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A couple years ago, while pregnant with M, I read on a parenting forum about being trapped in a wardrobe rut, always wearing the dreaded "Mom Uniform", khakis and a button-down shirt. At the time, I chuckled and made a mental note to mix up my body coverings once baby was born. After M was born, however, I found myself in the Totally Let Myself Go Uniform - I wore the same PJs all day (and night) several days in a row, even though they stunk of spit up. I just didn't see the point in putting on clean clothes when I wasn't clean. Between dealing with normal newborn care, infant GERD (spitting up on steroids) and milk supply issues, I was lucky to shower twice a week.  Sleep and nourishment took precedence over hygiene.

After five weeks, when I had a moment to think about something other than puke, diapers and pumping, and could entertain the idea of venturing out of the house for other than Baby Wellness appointments, the Mom Uniform came to mind. In my sleep-deprived stupor, I laughed hysterically. Even if I could hoist my pre-baby khakis over my bulging thighs and zip them up, I'd be risking a wardrobe malfunction. I'd already split the ass of my fat jeans keen to wear my old clothes as soon as possible. And as for button-down shirts? Couldn't button them cos my boobs had exploded. Thanks to my milk-enhanced jugs, the rest of my shirts didn't fit either; they were all way too short, exposing my newly-acquired muffin top. I looked like a disillusioned fatty desperately trying to channel Britney Spears. I stood in my closet and cried. I was overwhelmed by all the clothes that didn't fit, the unmercifully unflattering ones that sort of did but made me look fat, and the maternity clothes I loathed and didn't want to wear anymore. I changed four times, finally settling on the least repulsive maternity outfit and made for the mall, armed with plastic, to reinvent the Mom Uniform and take back some self respect.

I propose the following Mom Uniform criteria:

  • Washable: Forget about that Dry Clean Only silk tank top. It's just gonna get snagged on razor-sharp baby nails or stained with carrot baby food.
  • Right size and fit: To avoid wardrobe malfunctions and muffin top accentuation, avoid items that are too tight. Humility and an honest friend can help you while shopping. When I modeled an ill-fitting pair of jeans I thought was ok because they were better than what I had in my closet, my friend kindly told me, "Those jeans give you a hungry butt." It was true, it wasn't pretty. I thought I could still wear 27" waist jeans, but couldn't. Accept that your body has changed and be ready to try on different sizes. You will be surprised at how much better you look and feel in clothes that fit right. 
  • Iron-Free: Who the hell would wear clothes that require ironing when they have a baby let alone small children? Not only is ironing extremely time consuming, it's downright dangerous. My kids ignore me while I sort and fold laundry, but the minute I get out the ironing board, M is all "Let me help! I wanna watch!" and Baby's like, "I bet if I keep climbing, I can get up there and see what's making clouds!". 
  • Easy boob access if you plan to breastfeed: Consider boob access carefully unless you like playing peekaboo with strangers. All the stylish nursing covers in the world won't help you if Baby decides she wants out from under the cover. This said, long shirts you lift up are a safer bet than shirts with buttons; they're like a second cover you can drop the instant Baby gets antsy. A-line tops/tanks tops, t-shirts, peasant shirts and tunics are great. For the latter, just make sure you can either lift the shirt easily (no tight elastic under the breasts) or the buttons go at least halfway down the shirt.
My favorite Mom uniforms are tunic and leggings, ruched t-shirt with pretty details (ruched t-shirt allows the t-shirt to drape nicely and not hug the muffin top) & low-rise jeans, and t-shirt and yoga pants (get the ones with a higher waist if you're saggy around the middle).
If money for an In-Between (until you lose the baby weight) Wardrobe a.k.a. Mom Uniforms is an issue, I recommend one pair of inexpensive jeans that fits well (splurge on designer jeans when you've reached your weight loss goal), one pair of yoga pants, two pairs of leggings (one black and one pair of jeggings), and some nursing-friendly shirts. All except the jeans will still fit if you go down a few sizes, so get as nice ones as you can afford. Keep in mind that the Mom Uniform is not as strict as a Catholic School uniform - you can accessorize and make it your own. If you have beautiful boots or shoes, a cool hoody, funky hat and unique jewelery, no one will notice that you only have four pairs of pants.

In closing, don't settle on the Totally Let Myself Go Uniform and invest in a Mom Uniform you love. You're worth it!

What do you wear to feel beautiful?

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