Fashion is so much more than clothes. Fashion tells a story – it is our voice, and our pleasure. We can indulge in fashion like the perfect slice of chocolate cake, gooey and sweet. An impeccable outfit affects our walk down the street, our smile to a stranger, and our overall expression to the world. A perfectly cut dress commands attention in a crowded room. Wool socks and a soft, oversized sweater wrap us in reassuring comfort at the end of a long day. Fashion describes our mood and embodies our sense of self. Fashion is not necessarily trendy or bold or loud. It might be what we wear, but it speaks to who we are.
After we have a baby, we are engaged in one of the most precious yet taxing times of our life. We are raw and vulnerable, while also powerful beyond measure. The inner struggle between love and exhaustion almost kills us, but we endure. The most important task we have during this time, other than ensuring the baby’s survival, is to take care of ourselves. And this means our whole self – nutrition, sleep, and appearance, which includes clothes. Excuses abound with reasons we can’t practice self-care after baby – not enough time, not enough hands, not enough sleep, not enough money. We look at everything from a place of lack and there never seems to be enough of what we crave – or what we need.
I talk to so many women about new motherhood, and what always stands out to me, are the excuses for not investing in clothes for breastfeeding or postpartum. Breastfeeding and the first 6 weeks after baby was the hardest thing I have ever done – harder than being pregnant, harder than giving birth, harder than raising my children. I buy appropriate clothing for every other important experience in my life – a new job, a fun vacation, pregnancy, hobbies. Why on earth would I ignore fashion during one of the most vital and challenging stages of my life?? Common excuses I hear are – It’s expensive. It’s not that long. And my favorite – What I wear doesn’t matter.
Let’s break these down.
Money. We have no problem spending money. We spend money on stencils of the baby’s name for the nursery wall, on coordinated hand towels for the bathroom, and on matching lamps for the nightstands. We buy houses that need to be filled with furniture, and cars that connect to the internet. But we claim that buying a few nursing tanks and comfortable pants to get us through the postpartum time is just too much – it’s too indulgent, it’s too much about me, it’s more luxurious than our vehicle with heated seats. Here’s a shifted mindset – breastfeeding is life-sustaining. Breastfeeding is one of the biggest commitments a woman can make. Breastfeeding requires stamina and self-care in order to be successful. It’s also beautiful and miraculous. This time, of any time, you deserve to have clothes that make it easier – and that make you feel like your best self. Investing in nursing clothing is no different than investing in bottles or diapers or soft teddy bears – it’s not only necessary for the task, it has the power to transform the experience. Comfortable, sensual fabrics, and well-thought designs move you from a sense of lack and missing out, to a feeling of inspiration and confidence.
What if I don’t breastfeed that long? How long is “that long”? A week? A month? A year? Breastfeeding is a commitment no matter how long you do it. And even if you’re not breastfeeding, planning to wear all your pre-maternity clothing right after having the baby is like expecting to hold a coherent conversation about politics when your friends come to visit – you’re just not there yet, and it could lead to you feeling badly about yourself, which is the opposite of what you’re going for. What I can promise you, is that not having the appropriate clothes for breastfeeding may actually sabotage your efforts. For the same reason you’re more motivated to go to the gym if you have clothes that work and make you feel good, you’re more likely to continue breastfeeding if you have stylish, comfortable nursing apparel.
Finally, clothes do matter. But maybe not for the reasons you think. Even though it often seems like it, we don’t dress for others, we dress for ourselves – because it is a way to honor and acknowledge our experience. Our clothes tell a story, and they make the difference between feeling a strong sense of self versus a disconnect from who we are.
One of my favorite women, Coco Chanel, said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Fashion represents what is happening, in the large world of art and design, as well as the small, personal world inside your home. You have access and a right to fashion whether you’re a runway model or a stay at home mom. Fashion acknowledges where you are – here, with your baby, navigating a brand new world.