I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a capsule wardrobe for a while (if you don’t know what that is, go here to read more about the concept), but being pregnant and nursing and carrying postpartum weight (still), I haven’t felt ready to commit and also don’t want to buy any new clothing that I (hopefully) won’t be able to wear once I get back in better shape. But then I started thinking about how I tend to wear the same 5 things now already (beyond the standard t-shirt and yoga pants) and how, after three babies, I’ve pretty much figured out the perfect uniform for this phase of life: comfy but still stylish enough to make you feel put together, babywearing-friendly, nursing-friendly, extra weight-friendly, affordable, and transitions well from season to season. My wardrobe issues were/are:
- I look in my closet full of clothes and find nothing that I want to wear or that fits me well. There is nothing I really LOVE to put on.
- I find myself spending money on the cheap stuff to have “options” or because it was on sale, and then I never really wear it because it falls into the first issue and doesn’t really look good on me.
- When I do find something I love, I end up wearing it almost daily because it is what I feel the best in, and then I wear it out. (my favorite jumpsuit has faded and gotten pilly after one million wears, my favorite jeggings have holes in them near the pockets, etc.)
Do any of those issues sound familiar to you? Have a closet full of stuff but nothing to wear? Do most of your things make you go “meh” or just not fit at all? Maybe a capsule wardrobe is right for you too. I think a capsule wardrobe is an especially great idea for moms because our lives are complicated enough already. We get very little time for ourselves. Why not simplify our closet, having only a few options to choose from day to day (you can have a couple special pieces for date night or a special occasion or if you have an event, wedding, etc. also) that you always love to wear, feel great in, and that never go out of style?
So I thought I would share my mom uniform (can we call it a momiform?) pieces that I tend to wear over and over because they fit the above criteria. (Note: I update the items each season so the links are active and in stock and season-appropriate so some linked items but not be pictured in the included photos.)
This isn’t a real capsule wardrobe experiment but sort of a “dip your toe into the capsule wardrobe pool” kind of thing. Or you can call it a Basics Wardrobe. I do love the idea of investing in well-made basics that you can mix and match and wear over and over that you really love, versus buying lots of “stuff” to wear that you just feel meh about and after you add up all the money you spent on that, you could have invested in a piece you love.
STAPLE PIECES FOR YOUR MOM-FRIENDLY CAPSULE WARDROBE
1. A great button down shirt or tunic (or two or three or five).
A button down shirt is a daily staple in my momiform, and there’s not much that is more nursing-friendly if you are in that stage. I like to layer a long button down over a nursing tank and leggings (leaving it open or buttoning a couple of buttons) for maximum comfort that still looks put together in my early nursing days. And then when I’m ready to ditch the nursing tanks and am able to wear jeans again I switch my other basics but stick to a good button down. I tend to gravitate towards the roomier boyfriend-style personally, and like them to be on the longer side.
For a basics wardrobe, you would just pick a couple really versatile ones, so I recommend finding a good white one and a chambray one. Both can be dressed up or down and go with everything. If you’re afraid to do white because of kiddo messes, grey is another great option. Plaid is too limiting — it only goes with certain things and is more easily remembered so you’ll tend to steer clear of it because you’re afraid people will always think you wear the same plaid shirt. But we never worry when we’re wearing simple basics — at least, I don’t 🙂 You can definitely have a plaid or striped button down, but I wouldn’t include it in “basics.”
A few of my favorite options are:
- long sleeved chambray button down shirt
- long sleeved white button down
- white short sleeved button down (I LOVE this shirt — it fits oversized so if you’re between then size down)
- an olive or grey one are also good basics as those shades are a neutral (can pair with denim, black, etc.)
2. A maxi dress.
I’m not a fan of wearing shorts — I’ve always found them to be uncomfortable and unflattering (on me) so I like wearing lightweight maxi dresses as an alternative. Bonus points for a v-neck or a partial button down, because those are nursing-friendly as well. Since I’ve nursed three babies, a strappy sundress-style is no longer an option for me (my bra-less days are gone 🙁 ) but I have that these are two styles that work really well for me:
- Short sleeved flowy v-neck maxi: I have this dress in every color and style it comes in. It is my go-to, as it is flattering, lightweight, not too long, the slits aren’t too high (if you baby wear keep in mind that everything gets shorter when you put your carrier on), and it has pockets! (pictured below in black)
3. Faux Leather Leggings
One of my favorite and most versatile pairs of pants are my Spanx faux leather leggings. You can dress them up or down — I pair them with a cute sweater and booties to dress them up or wear them with a nicer sweatshirt and sneakers to dress them down. They have a hefty price tag for pants, but honestly, I have worn the heck out of these for two years and they still look brand new. They are machine washable and have that “hold you in and lift you up” thing that spanx do. I LOVE them and cannot recommend them enough! They do sometimes go on sale too but for the wear I get out of them they have definitely been worth the money for me. I’m wearing them below.
