A Tiny Capsule Wardrobe For Post-Partum, Nursing Moms Going Back To Work


Mamas, I received an email from reader Vera.  She was thrilled with our advice during her maternity leave, writing, “I bought a pair of skinny jeans, some leggings, and then shirt dresses/dolman sleeve sweaters, the Dria cover, some awesome slimming nursing tanks and that pumpkin peel…and actually felt NICE immediately after having baby #4.  THAT is awesome – thank you!

But now she’s back at work.

Vera says:

My belly is out of control and I need help figuring out what to wear.  I actually lay awake at night and dread the next morning, mostly because I can’t think of what to wear.  I have some suits to wear for meetings 2-3 times a month, but the rest of the time my office is business casual.  I want to be comfortable.  I’m pumping, so I need either tops I can take off or dresses that are nursing/pumping friendly.  I am working REALLY hard on losing the baby weight, and I don’t want to spend a ton of money on clothes that fit me now.  I am probably a size 10 on the bottom (my legs are actually smaller than that but my belly…) and a 12/Large on top thanks to the porn star boobs (filled with milk) right now.  Even though I sit most of the day, I want things that are comfy and easy to move in.  So, can you help me find
*Work appropriate
*Pooch-hiding, porn-star-boob-accommodating
*Nursing/pumping friendly?


Vera, there are two ways to approach this problem:

1. Buy a ton of cheap stuff

2. Select, very carefully, a few quality items that look amazing and that you can wear over & over & over again.

My issue with buying lots of cheap stuff is that you often sacrifice fit.  And when your body is going through so many crazy changes….you’ll look and feel better in well-fitting clothes.

However.  By choosing carefully, it’s possible that you can invest in a few items that will still work once the weight comes off…AND make the most of what you already own.

But I do recommend buying pants that fit.  That alone will do wonders for your morning closet conundrum.

So.  Here are five items that every new working-and-pumping mom should consider adding to her closet (and they all work together, too!):

Screen Shot 2012-01-08 at 3.50.13 PM
Old Navy Bird Print Blouse | Michael Kors Striped Oversized Cardigan 

J. Crew Cafe Capri | Express Editor Pant | Nine West Hollyce Pump


1.  A Flowy, Printed Blouse

The easiest way to perk up a tired work uniform is to add a pretty blouse.  A flowy, silky blouse will skim over a pooch, and unbutton easily for nursing.  You can leave it un-tucked to better hide the pooch, or throw on some Spanx and tuck it in, cinching the pants with a belt.

Because this type of blouse is meant to be flowy, even as you lose weight (and milk) it will still look good.

This blouse will pair nicely with either of the pants above, and the nude pumps.  Want more ideas?

  • Try it with a pencil skirt and wide belt
  • Layer it under your work blazer or suit


2.  A V-Neck Poncho (Or Over-sized Dolman Sweater)

I’m showing a fairly expensive (yet fabulous) over-sized dolman sweater here, but just about any v-neck poncho would work.  Just find one that has clean lines and expensive-looking fabric (I’d probably forego fringe at the office).  Ponchos are insanely nursing friendly: layered over a simple v-neck tee you can either lift them up or pull the neckline down.

Vera, you mentioned that you have a Dria cover.  Why not wear it to work?  The long flowy lines of a poncho will echo the long lines of wide-leg trousers…and be anchored by slim cropped pants.  Both silhouettes are fabulous.

Ponchos (or over-sized dolman sweaters) also look great over a slim skirt.


3. Slim, Cropped Pants in a Bright Color

This is the new suit silhouette.  Wear these pants with everything, including either of the tops above.  And these pants are the best way to show off fabulous shoes at the office (so be sure you are wearing fabulous shoes).

Other ideas:

  • These pants make a button-down shirt and sweater combo nerdy-chic
  • Tuck in a basic, drapy tee and finish off with a blazer


4. Wide-Leg Trousers

Wide-leg trousers make everything look a bit more elegant, and serve to balance out any top-heaviness.  I already mentioned that pairing wide-leg trousers with ponchos is my favorite combination..but you could also try wearing these pants with a slightly over-sized, silky top tucked in and bloused for pooch-hiding (a belt and shaping camis help to hold this look together).


5.  Nude Heels

Adding height will always help distract from a larger tummy.  And nude heels will be amazing now and into summer. Wear these puppies with everything.


Best of luck, Vera!  Hope this helps!



ps.  We still haven’t heard from Kelly M, our Dansko winner!  Kelly M, you have 48 hours to email us Chicky!  Otherwise, we’ll pick a new winner on Thursday….




  1. I am in the same situation and love (LOVE!) the classic button-down shirt. I have Brooks Brother’s non-iron shirts and wear them almost every day tucked into skirt or pants. I had to buy a bigger size after baby #2 and I cannot wear the fitted ones but the classic shirts are easy to pump in, washable, professional and surprisingly flattering to enormous breasts.

  2. Vera! I feel your pain lady. I went back to work after 4 months and I continue to pump for the 9 month old babe back home every day at work… Go hit those stores right now! Find a sitter for an hour this weekend, go after bed-time to the mall or shop online -Anntaylorloft.com Sales are in full force and I found 2 amazing dolman sleeve tops this weekend. My other rule, always have 1-2 easy outfits on the ready. Like just flats, slacks and a flowy, but (not too flowy) top. That you can literally THROW on while also packing your lunch, brushing teeth, and running out the door after giving multiple kisses to baby. The dolman tops also work really well with a ‘stretchy, tighter but not too tight skirt’ and leggings. Having the top and bottom versus dresses make it way easier with pumping. Okay long enough! Good luck working girl!

  3. Wrap dresses or any dress that the top could easily be pulled down worked well for me when I returned to work and was pumping. I scoured Marshall’s and TJ Maxx for dresses in flowy, stretchy fabrics. When it was still chilly in the spring I paired with my knee-high boots and a cute sweater.
    As Jess stated – elastic waists are great. And spanx. Thank god for spanx.

  4. Ditto the fitting pants and wrap dress. Similarly, I found wrap tops to be flattering and convenient.
    I recommend camisoles under everything. Tops looked smoother, oddly fitting pant waists were hidden, and gapping nursing tops didn’t leave me with too much showing. I favored Caslon at Nordstroms with a loosened strap so that I could pull them down to nurse or pump, but there are lots of nursing and tummy-tucking options.
    I also recommend putting together a few solid outfits that look and feel good. It kept my transition wardrobe at a reasonable cost and made getting dressed on difficult, sleepy mornings easier. I may have been repetitive, but at least I looked good.

  5. I love using the Bella Band after baby is born for pants. Especially if your legs are smaller, the Bella Band can help with that little tummy that is still left. Combo with a slimming cami and you should be able to get some good use out of your own clothes.

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