Shopping for a wedding guest dress is something most of us have probably been through in life. I say “been through” (dramatically) because it can be a struggle and a half. So, naturally, here at TME we have some opinions on the topic.
But what about all of our new (potentially nursing) mamas out there? Luckily, we have a ton of ideas for you, right down to what may work best for your postpartum body.
Our goal? To make postpartum dress shopping an easy (dare I say, enjoyable) experience for any new moms out there. Because, as a team, most of us have been there, and we’re happy to share what has worked and what hasn’t. Because getting all dressed up and attending a wedding so soon after having a baby is nothing if not trial and error. But you’ve got this, Mama.
So if you’re new here, welcome! We have some easy tips and tricks for you to rock your next wedding or event.
How To Find The Best Wedding Guest Dress For Postpartum & Nursing Moms
All of the fun started when we took a closer look at this post of Shana’s from 2012 (throwback!). Over 10 years later, we still stand by her specific tips for dressing a softer, postpartum stomach — but the dresses themselves need a 2023 refresh. The result? More than 30 dresses that are comfortable, supportive, nursing-friendly AND wildly gorgeous.
So, let’s start with those five tips for finding a wedding-guest dress as a postpartum mom:
- Start With Some Inspiration (we love BURU for that).
- Find Stretchy, Ruched Dresses.
- Distract With Patterns.
- Knots, Pleats, Twists & Drape.
- Trapeze, Empire or Other Swingy Shapes.
1. Wedding Guest Dresses For New Moms: Get Inspired At BURU
First stop: BURU (formerly ShopBURU). This is an online boutique designed with new and nursing moms in mind. Scroll down on the site to check out founder Morgan Hutchinson’s notes on how to nurse in each piece. This midi dress, for example, says the “button front allows easy access to nurse or pump.” Her selection of styles are often classic in silhouette, with some added drama thanks to all the funky prints. The perfect place to get some fun inspiration.
dress (left) | skirt | dress (right)
2. Wedding Guest Dresses For New Moms: Find Stretchy, Ruched Dresses
Ruching is a foolproof method for camouflaging the tummy that I’ve actually used in my own non-postpartum wardrobe. Works some magic every time. Norma Kamali is one of our faves brands for this (Shana and her friends swear by it). S’ personal fave? The Diana dress. Sexy, classic, and always comes in a ton of colors.
Shana notes that although many of these dresses benefit from some shapewear, it’s definitely not necessary (especially with the ruched dresses).
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01 | Norma Kamali Diana Deep-V Shirred Slip Midi Dress: There’s something so nonchalantly cool about this dress. Maybe the model adding sunglasses helps? But it’s still plenty fancy-enough for an event like a wedding. Besides the drape being absolutely gorgeous on this one, that green color is still all the rage.
02 | Norma Kamali Diana Ruched Slip Dress: If full-length dresses aren’t your thing, this Norma Kamali dress is super-similar to the first one above, but in a shorter length and pretty peach color.
03 | Norma Kamali Diana Ruched One-Shoulder Midi Dress: Shana’s personal fave that she’ll forever stand by, but in a fun pink.
04 | MISA Xenia Dress: If I ruled the Roman Empire? This dress. Or if I had a spring wedding. Both work. The knot and draping is at the perfect spot for a softer postpartum stomach.
05 | Sau Lee Christy Ruched Floral Minidress: The sweetheart neckline. The color and print. The frilled hemline. This is a perfect dress in my book.
06 | Speechless Ruched Knit Dress: This dress screams moody and romantic. My kind of vibe for a wedding. MOODY. Jokes. (And those adjustable straps always come in handy.)
07 | Steve Madden Ayana Ruched One-Shoulder Dress: Similar to the Norma Kamali one-shoulder dresses, but this one is half the price and just as gorgeous. The real difference is the fabric — this one has elastane instead of spandex.
08 | Norma Kamali Walter Off-The-Shoulder Ruched Midi Dress: Because I’m a bit larger up top, if I had to choose between the one-shoulder Norma Kamali and this one? I’d choose this one. I found that this sweetheart-esque neckline is more flattering for larger chests than the draping of one-shoulder dresses. But if you’re looking for less boobage and more coverage, go for the one-shoulder dresses instead.
3. Wedding Guest Dresses For New Moms: Distract With Patterns
This is where we can get a little crazy and fun with it. We’re big proponents of gorgeous dresses that just make you feel all the happiness. So, wear that wild print to a wedding! It’ll be a conversation starter for sure. Besides the print acting as a distraction, you’ll see a lot of these dresses also have pleats, swing, drape, etc. to help with a softer middle, BUT the patterns do a great job just on their own.
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01 | Hutch Strapless Pleated Maxi Dress: The dress I really just want to twirl around in. Then get on a flight to a beach wedding. SO gorgeous. (Could totally work for a non-beach wedding too.)
