Difficulty with honing my MOTG style

I feel like I'm developing my work wardrobe and style persona and finally am getting the hang of it. But I don't quite feel the same way about my MOTG style yet. I am having trouble finding outfits that aren't too dressy (like I've repurposed my work blouses), that don't stand out TOO much from the norm (when everyone else is wearing gear and T shirts) but also aren't so blah and boring (like my pre-YLF casual style with fleece and clogs/Mocs). I want to have my casual style reflect my style persona, but I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard to look like a fashionista, or dressing too juvenile. My heels (and even my wedge sandals) are not appropriate for taking the kids to the park, but my Cons seem to skew too young esp. when I pair them with graphic T's and jeans. I've been relying on my Jason Wu for Target items but I'm getting a bit tired of them and they're starting to wear/fade. I have so many new clothes since YLF but a lot of them are rather dressy.

Here are some of my recent MOTG looks. #1 & #2 are too loud and bright to fit in with my environment. #3 and #4 are a bit too dressy and are work type outfits repurposed into MOTG. #5 and #6 are the right level for MOTG but I wear this polka dot shirt and red cardigan, and red and blue stripe shirt allll the time and I'm starting to get sick of them!

What should I do? How do I find that MOTG sweet spot between drab and dressy, that is both comfy and casually chic? I'll have a look at Angie's MOTG formulas again, but I just am feeling a bit like I don't quite have my MOTG style persona down. Demure bombshell UWP doesn't exactly translate to MOTG! Any suggestions for anyone's WIW's to follow? I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • nicoleb replied 7 years ago

    I wore the look i just posted for a MOTG look. Flat boots, dress that isn't too low or short, casual jacket. Done. :)

    I don't think you should be afraid to stand out. If you like something and feel comfortable in it, just wear it! Who cares what everyone else is wearing? I think look 2 is great. I don't think there's anything wrong with cons and jeans, just wear a smarter top. It doesn't have to be a work one. Just not a t shirt?

    Just my thoughts!

  • Zapotee replied 7 years ago

    Ah sorry Natalie you are feeling this way. You have an amazing wardrobe:)

    My two suggestions are:
    1- Do you have roomier blouses that can act as tunics? I think that's one easy option, paired with skinny jeans and flats.
    2- invest in a pair of flat sandals. Those are great alternatives to sneakers.
    I liked this polyvore:

  • goldenpig replied 7 years ago

    Thanks Nicole! You've got the edgy MOTG look down pat! I think you've got the confidence to pull off anything and you really know your style. I think I'm floundering a bit because I haven't defined my MOTG style the way I have with my dressier side. And even though #2 is a great YLF look, I still feel a little funny standing out. I guess I'm not 100% sure if loud bright combos are me. Like my yellow/green/aqua combo today. I'm still trying to decide if that is really me or something I'm doing for fun, more of an aspirational look rather than a core look, if you know what I mean? I think for work I can handle more fashion stretching whereas MOTG, since I'm with friends, I kind of feel like blending in a bit more with my peer group sometimes, KWIM?

    Zap, great suggestions. I don't have that many tunics because I've felt more comfortable with waist defining looks. I do have a couple of sweater ponchos though. And I don't have any nice sandals. I am confused about sandals. I don't paint my toes so I'm not sure how OK it is to wear open toed sandals. And I don't know what kind of sandals to look for in general. Also my graphic T selection is pretty limited. I like your Polyvore, though!

  • Zapotee replied 7 years ago

    I think that as long as your nails are trimmed you are good to go with sandals. You can add waist definition via your outer layer, like a jean jacket or blazer. Tunic blouses are a great alternative to t shirts.

  • rae replied 7 years ago

    Natalie, although I am not a MOTG, I know exactly what you mean. Casual outfits were harder for me, too - as you said, I want to blend in more with DH and our friends outside work... and everyone else is super casual!

