Category Archives: maternity fashions

Becoming a Fashion Forward (Or At Least Not So Behind) Momma

This post on a friend’s Facebook page about Diane von Furstenburg collaborating with Gap to produce some limited-edition GapKids must-haves for wee ones reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for some time.

At one of my baby showers (one of the only blessings that come with divorced families), a nice friend gave me this book called Baby Steps: A Little Handbook for Happy Parenting. Rule No. 3 in the book was: Yes, the baby will dress better than you for awhile.

I remember laughing at reading that at first. But then something happened and I almost took it as a challenge.

I have never been really concerned with fashion. Sure, I want to look good. But for years, I have been a believer in basics. Accessorize black, white, gray, or tan with some fun earrings, funky jewelry, and/or cute shoes and you are all good. It makes perfectly logical sense except that what you don’t realize (especially when on a budget) is that, year to year, your clothes never change–and quite possibly neither do you. I started to realize this in college when, as a joke, my roommate outlined my wardrobe–a black long-sleeve turtleneck for winter, a black short-sleeve turtleneck for spring, and a black sleeveless turtleneck for summer.

Point taken. And while in my post-graduate years, I took this all into consideration, I’m not really sure I made many significant strides. I actually hated skinny jeans until I realized that they were way easier to tuck into riding-style boots, which is one trend I absolutely adored. (Still do.) But cargo skinnies? No way. Gladiator sandals? Definitely a little too bold. Flat t-straps were okay, but the big-heeled version seemed a little excessive. And fancy shorts? Not a chance. Who  (other than celebrities) can get away with wearing silk shorts out to a bar or club anyway?

I still cared about looking current, but I didn’t really care about being trendy. In fact, I was willing to forgo trends for my own style comfort. But then came baby.

Ever since my little bundle of boy arrived, I’ve been so more interested in what clothes I’m wearing than I ever was. (Ever.) I don’t need expensive, designer duds, but suddenly I do want things that at least look trendy even if they come from Target. I will admit that one of the first things I bought for fun once I lost my baby weight was a pair of gray skinny cargo pants. (A lesson in never say never.)

But I’ve bought also sorts of crazy stuff in the past year because it was hot, cool, trendy, or fun. (By definition that would mean it also would totally qualify as impractical as a new mom. I think I might be taking “Pregnant in Heels” to a new level.) Yes, I actually bought a gorgeous pair of grey suede, over-the-knee, chunk-heeled boots this past fall. I don’t doubt that I made a statement when I wore them to my first French mommy group.

Similarly my last two shoe purchases for summer were as follows (the one on the left is Nine West and the on the right is Franco Sarto):

These gladiators were made for strollin'...

Not the greatest picture, but also arguably not the greatest selection, if you are talking about heel height versus functionality when it comes to lugging car seats or diaper bags or chasing children around. But, at the time, I felt that I needed (and deserved) them, so I bought them. (I still feel justified.)

I mentioned this sudden new-found interest or commitment or whatever you can call it in fashion–or at least trends, because who am I kidding, I don’t dare spend my husband’s hard-earned deployment money on essentially a label–to a couple of other mommy friends recently and found I wasn’t alone. Many of them were feeling the same, like they needed to make an extra effort to look good anytime they went somewhere other than the grocery store or gym. Showering was no longer just enough; we needed to have the whole package together. It’s like a passive-aggressive refusal among new moms to fit the stereotypical image of a new mom.

I say this, but I certainly don’t mean that women like me are trying to forget or hide that we are moms. I mean, we’re all cool with being a mom and having a lifestyle as a mom. I think the question is, do we need to wear t-shirts, khaki shorts, and flip flops or sneakers (or worse, Crocs) everyday? Hells no!

The only unfortunate part to this new sense of fashion daring for mommies like me is that we don’t have all that many places to go. The options are seriously limited–grocery store, Target, gym, church, work, and anything else pretty much is extra effort that may or may not require a babysitter. So while I’m buying these cute wardrobe goodies, I’m not really putting them through their courses for a night out on the town or anything. (In this sense, I actually look forward to meetings at the office because it means that I can get semi dressed up.)

But I buy the clothes anyway, despite some of its impracticality–I also recently bought a black, silk tulip skirt, which totally qualifies–because it’s really the only way I feel connected to the normal world. I’m so busy chasing, cleaning, feeding, bathing, and putting to bed that I barely have time to turn on the TV or answer e-mails, much less keep up with the all the latest happenings from around the globe. (That totally sucks, especially for a journalist by trade, to be constantly behind the power curve when it comes to knowing what’s going on in the world.) So, wearing something that looks sort of trendy is almost like a last stretch to stay connected with everything around me.

