Anyone will tell you that
new motherhood is a joyful experience — colored, of course, with bewilderment, anxiousness, and abject exhaustion. Feeding and clothing a newborn is no simple task — and you’re supposed to get yourself dressed, too? At a time when you’re getting by on so little sleep that you may qualify for insanity, and your body is changing its shape and size practically by the hour, assembling any kind of outfit becomes a Herculean task.
Now, we firmly believe that a new mom should wear whatever makes her feel the most comfortable, and we are in no way advocating that you should dress in some totally reinvented type of way after giving birth. However, here on the Shopping team, we’re students of
fashion, and style is deeply connected to our sense of well-being. That’s just us. We have a feeling that if you’re reading this article, you’re in the same boat, and you might be looking for some insight on how to put yourself together during a time when it feels like you have very little energy, and very little control.
In order to figure this out, we went straight to the source: actual moms. We polled some R29ers — including our executive creative director,
Piera Gelardi — and some of the most stylish fashion-industry mothers we know, grilling them on what they reached for in those first few chaotic months of motherhood. (Veterans of motherhood also filled us in on some of the pieces they still rely on years later.) Their suggestions ran the gamut from technical maternity gear (a mega-supportive, double-duty nursing/pumping bra) to the unexpectedly kid-friendly (an edgy, oversized button-down offering easy boob access) to the simply genius (a handbag insert that turns any tote into a super-compartmentalized diaper bag). The one thing all these picks have in common? They made these style-inclined new moms feel pretty good about themselves — and that’s a tiny luxury everyone deserves.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Piera Gelardi, executive creative director & co-founder, Refinery29 Mom to Viva (7 months)
“This is my absolute favorite travel bag for baby AND for me (I use it for both family and work trips). The design is super thoughtful with plenty of pouches and pockets to organize all the many snacks, and toys, and baby things you’re scrambling to access. It’s versatile (i.e., the outside phone pouch doubles as a bottle pouch), lightweight, easy to clean, and comes in great colors. Always a plus for me is that
Dagne Dover is a women-founded brand! All the points.” Dagne Dover Landon Carryall, $155, available at Dagne Dover
Kelsy Parkhouse, designer, Carleen Mom to Birdie, 2 months
Storq nursing tank has been essential in my first few months of being a mom. The soft fabric, zig-zag stitching detail, and on-trend color options like lilac and rust are subtle upgrades that make this basic feel special.
I love my
linen sling from Wildbird, and how it helps us get out of the house hands and stroller-free. I have a black and white gingham print that always feels like part of my outfit (in a good way!) but is sadly no longer available. If I was choosing another it would be this cream colorway.”
Storq Nursing Tank, $52, available at Storq WildBird WildBird Linen Baby Sling, $90, available at Anthropologie
Deena Campbell Sengstacke, content creator Mom to Stephen (2) and Campbell (1 month)
“I’m a working mom, so I have my laptop with me 80% of the time. It’s nice to have a diaper bag, like this
TWEVELittle backpack, that includes a slot for laptops. It’s also stylish enough that I feel attractive even if I have spit up on me.”
I love heels like most girly girls, but when I’m rushing to take my kid to school, I need to throw on something quick and easy. These
Adidas sneakers go with everything I own, so there’s no difficulty deciding what to wear in the mornings. Or evenings. Or anytime I need to leave my house.”
TWELVELittle On The Go Backpack, $165, available at Macy’s Adidas Grand Court Sneakers, $64.99, available at Kohl’s
Caitlin Engler, VP of Sales and Brand Partnerships, Refinery29 Mom to Cole (2)
“Some of my staples were an
Aerie harem jumpsuit that was loose fitting and had big enough armholes so that I could easily nurse my son. My favorite nursing bra is the below one from Amazon — you can nurse AND pump in it without having to change the bra. You could even do a light workout in it since its so supportive!”
[Ed. note: Caitlin’s go-to jumpsuit is tragically sold out, so we included a few loose-armholed approximations.]
