Post Natal Style Dilemma’s

I’m tempted to follow that title with ‘what style?’… I certainly feel like I’m in the fashion wilderness right now. I know lots of women simply don’t care what they wear after a baby because they are too tired/sore/busy to even think about it and I totally get that, but for me, feeling well dressed (not necessarily smart,) is what helps me feel good about myself. With a new and different body, the biggest eye bags I’ve ever had and a slightly hazy and emotional take on life due to tiredness, cheering myself up with my wardrobe was something I needed to do.

Unfortunately for me and lots of other new mamas out there, it’s flipping difficult. I’ve got a double whammy of factors to consider, not just the mum tum and my still rapidly changing shape, but the soreness I’m still feeling post c-section. I’ve no waist to show off right now, and lots of things I would normally choose to sit lower on my waist or hips are too sore to wear for long or at all over my scar area. Fortunately that is improving day by day. Then when I find something that works for these issues (like my beloved t’shirt style shift dresses,), you can guarantee it doesn’t work for feeding in too. And don’t get me started on ‘breast feeding tops’ – the majority are dire, or simply not my style.

All of this led to a mini melt down (on my long suffering husband,) about how unattractive I was feeling and made me realise something had to give. I had been wearing old tee’s and tops (that didn’t fit,) my maternity jeans (no longer flattering,) and leggings (whilst breaking the cardinal rule by combining them with tops that didn’t cover my bum.) I’d been feeling even more morose as I realised that I couldn’t even shop the new season due to my changing shape and feeding restrictions. Whilst trying to save money on pointless purchases that I thought wouldn’t be needed for long, I was actually making myself unhappy by consigning myself to ill-fitting, inappropriate clothes!

By happy coincidence I happened to stumble across a blog on capsule wardrobe planning (Un-Fancy) which really speaks to me right now. I’ve talked before about packing for holiday and making sure you have pieces that work together by choosing a similar colour palate, then they can be combined in loads of different ways, so the idea of a capsule wardrobe wasn’t new to me. And giving it some thought has been a real eye opener…

I’ve realised for the foreseeable future my shape isn’t likely to change massively. I may or may not loose weight secondary to breastfeeding, but of my friends who did BF, I’d say more kept their ‘insurance blubber’ (what I call the extra pounds many women carry post baby that insures their breast milk against possible improbable cake famine,) for the duration that they fed, than those who were fortunate enough for the pounds to fall off. I’ve also realised that my usual ‘style’ isn’t that conducive to having a tiny baby. I need clothes that are comfortable to sit/lie/roll on the floor in, that wash easily and quickly, that don’t have hazardous embellishment on that might prevent me cuddling 24 hours a day and that are forgiving to my new shape. Oh and my favourite garment, the Dress, is pretty much out. Aside from that, I love the idea of having an edited selection of pieces that I can quickly get dressed from, feel good in and spend time on my life instead of fretting about how I look. And there’s the small matter of money – this way I hope I’m striking a happy medium between not spending anything and feeling rubbish about myself, and splurging on a wasteful short-term solution.

Some of the items I already have that will work for AW14…

So with Caroline’s blog and theory as a guide I have decided to create a capsule wardrobe for the next 3-4 months. It’s not an ideal time to start as I often find the weather in the UK is transitional in September and October, with as much chance of a crazy day or week of warm weather as freaky frosts, so it will be a tough job. As my circumstances are likely to change (I do hope I’m not wobbly and BF forever!) I don’t want to spend a fortune on this and Caroline champions using items you already have in your wardrobe for some of your capsule wardrobe. I’ve been surprised at how much of my wardrobe I can use already when I had a good look at it all. As you can see, I’m sorted for knitwear and found that I have historically invested in wardrobe classics and staples but I’m lacking in everyday jersey pieces. I’m using her tips to clear out my wardrobe (and the boxes and rails upstairs!) and find what is still good for me. I need to let go of things that I’m never going to fit again (hello wardrobe of 2009!) and get tough with the things I won’t normally ‘throw’ because I feel bad getting rid of clothes that aren’t technically ‘worn out’. Who am I kidding, I don’t throw the worn out stuff sometimes!

