New Mom Fashion and Body Image

Now that Emme is one, I’m having flashbacks to my post-birth body and the clothes I was wearing at this time a year ago. Having a belly post-baby is totally normal and expected, as is wearing yoga pants for awhile. It’s still a phase I was eager to be out of, especially since I had gained way more weight than I should have and was feeling so uncomfortable in my skin.

I became even more distressed when I realized things weren’t disappearing easily like they did after giving birth to Reece. My one-week postpartum belly was much larger with Emme than it was with him (I took pictures and compared). I can remember feeling depressed seeing that photo, whereas after having Reece, I felt pretty good at how much my belly had gone down all on its own.

one week post partum belly
One week after having Emme. This is embarrassing to even post, but it’s good to see, I think. If you look closely, you can see the breast milk splotches on my nursing top.

I knew I would work things back into place eventually, especially once I was cleared to exercise again, but I was certainly not patient about it. Ill-fitting maternity pants were getting old quickly. For Christmas, I received some cute sweats and jammies a couple sizes up from my usual for my recovery comfort, but that was a month after giving birth and I was ready for regular clothes, even though I didn’t want to buy anything in a size that would’ve fit me then. I exchanged the sweats for a couple pairs of shoes instead. At least I could feel good in those!

Yesterday I was wearing a shirt I wore a lot after giving birth to Emme. It’s loose around the belly, so it was comfortable for me to wear then even though it’s my current size. Doug commented that he hadn’t seen me wear it in awhile and likes that shirt. I told him that I wasn’t a fan of it anymore because I remember wearing it with my post-baby bulge and looking at myself in the mirror around six weeks postpartum, feeling depressed because I could see those problem areas distinctly even with the loose shirt.

new mom post-partum sleep deprived
Also, not flattering at all, but it shows me in that shirt, in all my postpartum glory. Milk coma newborn in one arm, reeling in my 2.5-year-old with the other.

You may be thinking I was too hard on myself since it was only six weeks postpartum and you’re probably right. The reason it was so hard on me is because things were almost back to normal for me that many weeks after having Reece and I hadn’t done anything to get them there. I expected it might not be as easy with the second, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was.

After months of working hard, I had finally slimmed down enough to feel comfortable in my former clothes. The problem was that I didn’t hardly have anything I liked anymore. I had passed up a lot of stylish clothing purchases while I was pregnant (colored jeans for instance) because I wasn’t going to spend that money on maternity clothes that I wouldn’t need for long. So while pregnant, I felt like everyone else was getting more fashionable while I kept wearing the same clothes from my first pregnancy, plus some borrowed things. Once I fit into everything again, I knew I needed a wardrobe update, but I didn’t know where to start.

I purchased a few pieces here and there, which I liked, but nothing really came together. Trying new things felt trickier than it had in the past (and I’ve always been slow to adopt new styles) because I had been so out of the loop. With our trip to France looming, I knew I needed an update quickly, so the first thing I tried was StitchFix (yes, this is a referral link and I will get credit if you sign up for it. This is not sponsored, just a true part of my fashion journey. 🙂 ). I figured they could save me the trouble of having to think too much and just get me some fashionable pieces.

If you haven’t heard of StitchFix, it’s a pretty cool idea. You fill out a survey on your style and they send you a box of clothing and accessory items picked specially for you. It costs $20 a month for the styling service, which goes towards any items that you keep. The package comes with everything you need to ship anything you don’t like back within three days.

It seemed like a great way to get some new pieces. Filling out the survey was tricky for me because I needed so much. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so mostly I need casual, but I do need date night things too, and the occasional fancy dress would be nice. I think I didn’t do such a good job because I was unimpressed with my first box. I desperately needed summery tops, but the two they sent were horrid. Literally, they were awful. There was a very cute long-sleeved top, though, which I get compliments on all the time, and a necklace, so I kept those, it just wasn’t what I needed right then.

My second box wasn’t much better, but I did keep a pair of skinny jeans. The jeans were amazingly perfect and looked very cute at a lower price point than what I usually spend on jeans, so I was happy with that. I also kept a cute sweater, but again, I was looking for summer clothes and those things were not exactly what I needed.

In the meantime, I was still in desperate need of cute things for France, so I dropped the kids off with my mother-in-law (who is awesome and watches them for me once a week) and went to my favorite boutique store, Bella James. I picked out a few things to try on, including a maxi skirt, which I had been scared to try for so long because of my height (I’m 5’3″). I had no idea what to pair with it and stepped out of the fitting room asking for help.

maxi skirt Bella James Los Gatos
Maxi skirt: Nicer than sweats, but just as comfy

This is the key to finding amazing clothes. Find a salesperson who knows their stuff to help you. I walked around the store with a wonderful store associate as she picked out various items and showed me how to wear them with the skirt. It was amazing–like having a personal shopper. I was wishing I had done this sooner whenever I had needed something new, not just post-baby desperately needing a wardrobe update. Along with the maxi skirt, I also bought a chambray shirt, which I would’ve never tried on my own not knowing what to do with it. It is amazing how up-to-date that one shirt made me feel.

chambray shirt with shorts
Selfie I sent to Doug when testing out the chambray and shorts combo, haha.

The employee also gave the great tip of using Google images to find ways to wear new items, which seems like it should’ve been an obvious thing to do, but I hadn’t thought of it on my own. I’ve used that trick many times since then to see how to put various clothing items together and it has been so helpful.

After France, my third StitchFix box came in and it was a winner. I don’t know if it was because I went back and changed my survey answers or if they just got more familiar with my style from my responses to the other boxes (it’s pretty cool because you can give a lot of feedback, which helps them get better). I liked almost everything that they sent, including the chambray shirt (which I actually liked better than the one I had, but obviously didn’t keep since I already had one). Unfortunately, we were on a budget after spending all our money on vacation, so I only kept one thing–the pair of red jeans I’d been longing for since pregnancy.

I really haven’t gotten that much more stuff, but I feel so much better about the things I do have. I have enough now as a base that it will be easier to add pieces here and there instead of needing to buy a bunch all at once. Although, the next time I do have a big shop to do, I’m definitely hitting up Bella James again!

Bottom line is this: new mom fashion is rough. Some people are comfortable buying some in between clothes, but knowing that I wouldn’t be that way for long (even though five months is kind of a long time to not be feeling quite like yourself) kept me suffering through it, hiking up the maternity pants constantly, keeping my eye on the prize of my beloved Hudsons sitting in my drawer. Looking back, I can say I’m glad I stuck it out and didn’t buy anything new. Those clothes would just be sitting in my drawer now taking up space until I donated them to Goodwill and that doesn’t seem like a good value for the couple of months I would’ve worn them for.

maxi dress Antibes
Wearing a maxi dress is Antibes

Tell me, friends–how did you deal with postpartum body blues? Did you buy anything new for yourself or stick it out?

Anyone else have more trouble getting back in shape with their second (or third or fourth, etc) babies?

How did you get out of your fashion rut?

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Comments 4

  • Well, I had to get rid of three times the baby weight in one shot, so yeah, that took a while! Back to back pregnancies, (and the first being a very complicated twin pregnancy), did unspeakable things to my body. Since it took more than a year to get back in pre-babies sized jeans, I definitely had to buy clothing at each size. (I now own jeans in 7 different sizes!) But buying a few nice items at each size definitely helped make it a little better. I no longer felt like myself anymore, so being able to present the body I had in nice clothes made me feel more “normal.” Now that I’m “back” I’m definitely looking forward to slowly re-starting my wardrobe.

    • First of all, you are awesome for getting back to your pre-baby size after three babies! Seven sizes–wow! I can imagine if it had taken me much longer than 5 months, I would’ve wanted in between clothes too. Happy shopping–you earned it!

  • Ah yes, that stubborn postpartum belly! It does go down quite a bit quicker the first time, doesn’t it, lol?! Actually, for me the first 2 times were not bad at all. It did take longer the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th time though. 🙂 Anyway, 6 months is the magic point for me. With all of my babies (except for #6 which took until 7 months) I have been back to my pre-pregnancy body by 6 months. Yes, I have transition clothes!! Believe it or not I do not keep my clothes from one pregnancy to the next. I usually want to burn them when I’m done!! I just buy my clothes cheaply at the thrift store to meet my needs at the time (and wear the same few outfits all the time). I give them away when I’m done. This way I always have clothes that I feel good about. It’s very important in late pregnancy (when you feel like a whale), and immediately postpartum to have clothes you feel good about!

    • I totally get wanting to burn them at the end! I was lucky to get “new” stuff handed down from a friend so I had more variety the second time. It would’ve been good to have clothes I felt good in postpartum instead of just feeling blah.

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