Prev Next

What to Wear: Special Occasions, Postpartum Style

By Amalah

First baby countdown: 3 weeks or less {if the pre-e gets me}.

Boss’s wedding: 7 weeks.

Um — dress help please.

I’m tall, generally thin, my legs on the best days are shapeless meat sticks. I’ve gained 35lb but most people think it is less than that. I think that I’ll be breastfeeding, the babe is coming with {I think}. I have no idea what a woman could pull off after a month clothing wise but I’m thinking empire waist maybe? Then how do I handle the babe’s snack time? Go with a skirt and shirt instead {it’s a scheduled-c, how likely am I to still be tender}? I’m equal parts ignorant and delusional about my skills to get out the door a month after he’s born so if I just need a good face smacking I suppose that is ok too.

I need linky love to a dress that says — “why yes, I do still exist as a person who is happy to see a friend get married.”



Baby First, Dress Later

Well, first and foremost, I would really suggest — nay, I command — you to put this worry on the (way, way, way) back burner for now. Go shopping closer to the wedding. Don’t even think about shopping until closer to the wedding. There is simply NO POSSIBLE WAY you are going to be able to predict your four-week postpartum size or shape.

At my six-week appointment, I’d officially dropped almost every last pound I’d gained during the pregnancy (around 33 pounds or so), but there was NO POSSIBLE WAY I was getting into my pre-pregnancy size. Everything is so…soft and spread-out and still-deflating in those first couple months. Your once-round and ripe belly is still solidly in spare-tire territory. Your new breasts still get engorged and cause bulging buttons, stretched-out fabric and insane cleavage when you don’t want insane cleavage. And yes, I was still a bit tender from my c-section at four weeks out.

This isn’t to say that you can’t look fabulous. I had my first night out around three or four weeks postpartum, when my mother and my lactation consultant ordered us to go out for dinner and take a damn break already. I went shopping that day (mom and baby in tow, which was an adventure) and bought a high-waisted skirt and a long, long, stretchy shirt. Nothing crazy or exotic — I walked into Banana Republic and grabbed the first pretty thing I saw on the rack. They were about two full sizes above my “usual” size. And I won’t lie, that kind of sucked. I’d definitely bought into the idea that women have babies and show up at the Oscars looking skinnier than ever two weeks later. Buying new clothes in a (oh, gag me) “fat size” felt like admitting defeat.

Fit Matters, Size Doesn’t

But those clothes FIT. And we all know clothes look a million times better when they fit — when you aren’t trying to squeeze yourself into a size six because dammit, you’ve ALWAYS been a size six. Or when you aren’t trying to mask your body insecurity with a too-big maternity dress. I got more compliments and “I can’t believe you just had a baby!” comments that night than I ever would have expected. You will too, if you give yourself a little time and promise to deal with this dilemma LAAAAATER.

So start shopping closer to the wedding, when you can accurately find something that FITS. You’ll know for sure what your tender abdominal region can handle (Spanxx? control-top pantyhose? or maybe best to just camouflage the area in billowy fabric?). You’ll have a better sense of what works for nursing and what doesn’t (maybe an empire-waist dress with a crossover-V top that lets you pull one side down? a button-down shirtdress? a pretty nursing tank paired with a dressy cardigan? a coordinated nursing cover?). Trust me, at four weeks out, these options will sound less overwhelming and fraught with FASHION FAUX PAS FRUMP FRUMP DANGER and one or more will jump out as the obvious, most-comfortable choice.

And make your shopping trip a fun outing in and of itself. Bring a friend or your mom along to help you out and be your dressing-room cheerleader. Bring the baby or let your husband watch him for a few hours (that is allowed, by the way, really!). Get lunch out, hit a couple stores, treat yourself to a pedicure. Find an outfit that fits and screams “yes, I’m still a person and I look HOT and I just had a BABY, so, EAT YOUR HEART OUT.”

Related New Mom Style Video:
What to Wear on a New Mom’s Night Out by Liz Lange

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


  • Heidi

    August 18, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    this is great advice and as a second-time mom i think i could’ve handled a wedding at 4 weeks: the baby will sleep through most, if not all, of it anyway, so go enjoy yourself!
    but as a first-time mom? i barely made it out of the house to a mother’s group at the hospital by 4 weeks. and then i was un-showered, un-groomed and forced to go by my husband who knew i needed to talk to some grown-ups.
    i agree that if you’re determined to go, wait until closer to shop, take help along, and realize that (unlike pregnancy) once you have a tiny baby with you? no one will care what you are wearing.
    but i would also say, give yourself permission NOT to go. you really never know what you may or may not be up for at 4 weeks and in my case a wedding would have been simply unthinkable. i’m hoping you have a better experience, but want you to know, it’s ok to be a freaked-out homebody with your first newborn! good luck and congrats!

  • Liz

    August 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    We took a weekend trip (10 hour roundtrip by car) for a dear friend’s wedding at 8 weeks post-babe, with babe in tow. I definitely agree with Amy, don’t buy that dress till close to the wedding: like her I had to go up 2 sizes, but that dress fit well and other than the huge black circles under my eyes I looked pretty darn good.
    I also agree with the other poster that you should also give yourself permission to see how you feel. But FWIW, my experience was that we had a great time, and that in comparison to a toddler? A baby is generally easy to take places.

  • Kelly

    August 21, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I bought this dress for a wedding that I was attending at 17 weeks pregnant with my second. I love it! It is so comfortable and can be dressed up or dressed down easily. I think it will be perfect for post-partum too.

  • Diane

    August 21, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Oh my gosh, Liz. I don’t know that I could disagree with you more! For me, taking my toddler places is a complete BREEZE compared to what traveling with her was like as a newborn.
    I bring this up not to argue that one of us is right and one of us is wrong, but just to point out to the original poster that she has no idea what kind of baby she’s going to end up with. My sister-in-law had a fabulous baby who would sleep for hours and hours at a time (and now has a rambunctious toddler who is all over the place), whereas I had a colicky, refluxy baby who wasn’t easy to nurse and HATED to sleep (but now I have a delightful, well-behaved toddler that I can take pretty much anywhere.)
    Point being: You might want to go, you might not want to go. I agree with Heidi on this one — give yourself permission to want to sit it out. And, on the flip side, give yourself permission to want that night out!

  • Diana

    August 22, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Normally it’s not my favorite place, but for immediate post-partum shopping, when you don’t know your size, don’t know what will look good on you, and don’t know when the baby will start crying. I highly recommend Nordstroms. Find the first sales girl, tell her you need a dress for a wedding, and that she should bring anything promising to the dressing room for you. They really made finding clothes for a couple of must-dress-like-a-real-person events MUCH easier.

  • Fianna

    October 13, 2015 at 8:27 am

    All going well, sproglodyte will arrive two weeks before my brother’s wedding. Thankfully the reception is in our tiny home town so we can go veg out at home if people get too much, but I’m still worried about coping comfortably with a newborn and all the associated flleurgh feelings in formal/semi-formal clothing – never mind finding said clothing in the first place…

    Medium case scenario, I get the longer version of my bridesmaid’s dresses and take it up to calf length.Elasticated back, halter neck, and I know how they fit already.

    Worst, I borrow the already-volunteered UK 14 empire dress from my mother and Wear heels……..