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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.”

Thanks!

Heather

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

Published August 18, 2008. Last updated December 4, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 [email protected].

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.

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