts in the summer. Kids aren’t as hard on shoes, so I still wear cute birkenstocks or sandals in the summer.

    I do think you just have to accept some wear and tear and adjust your purchases accordingly. “Slow fashion” is great until someone is puking on you every day.




    I’ve got a 2 year old and 7 year old.

    In my experience you are almost out of the super-sticky-messy-everywhere phase.

    I wear lots of blazers and send them to the cleaners after a few wears. My spouse is a lawyer (needs to wear suits) and I’m in academia, so the cleaners is not a rare trip for us.

    Other stuff I wash in the machine on gentle, even silks.

    About a year and a half ago, when my son was still in messy-mode-supreme I attended a special grad ceremony for our culinary students. I wore a favorite winter-white blazer, blouse, and black cigarette pants with heels. During the hors doeuvres little dude had a great time and really enjoyed the chocolate ganache cake… One of the students dads make a joke about how I was probably regretting wearing white. I just laughed and said it probably wasn’t the most practical outfit but ya just can’t stop being yourself just because one is a parent. There was another mom there with a small baby and it looked like just the thing she needed to hear.



    I find the phase of parenthood where your kids get you all sticky and gross is from about six months (when they start eating solid food) to two or so. My five year old virtually never gets my clothes grubby and my three year old seldom does.
    Since you only have a few months to go in the really dirty stage, I’d just tough it out and wash your slow fashion clothes as often as necessary and look forward to the stage arriving (SOON!) where your kid is less sticky.
    (Source: Mom of three kids of varying levels of grubbiness.)



    I have two kids under 3, and I pretty much wear cheap clothes only. As they get older they get better at keeping their messes to themselves, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I’m waiting until they’re both *great* at keeping their messes contained and off my clothing.

    Until then, Old Navy and such are my go-to, because childcare is expensive and I don’t have a kidney to spare at the moment. I also add colour-safe bleach to my laundry, because kids are walking, talking germ machines in general, so the cheaper the clothes, the better.

    In a few years, though, I’ll upgrade my wardrobe…slowly. Haha.

    Solidarity, mama.



    Mum of a toddler the same age here! Just got out of 2 weeks stuck at home (one week she had Hand Foot and Mouth, the next I did… ugh), can’t wait to get back into my nice work things.

    My tips are – Boden for washable dresses and the Hampshire skinny ponte pants. I’m not into the bright prints, but they often do a plain black or navy version of quite nice dresses, and they are machine washable. I also machine wash all my J Crew/Uniqlo cashmere and merino jumpers – on the wool setting, and then line dry.

    Leather leggings and skirts are weirdly toddler ideal – I just wipe anything off with a leather wipe. No need to wash!

    Home clothes to change into when at home, others have suggested aprons which are a good idea.

    I have a bright green tweed coat which hides a lot of sins and looks chic (J crew Daphne in green).

    Otherwise we sort of try to minimise mess when at home – day care is for paint, mud and spaghetti bolognese. The main culprit at home is bananas, which cause terrible brown stains.

    I find my style has mainly changed to try and minimise my mum tum – previously my waist was something I could emphasise easily. I didnt breastfeed either, so thankfully my bras all still fit, but tighter skirts are tops are out 🙁 Before she was born, I bought a beautiful big leather tote that I was convinced could be a baby bag… now, given we don’t have a car, I realised backpack life is the only way. So now outfits have to work with a navy backpack.



    I buy more linen, and wash it more often. It looks pretty the more you wash it!



    So, I’m not a parent, but I work in a lab, which also leads to a lot of washing and worrying about occasional rips and tears. I try to avoid expensive clothes because I’m always worried I’ll ruin them. Old Navy cotton tees and jeans are my go to. Their rayon and poly aren’t great, but the cotton stuff is solid.



    For every day: good quality leggings and stretchy pants. You’re going to be chasing that kid for a few years still. Comfort and functionality trumps all else for me. I need to be able to machine wash it and it has to be able to go in the dryer. I am pregnant again too, so my energy levels are low and the less maintenance the better.