Rumina Essential Relaxed Pump&Nurse Nursing Bra, $28, available at Amazon
DIDK Harem Leg Cami Jumpsuit, $19.99, available at Amazon FP Beach Everson Jumpsuit, $78, available at Free People
Suzanne Rae, designer Mom to Ella (6), and Margot (7 months)
“I think that as a mom, one big style change I have experienced is trying to look effortlessly put-together but in an elegant way. We make these
faux fur-lined sandals that I have now in every color. They’re a super comfortable, easy to put on, and makes me feel like a classy, sophisticated woman who can still keep it together while juggling work and two children. I wear them with everything from jeans and a t-shirt to one of our funky suits.
The other thing I’ve used through both babies is my 20-year-old
Longchamp bag that I’ve had since college. As a believer of buying better and buying less, the bag has served wonderfully as a diaper bag. It’s easy care; it’s had everything spill on it and it’s still going strong.”
Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote, $145, available at Nordstrom Suzanne Rae Fur Lined Heeled Sandal, $498, available at Need Supply
Jasmine Snow, fashion editor and founder of The Black Bib Mom to Isla (2.5) and Teddy (11 weeks)
“Lately I’ve been into a cute maxi skirt in a fun print paired with sneakers and a tee. It’s inevitable that I’ll get barfed on so I change my tee about 3 times a day. It makes me at least feel more elevated and like I put effort into styling myself and not sloppy. I’m also really feeling
this dress from H&M because I can belt it with a heel and it’s an instant going out look if I manage to get out for drinks with my husband or friends.
My new go to diaper bag is actually not a diaper bag. Instead, I’ve just been keeping things in place with this
organizer insert that turns any oversized tote into a diaper bag!”
H&M Long Dress with Flounce, $99, available at H&M
State of Escape Escape Perforated Neoprene Tote Bag, $320, available at Neiman Marcus Totesavvy 11-Pocket Diaper Bag Organizer, $72, available at Amazon
Gabriela Langone, stylist Mom to Wynston, 13 weeks
“Being a new mom is a whole new world for sure. Just getting dressed is tricky, let alone being stylish, but I am trying to still be myself. That old saying, look good feel good is the mindset I stand behind.
Even though I didn’t wear many maternity clothes when I was pregnant (I went more for that oversized Yeezy look), I needed to give into some things once I gave birth. First thing I needed was nursing bras. I tried a few different styles, but I love the ones from
Cosabella — they’re black, lace and still simply sexy.
The next thing I needed, and something I highly recommend after birth, is compression clothing. I got a few pieces from
Mother Tucker. The first few weeks while adjusting at home, I wore these leggings and tanks a lot. They made me feel a bit more put together physically and mentally especially while having visitors over (everyone wants to visit you once you have a baby, probably the one time I actually didn’t want visitors). These pieces kept all the loose ends tucked tightly and they actually help your body to go back to its normal shape more promptly.
Now being ready to go out and about and back to work I love being in my
Valiánte dresses, they are easy-fitting and flowing, with easy access for breast-feeding. I can wear my cute canvas Chanel sneakers with them for a bit more elevated fit. Then I throw my leopard Artipoppe baby carrier on, and me and my boy can bounce around town looking chic and feeling comfortable.”
Cosabella Never Say Never Mommie Nursing Soft Bra, $79, available at Cosabella
Belly Bandit Mother Tucker® Compression Leggings, $79.95, available at Nordstrom
Belly Bandit Mother Tucker™ Scoop Neck Compression Tank, $79.95, available at Nordstrom
Valiánte Leslie Maxi Dress, $133.2, available at Anthropologie
Chanel Sneakers, $825, available at Chanel Artipoppe Zeitgeist Baby Leopard Classic, $330, available at Artipoppe
Maharlika Mance, VP of Production, Refinery29 Mom to Hanalei (20 months)
“I swear by the
Birdling backpack for a diaper bag that’s not really a diaper bag — and it’s gender neutral! I also lived in No. 6 clog boots in the winter because they are so comfortable. You just slip them on, and they give you enough height so you don’t feel like a total mess. As far as clothing, I now just wear black or white and more easy-to-wash fabrics.”