Maybe it sounds completely shallow. And maybe it is. But I completely feel more human and more together as an urban momma when I’m pushing my stroller wearing gladiator wedge sandals.

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Filed under babies, baby clothes, daily life, fashion and style, infants, maternity fashions, mom style, mommy care

These Hips Don’t Lie

Figuring out your post-baby body takes patience, something I generally run short on. So, for the past three weeks, every day I take a look at myself to find out what, if anything, has changed while I was sleeping–well, maybe not sleeping but rather napping. I guess that’s a more appropriate term for the two- to three-hour bouts of rest that I get.

So, as best as I can tell, there’s little that has totally gone back to normal. Bladder control has resumed, which is definitely something to be really excited about. I’m no longer sprinting to the restroom at the first inkling of the thought that I might have to pee.

But there’s still a lot that’s a work in progress.

For example, the random, red, itchy bumps that sometimes graced my cheeks during pregnancy still make an occasional appearance. My hair continues to fall out, even though I continue to take my vitamins and fish oil pills. I thought for sure the vitamins would prevent the big shed, but apparently not. I have no idea when that might subside, but I’m hoping the shedding doesn’t develop into a bald spot like my hair dresser told me she developed after her son was born. (Ironic, isn’t it?)

My boobs still have a mind of their own post baby, but it seems like they might be close to finding an equilibrium, which no doubt will mean less engorgement and, therefore, less tightness and pain. (Literally, your boobs get so full sometimes that they are hard to the touch. Yet another thing I hadn’t realized would happen.) And the patch job that I got post birth is still an issue. There’s still some bleeding and slight discomfort, but I will say that I don’t need ice pack maxi pads anymore and my ibuprofen intake is way down. I don’t need either daily anymore, so I’m taking that as a sign that I’m definitely on the mend. (Thank, god.)

So, it’s my mid-section that I’m obsessing about most these days. I was really worried when I first came home from the hospital because I had this jiggly paunch for a belly. The rest of me was normal, but my tummy was definitely puffy. The puffiness has gone down–it’s true what they say about breastfeeding helping the body contract–so now I’m left with a belly that just looks like it’s never seen a sit-up. It’s not big or round, really, it’s just, well, flabby looking.

Describing your middle as flabby doesn’t sound all that good, but in a way, I can deal with that because the  way my tummy looks and feels, it seems like it’s something that a few thousand sit-ups could fix. I feel like I could almost start doing a few–and I stress a few because literally I have no core strength right now–now, but the doctors recommended no exercise for six weeks post birth, so I guess I should probably hold off for at least a little bit longer before attempting my first sit up. It will no doubt be a major feat. Maybe I should video it for kicks.

But what I find most depressing about the post-birth bod is my hips. Everything else seems to be shrinking, even if it’s at a pace that’s at odds with my impatience, but these haunches seem perfectly content to remain as open as the day Baby Aleksi was born. So, for as much as I thought I had nothing to wear when I was nine-months preggers, I have even less now. I am not exaggerating when I say I have three pairs of pants–well, technically a pair of khaki pants, a pair of khaki capris, and a pair of khaki shorts–that fit. Now that the belly is fading, my maternity clothes are falling off me, but none of my un-pregger pants fit.

And I’m so not exaggerating when I say none of my normal pants fit. (I’m sorry, but yoga pants don’t count. For as much as I love them, I can’t wear yoga pants to dinner.( Even my slouchy jeans or cargo capris, which used to be my “comfortable” clothes–you know, the pants you put on when you’re going for cute rather than sexy–won’t button.

So, my big worry is that I’m going to have to chuck all the pants in my closet and start over–as a bigger person.

My best friend assures me that the body will go back to normal. She said she had put all her pants into a garbage bag for the Goodwill after her daughter was born. But she forgot about them and about six months later found the bag and tried on all the pants again, only to find that everything was now loose.

I’d love to believe this is true, but I also think my friend might be a freak of nature. Another good friend of mine sort of confirmed my fears, telling me that although the body gets closer to normal, it’s never really the same.

With that not being the answer I really wanted to hear, I’m now considering my options. My mom keeps telling me that it’s only been three weeks and I need to give it some time, blah, blah, blah. But it seems as though there’s got to be something I can do to help things move in the direction–smaller–that I want them to move.

