I’m a big believer in street chic, or in turning to other women when I’m looking for fashion inspiration, particularly if what I’m hoping to find is some balance of style and function. So I was thrilled this week when so many of you put in your two cents about what to wear after you give birth. Your suggestions were fantastic.
For casual wear, stick with soft comfy tees, either regular styles or nursing tees. Yasmara recommended patterned tops, which “will hide any milk leakage (and baby spit up) better than solids.” She is absolutely right. She also made a pitch for Lilypadz breast pads; whatever brand you buy, keep extras in your bag. If you’re not planning to nurse, you will still want nursing pads for the window until your milk dries up.
If you will be nursing, or pumping when you return to work, the consensus was that you choose tops that are easy to open for more convenient access to your breasts. Button front shirts are one option, although some Working Closet and Friday Style readers pointed out that if you are large breasted to begin with, your extra large nursing breasts may not fit properly in a button-front shirt. Instead, think about a wrap shirt, which will both flatter your fabulous nursing breasts and play down your post-baby tummy.
Finally, think about a nursing cami or tee under a fitted sweater or jacket. Again, easy access for baby or pump without a lot of pulling and tugging.
What if you will NOT be nursing or pumping when you return to work? Again, a wrap shirt will camouflage the last of the baby tummy, as will a fitted jacket over a cami or tee. Be SURE that the jacket fits properly, please, and that you can button it, even if you will never wear it that way. You can also look for slightly longer tunic tops in a slight A line shape; this will draw attention to your face and skim over your mid section. Look for a tunic that hits at the hipbone, for the most flattering line.
Again, stick with basics; you want several pairs of pants or skirts in neutral colors and flattering lines. The easiest thing is to choose pants with a slightly wider leg, which will balance your post-baby hips and tummy, in black or navy or charcoal gray, or a knee-length skirt, also in a neutral color, with a slight A line. Pair a darker bottom with a lighter colored top to draw attention up toward your face (and your totally fabulous Mommy cleavage). Be sure that pants and skirts fit properly. A couple of you said that you bought nicer pieces on sale and had them altered as you lost weight, which is a great suggestion.
Everyone agreed that you should NOT, under ANY circumstances, try your pre-baby jeans on for, well, a while. I would say honestly not for the first three months, at least, but everyone is different. Instead, get a pair of jeans that fit properly and look good on your bottom half AS IT IS RIGHT NOW. I bought my post-baby jeans at Old Navy, on sale, and wore them for quite a long time; I was actually kind of sad when they stopped fitting. Other readers recommended Levis, which have a very forgiving fit and are terrific for curvier bodies. And one savvy reader wrote to say that she bought jeans at a consignment shop, for next to nothing.
Consignment, as an aside, is a great idea for postpartum wardrobing, particularly for pieces that you need right now but might not need in three or six months. Suits, for example, or dressier skirts or pants–pieces that would cost a substantial amount if you bought new–are great things to pick up at consignment. And the jeans idea is terrific because you can buy them for next to nothing, wear them until they don’t fit, and then go back for another pair that DOES fit, all without spending the baby’s college fund.
Several of you wrote to remind me that in the first few weeks after the baby, you can get out your very early maternity pants, the ones with the expandable waist band (NOT the kind with the big “pocket” in the front) and wear those again. I agree, but I would caution you to treat this as a stop-gap measure; these are MATERNITY pants, so if you’re still wearing them for the baby’s first birthday, we need to talk.
The Core Postpartum Work Wardrobe
3-5 nursing bras, or regular bras in your new size (err on the side of MORE nursing bras because they will wind up with breast milk on them, and when that happens, you definitely need to launder)
3-5 soft cotton tees (more if you like, although you will be doing laundry ALL THE TIME in the first few weeks, trust me)
2-4 pairs yoga pants
1 pair of jeans that fit you RIGHT NOW (replace as needed)
2-3 pairs of trousers (less if you will be wearing skirts, more if you only wear trousers) in a wide width and a neutral color
2-3 skirts (less if you will also wear pants, more if you only wear skirts)
Some combination of the following, all of which can be mixed or matched:
button front shirt
nursing cami or tee
Finally, keep in mind that a wrap dress is incredibly flattering on a fuller figure. If you are nursing or pumping, look for a wrap made specifically for this.
Where should you shop? Go to stores you already love and look at larger sizes than you would typically wear. Think about places like Forever 21 and H&M as well; lower-end chains are a great source of trendy, temporary pieces. Where ever you shop, resist the urge to buy things extra big in the hope that they will hide how big you are; clothes that fit are always more flattering than clothes that hang, even if you’re feeling like your body is bigger than you like. Don’t get hung up on the number in the waistband. Instead, focus on fit, and only buy–and wear–what really fits well.
You can find more terrific suggestions in the comments on this post and this one, too.