New blogs suggest being a fashionista doesn’t stop at motherhood

by Zoe Wood

The Observer

Does my bump look good in this? It’s a question that plays on the mind of pregnant fashionista. Help is at hand thanks to new glossy magazine-style blogs aimed at expectant and new mothers more concerned with keeping up appearances than the hand-wringing of parents support groups.

At the vanguard is Romy & the Bunnies by Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, the model daughter of former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld. Inspired by the arrival of daughter Romy, Restoin-Roitfeld has given motherhood the Grace Coddington treatment with galleries of black-and-white shots of models and actresses looking fabulous pre- and post partum, as well as designer “must-haves” to keep mother and child up with latest trends.

Other upmarket U.S. sites include Rip + Tan, by fashion designer Jenni Kayne and The Glow, which offers “a glimpse into the world of inspiring and fashionable moms”. Launched by Violet Gaynor and Kelly Stuart, who met at Elle.com, The Glow gets up close and personal with glamorous mums such as Zoe Buckman, British wife of former “Friends” star David Schwimmer, who is pictured relaxing in her New York apartment with no trace of baby Cleo’s sick on her Chanel boots. Such is the site’s success, a book, featuring mums from the major fashion capitals, is out next month.

There is also the more down-to-earth homegrown School Gate Style by mother-of-three Avril Keys, which offers the “fashion diary of an ordinary mum who wears practical affordable clothes”.

The genre is being billed as the “third wave” of mummy blogging. The first iteration, according to the New York Times, was the pre-Internet Christmas round robin, where friends and family members were brought up to speed with that year’s (child) developments. The second wave, it says, could be grouped as “confessional soapboxes” — blogs such as dooce.com — where new mums won legions of followers as they tackled subjects such as postnatal depression. Now the blogosphere is awash with sites featuring photo shoots that would not be out of place in Vogue.

Siobhan Freegard, cofounder and managing director of Netmums.com, says fashion becomes a divisive subject when broached on the website’s forums. Some mums are firmly in the “can’t be bothered” camp, she says.

“One of our mums said asking what she wore on the school run was like asking her what she wore to take the cat to the vet. They are quite happy to just scrape their hair back. Getting the kids out of the house clean and fed is enough,” says Freegard. “Others don’t want to let that part of themselves go. They are still interested in fashion, but realize they are not a Cosmo girl any more.”

With plenty of parenting websites for mums to browse, Restoin-Roitfeld doesn’t pretend to be an expert on anything other than being “purely aesthetic.” After the birth of her daughter in 2012, she says she struggled to find “a publication that spoke to me as a mother determined to retain her sensuality and femininity”.

“Motherhood should not signal the end of these things,” writes Restoin-Roitfeld. “Rather, it should heighten them. With this as my inspiration, I decided to share my discoveries with other women.”

Her discoveries, it turns out, are not frumpy tops with ventilation for breastfeeding, but sexy lingerie, vigorous workout regimes and makeup tutorials. The fashion is predictably high end, with a mini-me section that showcases chic outfits for Romy. In one sketch, the toddler has thrown together a look that includes a faux fur leopard coat, cashmere cable knit sweater and Stella McCartney jeans.

Some argue this new breed of aspirational blog threatens to feed women’s insecurities about their appearance in the months and years after giving birth.

Keys defended herself in a heated debate on Netmums about School Gate Style insisting she was “not about judging what other women wear.”

“I called it School Gate Style to try to capture the audience I knew the blog would appeal to,” she said. “I like to make an effort — the day just seems to be easier to cope with if I feel I’m looking OK.”