ISO respectable Momwear
September 29, 2008 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest some fall/winter clothes for me, given certain constraints? SAHM, suddenly muscular, don't want to succumb to sloppiness.

I am now a stay-at-home mother of a toddler, which means I am stuck in very wash-and-wear, hardwearing, easy to move in clothes. Obviously jeans and t-shirts are my friends, but I'd rather not totally give up, appearance-wise.

I've developed giant arm muscles from hauling baby everywhere and the tailored stuff I used to wear is totally out, and I have no idea how to flatter/downplay big arms. I am a size 4-6 in pants, 12ish in tops; fit is a problem. Button-down shirts look lousy given that they have to be such a big size to fit my arms. I still have a wee bit of flub on my belly, so clingy knits are out, too, and all t-shirts seem too short now. Finding fitting tops that are not sloppy (see "hardwearing"), slutty (no cheapo rayon, please), or matronly (eg, Lands' End) is a real problem.

Shoes I can spend the day running around in that don't look sloppy are also hard to find.

Budget is not a major constraint if it's worth it, if it looks like a normal adult would wear it out to lunch but it can still be used to build leaf piles in. I'd go with a few nice sweaters if I had any idea what sort of sweater didn't make a big-armed girl look just plain fat.

Either general tips or specific suggestions are greatly appreciated.
posted by kmennie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have the same body type, but am a SAHM and have met with the same issue of trying to fund warm, washable, and unsloppy clothes. My major issue is staying warm without just putting on all of the clothes in my closet and looking bulky. Would a fleece vest work for you? I'm wondering if it would help you layer without layering on the arms and creating more bulk. Maybe too matronly though. On the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe a nice (slim) cardigan (from a more stylish store than Lands' End/LL Bean, maybe Banana Republic or something) might work for the opposite reason, if you left it open in front.
posted by dreamphone at 11:22 AM on September 29, 2008

I was actually going to suggest Land's End until I re-read your question and saw that you specifically ruled it out. You have to chose carefully, but I think it's possible to shop there and still be fashionable.

As for fit issues, very few women fit into pre-determined clothing sizes. Buy to fit your biggest part, and have the garments tailored to fit you. You'll look great and feel wonderful and comfortable.

Also, there's nothing wrong with being a big armed girl - just think, if it weren't for your arms, you wouldn't be able to haul that awesome baby everywhere!
posted by jennyb at 11:24 AM on September 29, 2008

Eddie Bauer has some cute wrap tops right now, including some on sale, and most in Tall sizes (which can cover the "too short" problem). With a tank top underneath, this might be one way to go.
posted by nkknkk at 11:25 AM on September 29, 2008

If the problem with t-shirts is just that they're too short, have you considered buying tall sizes? Gap and Old Navy both carry their normal long-sleeved, sleeveless, and short-sleeved t-shirts in tall sizes, and you can layer anything else you like over them. That might give you a long enough bottom layer that would provide a foundation for whatever else you put on.
posted by decathecting at 11:29 AM on September 29, 2008

I also have big arms (and a toddler). Old Navy has been the best spot for me to consistently find shirts that work. Many of them tend to run long (thank you!) so they provide extra coverage, especially if you like low rise pants. Long is also good for slimming out a little extra belly-ness. Also, they frequently have 3/4 length sleeves, a godsend for big armed women. These can be very slimming. I tend to go for the knits with an interesting pattern or solids. The woven cloth shirts just don't fit me right.

For sweaters, I have found that to look at all presentable, I have to stick with v-necks in a very small gauge knit and wear something pretty skimpy underneath as another layer (but which also adds some visual interest and again some coverage in the back for bending over). Anything sweater you would describe as "cozy" makes me look like a puffball (but them I'm short, so YMMV).

Will post back with some show recommendations when I have another minute.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:44 AM on September 29, 2008

Sorry for being a bit general, and I hope this helps - there are many, many mothers that show off their outfits in the wardrobe remix pool. They have such a wide variety of people in the group, that you'll inevitably come across someone with the same body shape as yourself, or just pick up tips as to where the good clothes are at.
posted by saturnine at 11:46 AM on September 29, 2008

Eddie Bauer also has some plain long-sleeved t-shirts which are longish, but not too long, and extremely comfortable but not too sloppy (I'm planning on teaching in them in the spring and I'm figuring they will dress up adequately with slacks). Not sure about the arm issue with them, though.

(FYI, I've never seen Eddie Bauer stuff in tall for women, although it's so not an issue for me that I might have just overlooked them...)
posted by leahwrenn at 11:46 AM on September 29, 2008

For shoes that don't give up and feel great all day and look totally non-sloppy, try the brand Merrill. I'm a city dwelling SAHM of 3 and I live in them.

Jeans and t-shirt are the way to go for me, but it can still be hip. Cute, current jeans (or khakis) paired with a tank-top that covers ALL the way over the top of the jeans, with whatever t-shirt you like (remember, your tank is covering the belly) paired with a comfy yet cute pair of slip-ons and I think it's a pretty respectable ensemble for this job.
posted by agentwills at 12:51 PM on September 29, 2008

As someone with big arms, I find that crew neck shirts are out - they make me look too broad. Stick with v-neck, possibly layering over a tank top as agentwillis mentioned, if you're worried about showing too much cleavage. Also avoid cap sleeves, although in fall/autumn that's less of an issue.
posted by twoporedomain at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2008

I saw this shirt, that might fit the bill (Banana Republic). It has puff sleeves, and it is a little loose on the tummy. I saw this and this on there as well. I generally find the clothes there really good size-wise, and I can always find something flattering. I find them a bit pricey though - the prices on the website are in US dollars, so expect to pay a little more in Canada.
Have you considered dresses? I often wear casual dresses in the daytime, they can be comfortable (and you will look cute too). Just pull on a pair of black tights and you are done. Maybe this type or a wrap dress (with or without that ruffle). I am sure you will be able to find all of these styles in other stores for less money. I think you are in luck that the puff sleeve is in style, you should definitely check that out as an option.
posted by Chick Pea at 4:05 AM on September 30, 2008

Response by poster: T-shirts in long, Merrells, vests, etc...these are some ideas I can use!
posted by kmennie at 4:29 AM on October 1, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, and Lands' End has some nice stuff, but after returning and returning stuff from there because the cut was just bleah -- "matronly" -- I gave up.

"Wardrobe remix" has a lot of everyday stuff, far more useful than a fashion magazine...
posted by kmennie at 4:30 AM on October 1, 2008

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