It's been a few months since the last post in our 'Hip Mom, Smart Mom, Stylish Mom' series, so before I introduce you to our current hip mama, here's a little recap of what this is all about. When I was pregnant, I thought a lot about what kind of changes would take place in me after the baby arrived, and if it would be difficult to maintain my individual identity and style. I knew that I absolutely wanted Essley to come first, without question - but I also knew that it was important to continue to stay true to who I was, and to continue to enjoy the things that made me ME, pre-baby. Well despite much less sleep and free time, a consistently messy home, and a wardrobe that is rarely wrinkle-free or truly clean, I can honestly say that I at least make a conscious effort to be somewhat stylish, to create a relatively healthy balance between work/family/life, and to remind myself that it's neither necessary nor appealing for me to fit into the mold of the stereotypical, traditional mom. I'm lucky to know (and constantly meet) other moms who feel the same way that I do. These women are committed mothers who defy convention. They are true to their kids and true to their families, but also true to themselves. These moms are hip, smart, and stylish - and I'm thrilled to be able to share, in their words, what makes them that way.
For the fourth post in this series, I'm excited to be featuring another real life friend. Although we haven't seen each other in person in forever, we reconnected through Facebook a few years ago, and had fun sharing our recent pregnancies and the births of our girls. Back in junior high, when we first met, this girl was one of the coolest of the cool girls. And to this day, I'm still officially embarrassed about how pathetically I followed her around. Her sense of style was spot on, and clearly, that's something she's never lost. She's also a badass yoga and Pilates instructor, and an equally badass mom to three kids. Welcome the hip, smart, and stylish Veronica Whetsel.
Welcome Veronica! Please introduce yourself to Bubby and Bean's readers.
Hi there! My name is Veronica Whetsel and I'm a mom of three children: two boys Ethan (17 years) and Graham (12 years) and my new baby girl Naomi (4 months). My husband David and I have been married for over 18 years and reside in his hometown, Annapolis, Maryland. Besides being a wife and momma, I'm also an integrative physical therapist and a professional Pilates & yoga instructor and work part-time at our local hospital, Anne Arundel Medical Center. I teach Pilates For A Healthy Spine classes in the community and run specialty Medical Therapeutic Yoga workshops for people with chronic pain, arthritis and spine disorders. And since I've just birthed Naomi, I'm excited to launch my upcoming Mom & Baby Yoga classes in January 2015!
I've never been a huge fan of being asked to define my style in a number of words, but for sake of time and space, let's do it anyway. Define yours in three words.
Comfortable. Transient. Black.
After birthing three babies over a 17 year time span, I've worn sizes that range from a 6 to a 12. This has definitely influenced my style! Right now, my focus is on wearing functional, practical clothing, concealing my stubborn midsection, and finding decent jeans that are stylish and versatile. I see my size and style as being temporary, and although I’m admittedly frustrated with some limitations in my wardrobe, I’m doing the best I can to make myself feel “hip.”
Whether you're a stay at home mom, work at home mom, or you work outside of the home, what is your usual daily 'uniform?'
I'm mostly a stay at home mom for now, but currently teach several yoga and Pilates classes every week. I'll return to my job 1-2 days per week treating spine patients in outpatient rehab when my little one is closer to 6 months old. I'm involved with weekly mom & baby groups and seem to need to shop at Target and Whole Foods frequently, so I do get out of the house just about every morning. I try to be home in the afternoons so Naomi can take her 1-2 hour nap while I cook a good meal for my family of five (or seven; my in-laws come over frequently too).
I definitely have several daily uniforms. No matter what I envision myself in, I end up wearing an oversized jersey top with a fitted black cami underneath, Joe's skinny jeans or my new ones from H & M, Frye leather boots or suede ballet flats, a neutral toned infinity scarf and faux diamond studs. If it's chilly outside, I'll throw on my favorite Kenna-T green army jacket from Nordstrom (Uniform A). If I'm teaching Pilates or yoga or going to attend a class, I wear my Prana yoga tops with a Lucy or Lululemon yoga jacket, a scarf and my new Athleta plie yoga tights and cozy Uggs (Uniform B). If I stay home, I wear comfy lounge yoga or pajama pants from T.J. Maxx/Marshalls, my Old Navy ribbed tank tops for easy nursing, and Forever 21 tissue-thin cardigans to wipe up baby's spit up (Uniform C).
What is different (if anything) about your style/wardrobe now than before you had kids, or more recently, before you had your new baby?
Before my recent pregnancy and postpartum period, I was wearing pretty much anything I had in my closet. Lots of variety. Flattering skinny or bootcut jeans, vintage leather or denim jackets, fitted tees and sweaters, mini skirts, tailored dress pants, pretty blouses, fun workout/yoga clothes and surplice or maxi dresses. High heels- platforms and boots...oh how I miss them. I’m only 5’ 3” without. I tried to wear platform espadrille sandals this past summer 1 week after Naomi was born. My favorite, most frequently worn sandals, even while I was pregnant. I fell over! I was actually holding her and talking to my girlfriends at church. My ankle buckled and we both went down in slow motion. I think I was jacked up on way too much caffeine and was running on pure adrenaline. We were both remarkably unscathed. Ha! My friends were like, “No more heels for you!” I put them away in the basement.