I mean, this is a no-brainer. But depending on my size, what phase of postpartum I’m in, etc. I like different types of jeans for different stages. For the first 6-12 months postpartum I love jeggings. They look more pulled together than sweats but feel comfy. These from Old Navy were always my favorites and they are affordable enough to grab a couple different pairs.
When you’re ready for zipper or button fly jeans, I have three favorite pairs depending on your budget:
- Old Navy High Rise Built-In Sculpt Jeans
- Curvy toothpick jeans with button fly (my absolute favorite with the best fit!)
- Cali Demi-boot Jeans (for a different silhouette than the skinny jean)
These are the four outerwear basics I think every mom needs in her basics wardrobe (depending on where you live and what your climate is like — obviously if you live somewhere without a winter you probably don’t need the coat):
- The perfect cardigan: for me it is long, not too thick or heavy but still substantial, and has pockets. I also want it to be grey or cream to be the most versatile. This one is basically the holy grail of cardigans for me and I got it on sale.
- Sweater blazer: I’ve been consistently wearing this one for two seasons and still love it. I have it in camel but would love it in grey as well.
- A denim jacket: I’ve had the same denim jacket from Gap since I was a freshman in college. I love it. I wear it with everything. Though it doesn’t fit comfortably right now with my nursing boobs, it will always be part of my wardrobe. I especially love wearing it over a dress or a tee and midi skirt.
- A leather jacket: Nothing looks cooler than a black leather jacket. Moto style is my personal favorite. You could also do a bomber, which is really on trend right now. But when it comes to staple pieces, I think classic is always better and timeless.
- A warm puffer coat: Some basics/essentials serve a necessary and practical purpose over style, but this coat is cute and has one million pockets, plus is like wearing a warm down comforter. It is the warmest coat I’ve ever owned and I always get asked about it. (Pictured above)
6. Underwear + Bras
You know what no one tells you before you have a baby? That your favorite undergarments from before will probably not be your favorite after. Or even ever fit you again — especially when it comes to bras. I think many moms have to figure out what style of underwear and bras work best for them after they have had babies. I know that the underwear I wore before aren’t comfortable to me now and that my bra size and needs have definitely changed since I gave birth and nursed three babies. So two tips for restocking your underwear drawer:
- Let go of your past bra size and preferred style. Those might not work for you anymore. You have to try out new sizes and style options to see what works best for you. You could either go to a store to try on and be sized (but with baby in tow that’s not that appealing to me). I highly recommend ThirdLove. They have a fit finder to help you find your fit based on your breast shape and fit issues. Then they have a ‘try before you buy’ program where they send you a bra and you can actually try it on and wear it for 30 days. If you don’t love it, you send it back and only pay $2.99 for shipping. Any returned bras are washed and donated to charity. The best part though is that their bras are designed for a better fit, tailored to both size and shape and also come in 1/2 sizes. They use memory foam to form to your breast, making them really comfortable. And they are also really beautiful. I have two and am addicted. UPDATE: They now offer nursing bras that are just as comfy and pretty as the regular bras!
- Revisit your current underwear stock. Which styles do you currently find comfortable? Hipsters? Boy shorts? Briefs? High waisted briefs? Whatever it is, try to stick to that style when you buy yourself new underwear. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it also doesn’t have to be total crap (pun intended). I preferred lace thongs pre-babies and now I hate them. This is my favorite pair of underwear for comfort, quality, and style. And ThirdLove also has underwear (I haven’t tried yet but I’ve heard great things.) I also LOVE and think every woman who still has a period needs to own a set of Thinx. Have you heard of them? They call it “period proof underwear that works” and after using it over the course of three periods I have to agree! I typically use them on my heavier days as a backup in case of leakage or on lighter days in lieu of a tampon or pad. All you do is rinse them out and then toss them in the wash! Just be sure to follow laundering instructions. I highly recommend these, plus anything that can help us get rid of cheap tampons and pads that are made with toxic chemicals is a win for me. Buy some for yourself here.
7. A Midi Skirt
I really love a good midi skirt. They are the perfect length for me, can be worn casually with a tee and sneakers or dressed up with sandals or heels and paired with a cuter top. They are flattering and you can find really cute ones at pretty affordable prices. I especially love the pleated ones (I wore a metallic one in our family photos above) and it is now one of my favorite pieces.
8. A Shirt Dress
I love shirt dresses because they are really cute, usually have a button down neck (another nursing-friendly piece for the win!), and flattering to many different body types. I prefer the midi-length personally, but there are also really cute maxi style ones as well as above the knee lengths.
Overalls are a great staple for moms! There are two basic styles, and I love them and have them both: relaxed and fitted. I wear my relaxed ones when I’m hanging at home, working outside, playing with my kids, walking to school to pick up my son, etc. I wear my fitted ones for a date, casual business meeting, etc. These are my favorite two sources:
- Gap Relaxed Overalls
- Madewell Fitted Overalls
- Runner Up: Old Navy Straight-Leg Overalls (not as good as the Madewell ones, but a CLOSE second, especially for the price)
And in case you need help with more options or ideas, I’m sharing more that you can shop directly below. Have you done a capsule wardrobe? What would be your biggest staple pieces to include?
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