As a mummy and a stylist, I understand only too well how challenging that perpetual cycle of feeding/coping/exhaustion can be, without the added brain drain of figuring out how to look vaguely non-minging. Here’s a list of How To Dress Yourself Well from birth and beyond…
· Get some lovely feeding-friendly nightwear because you’ll be LIVING in them. Looking back at pictures of friends visiting my brand new baby, swear-to-God, did I not think about getting dressed? Thank Heavens for my vintage Sue Ellen-esque floor length teal number.
· Get a pre-labour pedicure. All thoughts of personal grooming go up the swanny for a while so get your feet looking tip top. As you’re plodding around the maternity ward or shushing your baby to sleep for hours on end you’ll be silently congratulating yourself on having such glamorous toes.
· When you’re a brand new mum you are 100% entitled to enjoy a bespoke set of fashion rules. Gone are the days of matching your clogs to your clutch: basking in a ruddy good shower and wearing a clean set of jerseys (even for 10 minutes) is the new Holy Grail of Fashion.
· Good scaffolding is essential when our bodies are so tender. Get yourself to a trained bra-fitters and invest in some decent nursing brassieres.
· You are the Almighty invincible Mum Hero in your house now so how better to mark the occasion than with a gift. Send your partner some not-so-subtle subliminal ideas and mark your birth triumph with a lovely piece of jewellery to wear with your aforementioned nightie and toes and to make you feel great.
· Once that initial fog lifts and you’re considering leaving the house, you face that feeding in public for the first time / I’ve nothing to wear wardrobe/confidence crisis. Fear not! You WILL get there. Top tips:
o Vests: pull any top up and maintain tummy/boob dignity
o Nice big scarves: forget those bibs /slings that make us feel like walking milk-me bovine
o Big shirts/cardies/capes: I would drape mine over my shoulders and they worked a subtle treat
· Throw on something nice. Not for the other mums at baby sensory or the postie, who might be your only adult contact that day. But for you. Yes, you’ve barely got time to brush your hair but the confidence boost a lovely outfit gives you on those knackered/hormonal/feel like crap days is invaluable. Looking good genuinely can make us feel better…
· Don’t feel you have to succumb to the often-meagre maternity wear offerings of the high street. Admittedly ASOS has some amazing stuff and H&M do some lovely cotton staples but keep an eye out instead for dungarees, pinafores, draw-string dresses, off-the-shoulder smocks, cross-over jumpsuits and anything vintagy that is button down.
· Human hip-opotam-arse: or is that just me?! Our poor bodies change so much after pregnancy and getting used to that mid-body spread can be a real challenge. Wearing over-sized and forgiving maxi dresses in non-clingy fabric is a great way of skimming curves. As are horizontal stripes and panels that draw the eye in.
· Mum tum: the new nemesis. My advice is to accentuate your bottom half with fitted jeans/leggings/awesome tights and team with bell shaped tops, dresses and jumpers. Crossover and regency-style dresses/tops that drop below the bust line are also great for hiding tums.
· New giant boobs. Wearing dark colours is an obvious slimmer as is wearing a fitted vest under dresses and jumpers to help create a more streamline silhouette. Big cardigans, open shirts, large overcoats and kimonos look ace draped over fitted tops and help to conceal cleavages that you’re still getting used to. I lived in a ‘70s leopard-print house coat when I was at my most curvy and made me feel so much more comfortable.
· It is vital to retain your sense of self when you’re a mummy. I really struggled with that initial can’t-fit-into-anything-I’ll-be-wearing-this-cotton-sack-with-a-hidden-boob-flap-forever. You’re still you and wearing something that reminds you of that is a crucial mood lifter.
· Confidence is key. So what if you’ve just walked through the doctor’s waiting room with your cheb out? You’re a mum and you’re awesome. So wear something that makes you feel fabulous.
· Apply the same taste principles when buying a changing bag as you would when buying a handbag, i.e. make sure you a) love it and b) would wear it, baby or not. I bought a lovely Marc Jacobs tote (not that spenny if you look hard enough) that will be used long after my son leaves home.
· Invest in some awesome trainers. As someone who never wore them pre-babby, the minute I found out I was expecting, I bought some gold snakeskin Nike Air Max. It will make all those hours of walking both comfortable and stylish. Major life epiphany for me, thank you very much!
· Wear lipstick or tinted balm. It takes two seconds to apply and adds a priceless brightening effect to the most exhausted of faces.
· Sunglasses: they’re as much a changing bag staple as Sudocream. Great for hiding eye-bags and making you look deceptively glamorous (even if you’re wearing PJ’s under your mac, which I did, often).
· Get your colours done. And not in an ‘80s Tupperware party vibe of a way. It’s genuinely revelatory, enhances your natural complexion and makes you look less tired. You know those days when people keep telling you you look well? It’s probably because you’re wearing one of your best colours.
· Practical style reigns. At home we’ll be spending the foreseeable running around choresville and getting down in the sandpit. That doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to a sensible mumiform. Who says we can’t go to the park in a velvet maxi (see pic above). As long as you’re not precious about getting covered in snot and mud keep it comfy and cool and never forget your individuality.
· The Back to Work conundrum. The amount of mums who come to me with this crisis of ‘what do normal people wear’ confidence. More often than not it’s a displacement anxiety about leaving the nest rather than not knowing what suits them. Depending on the vibe of your office dress code, invest in some key staple items to build up a wearable and stylish capsule wardrobe that’ll make getting dressed in the morning so much simpler.
· We’ve all got difference styles, tastes and shapes but here are my top mum picks on the high street right now:
1. Comfy, roomy and breastfeeding friendly:
2. I love a trainer with a touch of rose gold:
3. Up-style practical shirts with matching bottoms:
4. Experiment with button down vintage like this lovely dress from breast-feeding friendly Mummrah -
5. Hurray for the stylish and practical changing bags from hip mums Tiba and Marl -
6. Feed your baby / conceal curves in a stylish oversized kimono: