Any mom will tell you that once she has kids, fashion takes a back seat to nursing bras and comfort. Juggling work and family, she has little time to focus on fashion. Just fitting in a daily shower can be a chore, let alone getting dressed in something besides yoga pants.
Enter Zankhna Parekh, a designer based in Raleigh, North Carolina, who caters to moms on the go. Parekh, a mom of three young kids, has been on Glamour magazine's Style Council. Last year, her Zankhna label debuted its first line of clothes designed specifically for busy moms.
Tired of feeling frumpy? Parekh has five tips to get you out of your fashion rut and feeling better about yourself.
Wear Clothes that Fit
"The one thing I recommend is finding a good tailor," Parekh says.
When new moms are struggling to adjust to their post-baby bodies, they tend to wear ill-fitting, baggy clothes. This doesn't help. Clothes that don't fit make them feel unattractive and make them appear bigger than they actually are. Parekh suggests buying only clothes that fit — or better yet, finding a tailor who can alter favorite clothes to fit better.
"Get your (clothes) fitted. Right away, that takes off a few pounds, and you're not dressed in frumpy outfits that look oversized on you. Get your stuff fitted or buy clothes that are appropriate for your size," she says.
Take 5 Minutes for Yourself Each Morning
"Take a little bit of time in the morning for yourself, to put a little makeup on, make yourself feel beautiful, and dress up a little," Parekh says.
No matter how busy you are, she advises doing two things every day: get dressed in "real" clothes and put on some makeup.
"It's so convenient to be in your sweatpants all day. You could probably put on sunglasses and flip-flops, and you're good. But if you take an extra 5 minutes to put on a different outfit and a little bit of makeup — just 5 minutes — you'll feel a world of difference. You'll stand taller and feel so much better about yourself," she says.
Accentuate the Body Parts You're Happy With
Even if you're still carrying extra baby weight, you still love parts of your body, right?
"Once we're moms, everything doesn't shrink back to normal. Focus on things like your regal neck or your strong shoulders," she says. "I don't know a mom out there who doesn't have strong shoulders from picking up her kids all the time."
Parekh suggests wearing tops that flaunt those strong shoulders, a la Michelle Obama, or that have embellished collars to draw the eyes to your fabulous neck and collarbones.
Take the Eyes Away from Problem Areas
If you're unhappy with your tummy, Parekh says you just need to take the focus away from that area. Add a bright, happy scarf to your outfit, and people's eyes will be immediately drawn up and away from your midsection. Or make your lips pop with some bright lipstick, and no one will be looking at your belly.
"Right away, the scarf and lipstick become the point of focus, and the attention is off the hips or belly we're not comfortable with," she explains.
Add a Few Simple Items to Your Wardrobe to Make it Shine
Women have always heard that they should never be without a little black dress. Parekh disagrees a bit with this philosophy; instead, she says every mom needs the perfect pantsuit.
"People are shocked when I say it, but I recommend a jumpsuit (over a little black dress)," she says. "It's the least popular outfit every woman should have. Jumpsuits make you look longer and leaner. It should be in every woman's closet."
Pair your jumpsuit with a pair of high heels, and you'll have an outfit that will take you from hiding in the corner to shining center stage.