It’s time to reinvent the suburban mom uniform

Kieren Kesner for the Boston Globe
The writer in the back yard of her home.

“Don’t hug me, I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth, and I picked these clothes up off the floor!” An actual greeting I received at my child’s elementary school from another suburban mom. #sonotokay

How did fleece and Lycra become the staples of the suburban mommy uniform? And why is it acceptable to wear leggings outside of the gym, or worse, when you don’t ever go to the gym? When did showering become optional?

The suburban mommy needs a new uniform, pronto. Six simple items can make life so much more fashionable for suburban living.


The recipe for a wardrobe is basic and easy, which is key when the focus of your daily existence is not you — it’s your children, home and family (not to mention your job).

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Find a pair of jeans that flatter you. Dedicate a morning to tucking, stuffing and sucking it all in while flailing inside a change room. Find a salesperson with a great sense of humor and ask them to start stacking up pairs of denim for you to wrestle with. Be honest about your sizing and your comfort, the goal is to go home with at least one pair. Avoiding muffin top is crucial.

T-shirts are a gal’s best friend. There is a reason for the growing market of designer tees, it’s because we all love shirts, they look good on everyone and they literally go with everything. Toss away the older “white” tees in your closet. Once you find a line you love, build up a little rainbow selection, some round neck, some V, both short and long sleeves. Tees make great layering pieces as well as stand-alone tops. No need to break the budget either, if a Gap T-shirt can be worn to the Oscars then it can be worn in the ‘burbs.

A great silk shirt is nearly priceless. It might be the simplest way to feel dressed up. Plain, white or print, you choose! This piece will work its way into day and night outfits, and even looks like a million bucks with a pair of cut-off shorts. Promise yourself you won’t “save” it for a special occasion. Any day of the week, even if you are staying home to do laundry qualifies as a special occasion…especially if you get it all folded and put away!

Leggings have seemingly become the cornerstone of the suburban mommy uniform. But leggings do not just come in black anymore, nor sold strictly at one retailer. Leggings are made with mesh, leather, lace, color blocked, patterned, snake printed and camouflaged. Have fun with the selection, play around and embrace color and texture.


A Dress.The one piece wonder. Nothing better nor simpler. Accessorize with a great necklace and a pair of sandals or slip on some white Vans and go conquer the day! Off the shoulder is a trend that exploded in spring 2016 and is everywhere for fall 2016, so get used to giving the cold shoulder. The embroidered detail is also all over the place right now. This dress style also looks really lovely with a pair of jeans underneath.

The last item of the six-piece wardrobe is a blazer. Invest in a great piece — it will last and amortize with every wonderful wear. A great blazer goes with a white tank top and a pair of jeans. A great blazer looks fabulous over a simple dress. A great blazer with a silk shirt underneath and a pair of bright printed shorts make for quite the date night on a patio somewhere that serves pitchers of something thirst quenching!

Stop picking your outfit up off the floor. Inside out does not make a winner. Invest in yourself. Remind yourself and your family why you are beyond fabulous. Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier, shower, floss and make yourself gorgeous.

Patricia Marks-Martinovich lives in Dover and is the author of reversecommuter.com, “a fashion blog for the suburbanly challenged.”