Mom Jeans is a collection of thoughts on personal style from mothers of young children all around the world. Some are fashionistas, some would call themselves the furthest thing from fashionable – all of them are wildly beautiful, and all of them inspire me. Enjoy!
Leisha Otieno, I live with my husband and two sons (and 8 months pregnant with a little girl!) in a tiny town in northwestern Tanzania. I work part-time for a small nonprofit which partners with East African ministries doing child sponsorship, which is usually from home, but occasionally involves multiple days of 6-10 hour bus rides to our partners’ sites. (www.lahash.org) You can follow my crazy life at leishainafrica.blogspot.com.
I half expect Clinton and Stacey from What Not to Wear to jump out at me any time! I have never felt confident making “style” decisions, and always thought of clothes as primarily utilitarian, especially since moving to East Africa. All women’s clothes here are either second-hand (think Goodwill’s reject bins on a sheet in a crowded market) or tailor-made (requiring a really good tailor and really good taste). This situation more-or-less equals my nightmare.
Well, my utilitarian style is definitely a plus in a maternal/work from home life, especially because I spend very little on clothing each year (on average less than $50). Pregnancy, however, definitely causes me problems. I live in a culture where pregnancy is not discussed in polite conversation and pregnant women dress extremely modestly to hide any “bump-age.” I’ve been given pregnancy gowns by very well-meaning friends, but I cannot stand to wear them, since they’re essentially elaborately embroidered muu-muus. Nothing makes one feel fatter than being eight months pregnant wearing a brightly colored tent!
In my attempts to walk the line between being culturally appropriately modest and pragmatic, I tend to go for a flowy and loose-fitting layer over a layer of snug cotton, jersey or spandex. My very favorite item is a mid-thigh length black cardigan without closures, so it kind of sways around and disguises the baby bump while matching almost anything! It’s also sufficiently versatile to pair with a skirt for business meetings or with trousers for dinner in a hotel. I recently sewed myself a maxi skirt with a spandex “baby band” waistband which is ideal for climbing in and out of buses. Five years ago I bought a five pack of white men’s v-neck undershirts, which I wear often, usually over an Old Navy stretch cotton tank, of which I own one in nearly every color. When at home (most of the time) I wear jeans nearly all the time–I have a pair of Old Navy “The Flirt” style jeans and a pair of thrift store find Michael Kors jeans which are comfortable and flattering. I work with many churches and live on the compound of a church, so if I leave the house, I have to cover the jeans with a fabric wrap skirt called a “khanga.” On those rare nights out when I want to feel pretty and delicate despite my size and limited wardrobe, I douse myself in Elizabeth Arden Green Tea perfume. Finally, I always finish my outfits with slip-on, locally made flat sandals…who wants to bend over that huge belly to fasten shoes?
Interested in participating in our Mom Jeans series, or know someone you’d like to nominate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.