Carol Brady, June Cleaver and perhaps Shirley Partridge. Utter these famous fictional names and people immediately know who and, maybe more importantly, what they were — the fashionable and unflappable moms who entertained us each week on the television sitcoms of yesterday. They are not only noted for comic maternal wisdom but also for the image of style they represented. Aspirational mom style icons, if you will. Do they still exist, or are they the mythology of an era gone by? Is there a middle ground?
Marianne Szymanski thinks so. An authority on what’s in and out when it comes to stylish living for mom and family, she wants women to know that great parenting and smart fashion can go hand in hand. I’ve known Marianne since her college days at Marquette, where she founded Toytips, an independent toy rating system that has taken her to numerous appearances on everything from “The Today Show” to her own monthly segments on our own Fox 6.
Fast forward to 2009 when the married mother of two and I collaborated on a way to help busy mom’s celebrate their own personal style with an event we called “Mom, Hot, and Fabulous,” or MHF for short. This year, the fifth-annual fashion party exclusively for moms is Thursday, April 7, from 6-10 p.m. at Goldi’s on Oakland in Shorewood. In preparation, I asked Marianne a few questions to get the scoop on moms, fashion and her drive to deliver moms some sass in the wardrobe department.
How did your mom influence your style?
In a nutshell my mom was my first inspiration of style. Sadly, I lost her three months ago, and this event is in her honor. She attended all my other MHF events in the past. In her younger years, she looked like Jackie O, won beauty pageants and was always well put together style wise. Like any kid, I used to play in her closet, wear her shoes and try on her lipstick. She educated me on comfortable fit, good fabric and use of color. But most of all, mom always taught me that beauty comes from within. Instilling a sense of confidence, character and charisma demonstrates your own true style. She was and will always be one hot fabulous mom!
So Marianne, how did you segue from doing toytips.com to hosting parties to help mom’s get their fashion mojo back?
I’ve spent almost two decades working with moms testing toys that aid in developmental skills for their children. Along the way I also learned that moms feel better when they can balance parenting and feeling good about themselves at the same time. We celebrate moms that are hot and fabulous on the inside first!
How will the evening at Goldi’s go?
It will be filled with socializing, shopping and fashion styling ideas. Ashley Brooks from Urban Darling, a national wardrobe styling agency for everybody and anybody, will be in attendance to discuss the “Purge, Merge, Splurge™” method to get rid of the old and make room for the new. And Pilates Mama Queen Debby Orlando will be coming to show us some Pilates stretches and moves to do before carpool and school pick up, so we can look fabulous in our new fashion picks for summer.
How did Goldi’s get involved?
Goldi’s is a fabulous store for moms to shop. They sell trendy clothes, fun purses, unique accessories and my “I’m A Toy Tester” baby playwear line. Store Manager Kehri Stowers and her talented staff will cater to all the moms with their expertise on the latest trends. Not to mention, help them navigate the best shoe collection in town.
As a mother of two and an entrepreneur, what are some of your personal style tips for moms everywhere?
Every mom knows that dropping kids off in the morning is not what you would call a fashion scene while in the carline, but school pickup is the game changer.
1. Get comfortable shoes that are really cute ones. Everyone always feels better in cute shoes. Moms, remember after having babies, your feet can grow a size. So, never wear shoes that are too tight. It is not good for your feet or your mood. And, no one likes to be crabby with kids.
2. Getting a great pair of everyday earrings that really add pizzazz to anything black is a must. There are those days when you may have unexpected school meetings or lunch with other moms and a great pair of earrings can brighten you up.
3. For spring…get yourself a great jacket in a fun color or design. A happy coat as I call it. Kids love them and they will have no problem finding you in the grocery store if they lose you. Another good reason to buy something that really stands out!
What about toys for the budding fashionista in the family?
Kids play with fashion dolls and baby dolls they dress up. They play with drawing toys and watch cartoons with characters that show individuality. Encouraging imagination and creativity with age-appropriate play helps stimulate a personal sense of style.
Fashionplaytes.com allows budding designers to create their own pieces with their own label!
Fashion angels are a line of toys that allow kids to sketch, design and draw. My fave is this one.
Kid Style Tips:
1. Let kids pick out the hair bands, hats, doo-dads, bows and ribbons, and help them style their hair with all their choices. It’s fun playtime with parent and child.
2. When organizing a child’s closet, organize by size and style and let kids put together outfits even if they mismatch. How cute is it when in public you see a child who proudly wears stripes, dots and check plaid altogether. Who does not smile at that? This shows right then and there that your child is creative and proud of what they put together. Encourage that. Then introduce other creative toys to encourage skills to reach their true creative potential.
3. Teach kids to donate clothing that is too small at a young age. This helps build character while at the same time helping others.
Can moms just show up, or is there a way for them to RSVP?
Best to RSVP directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This annual event is a night to commemorate the most beautiful moms in Milwaukee! There will be desserts, wine tasting, drawings, great conversation and an exclusive shopping discount. So moms, join me as well as everyone responsible for MHF as we bring you another stylish and educational evening celebrating fashion, family and fun!