    What helped me is to pretty much have a separate persona for work and play - two sides of the same coin, but instead of translating back and forth there is a clear image for both, if that makes sense. While knee high boots may be my signature piece for work, utility jackets are my signature for play, for example.

    Maybe try collecting some pics of outfits you like that can still get down and dirty at the playground? It's almost like starting from scratch in a way, but I think it helps.

  • christy replied 7 years ago

    Natalie, I struggle with MOTG also. I think it's the time I am probably less than fab and one of the reasons I don't post many of my weekend looks although I'm trying to be better about that. I'd say that ballet flats are the way to go shoe-wise, but also some cute pairs of sandals. I don't think you need to have a pedi for your feet to look presentable in sandals. I'm finding that volume over skinny is working for me right now. A voluminous top helps hide my apple tummy, while a slim fitting bottom (shorts or jeans) provides some definition. I've also purchased a couple of very casual button ups that are slouchy and work with jeans or shorts.

  • christy replied 7 years ago

    A couple more thoughts: for the first time EVER, I've started separating my casual items and my work items in my closet. I have a couple of sweaters that I've demoted from my work capsule because they've pilled a bit, but I still like them enough to wear them casually. Another realization I've made is that there are very few knits (tees, tanks, etc.) that I feel comfortable in because they tend to be more clingy. That's why I've started to add some more casual wovens to my wardrobe, specifically for my casual capsule.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    I think it would be a great idea to find pictures of MOTG outfits you enjoy, Natalie! It IS a challenge to dress well casually, but it's a challenge you are more than up to!

    For me, formulas seem to be key. Jeans (or shorts), shirt (often a button down, but in winter often a cozy knit), topper (could be a casual jacket or a sweater), boots in winter, sandals in summer. Scarf if the weather permits/demands. Cross body bag for hands-free.

    But also important is attention to fabrication. I CAN wear a dress for MOTG, for example, but it can't be anything that might get caught and ripped on a picnic bench or a rock that I happen to sit on at the park; it has to be easy. I CAN wear a wedge heel on some outings, but forget regular heels.

    To inject a "feminine" or "bombshell" element, think of waist definition (you can always tuck, right? ...if you get the right trousers, or use a jacket as Zap suggested..) . Think colour (your reds are a great start). Think pattern (no wonder you love your floral pants. And if hubs hates them, well maybe you need some floral shirts or a casual floral print skirt...) You get the idea.

    You can wear sandals if the weather works for it.

  • jen replied 7 years ago

    In my opinion nothing looks more effortless chic for a MOTG is a good quality white t shirt, a great pair of fitted blue denim jeans and a well fitted navy jacket. Pair with low heeled black bootes and it screams effortless chic. Think Gweneth Paltrow and Jennifer Anniston.

  • Traci replied 7 years ago

    It took a little while for my eye to adjust to the look, but now I'm really appreciating the dressed down look of just below the knee black leggings under dresses.

    My favorite weekend combinations are
    dress+flat sandals+cardigan= super comfy and the cardigan can come on and off if we're inside and out.

    bootcut jeans + striped tshirt + converse + crossbody bag

    skinnies (or shorts)+ blouse + sandals

    midi skirt+ tank top + denim jacket + flat sandals or booties

    I like having a few RATE items in my wardrobe to bring down items that feel a little dressier, faded denim and my linen moto are my go to pieces for this. Likewise, if your outfit is feeling young it may be brought up a notch with one sophisticated item, a slouchy silk blouse or a great statement necklace.

    I think the girl on this blog has a great casual mom wardrobe.

  • velvetychocolate replied 7 years ago

    I am having a similar problem - there's a 'dressy' component to my closet, and then there's casual, and in my case, the casual is pretty bad (very gear-ish). Your casual is very stylish, and you're in good shape, despite feeling like the casual MOTG stuff isn't quite where you'd like it to be.

