Of all the things to think about during and after pregnancy, wondering if I’d still feel like myself in a Jo March style Laura Ashley prairie dress was surprisingly quite low on my list. The white boot to white dressing gown swap was seamless and almost overnight I went from 90% big collars to 90% nylon and lycra mix.
And that’s no bad thing; crikey- in those early days- in any days where you need it and it makes you feel good- comfort is king. I know I was judging myself on almost everything when it came to parenting and mastering the knack of getting something, anything- right; that the last thing I needed, or wanted to think about was what I was wearing and how I looked on the outside.
But style is something that’s always been incredibly important to me. I know it’s not vacuous or silly to care about clothes, and feeling familiar in yourself during one of the most transitional periods of your life isn’t something to be sniffed at. From being pregnant, ‘dressing’ my bump (which when said makes it feel a little bit like decorating an Easter egg in a competition), finding things to breastfeed in and then the sartorial no-man’s-land that is postpartum- the changes are astronomical, and knowing what to put on and actually how to dress is a bit of a minefield.
In the last two years my style has done a full loop on itself. And even though I seem to have just about come back around to where I started- I feel like the sense of self I’ve developed through having a bit of a style crisis has subsequently been worth every time I’ve looked in the mirror and thought ‘Okay liv, holey leggings and a striped t shirt it is!’ again.
So I thought I’d share a few of the things that helped me find me again (which, christ, sounds quite deep when it’s mainly about blouses- but you know what I mean). But for a woman who’s stuck somewhere in-between dressing like George Harrison and Mrs. Maisel- it’s taken a little while, but I think- think- we might be getting there…
Strip things back…
For a long time I was looking at a wardrobe full of clothes which seemed to match my many various style identities, but none of them seemed to ‘fit’. Getting dressed was overwhelming, and I’d found myself resorting to the same combinations again and again, not just because they feel safe but because I’ve not been sure of what else I look okay in. So I pulled it back. What do I feel nice in? What could I pull out right now and wear? ‘GIRL WHAT IS GIVING MAIN CHARACTER ENERGY HERE?’ What would I pull out and put straight back in ‘for another time?’- because it’s those things that maybe require a bit of thinking time. After sorting things through- and most importantly moving away from things that don’t fit, I did a full blown Marie Kondo and tried to opt for what sparked joy.
What to do with the ‘I’ll save it for when it fits’ things…
I found it quite stressful having a wardrobe of things that I wasn’t sure fitted or not since giving birth. From pregnancy, birth, postpartum and the time afterwards- my body changed almost month on month- so trying to accommodate that when getting dressed felt quite tricky and overwhelming at times. I was adamant I wouldn’t beat myself up if things didn’t fit; and rather than instantly getting rid of things- put them in storage in case they might in a few months (knowing that if they still didn’t, they could be sold or donated and replaced by other things that did instead).
The ‘bounce back’ narrative is the most unnecessary toxic pressure after birth, and making sure my wardrobe was looking at me full of things that a) fit, and b) I felt nice in was key to finding my feet again with style. I didn’t need to see things staring at me that I couldn’t get myself into, so I took them out of the equation and worked out where the gaps were.
Falling in love with Instagram Collections…
If I’m ever in doubt with what to wear- even if I’ve planned out a ~top LEWK~ the night before and still am not sure, I take it to Instagram collections. I save EVERYTHING. I am an outfit inspiration hoarder and it’s absolutely come through when I’ve forgotten how to put anything together. I’ve made a couple of boards filled with simple outfit ideas (with items I know I have) which is always a comfort when I’m exhausted, a bit frazzled and just want to get out of the house (which, y’know- takes long enough as it is).
Notice the ~feeling~…
This won’t always be the same, and that’s ok. If you once felt good in mini dresses and big collars and now want something a little more subdued- that’s fine. You don’t have to hold yourself to past standards or versions of yourself, and your style changing through different moments in life is ok. After I gave birth so much of my wardrobe didn’t feel ‘right’ on me. I either felt a bit frumpy, too over the top- or like I was dressing a little bit too much like the person supposed to be in the pram (that’s what frills and pinafores in excess might do). Put that all to one side and focus on who you are in this moment (well. That got deep quickly).
And if you can, wait it out!
I’m really glad I held on to a lot of the things I wasn’t sure about during pregnancy and just after giving birth. There were things in the first few months I was so close to throwing, because I didn’t feel like me- but stepping back for a bit made all the difference. Some things I’ve let go of, but there are things I’ve come back around to just as I’ve started finding myself again. If you’re able to put things in the loft or in storage and revisit them, that’s a really good thing to do. Patience sometimes really is key.
Anyway- TLDR? This is basically me saying, you will feel like you again. It might take a while to get to, and maybe it won’t at all. But trust the process, wear the leggings; wear the dressing gown- wear the three-piece suit if you like! Heck! Baby sensory needs more three piece suits! But whatever happens you’ll be ‘You 2.0’- and that’s the best thing of all.