October 23, 2012

Reader Q | This Poochy Mama Needs To Party! (but what to wear???)

Reader Question:

Hello ANMJ,
Six months ago, I googled "postpartum swimsuits" and spent a depressing half hour looking at one-pieces and tankinis that would have made my 20-year-old self run away screaming. Then I landed on your blog, and your article on tips for pooch-hiding swimwear…and your insistence that if you feel good in a bikini, you should wear a bikini, postpartum pooch be darned! Needless to say, I fell in love immediately.
 
I am closing in on 20 months postpartum, and I am ashamed to say that my ego has taken a huge hit. I was lucky enough to be relatively skinny prior to pregnancy, and I had smallish but wonderfully perky boobs, which I realize now I did not appreciate nearly enough. I always just thought that genetics were in my favor and I'd snap back to more or less myself within a few months' time–HA! I was vain, so vain. I'm currently 15-20 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, my waistline measures the same as my 6-month preggo size (thank you, diastasis recti), and my breasts are larger but quite sadly jiggly. *shudder* I know that I'm supposed to be proud of myself for carrying a child and yadda yadda, but really, I just don't want to look pregnant anymore. Is that so much to ask?
 
Apparently, yes. Sigh. But enough of my complaining, right? I'm here because I need help dressing myself and I know you will point me in the right direction. Your attention to the actual needs of real moms (i.e. nursing, toddler-chasing, pooch-owning) have been eye-opening. (Empire waisted shirts aren't my friend, you say?)
 
So, here's my situation. I've surrendered to the fact that I will never be my "old self" again. But I still want to dress like my old self, if that makes sense. My five-year college reunion is coming up soon, and I can't wait to reconnect with my friends that have spread out across the country. Most of them have only seen me in carefully selected facebook photos, though, so I need to have a plan for pooch-patrol while we spend the weekend together. None of my pals have had children yet, so I can't rely on any "hey sister, I'm right there with ya" camaraderie.
 
HELP! Do I disguise the pooch with flowy tops that show off the jiggly boobs, do I Spanx myself into submission a la Gone With The Wind and shimmy into something form-fitting, do I distract everyone by wearing a brightly patterned dress that is slit up to there? Can I get away with a sequined dress? Are "body-con" dresses my friends or foes? Is leopard print still appropriate for a mama? There will be a lot of partying and dancing, and I don't want to look dowdy or matronly, but I just don't have the confidence to display my assets (such as they are) like I used to. I'd like to say that I want to be comfortable, too, but I'll happily sacrifice a bit of comfort for a waist that appears to be an inch or two smaller.
 
I feel like I'm twenty-something going on sixty-something, and it makes me sad. Usually I just ignore it and snuggle my toddler closer, but for this one weekend I'm going to be attempting to recapture my youth…and I just don't want to be the one who gets forgiven for her lack of fashion sense because "she had a baby".
 
Keep up the noble work!
XOX

K

Answer:

K, allow me some camaraderie for a moment:  I hear you.  I didn't appreciate my pre-baby boobs either.  Or how persistent diastasis truly is.  Sigh.  Screw pregnancy pictures.  Don't you wish you had posed for sexy photos in trashy lingerie at 6-8 weeks pregnant??  It's too early to see a belly, but man, the rack!  

Sadly, our tots will never be framed for posterity.

But let's get you out of the heart-breaking 'twenty-something going on sixty-something' vibe.  You are young and hot, and want to feel both young and hot at your 5 year collage reunion.  You want all of your friends to say, "OMG K looks so fabulous!  I never knew one could look so hot as a mom!"

Totally do-able. Here's the plan:

1.  No bodycon.

It sounds like a good idea in theory – diastasis bellies can sometimes just be wrapped up, right?  Yeah…no.  Not really.  Especially not at the end of the day, when eating and gravity have taken their toll and your poor stomach muscles are at their weakest.  You know how right before bed your pooch looks the worst?  Yeah – that's when you'll be going out. Bodycon is not a good plan.

2. Spanx it Baby…to within an inch of it's life

(Note:  Your pooch's life.  Not your life.)  

Screen Shot 2012-09-20 at 11.58.02 PM

Spanx In-Power Line Super-Power Panties, $32

Get some awesome Spanx.  I like the ones that are undies with belly control, and bike shorts.  Sucks it all in sooooo gooooood.

Wear these all weekend long, both day and night.  If this were everyday real life, we'd talk about how important it is to be comfortable, and bust these out only on certain occasions, blah blah.  Your reunion is not real life.  Wear 'em all weekend.