So over the next week or two I’m figuring out my capsule wardrobe for September to November/December, starting with the pieces I have and figuring out where the gaps are. When it’s all finalised I’ll share it here with you. I really want to start doing some what to wear posts again too so I will do some kind of periodic posts on the outfits I’m getting out of my wardrobe.

So readers, have you ever created a capsule wardrobe? Do you think you need one? or are you struggling with your wardrobe after a baby? Give me a shout with your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!


PS, let me know how much you spend per month by completing the poll below…

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26 thoughts on “Post Natal Style Dilemma’s

  1. My plan (if you can call it that) was to buy dresses in pregnancy which I can wear afterwards too. Aside from a few (that ASOS dress which I love but just isn’t going to work for feeding) I bought V neck wrap dresses and some with a kind of hole multiple stripe of fabric scenario. I plan on wearing these with either flats or a smartish pair of boots. And tights. And cardigans. I’ve also invested in some great square scarves from warehouse which my cousin’s friend recommended – great for covering up sick marks on navy and black dresses and adding a bit of colour.

    The problem is that I’ve worn these dresses to death and I’m just BORED with them now. I never bought maternity jeans because it was so hot this summer, I would only wear them at weekends. Anyway….I figure if I spend the next 6 weeks in my nightie then by the time I’m ready to start putting clothes on again, the dresses will feel like new. Does that sound like a good plan or what?!

    Now I just need a KILLER coat, some tan boots and one killer dress for a few parties/birthdays I have coming up (including mine…please do not come on my birthday Baby J)

  2. Oh Rebecca I have been waiting for this! Iris is now 9 weeks (how did she manage that!) and the combination of breastfeeding clothing, the extra fat fold of my tummy, a constant dribble of baby sick on my shoulder (or, yesterday, down the back of my calf….) and tiredness means my wardrobe needs some work and I haven’t had the motivation to make a start because I couldn’t see how I would manage without it costing a fortune. Also, I had a sneaking suspicion you might have the same problem, and a better solution. I find not looking put together or considered, makes it impossible to feel on top of things.
    When it was hot, summer dresses with buttons made it easy, but autumn/winter will definitely be more of a challenge. I am back in my original jeans, and I have a great pair of slip on skate shoes in ice cream colours from Gap, but I am definitely struggling with what to wear on top. I don’t want to wear shirts/blouses all the time and juggling a T-shirt or jersey top pulled up to my chin, a hungry baby and the ubiquitous muslin is a challenge too far, some days!

    All this is to say that I’ll be following along with interest and definitely doing the capsule wardrobe/wardrobe clear out alongside you.

    • First off, love the name Iris – I’ve been meaning to say each time you have mentioned her! It was on my list and very high up!

      Secondly, Its amazing the places you find baby sick eh? This wardrobe will have to be washable!

      Thirdly, good luck with your wardrobe and I hope my posts help! x

  3. 9 months on and I can’t imagine a world where I’m not wearing a maternity bra and breastfeeding vest under all my clothes. This has ended up being the key for me (the breastfeeding vest) because it means I can wear my ‘normal’ clothes. As soon as Albie was born I wanted to burn all of my maternity clothes, I was sick of the sight of them. I bought some special breastfeeding tops, which a did wear in the first few months, but pretty soon I was sick of the sight of them too. Now I wear regular tops/jumpers/tunics I can pull up and a vest under I can pull down. I lwore leggings and maternity jeans for the first few months, then my regular jeans as soon as I could (that was the best feeling ever!). You’re lucky that autumn will be your muffin top season, embrace the loose layers and knits and Bea will suck out all your fat soon enough, isn’t nature wonderful :-). My body is certainly different after birth, and more prone to a squidgy middle, but the extra pounds did fall off with no particular efforts. Make yourself feel beautiful every day, do your hair and makeup, accessorise (just avoid dangly earrings!), and be patient with your body because it’s got enough going on.

