For me, a no-think wardrobe is key, as career-wise I wear so many hats
I travel a lot, working between London, the Congo and New York – I have a busy job and I think it’s important for the kids to see this, as I hope it will inspire them. When I’m at home with the kids, I start the day with the school run. After that, I’m straight back home to work on my charity foundation, Malaika, a non-profit organisation I set up, which aims to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education. I am also an ambassador for The Global Fund, which tackles HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. All this means my wardrobe very much needs to fit around my life – I can’t spend that much time worrying about what to wear, as I have so many other things to think about.
Your wardrobe changes as a mum, but you can still dress up
I probably wear a lot more jeans, trainers and flat shoes than I used to, although, just because I now dress a bit more casually day-to-day, it doesn’t mean there aren’t occasions when I want to dress up. It’s so nice to put on a dress, do your hair and wear a bit of make-up from time to time. And it makes me feel good.
Colour is my secret weapon
Colour lifts my mood and makes me feel good. I’ve also learnt to avoid white blouses and T-shirts if I am at home with the kids, as they never stay pristine for long. I find prints and pattern are brilliant camouflage against mucky little fingers. I am a big fan of vibrant African prints, too – being in the public eye, I like to support African designers.
When it comes to workwear, my go-to piece is a statement jacket
…especially one in a bright colour or print – there’s a velvet Boden jacket I’ve currently got my eye on. Long-sleeve dresses are also a real fashion staple – they’re so easy, you don’t have to think about what goes with what, you just throw them on and you’re done.
I wish I could avoid dry-cleaning, but I can’t
I do look at care labels and obviously, with things that I wear when I’m around the kids, I consider whether they are easy to wash or not before I buy them. But I can’t avoid dry-cleaning altogether – I have a bought a few expensive things over the years that I want to keep and they need looking after. I live one minute from the dry-cleaners, which is really convenient! I’m a good customer!
The weather affects how I dress
Normally, if I’m with the kids I don’t bother with make-up – I just go as far as putting on a pair of nice trousers and a top, and I’m ready. How I dress really depends on the weather – if it’s grey and raining, it’s hard to get interested in clothes, but if it’s sunny outside, I always feel like dressing up.
My advice to my younger (mum) self
My advice would be to wear something that is good-quality and soft on your skin – that will make you feel good. Invest more money in one or two pieces, so that they last a long time. And try to schedule some quality time for yourself – as well as time with your partner. I think we sometimes forget to do this and it’s so important.