13 wardrobe essentials every mother can’t do without

Once you have babies, you need a wardrobe full of items that are both practical and comfortable. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.

We’ve pulled together our list of essentials which can form the basis for you to build a stylish and practical wardrobe for when you are with your kids.

1. White shirt

Keep it crisp and clean, and avoid embellishments for maximum versatility.

White shirt: Found at Vinnies for $4.

Buy similar: Paul Smith Shirt $189, Banana Republic $70, Lane Bryant $48

STYLE TIP: 7 ways to wear your white work shirt now you’re CEO of a household.

2. Ballet flats

Mothers voted these their 3rd favourite shoe in the Fox in Flats fashion survey,

and it’s easy to see why.

 Buy similar: Marc by Marc Jacobs $178, Bruno Magli $176, Armani Collezioni $173.

 STYLE TIP: Beware of flashing too much toe cleavage in the playground!

3. Black leggings

For the ultimate in practicality and versatility, you can’t go past a pair of black leggings. Leather panels add a touch of luxe.

 Buy similar: Club Monaco $124, One by Panel $71, ASOS curve leather panel pants $140.

 STYLE TIP: A ponte fabric (type of stretch jersey) is ideal as it holds in your jiggly bits while creating a streamlined silhouette.

4. Oversized sunglasses

Essential to hide those tired eyes.

Sunglasses: House of Harlow 1960 Nicole. $150. Buy these online

 Shop similar: Stella McCartney Oversized $169, Tom Ford Rhonda $171, House of Harlow, Willow $118

 TIP: Build a wardrobe of cheap and cheerful sunnies. The best on the net under $40 here.

5. Flat boots

Knee-high boots are a playground favourite, but ankle boots are equally versatile, and add modernity to your look.

 Shop similar: FRATELLI ROSSETTI $173, Tommy Hilfiger Twain $98, Steve Madden Rivingtn $88

 STYLE TIPS: 6 ways to wear ankle boots here.

6. A trench coat

Whack this baby over the top of absolutely anything and you’ve got instant classic style.

 Shop similar: Nicole Farhi $193, Gap Classic Trench $81.

 TIPS: We’ll show you how 1 coat can take you from daggy, messy and baggy to classic, chic and tailored, here.

7. Converse

48% of mums say these are their favourite shoes to wear when they are with their kids. As you can tell from the condition of this pair, they’re one of my favourites too!

My Converse: $40. Shop here. 

 TIP: For inspiration on how to wear your Converse, click here.

8. A blazer

Classic and chic whatever your job.

 Shop similar: Shopbop basics $178, Bec & Bridge $173.

STYLE TIPS: We’ve found 8 ways to take your blazer from the boardroom to the playroom.

9. Blue jeans

A favourite of mothers everywhere, and part of the standard ‘mummy uniform’ according to our survey of 150 women.

 Shop similar: True Religion Baja Boyfriend $176.

 TIP: Cuff them 3 inches above your ankle when wearing with flats.

10. A statement carry-all

As mums, we’re always lugging heaps of stuff around. But just because we need our bags to be practical doesn’t mean they can’t look fab at the same time.

TIP: For 10 ways to know you’re buying an awesome baby bag, click here. 

11. A soft leather jacket

Warm, comfy and super easy to wipe away baby dribble.

Leather jacket: bought in Florence, Italy 8 years ago. 

 TIP: Invest in a sleek, streamlined cut that won’t date.

12. The loafer

Ageless, sophisticated and classic, we’ve found 7 ways to wear them when you’re with your kids,  here.

13. A selection of scarves

Perfect for a quick splash of colour and a layer of pattern. And handy for discretion while breastfeeding.

If you’re heading back to (paid) work, you might like to check out 5 back to work essentials for every working mum.

What’s in your wardrobe that you just CAN’T live without?

baby hanger

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  • Anonymous

    Great collection. My favourite pieces in my winter wardrobe are my boots, scarves & black leggings.  Summer – sexy sandals, tailored short shorts and a crisp white summer shirt x

    • Sounds divine. Oh how I can’t wait for summer and those short shorts (NOTE TO SELF: GET TO THE GYM!) x

  • Kate Says Stuff

    My Winter staples are my black skinny jeans and my cardi. Love love. PS hose leggings loom familiar, was eyeing them off on the weekend 😉 They look fabulous on you xox.