    As far as the capsule wardrobe goes, I think this is a brilliant idea. *she says staring at her bulging wardrobe and overflowing ironing pile*

  4. I’ve made the mistake of hardly buying any maternity clothes – one pair of mat jeans, one pair of mat work trousers, one pair of linen trousers, 3 stretchy vests a size up and 3 floaty tea dresses. This was fine while I was still working. I was a 12-14 pre-pregnancy and bought the dresses in a 14 and all were stretchy enough to last beyond my mat work trousers and saw me through til I went on maternity leave at 34 weeks but by then they were stretching over such a bump they were getting a bit short! Now (39 weeks pregnant) the mat jeans are no longer comfortable and a massive hassle to get on and off and the linen trousers are below the bump ones so really don’t offer appropriate coverage anymore! The stretchy vests are the only things that cover my stomach now along with 3 pre-preg tops that used to be worn with leggings they were so long! I didn’t want to waste money on lots of maternity clothes (especially as even maternity clothes don’t seem to be designed for the last couple of months!) and thought I would be fine slobbing about at home in trackies and poorly fitting vest tops for the last few weeks. WRONG. It does make such a difference to how you feel especially at such times as pregnancy and post baby where your body is anything but your own to be wearing something you feel good in, so I will have to take heed of this post and treat myself to some post baby clothes when the time comes to try and boost my mood a tad, and treat my bump to a few more garments next time around too!

    Sorry for such a ramble! My point was that I think your post has hit the nail on the head!

  5. I’d echo what someone above said about layering vests with normal tops.

    I Breastfed for a year and didn’t own a single “Breastfeeding top”. They were all far too mumsy for my tastes, plus every second Mum I met was wearing them. Instead I went to primark and bought a dozen white, nude, navy and black skinny strapped long vest tops and wore them under normal tops. Then when it was time to feed, you whip up your top and pull down the vest. An added bonus of this approach is hiding my wobbly mum tum too.

    In the early days I always made the effort to shower, put on a little make up and wear something reasonably pretty, otherwise I felt like crap. I just didn’t feel like me.

    One month after stopping Breastfeeding I’m actually still wearing a lot of the tops ( but with far prettier underwear). They suit my slightly wobbly body more and I like the reassurance that if my top rides up I have a vest underneath so no one will get a flash of my wrinkly tummy…


  6. I lost a stone after I stopped breastfeeding, I ate like a beast nursing Lily! An icelandic midwife I saw who had 5 children told me it took her at least two years to get a pre baby body back and I’m inclined to agree. I had two babies in 18 months and have been carrying extra weight for a while. It’s coming off and I’m back in pre William jeans now (finally). Nursing Lily I wore two black vests, a cardigan or zip up top and black jeans for a YEAR. Living on a single income with two toddlers means I don’t go shopping (it’s practically impossible) and they always need something new so we spend spare cash on them. I pick up my clothes on ebay, my hair gets done about once a year, and my shape has evolved since giving birth so can’t wear what I used to. throw in vomiting babies with some snot and dirty hands you get through a lot of clothes. My only saving grace was getting some make up on every day and doing something, anything with my hair! Once I was in normal bras and out of unflattering maternity jeans I felt soooooo much better but I still long for the day I can leave the house with out some sort of stain on me!?!?

  7. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Rebecca. I find it hard enough to spend money on myself, add in the fact that you’re telling yourself “I’ll be back to normal soon”, low self-confidence and maternity pay… It’s a perfect storm of making yourself feel rubbish. I made an effort when I was pregnant and really liked a lot of my smaller wardrobe, but I had to be physically dragged by my mum to buy some trousers that fit after my maternity jeans wouldn’t stay up.

    As F got older I found it even harder because I couldn’t even add big earrings or a necklace to a boring top with boob access – he would instantly grab at them. I will definitely be passing on your advice and using it myself if there is a next time.

  8. My sister in law had some lovely breastfeeding clothes from Jojo Maman. I couldn’t afford breastfeeding clothes, and used vests to layer, which worked for me. However, if money hadn’t been the issue, I would have treated myself to some. They just looked really easy, and very discrete.