Birdling Backpacker, $65, available at Birdling No. 6 Shearling-Lined Ankle Boots, $390, available at Barneys New York
Simone Gittens, creative director/momager of @callmesparkle Mom to SJ (7), Sparkle (5), and Star (21 months)
“The ‘mom uniform’ — or maybe that’s what I like to call my new style after having kids — is about being practical, yet stylish and chic. It generally consists of an oversized tee or button down, which makes it easy to breastfeed on the go, and some leggings or stretchy bottoms. I know some are over leggings, but
BP leggings were my best friend in those first few weeks/months.
I like to top my look off with a red lip. I am a huge fan of
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink in dancer. It is true to its word and doesn’t budge one bit. I remember when I first came home from the hospital, I don’t even think I showered those first few days — or if I did, it was late at night. But when I put on a red lipstick to help me conquer my day, it made me feel put together instantly.”
BP. High Rise Leggings, $19, available at Nordstrom Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink City Edition Liquid Lipstick, $9.49, available at Ulta Beauty
Coral Chung, CEO and co-founder of Senreve Mom to Aria (6)
“As a busy, working mom, I could never find the perfect bag that carried it all and still looked beautiful, so my co-founder, Wendy Wen and I launched
Senreve. Our Maestra bag is the ultimate chic, versatile essential for a mom; it can be worn in a backpack (so you can have your hands free) as well as shoulder bag, crossbody and top handle. It’s made with genuine Italian leather exterior (which is both water and scratch resistant) and has a stain-resistant micro-suede interior, which is necessary when toting a messy (but adorable!) baby or toddler. And if you’re ready to go back to work, it’s a classic piece that helps you manage the chaos, stay organized and feel elegant, with 8 interior pockets including a padded laptop compartment. In addition, my essential clothing item as a new mom was a wrap dress — it’s easy to get in an out of for nursing and/or pumping.”
Senreve Maestra Bag, $895, available at Senreve Love and Confuse MARY Linen Wrap Dress, $82, available at Etsy
Krista Richardson, Senior Recruiter, Refinery29 Mom to Kristin (4) and Joshua (6 months)
“I went to
Gap for high waisted ‘mom jeans’ with stretch. Uniqlo has great basics and ‘dress up’ shirts that are flattering and hide the post-baby pudge. I once showed up to a pre-school event and four moms had on the same outfit (including me). Black pants, stripe shirt, denim jacket and black slip on sneakers, like this Dr. Scholl’s pair.”
Gap High Rise True Skinny Jeans in 360 Stretch, $63.99, available at Gap
Uniqlo Extra Fine Cotton V-Neck Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.9, available at Uniqlo Dr. Scholl’s Madison Sneaker, $49.99, available at Amazon
Kelly Urban, Co-Founder & Designer, AMO Mom to Logan (6)
“After I had my son, I was desperate to get back into my jeans again, but the thought of trying to squeeze into them didn’t sound all that great. I didn’t want to have to buy jeans just for the ‘in between’ months after birth, so I opted for pants with an elastic waist in cuts that would be equally flattering during months immediately after giving birth and beyond. Our
Paperbag Pant in lightweight soft denim can be worn just like a jean, but the elastic tie waist has all the comfort of a pair of pajama pants. I love this style on all body types, post-baby or not.”
Another thing I found myself extremely picky about after becoming a mom was shoes. Gone are the days of wearing high heels — it’s just not practical when you’re chasing little ones. I love the low sandals and boots from
Marais. The colors are great. It feels good to support other women-owned brands, especially ones that are made here in Los Angeles.”
AMO Denim Paperbag Pant Adored, $285, available at AMO Denim Marais Suede Effect Slides, $106, available at Yoox
Ang Rogers, senior client partnerships director, Refinery29 Mom to Grayson (10 months)
“I lived in leggings for the first 5 months after giving birth to my daughter — specifically
Blanqi and Spanx Faux Leather leggings. I also used a leather Tumi Hartford backpack — in lieu of a diaper bags — that I loved.”
