What do moms really wear with Paz Friedman
Up today: Paz Friedman, the nonprofit director of fundraising who lives on the Upper East Side in Manhattan with her husband, two sons, and newborn daughter on what she wears and how her clothes help her retain independence.
School/morning drop-off, 8 a.m.
“Now that I have my baby, my day starts at 6 a.m. — she came in the middle of March. I had her with a surrogate and whereas I carried both my boys and was recovering and coping with the end of the pregnancy as much as they were after being born, with my daughter, I really have to force myself to cocoon. It’s not as intuitive and often, I end up bringing her with me: to work, to drop off, to pick up…
By 6:30 a.m., my boys are already downstairs watching t.v. or drawing. They make themselves bowls of cereal in the morning. I feed my baby then go down to get my coffee and come back up to be with her. By now, the boys [ages 5 and 7] get themselves ready for school. I put out their clothes from the night before and they get dressed in the morning. School starts around 8 a.m., and I live like 20 minutes away, but we usually don’t leave the house until 8. Then I’ll go to work and run errands.
The [machinations] of this outfit factor three variables in. I don’t want to conform to the conventions of dressing like a mom, but I also want to be comfortable for being a mom. My sensibility is sexier and I love showing my body, but my kids go to a yeshiva day school, so when I am going to be near their school, I try to respect that. This top is good because you can’t see my nipples (I don’t wear bras), and the pants are easy, casual, on and off in a minute. Generally, I don’t do wear “precious” sandals — they’re too done up for my style, so it’s flip-flops all summer.
I want my kids to know me — to come and see and understand the inside of my world, and maintaining a sense of style that is for me, not letting it feel like a taboo to have my skin showing, or to put an effort into how I dress reminds me [of this desire]. When I was growing up, my parents always brought me into their world. It made me strong and flexible and it gave me confidence. I want the same for my kids.
Pick up, 3:15 p.m.
To be honest, I don’t do drop off on most days — that is usually Sam’s [my husband] time with the kids but I pick them up from school every day. I leave work [at a nonprofit that supports battered women and children where I am the director of fundraising] at 3:05 p.m., and get on the train to pick my kids up.
The outfit takes into consideration the qualities that are important to me when getting dressed. It’s a relatively professional look that is more casual with the flip flops and revealing because of the tank: you can see my nipples through the tank, but I add a sweater over my shoulders for their school.
I get to their school in about ten minutes and then we ride the city bus home. I love this time with them: it’s when we connect and really talk and they tell me what’s going on in their worlds.
When I’m really feeling like me, the outfit is more…
Nasty? This is a slip dress/nightgown from Araks that I shortened. When I realized that I could just cut and hem all my clothes, a whole world opened up.
We get home around 3:40 p.m. and the first thing I do is change into an XL v-neck t-shirt from Hanes that I wear when I am cooking. Then I start making dinner. I think feeding my children is one of my favorite parts of being a mother.
Typically, I will cook Morroccan food (both of my parents are immigrants from Morrocco) — I make a big dinner Monday, then we eat leftovers on Tuesday, I’ll add a new dish on Wednesday, Thursday is a wild card, and then Friday, for Shabbat, I do another big meal.
[I think cooking is so important to me because] it’s the number one place where my mother and I have always bonded — in the kitchen. It’s humming when we’re in there together. No drama, no fighting, pure collaboration.
On the weekends
The kids are at an age where they have a lot of birthday parties on weekends so I’m often shuttling them back and forth. Otherwise, we go to [Central] Park, the zoo or to visit my in-laws, who are local. We spend the weekends together as a family — it’s much easier when the weather is nice: we’ll meet other families at the park and spend the day there, but in the winter, there are a lot of play dates, or I make big Saturday lunches and invite people over. It’s a good way to be together, honor [Shabbat] tradition, and also socialize.
It’s probably not ideal to wear a mini-dress to go to the park, but I don’t care. Motherhood won’t change my style — what I mean is that I won’t let it change my relationship to myself for the worse, there’s nothing like feeling good in an outfit. So I’ll sit on my knees at the park, whatever!
The jacket is essential because it has huge pockets, so I use them as a bag — diaper goes in one, snack in the other.
Sometimes I’m wearing flats, but if not flats, then sneakers.
Saturday night live!
Here’s a good example of an outfit I’d wear to dinner. I love being able to sit with friends and talk but to be honest, I’m getting sick of going out to dinner. I want to move around. a bit more at night. During the week, often, I’ll go for a walk and a drink, either with Sam or a friend. On weekends, it’s usually dinner.
I have a thing with proportions — if I am wearing something really short [like this dress, which I hemmed], it’s paired with boots always.
Brown is the deviation from my comfort zone because it’s not black or white, which is usually the palette I go with, and then the jacket helps keeps a sort of calm without compromising my own stylistic promiscuity because on its own, the dress is tiny and very see-through.
I think it’s okay to make people a little uncomfortable with your style, with how you’re dressed.
I think this is part of how I don’t lose myself, by not giving into changing what makes me feel good in order to make the people around me comfortable — but also to find compromises, where I can feel good and like myself without also literally sitting at the table naked or disrespecting my children.
I would definitely say that my key thing with getting dressed is not losing myself. Style is important in my life just like being a mother is. I don’t want being a mother, or living where I live, or working where I do to be the key defining features of me, or to negate other things about me. With everything I’m submerged in that is different from how I thought it would be and I would be, I feel the buzzing, slightly provocative (both in how I dress and what I say) social woman inside can easily get lost so I put an effort into holding on to my style, to not changing how I dress.
And do I get mom rage? Yes. I handle my kids very differently — one responds well to an urgency in my voice, he needs to feel like something is at stake for him to understand and the other usually just needs to be hugged. The new one is too small to give me mom rage, but wow, how am I going to be a mother to my new baby girl? As told to Leandra Medine Cohen on the Upper East Side in New York City on May 17th, 2023.