Mommy Style – Finding Appropriate Nursing Clothes

Mommy Style – The Purge

I had heard of a couple who had vowed at their wedding always to look good for each other.  They inspired me to not “let myself go” and strive to look good for my husband – especially when I was out in public.  I never wanted to bring him down by not being fashionable.  But the harder I try to look fashionable, the worse I look.  I’ve had days where I carefully pick out a top and a bottom and a sweater and brush my hair and put my contacts in.  By lunch I’m feeling miserable – this outfit doesn’t work at all!  Where did I go wrong?  I knew I needed to update my mommy style.

Between pregnancy, breastfeeding, and quitting my job, I had found my style choices weren’t working for me anymore.  I had a lot of cute clothes that I used to wear at work, but either they didn’t fit or they didn’t allow for easy access when nursing.  The clothes that did were large and frumpy or T-shirts.  Within weeks of having Bugaboo, I was the stereotypical stay at home mom, walking around in sweats and a T-shirt.  And I hated myself for it.

Step 1 – The Purge

I was determined to revamp my mommy style and find clothes that fit and made me feel good about myself.  However, I already had a lot of clothes to begin with.  Before I could justify spending money on a new and updated wardrobe, I would have to see how much usable wardrobe I actually had.

Fix Your Closet Layout

Clothes Rotation

One thing I have always done well with my closet is rotate my clothes.  Clean clothes are hung on the right side, and I take my day’s outfit from the left side.  Other than having to train my husband to use this method, it has worked well.  Every month or so, I can look at the clothes still hanging on the far left side of my closet.  These are the shirts I brushed past time after time, never “feeling” like wearing them on the day they “came up.”

As part of the purge, I began to look seriously at these clothes.  How did they fit in with my mommy style?  There was the expensive baseball jersey my husband had bought me.  I couldn’t get rid of it, but we all knew it wasn’t part of my daily wardrobe.  We set it aside for special occasions like attending baseball games.  Then there were a ton of skirts I had worn in college – they sort of still fit around the waist.  I was determined to give them a try on Sundays this summer.

Workable Closet Layout

There was something wrong with my closet layout, though.  I had two bars in the closet, and I’ve always had a hard time separating out what to do with each.  For a while, the upper bar was weekend clothes and the lower bar was work clothes.  This didn’t work well for me, though, because it just encouraged me to spend every weekend wearing T-shirts.  Next I put all my sweaters on the upper bar.  But I was having a hard time incorporating my sweaters into my left to right system.  Do I pick the far left sweater to match to any shirt?  Or do I pick the far left shirt and find any sweater?  My solution – give the upper bar to my husband, who’s taller anyway.  My goal was to simplify my wardrobe so that I only needed one bar in the closet anyway.

Find a closet layout that is going to work for you and help you find the right outfit for your day as well as see what clothes never get worn!

Some of my favorite shirts that don’t work with nursing.  On the left, the patterned shirt has a relatively low cut collar so I wear the buttoned up shirt under it.  There’s no way to nurse with that set-up.  On the right, my favorite shirt ever has a belt right through the middle.

Look for Nursing / Baby Friendly Clothes

I have some really cute shirts that are in storage right now, because they don’t work for nursing.  Believe me, when Bugaboo was born I tried to keep these in my wardrobe.  They just didn’t work, and so I learned a few tricks of what to look for and what to look out for:

  • Modest – I like my clothes to be modest, but when you have a baby you should step it up a notch.  Wherever your neckline is, your baby will grab it and pull it down.  If you have a shirt that is borderline too low cut, set it aside until your baby gets less grabby.
  • Long Shirts – Perhaps the length of shirt is a matter of personal preference and style.  I know when I was coming of age long shirts were in, and I always felt they looked good on me.  But they are practical in the same way a modest shirt is practical.  You will be bending down to pick up the baby, picking up the baby, and the baby will rub against your torso.  A short shirt is bound to ride up a little.
  • Loose around the middle – I never wore traditional nursing shirts, so to nurse the baby I just hiked up my shirt.  It’s easy to do this, and even in public I can cover up and still get baby access to the breast.  I had some clothes that had little belts or cute tailored waistlines.  They no longer work.
  • Not layered – Unfortunately, most of my closet consisted of fun lightweight shirts that were semi see through.  I would just wear an undershirt or tank top with them.  When nursing, though, those extra layers are a huge pain and hassle.  Not to mention, your tank top can’t have extra bra line support.  Unless your undershirts are as loose and flowing as your regular shirt, try not to get caught with a closet full of shirts that require layering.
  • Maxi Skirts – I used to wear a lot of knee-length skirts, especially in the summers, and I wanted to bring back that look for me.  Then I wore one to church one Sunday.  Church was fine, but as soon as we got home I was putting Bugaboo on the floor, picking her up, putting her on the floor again, kneeling on the floor next to her.  It was tough to be ladylike while chasing a baby around.  A floor length skirt can protect your modesty.

I only found a few shirts to get rid of this time, but that’s because my left-right system keeps my closet up to date.

Get Rid of What doesn’t Work

So that was the hardest part – getting rid of stuff that doesn’t work.  Some items that were absolutely adorable or new went into storage.  The rest went to Goodwill.  I had to be honest with myself about what I would actually be wearing in the next year.  And after Bugaboo was weaned, I would probably get pregnant and nurse again.  There will be a time in my future for wearing cutesy form fitting clothes, but that time is not now.

Because of my left to right system of wearing clothes, I didn’t have too many additional outfits to purge this time.  I did find a few shirts that were never going to work again.  Whether you fill boxes and boxes with used clothes or if you just find one outfit to toss out, purging your closet will give you a sense of accomplishment and relief.

Prepare for Step 2 – What Do You Need

After the purge, I was able to count my workable shirts and sweaters.  I like to have 10-14 tops in my day-to-day rotation.  This allows enough clothes to take a vacation without doing laundry.  And it also allows me to have a variety in my style.  I could get by with as little as 7 shirts because we do laundry weekly.  But I have a hard time going beyond 14 because I have been trying to simplify my life in general.

I took all the remaining shirts and all the remaining sweaters and put them on my bed, where I started mixing and matching the sweaters to the shirts.  I discovered that I need one brightly colored sweater to go with a light gray shirt that I like.  In addition, I could justify purchasing a few new shirts – preferably brightly colored since I have a lot of black sweaters.

Step 3 – Coming Soon

I have a clean closet and a plan for what to do next!  My mommy style revamp is coming along!  Now for the next step – to find some clothes that really work for me and make me feel good in my skin.  That’s why I finally decided to pull the trigger and sign up for Stitch Fix.  Coming soon – I’ll tell you all about how my first fix worked for me (hint: it was great!).  In the mean time, check out Stitch Fix for yourself – perhaps you will find the style you have been looking for!

Note: I am an affiliate of Stitch Fix.

What did you find hardest to get rid of as a new mom?

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