    For date nights or kid free days, I pull out my silk blouses, cashmere sweaters or sequin dresses. I dust off my Jeffrey Campbell’s, and pull my leather Longchamp out of its dust bag.

    Otherwise, I throw that stuff to the back of the closet with my old curated wardrobe. I know I’ll get the chance someday. Right now I am focusing on being at this stage in life with my kids and I’m at peace with it.



    I don’t have kids but I do some work where I get dirty. I always snatch up any premium fashion items I see on Poshmark or Ebay that already have stains/flaws. I just set an ebay search for my fav brands and then order by price which catches them. Then I save the search. I especially love the raw silk items that are machine washable.



    I wear crappy clothes to drop off the kids then change in the car – then crappy clothes go back on at pickup



    Thrift store are a godsend. You may have to have a solid hour or two to really look for quality items(among the band t shirts and used undergarments) but it’s so, so worth it!! My other go to’s are Plato’s Closet, and a *bit* more pricey($4-30$ a piece) is Ecology, a vintage store near me(not sure if they have moved outside of Georgia, but there are a few here). I have found my most durable, timeless, quality pieces there. Both these stores are “trade in” clothing stores, and will give you money for your old gently worn items!



    When mine were toddlers (18 month spacing) I wore simple tshirts that I paired with jeans with a hole in one knee. Usually the left. Yes this was before the ripped jeans trend, but that’s life down on the floor. If I wanted to look pulled together I wore something over the tshirt – jacket, cardigan, necklace, I’m not really a scarf person but you get the picture. And I always held back at least one pair of jeans with no holes (yet) – you know, for fancy.



    I don’t have kids, but I work with them and it gets messy sometimes. I also traveled a lot locally for work for a while. I mentioned corporette in my last post, I think it might be helpful here too. These were helpful for good looking washable pieces (if I couldn’t afford them I could review what materials pieces were made of for searching for something similar).

    The Best Washable Pants for Work



    I’m Not a Mother, but if the soiling occurs mostly at specific times (feeding, nappy changing, holding the baby…) You could use some PPE: apron, lab coat, overall, a dedicated big bathrobe…



    As other commenters have said, I have separate wardrobes for work (nice, delicate stuff) and baby (post-work evenings, daycare drop offs, weekend). I make sure baby time stuff is reasonably nice to I still feel good in it, but is also easy care. I machine wash and (gasp) machine dry most of the baby stuff for the reasons you listed. I do breastfeed so everything has to be accessible as well. I usually wear skinny jeans or nice joggers with a cotton Breton top or a wrap/shirt cotton dress. As it’s starting to get cooler I’m layering cotton tanks underneath and cotton cardigans on top. Another silhouette I love is a cotton t shirt or blouse tucked into a cotton miniskirt. As it gets cooler I layer with leggings and cardigans as needed. Most of these items are from my original pre-baby wardrobe before I had the need to separate them, but I have seen similar items at uniqlo and H&M. I’m not a big fan of polyester but if it works for you then there’s nothing like poly for quick wash-dry-wear. I personally can not pull off leggings as pants but lots of my mum friends pull of the athleisure look as well.



    I wear an apron around the house. I have one with a high neck that wraps around 75% of my body and goes down to just above my knees. Its deep pockets allow me to keep my phone accessible too. Occasionally something slips through onto my clothes (hummus smeared into my knee pit, what) but it catches a ton of the mess. It’s the last thing I take off before leaving the house.

    The nursing clothes…UGH. My 10-month-old loves solid foods and will probably stop breastfeeding soon. I can’t wait to burn these three shitty stretched-out v-necks and hideous nursing bras.



    Uniqlo. Japanese retailer. Understated fashion, good prices. That would be my solution. I buy the occasional piece, but I am a size 14 so very little fits. But if you’re anything less than a 14 you can outfit yourself there for not much money.

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