  9. Oh, the hell of not wearing dresses! I sympathise. I was too shy to feed over the top of wraps/v necks too so it was all layering cheap vests (or h&m long sleeved, wide neck jersey tops in the colder months) under normal tops, as others have said. I hated the ‘special clothes’ bit. It’s a great time to splurge on some gorgeous boots or trainers though as you know they will survive shape changes and baby sick. Enjoy the wardrobe planning if you can! X

  10. Like others have said before wearing a tank top underneath a normal t-shirt / buttoned blouse / tunic is key. I have 5 tank tops and I rotate them around, I got some bright colors (coral, turquoise, emerald, red) that make me really happy. I also have 2 crossed neck t-shirts (kind of wrap style). And a kimono wrap dress that I got for a party I attended. For her baptism I wore a lacy loose top with a tank top underneath and a pencil skirt that made me feel really good and put together.
    The summer was warm and I wore a lot of dresses… what I did was wear shorts and a tank top underneath, then pull everything up. A bit complicated sometimes but so worth it.

  11. Ooh breastfeeding clothes, the bane of my life. My daughter is a year old ( today) and I’m still breastfeeding and still wonder what to wear every day. At the beginning I bought some shirt style dresses and shirts however you tend to show more boob feeding this way so I soon caught onto the vest and normal top idea. This was great during the winter but I got a bit warm during this summer. Now my daughter only feeds 2-3 times a day and not when we are out and about usually so I’m slowly starting to wear non breastfeeding friendly clothes hurrah! My problem now is my shape has changed and I don’t know what to wear as I don’t know what suits me. I also think I’m in the loosing weight once I’ve stopped feeding camp as I I’ve not lost much as I’m so hungry all the time!
    I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I wish I’d planned it more. I have a mish mash of clothes that aren’t really ‘me’ as being able to feed in them came before style. I always wore dresses but don’t get the chance much now as I’m always crawling around the floor or carrying my daughter in a carrier so jeans and trainers are more practical.
    Loving the baby posts!

  12. From the other side, one year on & no longer BF I’ve so enjoyed rediscovering my non- maternity clothes, especially dressed. I’ve also been much more ruthless, & better at giving away clothes that I know I just won’t wear again. A friend suggested keeping clothes that give you joy.

  13. Welcome to the wilderness 🙂 As other readers have said, vests to pull down underneath normal (looser) tops to pull up is the magic trick. Jigsaw sell lovely lace trimmed vests in pretty colours that wash well and add a bit of interest to the layers. My kid-wrestling uniform (bye bye, beautiful embellished tops of yore) is good jeans or bright cords (Gap) plus fab sweaters (jumpers don’t work as they get pulled and don’t always wash well) and printed or patterned shirts and t-shirts. Asos is great – no point spending loads of money on clothes you’ll be rolling round the floor in but also no reason not to wear an awesome coral shirt printed with tiny elephants (Gap, again). Good trainers are a must too, I’ve got my eye on some Liberty print ones, and then colourful Hunters for muddy parks. You’ll sort it, I’m sure! This part doesn’t last very long, promise, although I know it certainly feels it at the time. Happy shopping x

  14. Great post, feel exactly the same here at 4 months post partum. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to dress myself, all my old style choices are not BF / mum tum friendly. I also feel like I shouldn’t be spending my money on clothes, but then will pick up the odd bit from a supermarket or cheap shop which inevitably fits badly and washes poorly. Can’t wait to be inspired by your capsule wardrobe posts and save for some key pieces that will really flatter. Also – underwired bras, oh how I miss you!

  15. vests and normal tops for me too. dresses look lovely but are not great for soft play, park, sitting on the floor etc. so yes to a good pair of jeans, a lovely coat, then jersey tops plus knitwear when winter kicks in. and some nice loungewear for when you are at home. buy stuff for the size you are now, nothing worse than tight clothes. when they become loose you will know you csn get your old favourites out of the loft! and scarves, lots if pretty scarves to brighten up plain outfits.

  16. Another vote for the vest plus top combo. I felt really rubbish on the first few challenging weeks of breast feeding and so bought some lovely tops and trousers from boden in the sale to cheer myself up – it made such a difference. My next challenge is to find some thing if can wear to a wedding at the start of Oct, and breast feed in !

