Formal Dressing With An Inconvenient Twist…

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved clothes. She loved everything about them. The feel of a beautiful fabric against her skin. The way a stunning print or embellishment can draw the eye. The way the swoosh of a twirly skirt can lift the soul. Her very favourite thing about clothes though was the way they made her feel. Clothes had the ability to change the day. To pick her up when she was down. To give her the confidence to tackle the day. To fill her heart with joy on an otherwise dull morning. She loved clothes so very much, that they became a part of who she was. Then one day she found out she was pregnant and worried, would everything have to change? How on earth would she be able to feel that confidence in her outfits if her whole body was going to change? And yet, as it transpires, pregnancy was fine. Her body blossomed, her confidence grew, and maternity dressing was surprisingly fun! There were, however, more taxing times to come. Because the girl had completely neglected to realise something. She had spent so much time worrying about how to accommodate her burgeoning bump that she forgot there would be new challenges once the baby arrived. She forgot about the dreaded breastfeeding…

Yep, breastfeeding was a challenge I wasn’t really prepared for. In every sense, in fact, but we’re here today to talk about clothes so more on that another day! I was so excited about getting my old wardrobe back that it simply didn’t dawn on me that half of my clothes just wouldn’t be appropriate for a breastfeeding mum. All I’d been focusing on was the idea of having a waist again and fitting into my jeggings, the whole while somehow oblivious to the fact that from the moment that baby arrived I was going to need to ensure my boobs were accessible at all times! Well, that isn’t strictly true – I did actually purchase some nursing bras and vests just before I gave birth so the idea must have been knocking around in there somewhere. But there were so many other things that just hadn’t crossed my mind. The fact that they would need to be comfortable. That I’d need to think about what I was wearing underneath if it was something that needed lifting up. That I wouldn’t want it to be too bulky and get in the way of baby feeding. That my underwear in the early days would be HUGE, and the strappy tops and dresses I’d normally be wearing in Summer just wouldn’t cut it. That, at first, baby was going to dribble milk all over everything! It was a minefield I just wasn’t ready for and an awful lot of my wardrobe didn’t – and still doesn’t – meet requirements! Although this had a far bigger than expected impact on my self esteem, I found my feet in the end and feel a little more like I’ve found my ‘style’, but those challenges just keep on coming, and the toughest one so far has definitely been formal wear!

I’m a big believer in making my wardrobe work for me and have been really focusing on being more responsible when it comes to frivolous fashion purchases, so I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money buying new things I’d only need temporarily so had really tried to make use of the things I already owned, or at least if I was buying new things, made sure they were items I’d get a lot of wear from. That makes formal wear very tricky though. The reality is, you sadly don’t get the opportunity to wear sequins and glitz most of the year and as a result I placed a party clothes ban on my self a couple of years ago as I had enough gorgeous pieces in my wardrobe to last a lifetime. They were, as it transpired though, mostly useless when it came to breastfeeding, so I had to bite the bullet and make a couple of purchases, particularly when the festive season hit, but with mixing them in with my existing pieces in the end I managed to put together a range of outfits that both fit the occasion and Bailey’s needs! Here’s how I got on…

Formal 1

This outfit, worn to a wedding, was probably one of the easiest as it happened only a few weeks after Bailey was born and while I had a saggy little pouch of a mum tum, it wasn’t the now undeniable pot belly it is now, so more of my old wardrobe was available to me back then. Normally when I think about weddings dresses are the first thing that springs to mind, but with none of my party frocks appropriate and having not had a moment to even think about shopping, I went with a skirt in the end – something I thankfully have no shortage of! This one is enough of a showstopper that my top didn’t need to be particularly interesting, so this simple black cami, which I could easily slip off the shoulder due to its loose fit, was perfect. Full disclosure though, I didn’t have the confidence with feeding then that I do now, so also took a cover with me to spare my blushes!

Formal 2

A casual get together with friends over Christmas is definitely a ‘jeans and a nice top’ kind of affair, but what to do when none of your breastfeeding friendly tops are particularly festive?! I spotted this lovely wrap over top from New Look quite a while before the occasion and had to spend a few fraught weeks hunting it down, but no regrets! It’s the perfect way to jazz up a casual outfit without looking too dressy (though obviously glittery red heels were getting worn regardless – it was Christmas after all!)

Formal 3

Christmas Day is always a dressy affair for me. Only me, I must add. Everyone else in our house was happy hanging out in their PJs, but I like to make the most of a special day by wearing a special outfit – so sue me. I already had this stunning deep red satin skirt that I’d bought from Primark earlier in the year in mind, but what to wear on top? I had a few plain tops that would probably have done if I hadn’t spotted this gold spotted wrap top by Florence & Fred on eBay and the rest is history…. I love that it is neutral so will go with most colours, but has a little sparkle in there too!

Formal 4

I felt a little guilty splurging on this green velvet Oasis dress in the sales just before Christmas, but needn’t have – it ended up being my Boxing Day outfit and also a wedding outfit thanks to it’s ability to be dressed up and down! I wore it to dinner at my parents with tights and boots, then a bit dressier a few days later to see a friend get married. I’m completely in love with this dress, which made me feel great after weeks of feeling unhappy with my post baby body, and love that it isn’t too festive to be worn for other occasions. It even got the thumbs up from Bailey who seemed to love the soft velvet against his skin, as he spent a lot of time caressing it rather than grabbing fistfuls of my flesh while feeding, so that was a bonus!

Formal 5

Finally, New Years Eve rolled around and I remembered I did actually have the perfect top in my wardrobe! Long time readers might recognise this as in fact the exact same outfit I wore 2 years ago on the very same night! Well, erm, not quite exactly the same as this time I was in my maternity jeans. Hey, it was Christmas, ok??



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