Getting Dressed

10 Style Tips for a New Mom

Listen, I don’t adhere to many style rules over here and we both know the great lengths I will go to avoid setting expectations of any sort. Want to jigger your grandmother’s wig into a purse? DO IT. Feel a hankering for camo cargo pants? ONWARD. Borrow your kid’s Halloween costume and take it for a spin? SURE.

It’s just, I think we should all wear whatever we’d like.

But I also know this:

When you’ve spent the larger portion of three months donning little else but a milk-stained bathrobe and your husband’s boxer briefs, and suddenly you find yourself with a free hour to yourself and a date to the local coffee shop but hesitate going because a nap sounds good and man, I need a shower, and I have nothing to wear, what even fits anymore?

Well, at least I can help with the latter.

  1. Borrow from the boys.
    There are few items more versatile than a good t-shirt, and there are even fewer items more versatile than a good men’s t-shirt. The cut is less shapely, the structure more forgiving, and with the sleeves rolled just-so and the front tucked into a pair of high-waisted anythings, it’s a no-brainer. Plus, the old Murphy’s Law of She Who Wears A Silk Blouse Will Be Spit Up On is suddenly a non-issue. Wash and wear for the win.
  2. High-waisted anythings.
    I know all about the pooch, sisters. I’ve had a pooch loooooong before children arrived (#dairy), so I know my way around outfitting the midsection. If you’re feeling doughy in those early postpartum days or if you’ve eaten many a 3am muffin in those post-adoptive days, aim high. Higher! Higher still! I’m into Joe’s Jeans (specifically The Olivia in Emilie) at the moment, because they’re fitted and shapely and everything stays tucked in oh-so-nicely, plus they’ve got just enough stretch for yet another 3am muffin – if that’s your thing.
  3. Pick a shade.
    Black’s an easy bet, but my girlfriend swears by denim on denim on denim and she always looks great. No matter here; the rule is simple: go monochromatic from head-to-toe and relish in your sudden put-togetherness (not a word, is it?). Plus, you’ll shave at least twenty minutes off your morning “Does this match?” conundrum. Hint: it always matches.
  4. Easy accessories.
    Necklaces can be tricky (teething babes), earrings can be tricky (pulling babes), noisy stacks of bracelets can be tricky (sleeping babes), but you know what no one can say a harsh word about? The scarf. It’s soft and stylish and warm with just enough texture to complete an outfit and just enough cozy to get that darn baby to snuggle-in-and-sleep-on. Knot one around your neck or hang it loose over a jacket, perhaps try it in your hair? This one’s a can’t-go-wrong rule in my book.
  5. All hail heels.
    I’m not an advocate for heels, not necessarily. But when you’re feeling, I don’t know, frumpy, and need a quick-me-up, heels do the trick nearly every time. I reserve my heels for date nights or work events (Day Job: Unofficial Toddler Chaser, Must Have Sneakers), and even then, a stacked heel is a must for comfort. These Steve Madden Irenees are the absolute perfect height – not too towering, not too low.
  6. Go small.
    If I’m out and about sans kids, nothing makes me feel more luxurious than a small purse. When you’re used to lugging around diaper bags and strollers and car seats, a small purse is like a deep inhale. Ah, here I am. Look at me with such little to carry! It’s just me! All to myself! Light as a feather! I don’t know, it’s the little things (literally).
  7. Get nude.
    You know the nude shoe rule, yes? Whether flats or heels, sandals or boots, loafers or Oxfords, a nude shoe will make you look (feel/act/be?) taller. And when you’ve just picked up a few extra inches in the width arena, a few inches in the height department makes for a nice little balance.
  8. Edge out.
    I don’t know about you, but after a long week I just want to blast some Bon Jovi at full volume and drive into the sunset – top down, windows down, full steam ahead. (I suppose that’s as edgy as it gets around here, folks.) Sometimes, your old leather jacket and some ripped jeans are just the thing you need to chase Cailou’s whining straight outta your mind – even though we both know you’ve got a pacifier in that right pocket, girl.
  9. Short yourself.
    I know, I know. I’m always defending the pixie. I just love it, I can’t be helped. And sure, you’ll get the chop and you’ll look in the mirror and notice a few more wrinkles and wonder if you can still pull it off now that you’re a mother (a mother!), but then you’ll smile and give yourself a wee little YOLO talk, relishing in all the time you’ll save with such an easy ‘do.
  10. Ditch the watch.
    Listen. You’re gonna flail for a while, and it’s a good time to stop keeping time. Hide that watch in your bottom dresser drawer, or pass it on to a woman who isn’t preoccupied with measuring her day in three hours or four ounces or just five more books, Mama? Please? This is a season. It’s a weird one. Your waistline grows and your body changes and your patience thins and the bags under your eyes offer more space for the endless tears and surprise joys. You might not feel like getting dressed yet, not in three months or six months, or perhaps not until the kids fly the coop or perhaps not ever again. Your style will change, because it must. You are not your old self because you are not your own self. You are equal parts mother and daughter, grown-up and child. Resist the temptation to measure it all by your old watch, your old standards, your old shoulds. Time will be different for a time, because it has to be. It’s no longer just yours, and you’re no longer just you. But you will be, eventually. You will be, again.
    And that’s worth dressing up for.




p.s. This essay was written for Zappos (fast, free shipping and all star customer service with a 365 day return policy!), Steve Madden and Joe’s Jeans. I’m wearing and loving Irenee and  The Olivia. Thanks for reading!

  • I love everything about this, from your look to the insights on motherhood. Thanks!

  • I needed this post 2.5 years ago. But I shall bookmark it now for Baby #2 and remember that “Your style will change, because it must. You are not your old self because you are not your own self.”

    As always, you’re brilliant, Erin. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

  • Erin, you rock. So often I read your posts and your words are exactly what I need to hear at that moment.
    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, and for being real.

  • I’m a follower of Tsh and recently heard you in her new step up for her podcast. And now I’m happy to be reading here! My second baby is about to turn one, but let me tell ya, some days still feel like we back at the beginning, a couple of months in. I love you list filled with humor and grace! Your last paragraph sums up just about everything I’ve felt since my motherhood journey began three and a half years ago! Thanks for your words!

  • Girl. Can we talk for a minute about your pixie? Cuz you’ve been my hair icon for YEARS now. Seriously. Do you do much styling? What’s your hair type? Thank you!!

    • Hahhaha you’re so sweet. Thank you! No styling WHATSOEVER. Easiest do ever. I’d say my hair type is medium thickness and wavy? It’s just wash and go, and sometimes I’ll put some styling wax in (I like Rahua). Do it, do it!

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