3.  Get an AWESOME Bra. Or two.

K, make sure you have a bra that lifts and separates.  In a cute color or pattern so it can show.  That way, you don't need to worry about strapless bras* and saggin' girls…if your bra strap peeks out, who cares?  It's fabulous.  

*Let's just skip strapless dresses, too.

You need to find a store that specializes in bra fittings.  Victoria's Secret, while they do measure you, is not my favorite.  Find a specialty boutique, or maybe even Nordstroms.  If you have nothing around you, I'm currently sampling bras from True & Co, an online store that specializes in virtual bra fittings.  While I'm not sure they can replace the, uh, hands of an in-person expert, I've been pretty impressed so far.  And their price point rocks.  (More on that later!!!)

4. K, Meet Your Day Uniform:

Screen Shot 2012-10-23 at 3.04.49 PM

 Free People Keep Me Tee, $58 | Maison Scotch for Free People Camo Feather Skinny, $125

This, my dear K, is so young and hot…and is also perfect for a post-partum Mama.  Really!!  Half-tuck a loose, drapy tee into a pair of comfortable printed skinnies and then try – just try – to write to me about sixty-something vibes.  Wearing (nude) Spanx will help hide the pooch even when the wind blows the shirt tight against the belly.

Cold?  Add a cardi, a denim jacket and a scarf.  Or throw a cool winter peacoat over the whole thing.

If you are feeling frisky, add fun big earrings (Hey, it's reunion time!) and a cool pendant necklace. Definetely try a bright lip.  

 

5. Your Night Uniform

I wear a version of the above outfit out at night All. The. Time.  I just swap low heels for big-girl shoes.  And maybe add an arm party of stacked bracelets. But since you were asking about party dresses….I'm thinking you might prefer something like this:


Screen Shot 2012-10-23 at 3.39.06 PM

ASOS Swing Dress with Lace Sleeves, $53 | ASOS Metal Bow Clutch, $15 | ASOS Swing Dress in Baroque, $50 | Guess Ureekal Pump, $115

These are trapeze dresses, so the flare starts at the top of your bust, leaving your pooch will be well-hidden.  Add sexy, well-chosen accessories, and voila!  Personally, I'm dying for these red glitter and leopard print pumps (words I never thought I'd use in the same sentence).  And seriously K – what's this nonsense about "no leopard once you become a mom"?  PISH. PISH.  Bring it, Baby.  Especially for a young, hot Mama like yourself! 

One final note about trapeze dresses:  The key is to keep the dresses fairly short, so be prepared to hem.  Otherwise, they do start to veer into dowdy territory.  The good news, however, is that trapeze dresses look just as cute with thick, opaque tights as they do with bare legs.  

Lastly…if you have time (and are up for a little splurge)…go get a blowout.  It's my new favorite thing for big-time party-parties like this.  Gorgeous hair is an instant confidence booster.  

K, I hope this helps!!!  Have a fabulous time, hot mama!  And I'd love to see pics of whatever you decide!

xoxo

S

ps.  If the above isn't quite your style, check out our Pinterest board, Post-Partum Friendly. I've been pinning a bunch of other top and dress options there for you.

 

 

 

 

 

40 Comments
  • RookieMom Whitney
    October 23, 2012

    I heart you, Shana. But the letter writer herself is one clever girl. I hope she’ll send you pictures.

  • Courtney
    October 23, 2012

    I could’ve written this post, except my little guy is almost 3! I am loving the Levi’s 512 high waisted slimming jeans. The high waist feels great because there’s nothing spilling out over the waist band. It’s like spanx in a jean. And if your tops are a regular length, no one knows they’re high waisted. I bought three pairs on zappos and love them all. By zipping up the pooch, I have a lot more options with tops. I’m obsessed, can you tell? Good luck!

  • Julie M.
    October 23, 2012

    I love everything about this post. The advice was great and real. Also, I agree with RookieMom Whitney — the letter writer herself has a great voice (and soooo relatable).

  • Megan B
    October 23, 2012

    I have no idea where I’d wear that ASOS dress, but I still think I need it in my closet! It’s adorable! I hope K sends in pictures. Your advice was terrific.

  • Jen
    October 23, 2012

    Wonderful advice S, so helpful!! Hope she has a great weekend!

