June 18, 2010

How to Pack for a Summer Post-Partum Road Trip (Or For Anyone Who Wants to Be Really, Really Comfortable While Traveling)

Reader Question:

Hello! I just had a baby 3 weeks ago. We are driving to Arizona June 30th to visit family. It will be a long road trip, with baby and my two other boys ages 6 & 8. My question is …..what do I wear?! I am severely postpartum and about a size 16/18 right now. My belly is still pretty flabby ( from my 8 year old? Haha) I want to be comfortable, but I refuse to  wear yoga pants or maternity gear! After following your site for awhile and agreeing with your style…I am hoping you can lend some advice!! I am usually very good at packing and putting together outfits, but this soon after baby has me mystified ;)
 
Shannon

Answer:

Wow, girl!!  A road trip, several weeks postpartum, with two boys and a baby!  Impressive.  Let's see if we can't figure out some insanely comfortable, yet stylish outfits for you to pack.

1. The Essentials (Including Loungewear and Swim)

General Postpartum Style Strategies

First of all, you might want to check out our article on Strategies to Avoid Looking Pregnant Once You've Given Birth.  You might find some of the tips helpful for staying cute and comfortable. 

Good Nursing Bras

Shannon, if you are nursing, and can only spend money on one thing, this should be it.  Especially in the summer, a nursing bra that both fits and looks cute peeking out from under a tank is nothing short of a godsend.  My article from last summer, Best Nursing Bras For Summer, contains a list of my favorite options.  Also, if you are more comfortable in a sports-bra, check out our pick for the Best Sports Bra for Nursing Moms.

Swimwear

You must bring swimwear.  You may not want to face the swim suit thing just yet, but bring it anyway.  It will be hot, you have two older kids who will want nothing more than to play with you, and you just had a baby.  Embrace the pooch by getting over it, then control it in this control-top one piece from Land's End, and this cute little summer dress (available in extended sizes) from Forever 21 as a cover-up.

Loungewear

Shannon, I know you said that you were opposed to yoga pants, but on a road-trip (or any trip, really) they are a must.  There is, however, a huge difference between a pair of Target yoga pants and a pair of really cute, stylish workout pants.  Stylish workout pants can be worn in the car, running errands, and doing a bit of sightseeing in a casual little town.  You obviously aren't going to reach for these when going out to dinner, but they do have their place.

Pair the stylish sweatpant/workout pant with a nursing-friendly drapey knit cardi, and your favorite nursing cami (or checkout M's fav here) and you have an easy, comfortable look perfect for traveling.

Sizing is so tough these days that I'm showing options from both a typical size range, as well as options from an extended size range.  Both are equally cute.  (NOTE:  White is very new-mom friendly.  Hides the spit-up better).

 

I know I've written up the skinny Madewell sweatpants here already (can you tell I'm coveting them?)…but I also really like Athleta's Chaturanga Pant.  This pant comes in a wide range of sizes and colors, and is crazy flattering.

I own the Splendid Jersey Drapey Cardigan (in white!) and love it, but the sleeves fit very tight.  I was thrilled to find a Forever 21 version at a fraction of the price and in extended sizes.

 

2.  Linen Pants + Soft, Belly Hiding Top

The key, so soon after baby, is comfort.  Wanting to look cute is an admirable goal, but if you end up with cute-but-ever-so-slightly-uncomfortable clothing, you will be miserable.  Considering the heat, considering the long drive, considering the new baby…I think linen pants would be a great choice.  Linen pants can be a tough fit, so look for a pair that is comfortable, with good drape.

Pair the linen pant with a swingy, breast-feeding friendly top and cute flat sandals for a comfy yet cool look.  I've found that most cotton jersey tops with a low neckline have enough stretch to nurse in.  Find ones with an empire waist to hide your post-baby pooch.

Once again, the outfit on the left is from a traditional size range, the one on the right is from an extended size range.

NOTE:  The Land's End linen pants (below) have a fairly horrifying waistband.  BUT WAIT!  WAIT!  They also have fantastic drape.  And the slightly higher, elasticized waist might be really, really comfy postpartum.  And no one will see the waist.  Promise.

 

3.  Maxi Dresses

You will never, ever, go wrong with a maxi dress.  Paired with flip-flops, they are cool and casual, paired with metallic sandals and jewelry, they are perfect for a night out.  Maxi dresses are also very forgiving on the poochy-belly front, and generally give decent access to the 'girls' for nursing moms. 

These are my favorite pieces for curling up in the car.  You have full range of movement, nothing pinches or pulls, and when you get out of the car…voila!!  Glamour girl.

If you are not worried about nursing, but do want to make sure you have good support for the 'girls', check out our article from last summer, Maxi Dresses For Moms with Curves.  The recommended dresses are no longer available, but can be used as examples of what to look for.

However, if you are nursing, check out our tips on making maxi dresses nursing friendly in Maxi Dresses for Nursing Moms.  Or take a peek at the maxi dresses we featured in our more recent article Dresses For Nursing – Summer 2010 (don't miss the reader recos in the comments).

And because I love a good maxi dress, here are three additional options. The first two are in the standard style range (although the J.Crew one goes up to size 16), the last is in the extended size range.

 

Hope this helps, Shannon!  Have a fabulous trip, and thank you for writing in!

xo,

S

 

5 Comments
  • Amy
    June 19, 2010

    Fabulous advice! You could literally pack only this stuff, plus perhaps a pair of jeans and an extra tank or tee, and be ready for a week. As I’m going to the beach next week, that might be just what I do…

  • Shannon
    June 19, 2010

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! You guys are absolutely awesome for posting this. I was pleasantly pleased with your advice, and have actually picked up some almost identical pieces in the last couple weeks since I originally posted. Thanks again for your time and thoughtful outfit ideas. One more reason to absolutely LOVE your website! Your avid and grateful follower :)
    -Shannon

  • Molly Dynan
    June 21, 2010

    Drooling over the C&C tie die dress! Killer pics!

  • Shana
    June 26, 2010

    Thanks for the feedback, girls!! Shannon, this was a fun post to write – we’re planning to take off on a cross-country road trip ourselves…and at almost 5 mo. preggo, I also want to pack only cute-n-comfy items!

  • sinful bikini
    June 26, 2011

    ******I LOVE yellow, and I am so excited at all the yellow stuff in stores this year.
    …good******

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