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I love shopping. Perhaps a little too much.
After my pregnancy, however, shopping lost much of its thrill. I struggled to find nursing-friendly work clothes that weren’t super unflattering (I would settle for only somewhat unflattering).
I’m a pear-shaped size 12. Wide hips and a small chest. During my pregnancy I was probably a 14. When I did finally find something cute and work appropriate, I often struggled with fit.
As an example, at 3 months postpartum, I bought a nursing dress online that I was SUPER excited about. It was a button down A-line that you could throw a blazer on for work, or leave as-is for a casual day. Based on the style, I wasn’t sure if I needed a L or an XL, but I picked the XL because I don’t mind things fitting a little loose. But… when it finally came in the mail… it fit everywhere but the chest. I couldn’t button the top two buttons. What?! I’m only an A-cup!
I’ve mostly defeated a decade-long battle with my body image, so I wasn’t about to let this erode my progress. But I was frustrated! If a size 12, A-cup woman couldn’t fit into the largest dress size they sold, then who was it made for?! And why on earth would a NURSING CLOTHING LINE not be flexible in sizing for POSTPARTUM women, who are probably not at their smallest?
Interestingly, a little research explained some of my struggle. Size 14 is the most common in the US, but it’s also the least frequently purchased. Why?
- A lot of women who were once sizes 8 – 10 have grown to 12 – 16 and make do with what they have. Hoping to shed the extra pounds, perhaps?
- Store owners, seeing the 12 – 16s sit on the racks longer, aren’t stocking as much in those sizes.
- Clothing designers are making patterns based on smaller sizes, then arbitrarily scaling up. This means your outfit might not fit your proportions.
It’s worth noting that this fit issue doesn’t appear to extend to plus sized clothing. While the plus size clothing market is oddly small given the percentage of plus sized women in our population, designers are typically basing their patterns off of larger sizes. (I could start on my lengthy opinion about how I’d like to see more brands carrying larger sizes and integrating “ladies” and “women’s” sections… but we’ll park that for another day!)
If the fit weren’t enough of a hurdle, here are the other issues I ran into with nursing styles:
- While there are lots of great casual looks, it’s difficult to find feedwear that evokes confidence in a boardroom or adheres to a business professional dress code. And let’s face it – the transition back to work is tough enough without feeling out of place in your own clothes. Plus, most offices are like the tundra, so I’m not about to strip down to my nursing bra and try to magically coax my frozen body into releasing milk.
- Many are solid colors that easily show lanolin, spit up, or dribbles. And of the patterned fabrics, the vast majority are horizontal stripes. What postpartum, recovering body wants horizontal stripes?!
- Some work great for breastfeeding, but don’t allow access to both breasts at once while pumping.
So… we’re getting to the good part.
I’ve shopped at over 40 online nursing wear stores, and I’m going to share my favorites with you! Every. Single. Week!
It’s my Working Mom’s Wardrobe series. You’ll get an honest review and the opportunity to see these styles on an average sized lady. Because quite frankly, some of those models would look amazing in a potato sack.
Feel free to borrow the looks you like! I can’t wait to share my first review with you this week.