Lest you think it's just too darn difficult and expensive, it really truly does take minimal effort and money (because heaven knows I'm lazy and cheap). Here's a single, basic outfit that can carry you from at-home laundry days, to running errands, to that rare Girls Night Out. I fondly refer to it as, The Mommy Uniform. Let's start from the feet up...
First off: shoes. This is fundamentally one of the most important parts of an outfit. If you have fabulous shoes, you can get away with almost anything from there on up, so make sure they're cute. As an added bonus, most shoe styles are compatible with mommyhood. Avoid running shoes at all costs (unless they're cute ones and you're wearing fabulous lounge pants). I've seen many a great outfit ruined just because they threw on a pair of dirty old tennies. Personally, I'm a fan of ballet flats. They're comfortable and work with almost any outfit (if you're self-conscious of your legs, I'd only wear them with pants and go with something with height for a skirt). They've been around for a while, so you can easily find some on clearance. Just buy a couple and rotate through them and you're good to go. If you're feeling more adventurous, try out some of the fun new sandals out this summer or a sassy pair of wedges. Your whole outfit will thank you, I promise.
Second step: legs. As long as it's not too hot, you can usually find me in a pair of jeans (if it is hot, I'm partial to a jersey skirt). Jeans are pretty basic, I know, but dressing as a mom is all about basics. They're easy to move in, *not* dry clean only, hide stains well, and I don't have to wash them after a single wear. Sounds just about perfect to me. There's lots of different styles and washes, so don't be afraid to play around. If you're worried about your tummy, you can go slightly higher waisted (however, still wellll below your belly button) and hold things in, or go very low and avoid the whole muffin-top issue all together. If you have a bit of a badonkadonk, I'd stick with a pair that hits right at the hips, that way it's not too high, extending your butt upwards and it's not too low, leading you to spill out the top. In order to avoid the much-feared Mom Jeans, avoid tapered-leg, high waisted jeans at all costs. seriously.Next: shirt. My go-to shirt is a basic (preferably stretch) tee. Crew-necks are nice because I don't have to worry about showing the world my goods, but if I'm feeling a little saucy, I'll go the (modest) v-neck route. Gap is, by far, my favorite (on sale, of course), but Target's Mossimo makes some decent ones too (they're usually around $10 a shirt). As an additional perk, both Gap and Target tees are long, so you don't have to keep pulling your shirt down (after all, you have your kids to do that). I love stretch tees because they don't lose their shape throughout the day like 100% cotton ones do, they're fitted, which doesn't add imaginary pounds, and they look nice enough I can wear them on a date (you know, once every six months or so) or to church. I'll usually go the solid route, but that's just because I'm boring. If you want to make a little extra effort throw on a cardigan for a little pizazz (or just if it's a bit nippy).
Lastly:accessories. I fully realize how difficult accessorising is with kids. That's why I stick to the basics. For me, basic means a pair of snazzy earrings. If you're uber-cheap (like me) and don't want to buy a bunch of different earrings, a pair of black, brown, and multi-colored earrings can carry you through just about any outfit. If I'm feeling particularly ambitious, I'll add a necklace, a long knotted scarf, or fun head band. Really, it is that simple.