A lovely blog follower of mine recently asked if I would do a breastfeeding capsule wardrobe, and I am nothing if not agreeable to a new capsule wardrobe idea!
There's a whole lot of information out there on maternity capsule wardrobes, but remarkably little help for when the baby has left the building. And actually, you need to think through clothes every bit as carefully when you're feeding a baby as when your belly is inflating faster than the balloons before a kid's birthday party. The combination of hormones, the reality of a post natal body, the inevitability of having to leave the house every now and again and the prospect of having to look vaguely smart for Aunt Marge's 90th birthday in two months' time all combine to create a bit of a wardrobe nightmare. Even if you're not breastfeeding, feeling comfortable and confident in those post-birth months when you're getting to know your new body as much as your new baby is enormously important, so having a bit of a think about your post natal wardrobe in between painting the nursery and batch cooking three years' worth of meals (trust me, it's worth it) is a worthwhile enterprise.
I've put together a quick capsule wardrobe above (click on the photo to go to Polyvore and see where each of the items comes from), entirely from shops that I know to do speedy delivery for online orders (I love H&M's long camisoles but, frankly, even the most committed feeders will have given up long before they arrive), and it really made me think through my top tips for a post natal capsule wardrobe, as an image consultant and as someone whose gone through the post natal thing a couple of times:
- Layering is your new best friend. camisoles with straps that unclip are useful, but actually the best discovery I made while feeding is to wear two camisoles, a longer one underneath and a normal length one on top. Lift up the shorter one and hoick down the longer one, and far less flesh is exposed than dropped the entire side of an unclipped top, and with none of the wobbly-tummy exposure of lifting up one top. Forever 21 is great for cheapies, as I've shown above, and if you want ones that will last a bit longer, I can't rate the Kettlewell ones highly enough.
- Cardigans are also your friend (see above re layering). They're easy to get on and off - I found my temperature instantly went up about 300 degrees every time I sat down to feed - and waterfall/draped styles make useful cover ups if you're feeding a fussy baby in public and don't fancy flashing everyone.
- There is no such thing as too many scarves at this time in your life. They do double (triple, quadruple) duty as baby blankets, muslins, feeding cover ups and shoulder warmers when you can't be bothered to move enough to put your cardigan back on. And they're apparently quite useful for keeping your neck warm in winter. Most scarves, even quite nice cashmere ones (I love my cashmere/silk Chan Luu one more than any of my others) can be hand washed, so don't be afraid to invest in decent quality, as they'll fit you for life.
- Comfort is so important, just as much as during pregnancy. All those things we love to hate like jersey trousers (Kettlewell also has a great selection of these) and jeggings are incredibly useful and needn't look awful in the right colours and style. A couple of pairs of basic leggings from places like New Look is another winner, along with my best friend, the jersey tube skirt. And don't put away those maternity jeans just yet, they can be rather useful as you deflate.
- Be realistic about how quickly you might lose any weight you've gained, and keep it in mind when you're buying clothes. It took nine months to put on remember, and you did just have a baby! If ever there was a time to sit around and eat cake, this is it. Buy enough clothes that acually fit you to get through at least 3-4 months at the size you are, rather than limping through on one tatty pair of leggings and two maternity t-shirts. I've shown a mix of prices above, but as a rule of thumb I would suggest saving on things like camisoles and jeggings, and spending a bit more on things like jersey trousers, scarves and cardigans.
- Shoes! You'll need comfy shoes, especially if you have one of those amazing only-sleep-in-the-pram-and-only-when-it's-moving babies (ask me how I know this). However, inevitably that invitation to Aunt Marge's 90th will come through, so if you've got one low heeled pair of shoes that you can toddle round on fairly comfortably, you'll be grateful. And you never know, you might actually be allowed out for dinner with your other half without the baby one day, and wouldn't it be nice to have some beautiful shoes to wear?
- Same as the shoes, if you can find one nice dress or skirt/top combo that will do for any smart events, it will save you from last minute panics. If you feed for even a little while, the chances are there will be some sort of family lunch or party that you want to look not completely homeless at. The Isabella Oliver one above is one I wouldn't be ashamed to wear for work after feeding, and it's a brand that always sells well on eBay too.
- I haven't bothered to show change bags above, as I'm a firm believer in a capacious handbag over a change bag any day of the week, but if you simply must buy one, you could do a lot worse than some of the beauties at John Lewis.
Anything I've missed? Have you got any essential post natal style tips to boost confidence after childbirth?
ps: dry shampoo is also rather useful for improving one's overall look, for those days when getting to the shower just isn't going to happen.