    In terms of ideas - the only thing I can suggest is to take a close look at Angie's outfits where she wears her Converse shoes for a casual outing on the weekend - you'll notice that even though the jeans are faded, and she's wearing Converse shoes, there is always a crisp element to the ensemble.

    So, if you're wearing casual faded jeans, converse and a graphic tee - you might want to add a structured (albeit casual) jacket to add the element of 'crisp.' Likewise, if you're wearing casual jeans, a slouchy sweater and something like Converse shoes, you might add a button down shirt underneath that sweater to give the whole thing an element of 'crisp', or structure, if you will. In some cases, just adding a structured handbag might do the trick.

    I guess what I'm suggesting is that you add an element of 'crisp' to your most casual outfits, and that this might make you feel a lot more comfortable and more like 'you'. Does that make sense?

    Further, those Converse that you're thinking look too junior at times? They aren't - but if you're at all concerned about this - I think if you're able to make sure that your most casual outfits have some element of structure to them, then this won't be a concern. It might be a button down shirt under a slouchy sweater, it might be switching out a jacket in place of a soft/casual-ish cardigan. It might be that your handbag is more structured etc.

    Leaving aside what the other MOTG's are wearing, perhaps adding an element of 'crisp' might make these casual outfits feel more like you?

    What do you think of this idea? Adding just one element that is crisp or structured to your most casual weekend ensembles? Would that help? Scan the whole outfit, and determine if at least one piece is crisp or structured, even if it's meant to be the most casual of casual OTG or MOTG outfits?

    I realize these suggestions don't exactly address the issue of what other MOTG's might be wearing, but I'm hoping that adding an element of either 'crisp' or 'structure' to your casual outfits might make you feel a little bit more like yourself, and make the whole wardrobe and style thing a bit more cohesive for you.

    Just thinking (writing) aloud here really.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    I'm watching this thread like a hawk (glad you started it Natalie) because casual and MOTG is something I struggle with HUGELY. Like you Natalie, my work wardrobe is much better sorted than my casual wear.

    FWIW, I think you nail MOTG looks and I don't think Cons are too juvenile at all (I have a pair myself)!

  • Debbie replied 7 years ago

    My summer MOTG look often includes a dress and sandals. It is very hot here and a casual skirt or dress is a good solution for me. I don't know if this helps or not.

  • Mo replied 7 years ago

    I am all GalOnTheGo and maybe 5% dressed up. I realized some time ago that expecting everything to do double duty in my closet was unrealistic. Not every top can be dressed down with a jean jacket, you know? So my advice is to look at MOTG as its own specific capsule and not at how you can tweak your work demure bombshell to be MOTG.
    So, for me, I need a small interview and dressed to the nines capsule. On the flip side you may need a small MOTG capsule. If you need any inspiration, I have about a zillion casual and dressy casual outfits in my posts ;)
    I'd start with great shoes you can run around in that will work with both dresses/skirts and pants/shorts.

  • christieanne replied 7 years ago

    I think you have a great start to your MOTG capsule. It seems that casual is where duplicating shapes and really useful basics comes in handy - finding some tops that can mix in to your jeans or floral pants or a denim skirt for example. Maybe a wrap style woven sleeveless for summer and a few knits with ruching at waist that can slip over skinny jeans.

    Let's face it - even caring and trying a bit means one will be dressed better than general public - especially in a bay area where jeans/shorts and tevas with a printed t can go to the opera. Don't worry about that so much but instead in finding a source for some fun tops to mix it up.

    On the shoes, you can certainly do a sandal with bare nails. What about a low wedge espadrille or a Sperry Topsider or a ballet flat sneaker?

    I think you can do this without driving yourself nuts and blowing the budget :)

  • Beth Ann replied 7 years ago

    Thanks for starting this thread, Natalie! The interesting exchange has to convince you that you're not alone in your MOTG struggle! There are some great replies that I will use for myself, too!

    BTW -- I think your #2 look is absolutely amazing, and great for all but the hottest, most casual outings. I'd make a little folder of the MOTG looks that have worked in the past, and build from there. Photograph them all, that way you have something to jog your memory when you're standing in your closet in your morning, unsure of what to wear!

  • cciele replied 7 years ago

    I also think you look fine and not juvenile with your Cons and jeans! You have great taste, remember that :)

    I find that adding some element of denim (especially faded or distressed) to an outfit automatically dresses it down--and that looks like what's going on in many of "successful" MOTG pics you've posted. Try playing around with contrasts -- a more dressy item with an extremely casual one.

    I'm also a fan of tunic or dress + leggings + sandal formula for the summer.

  • Joy replied 7 years ago

    You have some excellent advice. Like Cathy just said, denim is a great way to add an air of casualness. I'm drawn to clothing that most would wear to work but lead a casual life. Denim jackets, jeans, clamdiggers, skirts, vests and shirts all help make a dressy piece look casual. I may still be a bit more dressed up than most, but I don't care. You can come up with a "uniform" that makes things easier. My go-to MOTG outfit is denim bottoms (jeans, clams or skirt) in a variety of washes with a dressy top and flats or flat or wedge sandals or Cons. I have a very few tee's that get worn with a black or navy blazer or leather jacket. For summer a sleeveless blazer jacket fills in. If wearing a dress, non-denim skirt or dress pants, the denim goes on top as a shirt, vest or jacket. I don't think I could go a week without wearing denim.

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 7 years ago

    Natalie I think one of the issues for you is that you have a very young look naturally and you use your professional wardrobe to mitigate that perception for your co-workers and patients. That may be at odds with your objective when in your MOTG role where you want to be the young hip mom and get down and play with your children and their friends. Perhaps it is a mind shift that is difficult for you because you took so much time to figure out what your goals were and how to achieve them for your career/professional wardrobe.

    I agree with the idea of using ballet flats or a low wedge espadrille for your casual looks. You incorporate a lot of brights and color into your primary wardrobe and that could work well for MOTG too but with more casual pieces - perhaps slouchy shorts and a t-shirt but with a casual jacket or topper.

    You have done an amazing job of defining your style for one aspect of your life and I am sure you will get there for the MOTG look too. Just be patient with yourself while you work through it.

    P.S. I love when you include pics of your family. They are adorable.

  • celia replied 7 years ago

    Natalie, having stayed home with DD for he past years I've struggled with this not only because of the fitting with my surroundings issue but also because I always got the feeling, from other mothers, that because I was home I shouldn't dress as well as a mother who works outside the house.
    In fact I think that most people didn't realized I was a SAHM .
    If I know I am going to the playground and will get my clothes and shoes dirty and because of that I dress older clothes that I don't mind ruining.For all the other MOTG activities I just dress whatever feels comfortable to me.Recently we had a kindergarten presentation meeting and I dressed some dark boot cut jeans, a blue top and a cream white cardigan with some ballet flats
    .My DH first comment was ' I think you are overdressed'
    My answer was 'well, the school and the teachers might as well know from the start with what kind of person they are dealing with'

    Of course I was not overdressed, there were several dress codes used by both parents and children in the meeting, but my answer still stands. I was conffortable and could roll around in the floor with the kids if necessary and as a added bonus I was myself wich in the end is the main message I wanna pass to DD, it is ok to be yourself.

    I know I haven't giving you any concrete ideas of outfits and wrote too much but I just wanted to give you another perspective of the same issue.This being said my outfits casual or dressier still are far from being always fab.

  • Ruby Tuesday replied 7 years ago

    I think your work wear wardrobe is fabulous Natalie, in fact you inspired my work outfit today.

    From the MOTG photos above there are themes of pattern and colour. How would you feel about a capsule of knit tops and knit dresses in vintage patterns (a la Boden) worn with wardrobe staples such as linen trousers, jeans and clams?

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