Dressing the Transitional Body

Author | Laurie Whelden

“This doesn’t FIT!” Once again, I shouted this refrain to my husband from our tiny half bath. I was trying on my third or fourth shirt. In the first weeks after having my second baby, every morning was met with frustration. When you’re pregnant, there are so many options to find cute and flattering maternity clothes that are made specifically for your changing body. Unfortunately, after you have your baby, finding clothes that feel like they were made for your body is quite difficult. To put it mildly, the postpartum body is always changing - and sometimes not as fast as one might hope.


When I had my first baby, I was so caught up in the adjustment of becoming a parent that I hardly had time to notice I was still wearing maternity clothes a few months postpartum. It took almost a year until I felt like “myself” - when my body felt familiar, and felt confident in dressing it.


As we all emerge from this pandemic, many of us are finding ourselves in bodies we don’t recognize. For me, along with the pandemic, the past year also brought another baby into my life. Whatever may have caused your body to change - be it a baby, menopause, or a change in your lifestyle - finding clothes you feel comfortable and confident in can be daunting.


No matter what, it’s important to dress the body you have, not the body you used to have or the one you anticipate will come back. Whatever happens in the future, there’s no sense in feeling uncomfortable now.


Here are a few tips for feeling good in the body you’ve got.


Go through your closet


Obvious keeps are any items that make you feel good. Unlike other times in your life, when you should donate items that you don’t love, I’d recommend hanging on to items you might not love, but they work. They fit, you feel comfortable enough, and they’ll do until you can update your wardrobe a bit.



Only you can decide whether to keep items that no longer fit. If you feel confident that your body will change again, it would make sense to hold on to the majority of your wardrobe, even if it doesn’t fit right now. If you’re not sure, you might want to hold on to your favorite pieces only. I’d recommend putting ill-fitting clothes out of sight for now - pack them away to revisit again down the road. As time goes on, reevaluate what you’re not wearing and the likelihood that it’ll fit again.


I can’t overemphasize how wonderful it can feel to look into a closet or a drawer full of clothes that fit.


Get a little help from your friends


It can feel a little daunting (it does for me!), but getting a few outside opinions on your wardrobe can help. Sometimes when our bodies change, we feel discombobulated because nothing fits like it used to. It can lead you to feeling that things are a bit more dire than they are.


Ask a few trusted friends for their take on any items you might not be sure about. Sometimes hearing “That looks great!” can be the confidence boost you need to find new life in a piece.


But make sure you are asking a friend who will be honest - otherwise those “That looks great” comments will start to feel a little too easy. Luckily, I have many honest friends, and they will not shy away from letting me know if something isn’t quite right for me.


Who doesn’t love a fashion show? Invite your friends over to check out a few pieces, or bring them along when you take on the next step: shopping.


Shop!


Take your new bod shopping. Obviously, a thrift store is a safe spot to try out some new styles for your body since it won’t cost much - and you won’t have shelled out the big bucks for an item that won’t fit in a few months. Websites like Thredup can also have some bargains.


Bring a friend to a favorite store and try on plenty of different styles. From personal experience I’ve also learned to try on a variety of sizes - don’t assume you are the same size in every item. Your new body might surprise you!


If you don’t have time to shop (hello new moms!), online shopping is your friend. Stores like Target and Old Navy have easy in-person returns for clothes bought online. Order online and try on some options in the comfort of your own home. Whenever it suits, return whatever you don’t like next time you’re out running errands. You can usually order enough options to get free shipping!


Is anyone else super grateful that stretchy pants are now fashionable?! The pull-on style is comfy and flattering for lots of different body types.


Pants, Everlane | Denim Shorts, Madewell | Jumpsuit, Target



Treat yourself


Whether or not you have found clothes you feel good in, there are plenty of ways you can give yourself a little boost. New sunglasses, shoes, or hats always fit no matter how your body might change. When I was pregnant, anticipating plenty of summer walks with my baby, I treated myself to new Teva sandals and I’ve loved wearing them almost every day, no matter where my body is at in its transition.