The Capsule Wardrobe for Moms

I come from a fashionable family. My dad loves to shop and dress others. So does my sister. My mom has an eye for matching clothes. Even my brother tolerates shopping outings with the end result of a good looking set of matching outfits.

I, on the other hand, am happiest when I’m comfortable. When I find an article of clothing that feels good, I buy it in every color and rotate through them. I, famously, have this Express Portofino shirt in 8 colors and patterns (both long-sleeves and no-sleeves) and wear it with 3 colors of these Uniqlo pants.

Woman wearing Express Portofino shirt, smiling
My uniform

It’s my favorite work uniform, and takes some decision-making stress away from my day. See other uniform advocates, like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Elizabeth Holmes here. And when I’m in shape, my uniform looks good and feels good. More on that in a moment…

Besides being an ongoing joke in my family, I don’t think much about my clothes. That is, until I didn’t fit into them anymore.

Maternity clothes were wonderful and continued to be so long after it’s generally acceptable to continue wearing them. When B reached 6 months and I was still walking around in parachute pants (which I highly recommend for maternity wear), I realized something had to change. This is where the capsule wardrobe for moms comes into play.

It’s depressing to look at all those clothes that don’t fit, even if you don’t care all that much about them. So, here’s what worked to lift my spirits AND make me feel and look good in my clothes again:

  1. I started by paring down my wardrobe. I removed all the clothes that were too small and put them in a duffel bag in the basement, alongside the clothes that were out of season. These were mostly those that didn’t fit around my expanded belly, butt, and bust.
  2. I identified which items were really outdated (as in, I probably wore them in high school) and donated them.
  3. I also determined which items were too small, but I could not live without. Those, I did some very selective shopping for, in a larger size. Bras were vital to this list!
  4. I crowd-sourced my pregnancy pals for a new uniform that I could rock while I worked on losing weight. Enter the baggy sweater and legging outfit!
  5. And, very importantly, my husband rescued some of the clothes from the donate pile that ended up serving as motivation. I worried over my Express Portofino shirts, so he ended up hiding them, along with a beloved hiking shirt and my stretch goal pair of jeans (come on, we all have these…) in the back of one of his drawers.

I’m proud to report that as of a few weeks ago, I’m back to my Express Portofino shirts + Uniqlo pants uniform AND I wore that hiking shirt again a few days ago. It only took about a year, 3 months of half-marathon training, and 5 months of food tracking, to fit back into them. That hiking shirt was originally purchased for our Peru trip. Oh how far we’ve come since then…

Without my temporary capsule wardrobe, I would have had to think about how different my body was ALL THE TIME. This gave me the chance to love my baby-bearing body, look good in some clothes, while also working toward a goal.

Learn more about capsule wardrobes here:

How did you address your wardrobe during the months (years?!) post-pardum?

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Becoming a Parent

There were several years in my youth when I would tell anyone who asked that I did not plan to have kids. These were the days of dedication to my future studies and career. Plus, I didn’t enjoy babysitting, so why have kids, right?

Sometime between the end of college and getting married five years later, Richard and I had all of those healthy pre-marriage conversations and came to the mutual conclusion that the life we wanted together included children.

Then in May 2015, he and I took one of our best vacations together – two weeks in Peru. We went on an adventure trek along the Incan trail to Machu Picchu, stayed in a boat house on the Amazon, and explored Lima. It was also two years into our marriage, and when we decided to pull out the stops (literally and figuratively) and start trying to have kids!

Pecapeca on the Amazon River
Pecapeca (named for the motor sounds) on the Amazon

I distinctly remember swaying in the million degree heat and humidity in a flimsy boat on the Amazon and thinking, well, here we go! We also swam in the Amazon River that night. Fun fact – piranhas only live close to the shore, so if you plan to swim in the Amazon, aim for right in the middle!

Swimming in the Amazon while the sun sets
Swimming in the Amazon at Sunset

Over the next six months, we started. Until then, I had no idea how hard, how specific, how miraculous it is to become pregnant. There really is a tiny window every month when it’s even possible! Don’t tell teenagers, but it’s a lot less likely to happen by accident than I was made to believe.

Many couples have it much harder than we did. I’m endlessly amazed by the intense & excruciating effort some women have to put in to have children. And I’m in awe of those who persevere to adopt when all else fails. That said, my first was one of the nearly 20 percent of pregnancies that end in a miscarriage. While we mourned our loss and discussed all of our contingency plans, we started trying again.

I could write for days about the stigma around miscarriage, about those few weeks each month when women don’t drink because we’re not sure if we’re pregnant yet, about all the peeing on sticks, about the isolation and shame and disappointment every time another month passes without the dreaded but hoped-for symptoms, about the white lies about being exhausted and nauseated… but we’ll save that for another day.

Suffice it to say that in about March of 2016, we were overjoyed that our first child was on his way. By sometime that summer, we were convinced he would be around to stay, and by November, our lives changed forever!

What did your journey to parenthood look like?

Baby A, swaddled in a hospital blanket, holding mama's hand
Baby A

As a side note, I’ll add that during pregnancy, my doctors recommended a similar amount of exercise to whatever I was doing before I became pregnant. Well, in the couple of months before I became pregnant, I had a terrible flu, which meant virtually no exercise. So I spent the next 10+ months NOT exercising nearly at all. I’ll go into running while pregnant in another post, but for now, you can rest assured that I pretty much didn’t.