Clothes Call: Chic Mom Attire, Travel Packing Tips & Wedding Wear Do’s

First, I have answers to your Clothes Call letters from our inaugural column. Thanks for reading and keep the questions coming!

Question: I’m a middle-aged, plus-sized busy mom and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fashion. I’m busy with school and community volunteering, attending my boys’ sports activities, and running around town. I’d like some ideas for a “uniform” that I can wear for school and community meetings and volunteering and to my boys’ games that looks attractive and pulled together, but not overly dressed up or “try[ing] hard.” Oh, and it needs to be flattering to my plus-sized body! 

Answer: Wardrobe consultant Stephanie Sack, who ran plus-size boutique Vive la Femme in Chicago for 10 years, says this: “Dress from the pants up: Pants, tank, overlay, scarf and jewelry, boom.” Here’s how. Update your denim with two pairs of great-fitting dark-wash jeans; a boot cut or slight flare is flattering to most bodies. Avenue has a good selection for around $50.

Next, add a sleeveless tank. Sack likes youthful printed versions from ModCloth. For a more sedate look, consider the bra-friendly Timely Tank from Soft Surroundings ($50). Cover the tank with a structured jacket, for instance this charcoal Mill Valley Clothing jacket ($124) or the more relaxed Jordan hoodie cardigan, both from Fawbush.

Starring Role Top, $25, ModCloth; Timely Tank, $50, Soft Surroundings; Jordan Hoodie Cardigan Plus-Horizon, $116, Fawbush’s

If you don’t feel like fussing with layers, try a tunic, such as an Indian-print peasant blouse in shades of blue ($28) or a funky-sophisticated crocheted blouse ($39), both from Dressbarn.

To complete the look, scarves in a minimal print—polkadot, stripe, muted floral—add polish and double as a wrap for date night. I found a French-chic beauty at Ann Taylor that was marked down 60 percent to $55. Necklaces finish off an outfit in different way: Check out Francesca Collection for trendy ones at pretty price points ($18 to $24), such as this delicate pendant ($24).

Keep the look polished with loafers in suede or metallic. Clarks USA has a good selection of stylish, comfortable shoes; consider the Daelyn Towne in pewter metallic.

Embellished Twin Print Blouse, $28, Dressbarn; Skyler Pendant Necklace, $24, Francesca’s; Daelyn Towne, $100, Clarks

Question: I’m taking a month-long trip around Europe this May. Do you have any tips on how to pack lightly, but still fashionably? 

As you pack, keep these phrases in mind: Everything must coordinate. Tops trump bottoms. Less is more. Layers are your best friend. To start, plan ahead. A week ahead of the trip, or even sooner, lay out all the possibilities on your bed; reject anything that doesn’t work as an outfit with everything else. Then, narrow it down to four pants, about five tops, a hoodie and light jacket, and a scarf (remember socks, underwear and PJs). If you like leggings, good. Pack three pair for the trip. Hue has a large selection at nice prices, including these stylish Capri leggings ($40). Wear one pair on the plane, and pack the other two, along with a pair of jeans. Leggings are light, versatile, and you can wash them out in your hotel room or a European Laundromat (great for people watching).

For tops, opt for longer shirts, light sweaters or tunics that work over the leggings. Under the shirts: Modal or microfiber tanks with built-in bras, like this feminine version from Gap ($25). The tanks, not your blouses, will collect your perspiration and you can wash them out at night. The light jacket and hoodie are your nighttime/chilly day layers. The scarf will pull double duty as a cover up, shawl and cool ponytail holder. Wear your sturdy walking shoes on the plane and pack a lighter pair of walking sandals. Bon voyage!

Unsolicited advice: It’s April, and spring and summer wedding invitations should be landing in mailboxes any day now. Wedding dressing isn’t difficult, if you keep these six guidelines in mind:

1. The day belongs to the couple; nothing guests wear or do should pull attention from them. Avoid white and—people are going to hate me—stay away from black as well.

2. Think about sitting. Mid-thigh dresses look nice when you’re standing, but they become awkward when you try to sit.

3. Think about dancing. Wear danceable-height heels or stow a pair of flats in the car.

4. Bring a wrap. Banquet halls and hotels get chilly.

5. Fancy long gown? Only if you’re the bride, or the party starts after 6 p.m.

6. When in doubt, don’t.


Have your own fashion questions? Send them to 

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate