6 Wardrobe Essentials You Need after Having a Baby

Julie Inzanti is a New York City-based freelance writer and blogger covering lifestyle, fashion, shopping, beauty, and motherhood. She has a sense of humor and common sense.

Zara Maternity

Zara Maternity

Staying stylish all the time is a challenge—especially with our constantly changing bodies. Most of us gain a little winter weight, then drop a few sizes during bikini season. And we all have a small section of our closet reserved for that magical time when we lose 5-10 lbs. Now, what if you’ve just had a baby? Imagine saying goodbye to 80% of your closet.

Post-pregnancy bodies take a bit longer to bounce back. You just spent nine months creating a life—things are going to be…um…different. Anyone who is fitting comfortably into their skinny jeans a month after giving birth is a freak of nature. Ignore them.

And stop googling images of celebrity moms. The media praises actresses and models for looking fabulous post-baby, but what they fail to acknowledge is that being in shape and looking stylish is their JOB! And they’re all rich—dropping thousands of dollars on designer duds to wear for a few post-preggo months is nothing.

If everyone had obscene amounts of money to spend on clothes and a wellness pit-crew on hand to cook health meals, force us to work out seven days a week, give us massages, perform daily spa treatments and tend to crying baby so we can get beauty sleep—we would ALL look amazing.

Zara Skinny Maternity Jeans $69

Zara Skinny Maternity Jeans $69

New moms probably can’t imagine looking and feeling like themselves again—let alone runway ready—but there are a few basics that every new mom should have in her arsenal for a stylish maternity leave.

Most of the items are inexpensive, so you won’t feel bad shedding them once your body is back (they’ll probably be covered in milk and spit-up anyway.) The pricier pieces can easily work into your existing wardrobe and are worth keeping.

Maternity Jeans Outfit

Maternity Jeans
OK, they don’t count as a post-pregnancy item because technically you will buy them pre-baby (but you will definitely use them post.) I was lucky enough to wear most of my regular tops and dresses throughout my pregnancy, but the only major piece I would highly recommend while pregnant that will take you into post-pregnancy is nice (read: pricey) maternity pants, specifically jeans. The look above can work for pregnancy and post-pregnancy.

Clockwise from left: J.Crew Maternity Toothpick Jean ($145), H&M Long Tank Top ($6), J.Crew Infinity Scarf ($55) and K. Jacques Sandals for J.Crew ($280)

I was desperate for something other than black leggings so I purchased a pair of Gap maternity jeans. I wanted to save money (since I thought I’d only be wearing them for a few months) and buy cheaper jeans. BIG mistake. I ended up throwing them out after a month because the fit got worse with wear.

Moms always say (and you won’t believe them) that you will wear your maternity jeans AFTER you have the baby. I laughed at the thought of maternity jeans after pregnancy. Well, at four months post-pregnancy my pre-pregnancy jeans still give me a muffin top and I want to cry at the sight of black leggings! I wish I had purchased GOOD maternity jeans.

Style advice: Invest in an amazing pair of maternity jeans with the elastic side panel not the full belly. J.Crew has several great maternity styles around $145 that look like regular jeans. And THIS JUST IN…Zara sells maternity now!

POST PREGNANCY STYLE GUIDE
Here are the six must-haves for maternity leave (clockwise from top left: Leggings (Lululemon Ebb to Street in Black Grape $92), Button down tunic (Uniqlo $20), Deep v-neck t-shirt (American Apparel $24), Stripe tank (H&M $6), Print scarf (Zara $30), Draped cardigan (Zara $60)

1. Good Leggings
I have always been a fan of cheapie cheap leggings from fast fashion retailers (shhh) because I just didn’t see the point in spending a lot of money on leggings or tights. Then I splurged on a pair of Lululemon leggings and I haven’t looked back. I still want to smack myself for paying nearly $100 for black leggings—and I probably should. But my tush looks amazing.
The fabric on the basic styles is super opaque (no peek-a-boo underwear) and doesn’t have that strange shine when stretched…you know what I’m talking about—that cheap-looking elastic hue you see on jersey garments when they are too tight. Plus, the high-waisted versions completely obscure the mid-section muffin top! As any new mom can tell you, the belly situation is not cute for a while. Wearing fold-over or high-waisted yoga pants is a must.

My favorite pair of Lululemon pants are the Ebb to Street. The texture and ribbed detail at ankle and waist makes them look like a cool street pant. And they are super comfortable. I wore these throughout my pregnancy. The Ebb to Street come in a very versatile heather black that is a nice departure from basic black. My new favorite color is the black grape. You might be thinking Purple? Yes. Purple. But not a WOWZA purple, more of a chic, understated purple hue. They are my new basic.

2. Button-down Shirts
If you’re breastfeeding, you will inevitably find yourself in a public situation with a hungry baby and an awkward shirt on. If your belly still hasn’t slimmed down yet you might be a little uncomfortable pulling your shirt up to nurse—even with a nursing cover or swaddle. Button-down shirts are a life saver. You don’t have to stretch out the top or bottom of your shirt wrestling out a nipple to sooth your crying babe. Go a size or two larger so you have a bit of extra fabric to cover up. Tunics can work, too, but just make sure the opening is deep enough.

Uniqlo Button DownsUniqlo sells good quality (and inexpensive) button-downs in just about every color on the spectrum. Stock up.

3. Deep V-Neck T-shirts
Sometimes you just want to wear a soft t-shirt when your breasts are leaky and you get the sweats. American Apparel sells a deep v-neck t-shirt deep enough that you can easily move it to the side for nursing. Sometimes lifting the shirt isn’t an option, especially if you are toting around your offspring in a baby-carrier. Feeding your baby while you’re wearing her is much easier if you have quick boob access.

deep v-neckI highly recommend pairing the American Apparel v-neck with a sleep-bra that you can also just pull to the side, rather than unhook. Ingrid & Isabel makes a great seamless cross-over version ($28)

Stripe Tanks4. Striped Tank Top
Any long or boxy tank will work with leggings, but a striped tank brings a bit of style to your look. Plus the stripes will disguise your middle and camouflage milk leakage and spit-up stains.

Yipes stripes, clockwise from top left: Long tank (H&M $6), Cotton strappy tank (Zara $10), Linen tank (H&M $13), Tank top (Zara $8), Jersey tank (H&M $4), Long cami (H&M $6)

Draped Cardigan
5. Draped Cardigan
Nothing creates the illusion of toned abs and slim hips like extra yards of fabric flowing around your body. The drapey cardigan is also a built-in nursing cover. You might have several of these in your closet already, but if not, we’ve found a few we love.

From left: Draped cardigan (Zara $26), Long Cardigan (H&M $25) and Wrap jacket (Zara $80)

6. Oversized Scarf in Bold Print
Instead of draping yourself in a baby swaddle with little safari animals or pink butterflies, why not use a beautiful oversized scarf as a nursing cover? Then you can wrap it around your neck and throw on a pair huge sunnies for the perfect disguise (because who has time to get eyebrows waxed or put on makeup?)

scarvesFor scarves, Zara is a go-to because they are inexpensive and have great designs (the above scarves are all Zara). Every year they have fabulous fall plaids that sell out before I can get my hands on one—and their spring prints are even better.

You might already own several of these must-have pieces, but stocking up on a few extra is a good idea since you will be living in these for a few months and don’t have time to do laundry every other day.

Check out our Post-Pregnancy Style board on Pinterest for more inspiration!

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