The Wardrobe Hack that Saved My Postpartum Sanity

After giving birth to my second baby I found myself, once again, completely mired in the trenches of new parenthood. There was an 11-year difference between my first two children, so I had forgotten what an emotionally turbulent time the postpartum phase was. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the woman who stared back at me: A woman who had gained 60lbs in pregnancy, weight that didn’t shed once my son was born. A woman stressed out about the lack of progress when it came to breastfeeding, a woman who was suffering from lack of sleep and the associated effects on her mental health. 

What I did remember from the early days of my first son was that feeling of depersonalization that can come when you are in the newborn phase. I made a promise to myself that despite the negative feelings I may feel towards my appearance and body that I would shower daily, try to apply makeup, and make efforts to not stay in pajamas all day. This didn’t come from a place of thinking those things were bad; I just recalled after my first baby, feeling as if I had lost myself, and I promised that this time I would do those simple aesthetic things to try and feel like a whole person this time. 

I found that this was easier said than done when it came to dressing. As a person who gained a large amount of weight with all my pregnancies, I was left in the position of having nothing that fit my frame except the maternity clothes that draped over my expansive pregnant body. I was struggling with body image, but the issue was not my weight — it was my mindset. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to buy some clothes in order to feel good, even if they were in a size I never thought I would see grace my closet. However, I was sleep-deprived, on a limited budget, and I simply didn’t have an eye for fashion. Enter: The capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe is a simple way to bring a little minimalism into your style. There are a variety of different ways that you can establish a capsule wardrobe, and I would know- I logged multiple hours on Pinterest reading up about this while desperately trying to get my child to latch. The basic premise is this- many of us have a ton of clothes that take up space in our drawers that we never wear because they are out of date, or we just don’t like them. A capsule wardrobe is the establishment of a few basic pieces that are, for the most part, “evergreen”, and can be dressed up with seasonal pieces or accessories. No more buying a bunch of clothes to keep up with trends, no more trying to figure out how to get pieces to work together, no more spending ages getting dressed by trying on and discarding everything you own. Sounds great right?

 

Now when I adopted this I tried to take a real good look at the things that I loved to wear. Those pieces that are in the wash week after week, while other things lingered in the closet just taking up space. In my case, I noticed I had adopted a sort of “mom uniform” that consisted of leggings, T-shirts or tank tops, and flowy-style cardigans. When it all came down to it, this was what I tended to wear daily and was comfortable in. I set off to get the following items:

  • Leggings 
  • Jeans
  • Solid-colored tank tops and T-shirts
  • Cardigans and sweaters
  • Accent jewelry/scarves

And…that’s it. The results I had were incredible. Using this formula of a basic “uniform”, saved me tons of time in the morning when it came to getting dressed. The fact that I was going with a known set of items that I felt comfortable in, led to me not wasting time trying to make certain items “work”. I was able to mix and match pieces, and get the same outfit to look different with the addition of things like scarves, jewelry, different colored shoes, etc. 

Ultimately, this had an immediate effect on my self esteem, as I felt comfortable, which helped me turn my attention to other things than just picking my body apart. Given the fact that I was in the weepy, lack of sleepy, postpartum phase, having this one major piece of my morning routine taken out of my hands was a big deal. I felt like my mental health was improved, as was my self esteem and stress levels. 

If you are wanting to try out a capsule wardrobe, first of all make a list of all the things you feel comfortable in- try and figure out your “uniform”. This can tell you what things are unlikely to end up in the discard pile when you’re trying to get dressed in the morning. Next, figure out some accessories that you can use to try and “dress up” or differentiate your outfits. When you are out shopping, try and figure out if a new item you would buy would go with what you already own to make at least 3 new outfit combinations. Ultimately, as you try this out you will see what works for you and what doesn’t. My only advice would be that flashy or eye catching pieces are probably better off as accessories, so that you don’t have to worry about going “out of style”, or spending money on things you’ll dislike later.

Although it seems so simple, a capsule wardrobe really saved my sanity postpartum- so much so that I still utilize this technique. Getting dressed is easy, and I tend to waste less money on clothing that looks great in the store, but makes me feel less confident at home. Although my kids are older, I still reap the benefits of dressing in this manner to this day. 

Solid-colored tank tops and T-shirts are amazing in the postpartum phase, because they are stretchy, comfortable, and go with pretty much anything.

Breezy high-neck tank, $27.99 at Athleta.

Long flowy cardigans and sweaters are a favorite during the postpartum phase as they’re super comfortable and easily cover up any feeding-related mishaps (hello breast leaks!).

Simplee Women’s Casual Open Front Long Sleeve Knit Cardigan Sweater Coat with Pockets, $26.99-$29.99 on Amazon

Leggings are a classic for lounging, yoga, errands, and more — and definitely an integral part of any postpartum “mom-iform.” Plus they hold up OK against baby spit-up.

Moto leggings, $110.00 at Alo.

That said, are you really a mom if you don’t have…Mom Jeans?? Stereotypes aside, there’s really no replacement for the best. jeans. ever. With both dream jeans and dream leggings at your beck and call, you’re set.

Mom jeans, $37.46 at American Eagle.

Accent pieces like scarves are a great way to dress up an otherwise ordinary outfit, and provide bonus coverage for breastfeeding mamas.

Gold shibori scarf, $34.99 at Amazon.

Statement jewelry can easily transform the same outfit in a multitude of different ways. 

Bocar chunky statement seed beads necklace, $14.99 at Amazon.

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