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Isn't she great???  I do too.
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Courtney – this is a FABULOUS tip!  I love the "zip up the pooch" technique!  Am going to check out those Levi's!  Have you found them in a physical store, or just online?
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Thanks!!!  And K, are you reading this?  We all adore you!  (And can relate)
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Thanks Megan!  I was pretty thrilled with them.  And they are both under $60….yeah, I'm tempted too.  Holiday parties??
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Thanks Jen!
    Sent from my iPhone

  • SarahB
    October 24, 2012

    I will just add – besides that Spanx are your friend :-), don’t ever underestimate the power of black tights and black kick-a* boots. I have an awesome pair I bought a long time ago, and a quick polish (or vaseline) and I feel like I could take on the world.
    My fav outfit that I plan to pick up in the near future – a black t-neck dress, asymetrical black fitted leather jackets, and my boots. Think Rene Russo in Thomas Crown Affair. Granted, I will never have a rack like hers (power bra lifters from Target help) but dag, the woman was 45 when she filmed that movie and she has some serious mojo.
    An LBD that is just a little edgy or paired with an edgy leather jacket (that would look fab with the minis for daytime) is just enough to say wow, I’m hot mamma.
    Love your blog, S!

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Thanks Sarah!  LOVE your outfit pick!  Wow!
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Jen
    October 24, 2012

    I too have two pairs (light and dark) of those same jeans! They are awesome!!! Can’t rave about them enough! They have high waisted skinnies too and they are fab!

  • Jen
    October 24, 2012

    http://us.levi.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12944983&
    Here’s the link to those Levi’s. They are out of a bunch of sizes right now but I’m sure they’ll restock!

  • JAL
    October 24, 2012

    Shana, you are awesome!
    Something I’ve noticed about the half-tuck (may have been obvious to everyone else, but just in case): it has to be well off to the side. Half-tuck in the center emphasizes the pooch rather than hiding it.
    Hope you have a great time, K!

  • Darcy
    October 24, 2012

    Fantastic post – thank you. I’m almost three months post partum, have lost lots of weight by breastfeeding but really haven’t found the time to get into shape at all – and I’ve been starting to despair of ever buying nice clothes again. When I get the chance I go to the mall, try things on, and just despair further! I’ve been going around in ill-fitting clothes and feeling pretty miserable.
    But seeing that pretty black dress on ASOS has really cheered me up! I’m going to have to order it in four different sizes though, because I cannot for the life of me get my head around what size I’m supposed to be…
    Relatedly, I have a question. If you’re nowhere near a Nordstroms, where’s a good place to get fitted for a bra? I’m not from the U.S. and used to do all my bra shopping back home in Europe where I knew what I was doing (!) but now that I’ve had a baby I may not get back home to Europe for a long time. And I really can’t give up the time to travel to a Nordstroms just to buy a bra…I tried our local Macy’s but they only had one style of nursing bra in the whole store. And I’m wary of virtual fitting because I haven’t been having much luck buying clothes that fit on the internet lately. I tried getting my husband to measure me, but the results didn’t seem to match up at all with what came in the post!
    Anyway, any suggestions for reliable bra fitters would be wonderful. And thanks again for the post partum advice!

  • Megan B
    October 24, 2012

    Actually, my sister is getting married in Napa in May and her rehearsal dinner is going to be in a cask room so I think the dress will be perfect for the cooler temperature. Yea!

  • Poochy Mama K
    October 24, 2012

    Shana and ANMJ family,
    Wow…I’m just sitting here with tears in my eyes thanks to all the advice and support! I definitely have some shopping to do, and I will absolutely send in some photos!
    Thank you thank you thank you a billion times!
    K

  • Jenny
    October 24, 2012

    Darcy,
    I had great luck with birthandbaby.com for nursing bras. I live in a small town with no regular bras in my size, let alone nursing bras. You can order lots of different sizes and styles and then send back the ones that don’t work. Once you have the bras, you can call them up and do a phone fitting, where you describe the fit and any issues you have and they can recommend changes. They were really polite and helpful and I ended up with some great bras.

  • Closetcoach
    October 24, 2012

    First, a hearty amen to wearing leopard print as a hot mama. It’s never not appropriate.
    As for pooch-friendly dresses, I find fit ‘n’ flare styles (think ’50s shirtwaist dresses) universally flattering. They’re fitted in the narrowest part of your body, then fall away at the hips. Plus, the swingy skirt! Fun!

  • Darcy
    October 24, 2012

    Oh, this looks brilliant, Jenny! I’ll definitely give it a try. Thanks so much for the hint.