Last weekend I was at a baby shower and I mentioned the hip issue to a woman who had a baby boy about a year ago. She looks amazing–like so un-mom like. If she didn’t have a wee one climbing up and down her side like a little monkey, I would’ve never thought that she had had a kid about a year ago. And that’s what I’m talking about. I’m not planning on getting a mini van or high-waisted jeans any time soon, so I’d rather go without the wide hips as well as I foray into mommyhood.

So, I asked what her secret was and she said she wore a post-partum belly wrap and then a girdle in the months following her son’s birth. And she swore that both helped her return to her pre-pregnancy size. (Alternatively, she said her mom used to wrap herself in Vaseline and Saran wrap following the birth of her kids and that seemed to work.)

I don’t know that I’m about to try the Vaseline and Saran combo–I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to put clothes on top of that–but I’m very intrigued by the post-partum wrap and girdle concepts. So, I’ve been looking at some online to see if I think getting back to what I was is worth the amount of money that these contraptions cost.

Honestly, I love the promise. Basically, both of these items hold you in. The wrap basically goes around your belly and velcros shut while the girdle you pull on like underoos. The idea is to train your body to hold itself tighter, making you smaller.

But my reservation, particularly when you look at enough $70 price tags, is that these items seem to target the belly area when I’m in need of some hip repair. I’m fairly confident that I can tighten my belly up with some basic ab exercises. So, am I going to feel ripped off if I buy one of these things?

My gut–no pun intended–says yes. So, the question is whether there are products on the market that can essentially pull my hips back together?

For now, I can’t come up with anything better than just buying a really good pair of spandex shorts or one of those Bella bands, you know, those elastic bands that pregnant women in denial use to get a few more miles out of their regular jeans before they officially graduate to maternity clothes. But I’m not sure that either one of those solution is going to fit the bill, so I’m on the hunt for an alternative solution, one that will save my pants. I really don’t want to have to throw them all away. That would be a very sad day.

So, for the moment, I’m just rocking out to Shakira until I find a solution. Have a listen and enjoy! Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira feat. Wycleff Jean

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Filed under birthing, maternity, maternity fashions, mommy care, moms, newborns, post-pregnancy

Maternity a la Mode

As you probably have guessed by my lack of posts over the past few days, Baby P finally arrived!

On May 26 at 00:14 in the morning, our bundle of boy was born. Dad missed the big debut by a short 15 minutes–my apologies to anyone who was driving on I-95N on the 25th between 8pm and midnight–so grandma got to cut the cord. But dad still got to hold him before his first bath, so everything worked out ok, as things tend to do when you worry about them.

I had planned for my first post post-birth to be about my stay at the hospital, but I happened to run across this article that my friend Emili Vesilind recently wrote for the LA Times on maternity wear. Emili was one of a small group of seriously talented journalists that I spent a lot of time with when I was getting my master’s degree in magazine, online, and print journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Emili was always fashion forward and has been able to carve out a very successful career as a fashion journalist. Of course, since she’s expecting her own little bundle of boy very soon, she’s turned a trendy eye toward maternity fashions. Her latest article on the subject, “The Birth of Fashion,” (love the title) talks about how designers have said move over to maternity wardrobe staples like muumuus, replacing them with stylish alternatives like skinny jeans, boyfriend sweaters, leggings, and wrap dresses.

Personally, I was a big fan of the three-quarter length sleeve ruched t-shirt throughout my pregnancy. I had one in solid gray, a pink and maroon stripe, a light gray and dark gray stripe, and in solid red. I always felt good when I put them on because the ruching along the seams at the waist was flattering no matter how far along you were. When I had just the beginnings of the baby belly, it made me look round and not just paunchy. And then later when I had graduated to the baby bulge, the plaits expanded to make room for what turned out to be an 8 lb. baby.

At any rate, here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Ask any woman older than 50 what she wore during pregnancy and she will inevitably bring up the bows — the oversized, cartoonish ribbons that adorned much of the maternity wear of the last century.

“You see pictures of women pregnant in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and they were basically dressed like children,” said Shannon DiPadova, owner of online maternity boutique Due Maternity (duematernity.com). “Let’s just say, there were a lot of Peter Pan collars.”

Or, as designer Liz Lange, who helped de-bow maternity wear with her long-standing Target collection, puts it, “Fashion and pregnancy simply weren’t a compatible pair.”

How times have changed. In the last few years, the maternity market has undergone a dramatic face-lift. Thanks to the ongoing tabloid obsession with Hollywood’s “baby bumps” and the slow-but-steady proliferation of fashion-forward maternity lines, being pregnant — and looking on-trend throughout the nine months — couldn’t be more in vogue.

You can read the whole piece here. Enjoy!

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Filed under maternity, maternity fashions, pregnancy