02 | La Ligne Vivian Gathered Floral-Print Maxi Dress: I love the shape of this dress — from the sleeves, to the neckline, to the bell-shaped skirt. A timeless dress for sure.
03 | Farm Rio Banana Cover-Up Wrap Dress: Wear the daring print. Be the fun one! Farm Rio is notorious for amazing prints.
04 | STAUD Wells Toile Cotton Poplin Minidress: The details in this print are stunning. I could see myself wearing this dress all summer long…even after the wedding.
05 | Reformation Marguerite Silk Dress Es: Reformation dresses will forever have a special place in my heart. They’re just so dang chic, but offer a range of styles. And this pretty floral one comes in both plus and straight sizing. I have my eye on that green color too.
06 | Farm Rio Full Garden One-Shoulder Maxi Dress: Now THIS is my kinda dress. Airy, zero tightness…just comfort. And hello, that print!
07 | Farm Rio Pineapple Garden Caftan Maxi Dress: Another gorgeous print by Farm Rio that offers alll the flowiness but with sleeves. Double the points for the sleeves.
08 | Maeve One-Shoulder Dress: The way the print falls off the hemline…SO good. Anthro does it again!
4. Wedding Guest Dresses For New Moms: Try Knots, Pleats, Twists & Drape
There are so many good dresses out right now that have cool details like knots, pleats and draping. It was almost impossible to dwindle it down to our top picks. It seems like we had the most luck at Anthropologie. Not only are its dresses unique and absolutely stunning (I say as my jaw is dropped), it also has so many flattering options. Just give the site a gander, you won’t be disappointed.
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01 | Cult Gaia Luna Gown: This dress is giving Cool Girl. Just popped on this dress and showed up to a wedding, nbd.
02 | Andrea Iyamah Tibara Caftan Dress: If you’re more into the full-coverage look, try a Caftan-style dress. It’ll keep you cool and covered.
03 | Atsu Bow Dress: A statement dress but not TOO statement-y if that isn’t your thing.
04 | Banana Republic Selene Embroidered Midi Dress: I love a layered, frilly dress. Classic but still interesting.
05 | Abercrombie & Fitch Satin Pleated Cutout Maxi Dress: On my personal search for a wedding guest dress, I actually got one from Abercrombie. I had my eye on this pleated beauty ever since Abercrombie dropped its Best Dressed Collection.
06 | Callahan Sami Dress: This dress drapes like gorgeous marble statues. That’s all I can think when I look at it.
07 | Sue Sartor Flounce Shorty Dress: For a more casual (but still appropriate) look. The wrap is perfect for nursing.
08 | Reformation Winslow Dress Es: If you’re looking for a non-dowdy floral print, check out Reformation. This one comes in both plus and straight sizing too.
5. Wedding Guest Dresses For New Moms: Wear Trapeze, Empire Or Other Swingy Shapes
If you’re anything like me, then you probably avoid tight, restricting clothing at all costs. This is where the trapeze, empire waist and swingy dresses come in handy. They’re not just flattering; they’re so much comfier than other styles. And there are a ton of options out there from casual styles to fancy black-tie gowns.
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01 | STAUD Jackson Midi Dress: We love our STAUD dresses. Timeless beauties. This midi dress has a smocked waist that’s flattering on a softer middle.
02 | Farm Rio Heliconia One-Shoulder Palm Maxi Dress: The same swingy dress as the one in the patterned section but with a pretty red color and palm print.
03 | Sachin & Babi Stella Strapless Hammered Back-Slit Satin Gown: I love the simplicity of this silky dress. I’d wear it to ALL the events and places.
04 | Banana Republic Rhyah Poplin Maxi Dress: For a casual setting, try out this comfy dress. It’s still fancy enough with the A-line shape and larger sleeves. It even has pockets!
05 | Bloni Square-Neck Taffeta Bubble Mini Dress: Like a futuristic version of a ’60s mod dress. I’m here for it.
06 | Selkie Cottage Puff Dress: I’m happy to be seeing more babydoll-style dresses out. With some luxe heels and accessories, it’s such a good look.
07 | Banana Republic Isa Cotton Dress: A classic little black dress but in a breezy cotton.
The Best Strapless Bra For Nursing Mamas (+ Do I Need SPANX?)
A lot of the dresses we chose can be worn with a regular bra, but postpartum, Shana often found herself needing a strapless one (and it actually became one of her favorite styles to nurse in). Specifically, S looked for thick, molded foam cups that kept their shape. This makes nursing so much easier because the cups easily flipped up and down. We found that the best strapless bras for nursing mamas is Wacoal’s Red Carpet Strapless Bra and ThirdLove’s strapless bra.
When it came to postpartum shapewear, S was definitely a fan (and so am I, nonpostpartum). It doesn’t just help with shaping and smoothing a postpartum tummy, the compression can feel good on your stomach after giving birth (like it did for S after her C-section). Shana swore by Yummie for light support and SPANX’s shorts otherwise.
Enjoy the wedding, mama!
Oh, hey, Pinners…