  • Beth
    October 24, 2012

    I LOVE your outfit idea- and I think you need to send in a pick as well as K.
    Great post as always!!!

  • Courtney
    October 24, 2012

    I’m sure they have them at Levi’s stores, but I just figured out my size and ordered them based on the rave reviews online. I also have the J. Crew high waisted skinny jeans, but the Levi’s have stretch and are way comfier and more forgiving (and cheaper). I hate the plumber’s crack/muffin top combo I get with low rise varieties, so these have been a godsend.

  • Amanda
    October 24, 2012

    I used an online store called Breakout Bras. I followed their measurement instructions THEN emailed customer service (as they have actual fitters) for advice. I have a very small rib cage yet huge rack and the brands they recommended as well as size worked out great. I would check them out.

  • Amanda
    October 24, 2012

    I want to make one comment on Spanx – maybe I am in the minority here, but I have a huge problem with these rolling up or pinching me in weird in the middle of my thighs. If I could make one suggestion it would be to pick up one of the pairs that goes to mid calf. Also be sure to get extra control in the tummy or it wont hold you in enough.

  • Darcy
    October 24, 2012

    Oh no! The black ASOS dress sold out before I had a chance to put down baby long enough to order it! Presumably there was a run on it because of your post :-(
    Oh well, I’ll move faster next time…

  • Beth
    October 24, 2012

    Darcy- I had the same thing happen to me! I actually had it in my cart and by the time I went to pay *poof* it was gone!

  • June
    October 24, 2012

    I strongly agree with you on getting a good bra fit but I also want to add that there are a TON of amazing bikini tops out there that come in bra sizes and really can make your postpartum boobs look amazing (after 2 years of breastfeeding I can very much relate, I have large breasts and lots of loose skin with almost no fullness!).
    My favorite brand is Ewa Michalak and they came out with a lot of beautifual swimwear that give me the most beautiful shape. Also check out Freya, Fantasie and Curvy Kate. Make sure to actually buy in your correct bra size! If you have large breasts taking your band size as your underbust size is the best starting place and then your bust size is the difference between bust and underbust size.

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Wow, June!  What an inspired tip!  I would not have thought of that….thanks!!!

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Oh no!!  Man…I'm going to stop pinning stuff until AFTER I write about them.  Sorry gang – it was in stock when I wrote it.  :(  Watch pinterest…there are others I recall….need to re-find them.

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    Amanda – Oh no!!  The last time I talked to Spanx-type folks about fit, I was encouraged to go up a size if that started to happen.  Have you tried multiple sizes?  I know that I have THREE different sizes in my drawer (one for post-partum, one slightly smaller, and then a tiny one I wish I hadn't bought, LOL).
    BTW – were you joking about mid calf?  I giggled.  :)

  • Shana
    October 24, 2012

    I'm dying for a skater-style dress (which is similar)…but they don't seem to have the structure of the 50's style dresses, and just leave me looking poochy.  Have you had any luck?

  • Meg
    October 25, 2012

    Zara is currently lousy with awesome printed pants. I’ve heard they can go concept to store in 2 weeks, so clearly they learned from those awesome camo pants that wouldn’t stay on the shelves. Those didn’t fit me right, but these are super sexy and comfortable.
    http://www.zara.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product/us/en/zara-us-W2012/269212/992011/CAMOUFLAGE%2BJACQUARD%2BTROUSERS

  • Shana
    October 25, 2012

    Oh. My. Goodness.  I think I like them better than my camos! Drat!! I, uh, mean thank you.
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Ashley W
    October 25, 2012

    Those are stupendous!
    Now I might have to choose between three pairs of pants! Yikes! Haha.

  • Amanda
    October 25, 2012

    No totally not joking – the mid calf ones are the original style. Like this http://www.spanx.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4058273&cp=2992553.4058787&parentPage=family
    I have been happiest with this style as they just don’t ever move around.

  • Mizflagers
    October 25, 2012

    Shana, bless you. I’m in the same situation as the writer – almost one year PP and still a bunch of swishy lumps. Nothing’s worked so far to get things back to normal, so I’m starting to resign myself to the idea of covering up. I love this website, keep it up!

  • Shana
    October 25, 2012

    Thanks Mizflagers!!  The post-partum thing IS tough.  Sigh.  I'm not gonna lie, I think about that when we talk about potentially having a third, LOL!

  • Photographers in Florida
    October 31, 2012

    Great advice. Your blog is wonderful. not too out there like some fashion blogs. This is great!

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