  17. I went to weddings at various stages of feeding. The first when my baby was 3 months old so needed frequent feeds. It was winter so I wore a wrap dress with forgiving ruching over the stomach area! I borrowed a glitzy cardigan from my mum and wore killer heels to add a bit of glamour. I also wore control pants, these were a massive help and held in all of the wobble.
    The next one was a summer wedding, this time my baby was 9 months so not feeding as often and was also on solids. I expressed so he could have a couple of bottles in the day, he was never that keen unfortunately. Plus I did slowly inflate through the day so was happy to take him off to our hotel room in the between day and night do stage for a good feed. I had decided that if he needed feeding I could take him somewhere private so that feeding didn’t impact on my outfit at all. Wore a lovely dress from Coast.
    My sister recently attended a wedding with her 6 week old and she looked lovely in a low cut dress with a fake wrapover front. It was made of really stretchy material that she could pull to one side, she wore a black wrap with it to give a bit of coverage when feeding.

  18. This post is so familiar to me! After I had my daughter I thought my baby weight would fall off, and remember trying to get into my usual winter coat to go on our first outing…and I couldn’t get it across my shoulders, let along my enormous boobs! I had a proper meltdown in John Lewis when I went in to get a nursing bra and saw my body in the mirror there as I was measured, everything was so different to how it used to be! I found a way around it by buying jeans in a scarily big size , wearing American Vintage lovely soft t shirts and shirts for easy b’feeding access and just dressing for the size I was then, not the size I used to be!

    It’s only now, as my little one nears the six month stage, that I’ve started wearing my pre-baby wardrobe again and feeling confident enough to go shopping!

    • Its amazing where the weight goes isn’t it – I put on a t’shirt the other day that was a smaller style but still looked loose on be previously and it almost look alike a childs. Cue huge confidence wobble! Glad to hear it doesn’t last! x

  19. A year on I’m still struggling as that extra half a stone is still there and things that used to be stables of my wardrobe (jersey maxis and dresses I just feel I can’t wear as they accentuate my mum tum! I need to tone up!! Need to have a major wardrobe clear out as lot of my dresses (especially ones I bought around my honeymoon and wedding) I can’t see fitting again and they are staring at me in the wardrobe! Plus my style has got a whole lot more casual and practical so I need some good quality flattering basics that wash well! As a side note I stopped breast feeding at 6 months and I was so happy to bin those maternity bras and go back down a couple of sizes. Good underwear is so key to looking polished and in the maternity bras I found that barely anything looked like it actually fitted me properly!

    Re: jersey skirt – I just bought a funky leopard one from h&m. X

  20. Also I have a couple of pairs of Jamie skinny jeans from topshop which are cut slightly higher on the waist making them a big more flattering on the tum. Might be worth checking out.
    R x

  21. A perfectly timed post for me : ) My little boy was born last week and I had an emergency c section too. It as so hard this week to work out what to wear and I ended up googling feeding clothes last night but feeling disheartened by the idea if special clothes again after months of maternity. Plus a lot of feeding clothes seem to it in the later stages of pregnancy too – no way that can be flattering!

    Anyway, I didn’t buy anything and now I’ve read these comments I’m glad! Will be heading online for normal clothes and vests tomorrow! How exciting! (Just hope I can wear something other than maternity yoga trousers on the bottom half soon…)

  22. Just wanted to add my bit as another mum who has just come out the other side of BF, after a year

    At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I also found the t-shirt up/ vest down trick worked perfectly for me… after a while (!!). I’ve got quite big boobs so it took me and my little boy a bit of time to work out how to do that discretely. Ha ha.

    The only other thing that I would recommend for your wardrobe (maybe you have this already…) is a really comfortable pair of boots. I have plenty of boots so I thought I had this covered but, having had a similar melt down when our baby was about 12 weeks, I treated myself to some heavy duty Uggs. I didn’t think that I needed them, but I just wanted “something nice” (fickle…). How wrong I was… a minimum of a daily walk for his afternoon nap meant that I have worn them more than anything else in my wardrobe over the last year and the sheepskin inside, proper bad-ass sole meant that they were perfect when the weather turned

    Funnily enough, I have also recently come across Unfancy and had a very enjoyable evening ruthlessly going through my wardrobe and sending a LOT to the charity shop. I’m not sure I will be able to keep my wardrobe to quite as ‘capsule’ as Caroline’s but it has certainly made me focus on buying things which go together

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