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 have felt towards my postpartum appearance and body, I would shower daily and make efforts not to stay in pajamas all day. This didn’t come from a place of thinking those things were bad; rather, I simply recalled how, after my first baby, I felt as if I had lost myself. I promised myself that this time, I would do simple things to try and feel like a whole person. 

This, of course, was easier said than done. As a person who had gained a large amount of weight with all my pregnancies, I was left in the position of having no clothes that fit my frame anymore — except the maternity clothes that had 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 have 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 should 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is this: Many of us have a ton of clothes that take up space in our drawers but which we never wear because they are out of date, or we just plain don’t like them.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?

 

How I started

Now, when I started developing my “capsule,” I tried to first take a real good look at the things that I truly loved to wear (Marie Kondo would be proud) — those pieces that are in the wash week after week, while other things linger 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 cardigans. When it all came down to it, this was what I tended to wear daily and was comfortable in. So I set out to get my new absolute favorites of the following:

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

And…that’s it. And honestly, the results were incredible. Using this formula of a basic “uniform” saved me tons of time in the morning. The fact that I was going with a known set of items that I knew 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. 

Why it worked

Ultimately, this had an immediate effect on my self esteem; 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-sleep-y postpartum phase, having this one major piece of my morning routine taken out of my hands was a big deal. My mental health improved, as did my stress levels. 

How to do it

If you, too, are a postpartum mom 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 own “uniform,” which may be similar to, but will likely be different from, mine. Thinking this through can tell you what things are unlikely to end up in the discard pile when you’re trying to get dressed each 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 three new outfit combinations. Ultimately, as you try this out, you will see what works for you and what doesn’t.

My only other advice? 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 now much older, I still reap the benefits of that postpartum “capsule.” Who would have thought?

What to buy

High neck tank Athleta
Image: Athleta.

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.

Womens long cardigan
Image: Amazon.

Long flowy cardigans and sweaters are a favorite, too, 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

Alo High-Waist Moto Legging
Image: Alo.

Leggings are a classic for lounging, baby-and-me 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.

Mom jeans american eagle
Image: American Eagle.

That said, are you really a mom if you don’t have…Mom Jeans? Stereotypes aside, there’s 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.

Gold shibori scarf
Image: Amazon.

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 necklace
Image: 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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