We did learn a few things, some tips and tools that we’ve tested working with clients who have small kids and a need and desire to still feel good about themselves. There is such a thing as fashion in the “fourth trimester.” Fashion, you say? You think we’re crazy to even talk about it. You slept 3.2 hours last night and someone just puked on your shoulder. You haven’t showered in days and you deserve a medal for making it all the way into a pair of sweatpants, right? We hear you, really we do. We’re not going to suggest you go spend a fortune on heels and silk blouses. We have some real world solutions for you.
The maternity clothes you were wearing at the very end are done—pass them on to a friend, consign them, donate them, or pack them away if you plan on having another child. Just get them out of your closet. You don’t have that silhouette anymore, and they’ll just look stretched and lumpy now. What you CAN do is scrounge out those early pieces, the ones you put on when you first stopped being able to button your real jeans. Break out the bella band for the pants you can almost but not quite close (it also gives you some tummy coverage for nursing if need be). Your early pregnancy leggings are a great resource—just remember they are more like tights than pants (the top you wear with them has to cover your rear and upper thighs). Want to get really creative? Grab a fuller cut men’s cotton dress shirt (maybe in your husband or partner’s closet?) and put a belt over it with those leggings and some flats. Voila—you have a modified shirtdress on the cheap.
Look for tops that are cinched or defined at the waist but draped underneath. These are less of the empire-waisted wonders that took you through the end of pregnancy. Those just make you feel, well, pregnant now, and that’s just not appealing at all. We’re after tops nipped in or with tie waists that hit just above or at your belly button. In general, V or deep scoop necklines will flatter best. Side ruching is a great trick to accommodate a post-partum belly, especially in a straight tank or tee. When it comes to pattern, prints are a great idea, so long as they are in proportion to your overall frame (petite people need smaller prints, taller and/or fuller figured folk can go bolder). They hide random spots of baby drool and can help draw the eye up to your face. Go for richer, more saturated colors where you can. Vibrant hues help even the most sleep deprived mama look more awake. You can layer longer open front cardigans or over your tanks and tees to help reinforce a long, vertical visual line, and they’ll double as a swaddling option in a pinch (true story).
For the bottom half, consider an easy, a-line skirt. They balance a fuller hip or tush and lengthen your legs, and they look good with flats. You can even tuck in your top and put on a stretchy belt at your waist (hey, you have one again!) Otherwise, work the legging under tunic top look, and then grab yourself a pair of dark wash higher rise trouser jeans from the sale rack in a size that works now. (If you get a pair with at least 2% spandex, they'll stretch to fit you longer). Sport them with those flattering tops we described, or try them with a button front cotton shirt knotted at the bottom. Wear the heck out of ‘em, then pass them on when they don’t fit right anymore.