Before I became a mother I assumed that my style would not change after having a baby. I imagined myself strutting around wearing my usual high heels with babe in arms. Clearly, I was somewhat naive. I’ve found that while I still love a chunky heeled boot or a wedge on an espadrille, stilettos are out of the question when I’m looking after my son. If I go out on my own I’ll consider a slender heel, but even then I’m more likely choose something more supportive.
I no longer feel comfortable in clothes that are too revealing. In the summer, I used to favour dresses by The Reformation, with plunging neck lines and low backs. They would of course be bolstered with strategically placed body tape (the one by Eyelure is great). But putting that amount of skin on show feels a bit wrong. Not that I have any judgement for mum’s who like flashing the flesh. I have a lot of respect for women who love to celebrate their body. I’ll occasionally wear a low neck line, but with long and preferably flared, 70s inspired sleeves. Or if I go for a plunging back, but it will be with a high neck and the aforementioned billowing sleeves.
These days I tend to buy less and choose more carefully. Clothes have to be machine washable, comfortable and a animal or floral pattern disguise sticky hand prints. I’ve been really into dresses by Ganni and Rixo, although the former makes clothes that are mostly dry-clean only. There are lots of great, easy to wear dresses on the high street, some of which I’ve listed a few below. I suggest styling with a pair of trainers or boots, but in the recent heat wave I’ve been living in sliders.
For me, doing my makeup and dressing in clothes that please me are just another part of self-care. I’ve often thought that new mums are placed in a lose-lose position; society expects us to bounce back from pregnancy in a matter of weeks with a flat stomach, perky boobs and fabulous hair. But there also lurks an assertion that paying too much attention to one’s looks denotes a shallow, vacuous personality, and time spent on personal grooming is time away from the baby. This sort of attitude irritates me because I don’t think there’s anything wrong taking pride in one’s appearance. But one way or another, mums are judged for whatever choice they happen to make and it’s tedious and toxic.
If you’re a new mum, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about taking time for yourself to wash your hair and apply makeup. It is legitimate way to make yourself feel better in amongst the sleepless nights and never ending cycle of feeding and dirty nappies. Conversely, if lipstick and dresses are not your thing, don’t feel pressured into being something you’re not.
In terms of maintaining decent mental health in motherhood, I believe it’s important to try to hold on to your own identity. I think that if you make yourself as mentally well as possible, you’re more likely to be a better parent. It’s akin to the cliched scenario on a plane of putting one’s own oxygen mask on first before helping others. Self-care is not optional, and however that manifests for you is valid and imperative.