Postpartum fashion: Flattering pieces for mom after baby's born
An outfit from Mode complements the postpartum figure. A loose cardigan in a lightweight fabric conceals extra mid-section weight without adding the bulk of a heavy sweater. A stylish scarf can also help hide a new mother's larger bust and not-yet-firm stomach area. A few key pieces can help a woman transition from maternity clothing back to pre-pregnancy fashions.
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FARGO - As a mom of four children ages 18, 15, 8 and 5, and expecting again, Kristi Ochocki feels the pain of new moms shopping for clothes after having their baby. "I've been through that over and over again," she says.
Out of delivery, they're now ready to get out of their maternity clothes, but find their bodies just aren't the same.
"It's kind of a scary thing when you first try them on," says Ochocki, assistant manager of Hot Mama in the West Acres Regional Shopping Center. "You're used to how your old body was and you feel like you should fit into these things again and you just can't."
It can be a depressing experience, she says.
The stomach is a major area of complaint, as well as the hips. The chest is often larger. Some women can lose their "butt lift," which makes it harder for their jeans to stay in place, says Leah Hagen, account executive for MODE, formerly Mama Mia, in Fargo.
"A lot of new moms want to always gravitate to sweatpants and sweatshirts, but getting out of the house and putting on complete, fun, flattering outfits is needed to help get back into routine," Hagen says.
At Hot Mama, associates will continue to pull pieces that they think will look good on the new mom, Ochocki says. The store also tries to accommodate these baby-toting mamas with extra-large dressing rooms to accommodate strollers, a restroom with baby changing station, and toys and media to distract older children.
"One of our core values is trying to understand the needs of moms and their body types and their lifestyles," Ochocki says.
Hagen and Ochocki say it's important to assess the woman's body type. But some looks are universally flattering and fashionable.
A dolman top features angled sleeves that are looser under the arms. They are "very good at hiding those areas that you're concerned about right after having a baby, Ochocki says.
Lighter knits will avoid adding bulk and layering can help camouflage. Hagen suggests wearing a long, snug camisole under a looser-fitting top,
For nursing moms, Ochocki recommends from personal experience a cardigan or zip-up sweater for easier access.
Ajit Berg, a former personal shopper for Barney's New York in Los Angeles and now a fashion columnist for The Forum, says wrap tops or any sort of lower neckline, like a scoop or V-neck, are more flattering.
High necklines can make women look bigger on top, and the crisscross nature of wrap tops make them great for nursing, Berg says. A wrap or A-line dress will also be flattering, she adds.
Stay away from your husband's closet - "It just tends to make you look bigger," Berg says - but do choose longer, looser tops, such as tunics or structured long jackets. Pair them with dark leggings.
"Anything skinny on bottom is going to keep you looking skinnier," Berg says.
Hagen says jeans are probably MODE's number one complaint. She recommends a pair with some stretch and a higher waist.
Berg says women can use a Bella Band, commonly used during pregnancy, after giving birth to make jeans fit while between sizes. She also suggests utilizing shape wear, like Spanx, or the Belly Bandit, a post-partum compression wrap Berg says is popular in Los Angeles.
Ochocki and Hagen both say new moms shouldn't buy a lot of new pieces, as their bodies are still changing.
They each suggest one pair of new jeans and some basic layering pieces, like lighter T-shirts, tanks and cardigans that can interchange with pieces already in the mom's closet, as well as some new accessories, which can transform the look of the clothes.
This includes some statement jewelry, as well as scarves - a trendy accessory that can be tied and draped to cover the belly.
Berg also suggests a high heel shoes or boots. "That's really going to add the height and balance you out as far as the weight," she says.
"The best accessory," Berg says, "is your new baby, and showing that off."