One woman is determined to change the bad image of what it means to “dress like a mum”.
Zoë De Pass, from London, believes mums don’t lose their sense of style just because they have kids, yet there’s an assumption that they do.
The mum-of-two launched ‘Dress Like A Mum’ in 2014 as a way to change the misconceptions many have about a woman’s style post-baby.
“It was while I was on maternity leave with my second child, I was fed up of being judged because I didn’t ‘dress like a mum’,” De Pass told The Huffington Post UK in an interview at Camp Bestival.
“There was one girl in a lift at Shoreditch House when I had my daughter with me and she was like: ‘Is that your kid?’ and I was like: ‘Yeah.’
“She said: ‘How old are you? You don’t look like a mum’, then she just got out the lift.
“I thought what’s a mum supposed to look like?”
De Pass, who has a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, previously worked in trend research at a photography studio.
With relevant experience under her belt, she decided to look into what a mum is “supposed” to look like and why it’s perceived in a certain way.
All she seemed to come across during her research was how dressing “like a mum” is viewed negatively. In fact, the top ranking search was: “10 reasons why I won’t dress like I mum”.
“No brands were getting it right,” she said. “They were making sweeping assumptions about women in this category even though thousands of different sorts of people are mums.
“At the time, the maternity wear on the high street was awful and I thought these brands needed help. They had no strategy behind their fashion collections.”
The mum started posting photos of her daily outfits using the hashtag #dresslikeamum on Instagram.
“I was breastfeeding my daughter at the time and wearing jumpsuits and dungarees,” she said. “So I thought if I post my outfits online, I could help other women who are having babies with some outfit inspiration.
“My followers started growing and people weren’t just happy with seeing what I was wearing, they wanted to know where I got my clothes, from too.”
De Pass decided not to go back to work after maternity leave and focused solely on building and improving the misconceptions about mum fashion.
She reached out to brands, including River Island, to speak to them about the way they market to mums. She soon realised there were tonnes of smaller independent fashion brands that were successfully smashing the outdated stereotypes.
“I now support small businesses and I’m really passionate about them” she said.
“I’m really interested in brands and so I started the ‘Dress Like A Mum’ blog as a way to give more information and stories behind these brands that I’m wearing to profile them.”
Having garnered more than 40,000 Instagram followers, De Pass frequently receives messages from mums who she’s helped.
“I get so many super nice emails from women saying you helped me so much, you’ve inspired me to wear this,” she said.
“That was really unexpected. I didn’t expect it to motivate and inspire so many people.
“Mums don’t have a lot of time on their hands to read magazines so Instagram is a growing place for them to gain inspiration.
“I’m a reference for them, people take my Instagram feed shopping with them to sense check what they buy.”
Aside from spreading daily outfit inspiration on her Instagram account and teaching mums about new brands on her blog, De Pass is keen to move into consulting with brands.
The mum said she’d love to work with high-street labels before they begin designing clothes for mums to stop the sweeping assumptions made about their fashion sense.
“I’d love my own brand and to collaborate with people – I have loads of ideas, I want to do bags, shirts, jewellery and even a buggy,” she added.
“For mums who are struggling with their fashion identity, I’m all for just telling them to wear what they like and what they feel comfortable in.
“Mums – if you go out feeling good with what you’re wearing, you’ll have a better time.”
Follow De Pass’ outfit inspiration on her Dress Like A Mum Instagram account.