I remember very well, the first postpartum months when my son Eric was born (21 years ago!); we were living in New York, on the Upper West Side. I had spent much of my pregnancy in my overalls, and they were my favorite go-to’s for the first few months after he was born – for their ease and comfort – but not for their looks. I am sure that by the time I found real clothes again, I was so sick of those overalls that I wanted to burn them – but somehow, I didn’t. In fact, they returned three years later, when my younger son Cameron was born! Why?? What is it about postpartum dressing that makes it so hard? Hard to find the clothes that say, ‘I am myself, I am still who I always was?’ Because you aren’t the person you were. Because your life has completely turned around. But does that mean that you are forced to turn to overalls? Does it have to be overalls?
My dear cousin Rachel gave birth to her first baby, a beautiful girl, a few months ago. When Rachel asked me for ideas for postpartum dressing, all of my memories of myself 21 years ago came rushing back. Rachel and I sat down to talk about clothes, post-baby, and what is one to do with a new reality of clothing shopping …
MKG: Rachel, what have you been wearing these past few months?
Rachel: I’m proud to say that I’ve finally graduated out of newborn wear-old-garbage-that-can-be-projectile-vomited-on-multiple-times-a-day clothes (which was mostly old, super large t-shirts and pajama bottoms) and now I usually wear yoga pants, cotton tees, and flip flops – but I do work at home. On those fun occasions that I go out and engage with the world, I put on Lysse “jeans” that are high enough to cover my post-baby belly and have panels that help hold in that whole wobbly area. I am now able to go back to the same shirts I’ve always worn, but I suspect my hips and stomach have been forever-changed by carrying our little lady for nine months.
MKG: What are you looking for in a wardrobe?
Rachel: This may sound strange, but I’m searching for myself in my clothes. As you said, after having a baby, you’re not the same person you were. I keep calling this post-baby era my “Vampire Life” – I feel like I existed before and I exist now, but the blood that courses through my veins isn’t the same, and while I’m learning to love this new life I’m living, I can’t quite go back to who I was before. It’s why I find myself standing in front of our closet and my dresser, asking – who am I now? What does this version of me wear?
I’m finding that I’m starting to be influenced by new things, like our daughter’s wardrobe. The clothes I pick out for her are either classic (like her first bathing suit, which is white and blue with a big bow and has a seersucker feel to it) or early 90s influenced – lots of bright colors and patterns and fluttery sleeves. I’ve always loved classic styles and while I was an 80s baby, I was a 90s kid, so of course I’m drawn to the black leggings and hot pink. I’ve found that the few shirts I’ve picked out since giving birth are truly influenced by our daughter. My favorite shirt right now is soft cotton, white with a pink and red strawberry pattern. But otherwise, I don’t know what I’m looking for – comfort mixed with some semblance of style? A hard balance to strike. If I could, I’d start a clothing line for post-partum women. I think the fashion industry has sorely missed this unique niche and transitory market. Continue reading