Shopping With A Reader: Cristin’s Post-Partum Capsule Work Wardrobe

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A while back, I received an email from reader Cristin, titled, simply, “Post Idea”.  She wrote:

Your post with Sarah at Target gave me a great idea for a future post for you: You go shopping with a mom of two whose work wardrobe needs some serious help postpartum. I even have a possible subject for you: Me! I could even come to you!

We emailed back and forth, set a date (she wanted to wait a bit to give her body more time to bounce back), and then met two weeks ago at King of Prussia mall.  First order of business?  Getting an idea of Cristin’s style.  We did the flip-and-rip style assessment technique (you just page through super fast, and rip out anything that appeals to you on a gut level – no thinking)….and this is what we ended up with:

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As you can see, Cristin’s style is fairly preppy, but also girly and romantic, which can be tough to pull off in an office environment.  Also working against us?  The season.  Soft pastels and floral prints abound in Spring, but in the Fall, most retailers have switched to darker hues and structural shapes.  Also, Cristin wanted to look like a serious yet young professional – she wanted outfits that were office appropriate, sure, but more interesting that a basic black suit and button-down.

Here’s what we came up with: 

Mission: Back-To-Work Outfits For Post-Partum

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At LOFT, we used the Zip Sweatshirt Jacket and the blue Sole Society Pumps to keep a basic work outfit interesting.  (We left the shirt behind, since it didn’t seem to drape well.)

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The Zip Sweatshirt Jacket was also used to make the Short Sleeve Lace Dress office appropriate.  This dress wouldn’t work for pumping at work, but we loved how the fit-and-flare helped to define a waist and disguise her small pooch.

Another way of making this dress office-friendly is to layer it over a silk blouse (below).

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We loved the intensities of the colors together. Black isn’t really Cristin’s style (nor is it great with her fair coloring and love of color)…but a bright navy works just as well. Cristin is actually wearing LOFT’s Roll Sleeve Utility blouse, but she ended up exchanging it for Ann Taylor’s similar Long Sleeve Camp Shirt (with tiny gold buttons – so girly).

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The dress-over-shirt trick can be sharpened up even further with a soft blazer.  In this case, Cristin is wearing LOFT’s Wild Prarie Print dress with the ruffle shirt and the Zip Sweatshirt Jacket.  Truthfully, we’re on the fence with this dress.  It looks good here, under a blazer, but we couldn’t decide if we liked it (which is why I didn’t include it in the collage above).   I think Cristin brought it home just to give herself another option (it’s on super sale).

But we definitely loved the subtle mixed print possibilities.

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Then we headed over to Ann Taylor (J.Crew was a total bust – SO disappointing, right?).

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This is my personal fav.  The skirt looks black in the pic, but it’s actually a bright blue tweed, and has enough color to pass Cristin’s is-it-interesting test.  We paired it with a floral silk blouse that is SO Cristin’s style.  I was thrilled.  Ann Taylor Tweed Pencil Skirt in Dark Sky with Equipment’s ‘Brett’ Floral Print Silk Blouse .

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Ann Taylor’s All Season Stretch Seamed Skirt Dress has pooch-disappearing magic.  (Although, Cristin’s pooch is smaller than I expected, but it IS there.  I promise.)   We loved it under Ann Taylor’s Tweedy Open Jacket.  Technically speaking, Cristin probably didn’t *need* two soft moto jackets, but they were both so comfortable and versatile (hello, weekend wear) that she couldn’t choose and just brought them both home.

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Can you tell we were getting tired by now?  But we played around with this combo:  pencil skirt + silk blouse + soft jacket.  All of the shirts, skirts, and jackets can be mixed interchangeably.

Oh!  One more jacket:

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This is the closest thing to a power jacket that we both liked.  The soft gray helps to soften up the look so it still looks like Cristin’s style.  It’s a better option for her than a traditional black blazer.   Cristin is wearing Ann Taylor’s Felted Wool Colorblock Jacket over the Carina Striped Blouse (you can see the gold buttons) and Tweed Pencil Skirt in Dark Sky.

A Few Notes On Skirts

Because Cristin’s style is so girly and romantic, I really was hoping to incorporate a few floaty skirts.  But these are tricky for the post-partum mama, and in the end, the pencil skirt shape was SO much more flattering.  But I thought I’d share a few more photos so you can see what we were thinking:

The Skirt That Was Too Long…

The midi skirt is a really big trend (as are matching prints), but we couldn’t make this work.  I think that you either need to be much taller (and Cristin is roughly 5′ 6″), or have a really trim middle that you are willing to show off.   (Incidentally, I love the jacket she’s wearing – if Cristin ever feels like rocking a typical black blazer, this is the one.)

