Confused about your new mama wardrobe and what clothes to wear, especially as you get ready to head back to work? I’m delighted to be joined today by Lani Inlander, personal stylist at Real Life Style, to help you answer that tricky question: to buy or not to buy? She first published this advice a few years ago, but particularly given COVID has updated her thoughts for us today. Read her great fashion insights here.
Should you buy new clothes or press hold on your shopping during transition times? For example, after pregnancy, or when you have gained a few pounds from stress? This is a question I hear so often from both new mamas and those who have gained weight from the stress of taking care of young children.
It is natural to think you may be wasting money by purchasing new clothes, when you think you will fit back into your “regular” clothes within a few months. I am here to assure you that this is simply not true. In fact, my number one piece of advice to new mamas is to keep shopping!
Five Reasons to Keep Shopping for Clothes
- SELF-CONFIDENCE – You need all the confidence you can get while taking care of a new baby or raising young children while sleep-deprived. Wearing ill-fitting clothing is not going to make you feel good about yourself. Clothing is an important tool we can all use to raise our self-esteem and confidence every single morning. I have seen it time and time again over my twenty plus year career: you are more likely to lose the weight if you feel good about yourself.
- FEEL LIKE THE NEW YOU – If you carried your child, you have been wearing maternity clothes for at least the last six months. Most women (those who do not hire a personal stylist!) don’t love their maternity wardrobe as much as their pre-pregnancy wardrobe. You’ve probably experienced a personal and professional identity transition, or at least a period of adjustment. Instead of continuing to wear your maternity clothes, buy clothing that makes you feel like the powerful mama you have become.
- YOUR LIFESTYLE HAS CHANGED – I find that most women alter their lifestyle and clothing choices after they have children. You may not want to go back to your old wardrobe, even if your job (or your size) is the same as before. Complicated outfits that require pantyhose or matching three pieces may no longer serve you. Making the switch to wearing dresses or pant suits most days can make your mornings easier. Your tolerance for discomfort may lower. Your need for washable clothes with stretch may rise! Those beautiful dry clean only silk blouses? Put those away for a few years.
- PERHAPS YOU ARE GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN – Are you planning to have more than one child? Then chances are, the clothes you buy to wear during the time you are in between maternity clothes and your regular size will get worn again. Won’t it be nice to be able to shop your closet rather than dealing with stores or online shopping when you have a new baby and a toddler?
- YOU ARE GETTING OLDER – By the time most women have had their first two children, they have been pregnant or breastfeeding for about 5 years. There may have been a brief period that their “before” clothes fit in between babies. But a lot of that time will be spent wearing so-called in between clothing. Are you really going to wear clothes that don’t fit well, or that you aren’t happy with, for five years? You may have been in your late thirties when you started the baby process. But now you’re in your early forties. Even if you were in your late twenties when you first became pregnant and are now in your early thirties, your wardrobe needs to adjust to be age appropriate.
BONUS REASON: You deserve it! You just created a life and are now sustaining it while managing a household and a career. You deserve a wardrobe that supports and sustains YOU.
Five Tips for Shopping While In Between Sizes
- KEEP IT CHEAP AND CHEERFUL.Shop at stores like H&M, Old Navy, and Uniqlo, where you can get the most fashion for your money.
- GO FOR THE TRENDS. If you aren’t spending much, you can reasonably assume the clothes won’t last forever. Why not embrace trendier items or more bold colors than usual?
- BUY WHAT YOU LOVE. If your post-baby belly is making you blue, cheer yourself up with a bright top or fun necklace. Yes, you need the basics, but you should also buy pieces that are going to make you excited to get dressed each morning.
- MAKE IT FLEXIBLE. Boxier tops will still look good with skinny jeans as you lose the baby weight, and elastic waist pants will shrink with you.
- INVEST IN ACCESSORIES. Wearing good shoes, a pricier bag, and an expensive pair of earrings will up the perceived value of any outfit. And best of all, they’ll always fit!
Here are three ideal outfits to wear when you are in-between sizes:
I understand that taking care of small children can feel like an exercise session. And sometimes you need to go to work right after exercising. You can do all three of these activities in one stylish but practical outfit. Take note of the elastic waist pants and stretchy blazer.
Business casual has gotten more casual. Remember though, you are still dressing for business! You can wear a soft pant and a Jardigan (a cross between a cardigan and a jacket!), instead of the traditional jacket and dress pant combo. Going into the office? Pack the bottom cooler compartment of the Lo and Sons Catalina Day Tote with a healthy lunch and snacks!
How about a washable but polished looking top with stretchy, comfortable jeans for the weekend? An affordable drapey jacket hides all sins, adds color to your outfit, and pulls the look together. The Lo and Sons Beacon Backpack lets you be handsfree and chic at the same time. Can you believe those awesome snakeskin boots are puddle proof?!
If you need more help putting together your new wardrobe, consider signing up for Real Life Style’s on-demand Wear Your Power E-Course.
Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and serve clients across the country. Learn how you can train with Lani and Kyle to become a personal stylist at The Stylist Studio.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave