Survey Results: Motherhood and Fashion

A couple of years ago I realised I had been wearing a variation of the same outfit, day in, day out for ages.

Since having my little boys, I had well and truly fallen into a fashion rut, and it felt dark and lonely down there. On a mission to dig my way out, I consulted my usual go-to fashion resources – magazines – and hardly found a thing I could possibly wear to the playground. Within the 350 pages of gloss and promise, I would perhaps find one or two images or ideas that could apply to my day-to-day fashion needs. I felt more stuck in my rut than ever.

Just as I was about to curl up in there,  resigned to my ‘mumsy’ fate, my inner nerd came out and, just for fun, I developed an online survey to see how other women with young children were feeling about fashion.

In less than a week, I received close to 150 responses from women all around Australia and as far as the USA, Netherlands, UAE, Cayman Islands, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada. The swiftness and depth of responses made me realise it definitely wasn’t just me who was feeling this way. Here are the key findings:


The 5 biggest fashion issues facing mothers

1. Dressing a body that has changed

41% cited increased weight, different body shape, and concern over their tummy as the biggest issues.

65% claimed to be unhappy with their bodies.

64% were less confident about the way they looked.

53% said their “Mummy Tummy” was the least favourite body part.


“Getting rid of the baby weight is hard, and no one really warns you about the massive change to your body post-baby”

2. Lack of time

beauty time savers for mums by fox in flats

68% said they would look “significantly better” if they had more time

24% said they didn’t have time to shop, get ready, or sort through their wardrobe.

A quarter said time to shop is their biggest fashion issue.

The frequency with which women shop for themselves declines dramatically after they become a mother.

Before kids, most (64%) were hitting the shops fortnightly or more often. After their first baby arrives though, more than half are shopping only every three months.

And on those rare occasions they do make it to the shops, the time allowed is minimal or filled with distractions if the kids are in tow.

“I have one hour (max) to walk around a shopping mall to find the perfect piece. My mind is elsewhere and I inevitably end up in the kids shop anyway. I can’t achieve much in a rushed hour”

By circumstance then, many mums are making do with what they have in their current wardrobes.

However time remains an issue.

54% say they “would look significantly better if they had more time to make the most of their current wardrobe.”

Time to get ready has also diminished.

Time to get ready

62% spend up to 15 minutes getting ready in the morning, compared to before kids, when 60% spent longer than 45 minutes.

3. Finding stylish clothes that are also comfortable and practical

This was the single biggest concern for 20% of respondents, who mentioned obstacles such as keeping up with trends, age appropriateness, a lack of fashionable breastfeeding items, and not knowing how to make every day outfits look good.

87% said they wore a uniform of sorts on a day-to-day basis…

…mostly jeans and a t-shirt…

Happily, most felt ‘pretty good’ about it.

Yet 55% claimed to have fallen into a fashion rut…
…58% don’t feel as attractive…
…and 38% even said they felt ‘mumsy’ or ‘dowdy’.
More than half said they struggled to find great outfits to wear when they were with their kids.

“I don’t feel there is an easy way to research and find clothes that are trendy enough to suit those of us who don’t go to an office or out clubbing anymore”

4. Not enough money

Not surprisingly, 78% said they would look significantly better if only they had more money to buy clothes.

Some claimed this was due to the money going toward the children instead.

For most, it was due to the reduced family income as over 50% of mothers are at home with the children full-time, 1/3 are in part-time employment, and just 12% are in full-time paid roles.  As one woman shared “we are now on one income which means I can’t go out splurging on clothes. I spend some money on my work wardrobe, but my home wardrobe really suffers”

“..being able to afford the extra nice things and not feel like you are depriving your kids of something”

5. Lack of sleep

53% agreed that they would look much better if they simply had “more energy to care.”

Not surprising given 97% are getting less than the recommended 8 hours sleep per night.

Amount of Sleep

34% getting less than 6 hours of zzzzzzzz’s.

“I’m just soooooooo tired that my care factor is ZERO”

“I have loads of issues! Finding something comfortable and practical but that doesn’t make me look frumpy and doesn’t break the bank.

I also live in hope that I will lose weight so don’t want to spend money on clothes that will potentially be too big for me in the future. Who am i kidding? :)”

Other findings from the survey include:

If you are a straight guy, don’t go grocery shopping to check out the ladies.

Most women claimed to feel “ok” or “good” about how they looked in different occasions and doing different tasks. Unsurprisingly, going out with partner or friends was when they felt the most “fabulous.” Unfortunately for the dudes who pack the shelves in Coles, nearly 1/3 of women claimed they “could do better” or look “terrible” when they do their grocery shopping.



Most women have a healthy dose of self-confidence.

This was particularly evident from the responses to this relatively tongue in cheek question:

Nearly 20% said “Great! I look better than I did back then,” and over 50% felt “Ok, so long as I didn’t have vomit on my shoulder.” This question also garnered many comments along the lines of “I’m proud of who I am”, “My personality makes me,” and “I’ve matured into my look,” implying  that while many mothers have valid  issues and concerns about their bodies and what they are wearing, they tend to be more comfortable with who they are as people. That, or the ghosts of boyfriends past are just a non-issue. As one woman commented, “I look better, and he is going bald hahahahahahahaha!” Sadly though, this isn’t true for the 14% who said they would be “Mortified. I’d hide”. “I have put on weight and become significantly ugly since we broke up and it hurts me to think what I’ve become”

said one respondent with aching honesty.

“What! You too?? I thought I was the only one”

The survey showed that, after they have kids, women face one mother of a fashion dilemma. And no matter what our age, or the number of children we have, or the place in the world where we live, the obstacles to looking and feeling good remain pretty much the same. Fox in Flats has been created to celebrate those mothers who look fantastic despite the challenges, and to help the rest of us dig our way out of our motherhood-induced fashion ruts, to (hopefully) make it much, much easier to navigate motherhood in style.



The Motherhood and Fashion Survey.
August 2010.
Objective: Understand the key fashion issues facing mothers, and how this impacts them.
Methodology: Online, quantitative.
Demographic Summary: 144 respondents, mothers to at least one child under the age of 5.
Aged between 24 – 45, with 53% between 34 and 40.