The dos and don’ts of post-baby summer fashion, by houmous-encrusted former fashionista, Emma Bartley
It’s fair to say that things are looking a bit uncertain in Britain at the moment. However, two things make me confident that my country can make it through: our sense of humour (the hashtag #blameBrexit appearing on social media statuses about everything from burnt toast to own goals in the European football championships) and our stoicism. We taught the world to keep calm and carry on, which here specifically means carry on shopping. If we all stay home eating tinned food, the economy really will go into freefall. But if you’ve recently had a baby, what can you buy? Here are a few basic rules I’ve come up with from looking through the latest fashion magazines and my own distinctly squishy reflection in the mirror.
DO create a signature look and stick to it
True style icons tend to wear the same things over and over. Karl Lagerfeld has his suit and sunglasses; Anna Wintour her shift dress and sandals. For me, it’s a shapeless grey T-shirt and a pair of jeans done up with a rubber band.
DON’T forget your huge handbag
These days, I use my favourite zip-up clutch as a nappy bag. It’s a little reminder that I used to have style, tucked away in a giant canvas tote full of toys, muslins, snacks, changes of clothes, bits of old tissue and, sometimes, dirty nappies that I couldn’t find a bin for, meaning my bag is literally full of crap.
DO jump on the athleisure trend
Thanks to athleisure being seen on everyone from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark, you can now claim your leggings or joggers are “sports luxe”rather than what they really are, which is the next step up from pyjamas.
DON’T wear actual pyjama-style trousers...
...as everyone will assume you slept in them.
DO get a cold-shoulder top
One of the few 2016 trends with mum potential, owing that the cutout exposes one of the parts of your body least affected by that whole growing/feeding a baby thing.
DON’T do what I did and buy the next size up...
...in a vain attempt to hide your tummy / arms / boobs. This is counterproductive, leading to what one witness called the effect of “a potato sack with bits randomly hacked off it”. (I considered divorce but I need help with the childcare.)
DO express your love of fashion through your baby
*Looks down excitedly at four-month old in neon pink tutu and stripy ankle socks*
DON’T attempt a slip dress
Loose and low-cut with slim spaghetti straps, slip dresses were designed for waif-like Nineties’ teenagers who looked like Kate Moss. Where is a thick-strapped, high-cut elasticated nursing bra going to fit in?
If you want to get involved in the slip dress trend, do what I do. Go into a shop and stroke one, wistfully, while allowing a single tear to fall down your cheek. Single tears are a timeless look for new mothers.
DO try a leather skirt if you can fit into one
When you’re constantly being puked on, climbed over or pawed at by sticky fingers, wipe-clean = winning.
I DON’T think I need to mention...
...that you’re sitting out the white jeans trend.
DO pad your bra
Not with chicken fillets! We’re talking about absorbent pads that tuck into your bra when you’re breastfeeding and stop you leaking into your top. I love the lumpy silhouette they give, as well as the adrenaline-pumping thrill of wondering whether I’ve accidentally left one on a friend’s sofa while feeding the baby.
DON’T even think about a jumpsuit
My favourite summer look, a jumpsuit says “easygoing”and sophisticated”. Unless you are or have recently been pregnant, in which case it says “Teletubby”.
DO all your shopping online
Late-night, possibly even drunk phone shopping still beats trying to navigate a pram around a branch of H&M trying to find a non-cropped T-shirt.
DON’T give in to Breton stripes
Fine if you were wearing these already, but since finding that 90 per cent of maternity wear was stripy, I’ve made it my mission to rebel against what mums are expected to wear. For me that means this shapeless grey T-shirt but you might want to do gingham! Ruffles! Patchwork! *Looks down at shapeless grey T-shirt* Or whatever! Your country needs you.