with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
I am nearly three months postpartum (my first) and I’m wondering when and if I will ever get my old body back (or even close to my old body). Is it unreasonable to think that my pre-pregnancy clothes WILL fit sometime in the near future? Or should I be building a new wardrobe?
Gradually, I have been able to wear some items, especially pants, from my old wardrobe. However, the major problem I’m having is finding shirts that fit. With extra belly and an ample bosom (plus nursing bras that are not as supportive as I would normally wear if I were not nursing) it’s very hard to find flattering shirts that aren’t too tight and too short or too blousy and too frumpy. Almost every shirt from pre-pregnancy is too short. I don’t need any extra volume around the waist but I also don’t relish showing all my newfound lumps and bumps. Also, I don’t want to spend a lot of money if my old clothes might fit again one day (I had a lovely wardrobe pre-pregnancy!) but at the same time I am tired of the same three Old Navy shirts.
Help!! I am looking for mom sense as well as fashion sense. I don’t know how to shop for this new body.
Let’s deal with the big issue first: the post-baby body. No matter how much or how little weight you gained during your pregnancy, your body is NOT the same after the baby. For some window of time — three months, six months, a year (or in my case, TWO years) your body is STILL not the same. And at the end of that window, the lumps and bumps and gigantic breasts are gone, but the body is probably not the one you started with before the baby.
I’m sorry to say that, but it is entirely true.
That is NOT to say that you won’t wind up loving your post-baby body even more than your pre-baby body, and not in some mystical, I-grew-a-person-in-me kind of way (although there’s a little of that, too). But the first step to really loving this New Normal is to let go of any ideas you have about how your body USED to be, and to start dressing the body you have RIGHT NOW.
How do you do that in a way that is stylish AND affordable AND practical?
Start by putting away all the pre-baby clothes. Don’t GIVE them away, just get them out of the closet. If you are faced every day by beautiful pieces that don’t fit, you will constantly feel like you are failing, or like there is no reason even to try. Pack your pre-baby wardrobe in plastic boxes and store it under the guest bed; make sure everything is clean and neatly folded and out of sight.
Now let’s deal with what works well for a nursing mama’s figure.
Amanda needs to start by getting some really terrific nursing bras. She needs a bra that is supportive and easy to open and close and maybe even pretty, if that’s possible. She should go and have a fitting, to make SURE she is wearing the right size. She also needs to get re-fitted every three months for at least the next year or so, because as she weans the baby and her body adjusts to not nursing, her breasts will continue to change size and shape. A bra that fits right will change her entire look; it will pull her breasts up away from her post-baby tummy and give her definition and shape. It will also keep her hard-working mama boobs where they should be, which is important as she ages.
Once Amanda has the right bra, she can start shopping for tops. I would suggest that she invest in a couple of nursing tops, for occasions where she will have to feed the wee one in public; this is simpler than having to strip down for meal time. I love this nursing tee from Motherhood Maternity; it has a simple V neck that can be dressed up or down, and the longer, slightly A-line shape will camouflage any extra through the mid-section.
Long sleeved faux wrap tee, Motherhood Maternity, $19.00; available in sizes S - L, in three colors.
Nursing tops get a bad reputation, because, like maternity wear, they used to all be ugly as sin and made out of some sort of horrible plastic. But in the past few years, nursing tops have started to look like real clothing, thank god, but with the added advantage of making your breasts accessible AND fitting a post-baby body. A nursing top is a better choice than a regular top in those first few months after the baby, because regular tees and tops are not designed to accommodate both your gigantic boobs and your squashy belly. Nursing tops are, and they can do it for about the same price as a tee from Old Navy.
Tees are great for postpartum wear because they are soft and easy, and can be machine washed (although I would hang them to dry rather than tossing them in the dryer). A tee is cozy for the baby’s face when you are snuggling, and easy to clean up when baby loses his lunch down your front. A tee, especially one with a pretty neckline, can be dressed up with a necklace or earrings. Look for bright colors, which will perk up a sleep-deprived mama face; pink is universally flattering, especially if you are feeling wan. Avoid black and white for the first few months, as both will make you look more tired.
Layer your comfy nursing tee under a cardigan sweater for warmth or to dress up your outfit a little more. Pair V-neck tees with V-neck cardis; choose washable fabrics (including cashmere!) for ease. Amanda may very well be able to wear cardigans from her pre-baby closet right now; she might not be able to button them, but that’s not a deal breaker. She can pair a cardigan and a soft nursing tee with some yoga pants and cute athletic shoes for a day of running errands, or trade the yoga pants for a skirt and boots for lunch with friends.
Finally, Amanda wants to think about balance. Very skinny pants or skirts will look odd with her new nursing breasts; instead, she can pair her tees with wider legged pants. But she wants to make SURE the pants fit properly, and that they are not baggy. With an A-line top, a straight legged trouser is her best bet; with wide legged pants, she might want to opt for a wrap top or wrap sweater, something that gives her waist some clear definition.
Amanda should not rebuild her entire wardrobe, but she SHOULD shop for a few pieces — bras, tees, a wrap shirt for dress up — that are designed specifically for postpartum bodies. As she loses weight and her body moves back to normal (the NEW normal, remember!) she can start incorporating more and more pieces from her pre-baby closet. But she absolutely can look pretty and be comfortable right now, in the body she has today.
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