Blanqi Everyday Highwaist Postpartum Leggings, $64, available at Amazon
SPANX Faux Leather Leggings, $98, available at SPANX TUMI Voyageur Hartford Leather Backpack, $575, available at TUMI
Rana Baytske, creative strategist and consultant, founder of Mothergood Mom to Myles (4)
“Since I’ve become Myles’ mother, I thought that my style would change exponentially, but to my surprise, it has actually elevated. Don’t get me wrong, the journey did not begin that way. Knowing that time is so restrictive, I like to wear pieces that are functional, but make it fashion, as they say.
When Myles was younger, I found a backpack to be the most useful. I was able to keep my hands free and it was easier on my shoulders. Now, having a four year old, I don’t need to carry as much. That said, I’m really into totes. My favorite right now is
Telfar’s shopping bag — it can hold an extra change of clothes, toys, and snacks.
My shoe game has been proper thanks to the genius that is
Nicole Saldana. Although, I’m really into sneakers; I appreciate her styles because I feel like I’ve elevated my look, but effortlessly. She sells a great assortment of platforms, creepers, and loafers that are EVERYTHING! The real win is that I can still run around the city and my toddler in them.”
Nicole Saldaña Jay 3.0 Cowprint Loafer, $455, available at Opening Ceremony Telfar Large Shopping Bag, $240, available at Opening Ceremony
Nasrin Jean-Baptiste, founder of Petit Kouraj Mom to Daye (5)
“I always loved a cool button-down shirt for breast feeding — something loose and floaty. I would leave the top two buttons and undo the a couple below, to allow my baby access to nurse while still staying covered up. I love these
oversized cupro ones from KkCo. Don’t bother with ugly diaper bags. Just get a cool backpack. They are already made to be super functional and it’s easier to find one that fits your personal style which I think is important to utilize pieces that isn’t so mom centric. I wear my Kara backpack everyday. And, if you like to wear jewelry, stylish clip-on earrings are a smart move for when baby starts getting grabby! SVNR offers lots of options.”
KKCo Morel Shirt in Grape, $175, available at KKCo
Kara Black Backpack, $525, available at Kara SVNR Marquesas Single Earring, $250, available at Maison de Mode
Michelle Rizzardo, owner, One of A Few Mom to Hunter (9), Rilo (6), and Lira (9 months)
“I love being a mom and I honestly feel that clothing in our industry is super easy to find. Lots of different styles and shapes accommodate mom needs and I have never bought mom-specific items. So essentially my pre-, during and post-pregnancy clothing all come from non-maternity focused designers. There are always good options.
Pansy bras and underwear. Although I had to change sizes once my milk filled in, these naturally dyed and organic cotton intimates made me feel good, and are easy to breast feed in.
I wore a lot of jumpsuits and dress when pregnant.
Ilana Kohn jumpsuits were a go to, and I also bought Caron Callahan’s Crawford jumpsuit. I looked for ones with buttons or zippers and altered them to be a bit smaller once I had my youngest. The zippers and buttons offer easy access to breast feed post baby. Mr. Larkin dresses with buttons up the front and lots of room also helped me feel a bit dressier while still being able to feed.
Postpartum, I loved getting back into my
Jesse Kamm pants. The cut is so high and honestly I feel like they hold me tight and give my stomach the support it needs. I literally had these pants and my Rachel Comey Fond sweatshirt on repeat, as they were easy to feed in. I have always used the Clare Vivier simple tote for my diaper bags. They fit everything and easily fit under airplanes for travel. It literally is the perfect size for my baby wrap, diapers toys, clothing changes, food, my laptop and so much more. I also use a Solly wrap, so it barely takes up any room in my bag.”
Pansy Pansy Bra, $48, available at One of a Few
Ilana Kohn Tia Denim Coverall, $368, available at Need Supply
Caron Callahan Crawford Jumpsuit, $400, available at eBay
Mr. Larkin Nadine Dress, $298, available at Mr. Larkin
Rachel Comey Fond Sweatshirt, $207, available at Saks Fifth Avenue
Clare V. Simple Tote, $495, available at Shopbop
Solly Baby Wrap, $65, available at Nordstrom Jesse Kamm Navy Sailor Pant, $395, available at The Dreslyn
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