    • Kate, I’m obsessed with my black skinnies too. What brand do you wear? I’ve had the same black Country Road pair for 2 years and am in love. Deeply. 
      Oh yeah, the leggings are mine (all the stuff is mine) – will have to do till I’ve got an in-house photographer & stylist ha ha ha! I don’t buy much, but these were worth every cent. Thanks for the compliment x

      • Katesaysstuff

        I’m really thingy about buying stuff for myself (aside from prams lol). My skinnies are from cotton on… Only about $40 and they fit perfectly which is often an issue when you’re built like spongebob ;p

        • Yes, I saw your pram (VERY FANCY!). I also saw your butt and it looked nothing like Spongebob! 😉 x

  • Jen

    WoW! These photos are amazing. And is this your office? Your clothes? I want your life!

    • (blushing) Thanks Jen! 
      I think the light was particularly good in there that day. And while I do usually have clothes draped around it is more like ten items slovenly chucked haphazardly over things. Now the truth comes out… x

  • Al

    Did you notice all the beautiful leather jackets on those Melbourne girls?  Came very close to buying one, but couldn’t find one that I absolutely loved.  May have to next winter though.  Do you know of any good places in Sydney that might have them?

    • Oh yes! It is definitely one of those things that you have to hunt down (or stumble upon in my case), and only buy one when you get that thrill of Retail Love. You know what I mean??? Or is it just me who gets this? 
      I’ve put a shout out on the Fox in Flats facebook https://www.facebook.com/FoxInFlats for you to see if anyone can give advice on where to buy. x

  • Mel

    Tick, tick, tick, tick. Yeah, got them all. Phew!

    • Ha ha, sweet relief! x

  • Eloise Verlaque

    11 out of 13 (a perfectly good reason to go shoe shopping, woohoo!)  One of my favourite mummy things to wear is a wrap cardi.  Warm and cosy, they drape nicely and hide most of the bulgy bits 🙂  I had a gorgeous blush coloured one from Witchery which accidentally caught on fire while I was cooking dinner one night (long story, I am obviously NOT a domestic goddess!) Im still in mourning.

    • Wow Eloise, that cardigan sounds like it’s ‘on fire’! (Sorry for the terrible pun, couldn’t help myself). You’re right though, a cardi is essential! 

  • 12 of of 13!   I dont have loafers…..great selection of pieces and so true!

    • Thanks Melanie J. Was fun to do, and think about the items I just couldn’t do without. I only added loafers to my list this year and am in love. 

  • Gemma @ My Big Nutshell

    I am a style FAIL! Thanks for the tips!

    • Gemma, I’ll bet you’re not!
      It’s just my idea of basics, not a checklist of whether you’ve “got it right”. And everyone’s idea of basics is different too… 😉 xxx 

    • Gemma, I’ll bet you’re not!
      It’s just my idea of basics, not a checklist of whether you’ve “got it right”. And everyone’s idea of basics is different too… 😉 xxx 

  • Kate

    Where did you find the loafers??? I live in my 2-seasons-old Ecco loafers but they don’t make them anymore… I emailed them, and their reponse was that loafers are “not part of their current collection”! Devastation!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Kate, they are called ECCO Kenna $199.95 (available in melon, black, white, burnt ochre), and are in store now. Mega-comfy!

  • AskBronny

    Love it! You sure you didn’t raid my wardrobe! LOL … fabulous advice for all!!

    • Thanks AskBronny! Just the basics…keepin’ it real x

  • I need to seriously up the ante in the style department! I avoid form-fitted stuff when I am with my kids. A great post Andrea. I think you will rub off on me soon x

    • Thanks Multiple mum. Loose stuff can be great when you’re with your kids – it’s just all about balance e.g. loose shirt with leggings, wide-legged pants with fitted tank. x

  • and off to the shops i go! am missing a few pairs of shoes in this mix oh and the coat! thanks for the advice – my wardrobe is in need of a refresher

    • You’re welcome Rachel. I reckon you can’t go wrong with these babies, they’re all classics. x

  • Muddled Up Mumma

    You’ve just reminded me about the Converse’s I have tucked at the back of the spare wardrobe that haven’t seen this light since having my bub – totally bringing them back. Great tips.

    • Thanks Muddled Up Mumma. Actually, in doing this post I was reminded about my Cons. I “overwore” mine a few years ago (as you can tell from their condition) and got sick of wearing them. I’m bringing them out to play again too. We can play snap in the playground! x

  • Oh I’m completely missing a lot of those, my wardrobe sucks. Thanks for the tips.

    • Hey, CRAP Mama, I’ll bet it doesn’t suck!  Besides, this list isn’t a you-must-buy-or-your-wardrobe-sucks kinda list. It’s just classics that’ll make what you’ve got stretch a bit further. xx

  • Great post! As a busy mom I love your simple yet stylish picks. My personal favorite wardrobe staple is a dark wash maxi denim skirt. It matches with everything and is more unexpected than a pair of jeans!