I have honestly tried to shop for and piece together a variety of outfits that are somewhat flattering on me with this postpartum body. It is a challenge to say the least! It can feel discouraging at times, but I know it’s a phase in my life where my body just has to be what it is- for now. Of course, Naomi is 100% worth it! My pretty pink lipgloss hasn’t seen me for awhile too because I kiss on my baby all day. My hair is usually tamed up in a bun, pony, or pushed back with a headband instead of wearing my loose long locks for baby to grab. I’ve been naturally drawn to buying a few practical items so I don’t have to spend too much money on clothing that may eventually be too big. Most of my cash is going towards accessories like scarves to break up the monotony of wearing all black. I remember, it was the same exact transient style when I had my first two children in 1997 and 2002. It took at least 8 months to a year before I was back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. So I will just have to be patient and take care of myself the best way I know how. That means getting more sleep and drinking less coffee.
What do you wear when you go out with your husband or girlfriends? Are your outfits different or the same as when you're hanging with the kids?
Uniform A, but I'll add dangly earrings, extra make-up, perfume, high heeled boots and style my hair down, blown-out with a round brush. If I'm at home with my family, it's usually Uniform C.
What are your top three wardrobe staples?
You guessed it:
Oversized jersey tops.
Boots and infinity scarves.
What are your favorite places to shop for clothing that you'd suggest to other hip/smart/stylish moms?
Consignment for sure. I have 3 favorite stores in Annapolis and they carry designer boutique jeans for under $30 (Hudson, Citizens of Humanity, Goldsign, Seven For All Mankind, J. Brand, Joe’s Jeans, and Paige Denim). I’ve scored coats from Boden and vintage leather bombers. I like Nordstrom Rack and Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and J.Crew. Lord & Taylor has amazing sales when you use their coupons on already sale items like Free People, Guess, BCBG, Lucky Brand and Bailey 44. I used to buy most of my dresses at L & T and will probably go again soon. I also really enjoy shopping at small boutique shops like Cloud 9 Clothing and South Moon Under that carry brands and styles I don’t typically see in the department stores. I just make sure I’m not spending too much money on my current size. I used to buy jeans at those boutique shops for $160-$315 a pair!
What are your favorite places to shop for baby and/or kids clothes?
It used to be Baby Gap and Old Navy for my two sons, but now that I have a baby girl...the possibilities are endless! Gotta love Pinterest to get ideas for what’s out there for her in Baby Lookbooks. I do love Hanna Andersson’s organic cotton jammies. They’re incredibly soft and I love holding her and feeling how comfortable they are on her. I’ve received so many hand-me-downs and gifts from friends, family, patients and neighbors so Naomi has been wearing a lot of Carter’s, Old Navy, H&M and Target threads.
How do you 'balance' everything you have going on (work, kids, family, life!) while still keeping a sense of style?
I’m still trying to figure this out! I actually felt like life was somewhat ‘balanced’ before baby #3. My boys are self-sufficient tween/teenagers and I worked 3 part-time jobs in my field of physical therapy & wellness. I had lots of time to shop, cook delicious meals, juice raw veggies, practice yoga and Pilates daily, be social, go out with my husband many weekend evenings, keep the house relatively tidy and juggle the school/soccer/piano/guitar/friends schedule with my kids. Now that so much of my time is spent caring for the baby and being present with her, it seems that we’re living in a teeny bit of chaos. I’m still pretty sleep-deprived and my house is always a mess. Baby stuff and toys everywhere. I’ve put woven baskets in a few room in my house so I can throw her toys and teethers and blankets in them for quick clean-up. Thankfully, I don’t have to do this alone. My husband is very involved. We work together as a team to get things done (bills, cleaning the house, yardwork, home projects, caring for Naomi and the boys, etc.) He is a medical sales rep and has a home office so he has great flexibility in his schedule. He’s also great with carpentry and a do-it-yourselfer so I’m lucky that he maintains our 1950s craftsman style home.
I guess what makes me feel stylish amidst this exhaustion and chaos is by wearing my favorite accessories like boots and scarves. I have also been getting more into Pinterest so I can peruse stylish looks that appeal to me. I’ve never been much of an online shopper, but that is definitely going to change this year!
What is your ultimate favorite thing to do with your family when you have some downtime?
My absolute favorite thing to do with my husband and kids during our downtime is just to talk. Talk about our day, what’s going on at school, work, with friends, and with our family members. We do this when we have dinner together at home during the week or at lunch out on the weekends. It’s quality time that keeps us all close and unified. I can’t wait until our baby Naomi can partake in our conversations! She just sits in my lap and listens as we all yammer away!
Thanks again to the beautiful Veronica for being our fourth hip/smart/stylish mom! Make sure to pay her a visit to (and like!) her Facebook page. You can also learn more about the AAMC Medical Therapeutic Yoga Workshop she offers right here.
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