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The Skirt That Was Too Short….

We both loved the Kate Spade leopard print dress (yup, the same one I’m wearing here)….but Cristin was already leery of leopard print at work, and the hemline was just too short for office comfort.  But seriously – NO FLIPPING POOCH.  That’s the power of the fit-and-flare, especially in a gorgeous fabric and print.

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The Skirt That Was Just Right…

Cristin was surprised by how much she liked this outfit – it’s not really her style.  But when things are flattering, you feel good.  In the end, Cristin left it behind, which is probably for the best.  (Her first reaction to the skirt on the hanger was “ugly”!  LOL)  But now she can look for similarly shaped pieces, in colors/prints she likes better.  

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And Finally…a Capsule Work-Wardrobe For a Post-Partum Mama

Based on what we learned working with Cristin, we can create a capsule work-wardrobe for any post-partum Mama (who resonates with Cristin’s style). And since there’s something both classic and cool about these pieces, they still feel relevant today. Here’s our update, for those post-partum Mamas shopping in 2020.

Shop the 2020 Update:

That’s it!  Cristin, I had a blast shopping with you!  Thank you for reaching out, for your fabulous shopping idea, and for being such a good sport.

xo,

S

29 COMMENTS

  1. OOH! Love this post! Like with Sarah’s posts, it’s nice to see a body that looks closer to mine. Just to see how clothes might fit or work together.
    AND – You could host a shopping day in Philly for all your local-ish readers! I’d make the drive from Reading, PA!

  2. Can I just say this is awesome, but I’m so jealous! If you ever doing a shopping day in Houston, I would VERY happily volunteer myself to go shopping with you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This was great! Cristin..you look wonderful!. You are so lucky to go shopping with Shana!!. I think I would fly in sometime just to shop with her and hear her ideas! She is magical with clothes. :)xoxox

  4. Cristin- you look fabulous!!! Love the looks you and Shana created. And love seeing others on the blog. So helpful to see the ideas, as well as clothing featured “in action”.

  5. Thank you for this. I’m a year post partum with my second and am starting to accept the permanent pooch. I love your style, but do need to see more work appropriate pieces with the caveat that work appropriate still has to accommodate lugging two kids and all their stuff in and out of daycare (no heels).

  6. Shana, THANK YOU again for being such a fab shopping partner! You are truly amazing.

    P.S. My face in that “Too Long” floral skirt says it all. (I think my exact words to you were: “I look like a high school principal.”)
    P.P.S. No offense to any high school principals who may be reading this.

  7. Cristin you look so pretty and feminine. Shana did such a great job helping to style you. I probably would’ve been too starstruck to get any shipping done with her lol!

  8. Love it, great post! I’m confused about the jackets. Which jacket is she wearing with the Ann Taylor skirt dress? Cristin looks amazing!!

  9. This is GREAT! Yay, Cristin!
    Also on my Mom Edit wish list: a post on creating outfits out of stuff you already own, in new ways. Rather than buying new stuff. Really whittling down what few items you need to buy if any. During pregnancy would be a bonus!
    I love this new approach of showing other bods and styles! It’s fantastic and gives me so many ideas. Thank you.

  10. How fun! I love the idea of these types of posts. Christin, you look beautiful! It’s hard to tell in the pics (May be the angle or something) but it’s possible that some of the jackets could benefit from a bit of sleeve-shortening at the tailors.

    • I’d second this motion; I think getting the sleeves hemmed on all the jackets will enhance the “preppy” look. It’s a nice problem to have though! – my arms are always too long for everything and my bony wrists never stay covered.

  11. Really loved this. Cristin’s is just about the complete opposite of my personal style (so, S, if you’re ever looking for a mama who’s past the pp stage but doesn’t have the same body she had before three kids…or in her 20s…or in her 30s for that matter, with a borrowed-from-the-boys aesthetic, well, I’m yo Mama!) but so awesome to see the take on something so different and still find relevance. Cristin, you look aMAZing in the navy fit and flare under that moto jacket and the heck with hemlines, you have great legs and that leopard print dress looks fab! Keep it coming!!

  12. Love love this! Cristin you look great! Do you mind sharing what size the soft moto jackets are?

    Shana you should auction off the chance to shop with you and give the proceeds to charity ๐Ÿ™‚

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