There came a point, about halfway through my third pregnancy, when I Iost my fashion mojo. Jeans no longer did up, leggings had been metaphorically burned, old maternity trousers were in the wash and my tracksuit bottoms, well, they’d never been fit for public consumption. I sat naked and sobbed.

The episode felt especially painful as my job title at the time read: Fashion Editor. Once, clothes had been my second language; I spoke them fluently. I knew my tulip skirt from my paper-bag trousers. I’d done my time on the front row, and in my desk drawer sat handwritten notes from, among others, Donatella Versace and Christopher Kane.

Today, the baby has turned one and I am happy to report that the pieces of my style puzzle are slowly slotting back into place. Once I’d emerged from the newborn haze, I started working out. I spent the majority of my maternity allowance on reformer pilates (don’t judge me, I’ve been pregnant A LOT); when my tummy showed signs of abating, I did a bit of restorative shopping.

Flat shoes came first, and then a lovely handbag, which looks like its been designed by Saint Laurent but was actually 40 quid from Zara. Next I ventured into hostile territory: jeans and tops. I found solace in Topshop’s new Leigh flares and a selection of silk (come to think of it, they’re probably polyester) shirts that work just as well for dinner with friends, as they do when I have a meeting with my literary agent.

I’m by no means done, but I am also by no means rich. Which means this post-baby style reawakening will be a work in progress for some while. Since that pitiful moment on the bed, I’ve done quite a bit of thinking on the matter of post-baby style: here are my tips for exhuming the woman inside that mother.

New jeans

A good pair of jeans. British brand MiH – seen above – have a great selection

Jeans can be cruel, especially new ones without any give. Sure, they flatter the legs, but stiff jeans also push excess midriff flesh up and over your waistline. This is a visual, and emotional, no-no. But jeans are worth battling for because they allow for those short-ish, pretty tops you’ve had to forgo during The Leggings Wilderness. Buy jeans in the correct size and go for a pair with some give: life as a parent, means life on your knees

A bra that fits

M&S Sumptuously Soft Bra, £18; 

Teabags. That’s how some mothers refer to breastfeeding-weary bunnies. Whether or not yours now resemble a pair of PG Tips, it is still worth buying a decent bra. Give in to the underwire. Try a moulded T-shirt style. Plump for the thick strap option. Be kind to your breasts, because when they are held securely, boobies give the gift of posture

Everyday shoes

Grenson Emily Brogue, £225; 

We are in a golden era for flats: skate shoes; flatforms; sliders. Yes, they have daft names, but these shoes are kind to tired feet. Rejoice! Fashion is looking kindly on you. Try Zara for velvet sneakers, Grenson for some kicking brogues, Whistles have gorgeous evening flats or for the minimalists among us, head to Repetto for a neat ballet slipper.

Bag sympathy

Whistles Verity handbag, £195;

The perfect way to kill a good bag is to cram it with bottles, nappies, wipes, half-eaten rice cakes, toys, comforters…. It’s an unending list. Here’s the good news: bags don’t need to be like this. Your children are adaptable little mites, learn to economise on what you schlep.  If you’re feeling flush, now’s a good time for a new bag (I’d go for a leather rucksack), otherwise, find one you already own that still resembles its original design. Put in a nappy; add one toy.  Look! There is still space for your wallet: a lean handbag is a gift to the soul.


ILLESTEVA Leonard II round-frame acetate sunglasses, £215; 

Not just because you’re tired, but because sunglasses make you feel a teeny bit like a rock star.

A proper skincare routine

Collective Care for Combination Skin, £77 for set; 

Get a decent eye cream, spend a bit of money on your moisturiser, heck, book yourself a facial. If your skin looks dewy it won’t matter if you haven’t slept since 2012.

Legs. Bikini. Underarms.

Waxing treatments from £18 at The Cowshed

When your toddler starts laughing at your nether regions it’s time to regain some depilatory control.  Don’t fret if you can’t be bothered for a Brazilian, but at least get the razor out. Smooth legs, a neat knicker line and clean underarms are one of life’s little luxuries.

One good accessory

Paul Smith trilby, £99;

Gwen Stefani has her trilby. For Kate Moss it’s a pair of little pixie boots. Victoria Beckham finds comfort in a sleek tote bag and Angelina Jolie relies on a glut of nude heeled pumps. Find an accessory that you love, then invest in the best that you can afford. Use this shoe/necklace/scarf/hat as a fashion crutch; make it your trademark. Draw comfort in knowing that passing trends do not equal enduring style.


Unique cami dress, £85;

When there is a job interview, meeting with your boss, networking event on the horizon, don’t lose your fashion cool. Always be prepared, dib dib dib. A sharp blazer will instantly make you stand taller and likewise a pair of great trousers. Perhaps, a dress is what you need? Just make sure you have a piece in your arsenal that can assist in stressful style scenarios. Learn what makes you feel confident and then make sure it’s always clean.

Out with the girls/date night

Heels, cleavage, glitter, frills, an indecent mini skirt: choose your weapon and enjoy yourself! You are a mother, not a nun.

More in Features

Researching Edith and Kim

By , 17th November 2021
From a compendium of stories about life at the Bauhaus to a Modernist memoir by the founder of the iconic Isokon, here are some of the books that inspired my forthcoming novel

Book festivals 2021

By , 19th August 2021
From a celebration of the life of John le Carré at Cheltenham to an exploration of women and crime in Chiswick, please join me at one of the following events, across the country (and the internet!)