    • Thanks Bellabusta. I’d love to know how you style up your skirt – sounds awesome! x

      • My favorite way to wear it is with a fitted tee, cardigan and layered necklaces. Although I normally throw it on with just about anything. I love that it’s so neutral.

    • I love maxi dresses for a similar reason Bellabusta – you can team them with so many things, they’re as versatile as jeans and as comfy as a tracksuit but MUCH better looking. 

      • FoxInFlats

        Indeed. Actually you’ve inspired me I might wear one tomorrow 😉

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  • Ha! I was thinking that I probably don’t have 13 things in my wardrobe, let alone essential things!  Turns out I have 6 of them!  I’m almost halfway to being stylish – now I just need the energy and time to put a look together that doesn’t scream ‘exhausted Mum’.  Thanks for the tips.

    • Hi Laney, I honestly reckon that if you’ve got 6 you are doing well, and can look like you’ve got it together. And if in doubt, whack on some bright lippy. Works everytime. x

      • I hardly ever wear lippy because I think I look like a clown.  I’d love to know how to pick the perfect lipstick.  The closest I’ve come to success is a raspberry-ish lip stain/gloss that I bought in UK and you can’t get it here!

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  • Tarsh

    Amazed at Big W at the moment, love that blazer and trench and went in the other day and their new lable is awesome, Emmerson I think?

    I really need a white shirt that I love…maybe I need to stalk Vinnes as I cannot afford the Mr Rose one I want…and with 2 small kids I know a white shirt isnt going to stay white for long!!

    • For sure – look in the men’s section for a cut that fits accross your shoulders and stock up. I got the one in the photo from vinnies and it’s my all-time favourite white shirt! 

    • The great thing about the white shirt is you can bleach it back to white…too easy. Style into Action [FB]

    • Jen danksine

      Check out Big W now for cheap as chips summer sandals in the hottest looking styles 🙂

  • Tarsh

    I love this post…I am back reading it again. I think I need to print it out and keep in my handbag. These really are wadrobe staples!

    • FoxInFlats

      Hello again! x

  • Bernadette Clegg

    Excellent!! Sounds about right to me Darl! bx

    • FoxInFlats

      Thanks babe. 

  • I have two lists of items  – one has been my pregnancy essentials list as I am just over 40 weeks pregnant now. During pregnancy I could not live without a jersey or stretch fabric maxi dress, my elastic-waisted leggings, an assortment of loose cotton tank singlets and some loose A-line or smock summer dresses which I would belt under my bust or leave to flow freely. My second list is yet to be tested by I plan to wear as a breastfeeding new mama, the same leggings and loose tank tops, as well as some loose button down shirts and a couple of shirt dresses.

    • FoxInFlats

      Sounds like a plan. Would love to hear how you go!

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  • peachmacarons

    Great selection of wardrobe essentials. I can’t live without a good v neck white t-shirt and skinny black and blue jeans. Converse and loafers a must too! Not only are they comfy but on wooden floors in my house, wearing rubber sole shoes means I won’t wake the sleeping baby. 

    • FoxInFlats

      Love all of these!

  • Love wearing converses with a pair of jeans and a blazer – super comfy !

    • FoxInFlats

      Love my cons. Love my blazers. Love my jeans. The Holy Trinity of casual. 

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  • I know My mom cant do with her oversize glasses

  • Not just essential for Mums – I have all these in my wardrobe and not a child in sight 🙂

    • FoxInFlats

      LOL high fives! 

  • motherwhoworks

    Hmmmm…. as a heel dedicate, I just can’t do all those flats I’m afraid. As I’ve blogged, I need the 15cm heels to drastically reduce my BMI if I’m out in public! http://motherwhoworks.blogspot.com.au/search?q=BMI
    Can’t do sneakers with jeans either  – only gym gear. Don’t own trackky daks. But very happy in an ugg boot in the comfort of my own home!! Funny how we all set our own standards.

    • FoxInFlats

      Love how everyone has their own ‘fashion rules’. And I agree, undoubtedly, wearing heels does look fab! 

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  • mumabulous

    How could you have forgotten about tracksuit pants and the oversized fleece.

  • Fun post, my favorite item would be one of my black leather jackets.

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  • Jen Danskine

    Technically in the make-up category, a bright lippy in your hand bag means you can add some ‘old you glam’ on those days when the motherhood challenges pile up. And bubs will look extra cute with a hot pink kiss on his cheek.

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