There’s this moment when it feels like people start to notice you again after having babies. “You’re looking really great”. “You’ve got a spring in your step”. For me, that’s been at about the same time with both of my children, approximately 9-10 months after giving birth. Something just clicked and I felt ready, both physically and mentally to focus on myself a little bit again.
The same sort of thing happened when I entered my thirties I think. People noticed me less, I was happily married, comfortable and not as bothered about impressing people. With my thirties, came a new sense of self-confidence and generally, I’m pretty happy with the person I am, the friend I am, the wife I am.
Both entering my thirties and having babies has left me in a sort of no-man’s-land when it comes to my personal style and what I enjoy wearing. My overly-stuffed wardrobe is in a constant state of limbo – things I used to wear before I became pregnant (in my twenties) and the things I’m wearing because my body isn’t yet back to it’s optimum weight or shape. I purchase items to disguise the bits about my body that I’m not currently happy with, which in turn, leaves me frustrated as I don’t feel like they reflect my style or how I feel, or even really suit me. Can you relate?
I’m now at a point where I’m rediscovering my style, and here’s why…
Rediscovering my style – why?
After having both my babies, my focus was on breastfeeding, sleeping and eating enough carbs to get me through the lack-of-sleep. It was not on my weight or fitness and I hate the expression “bounce back after giving birth” (I’ll bounce you back if you say that to me! I’ve just pushed a fairly hefty human out of my vagina!). It’s different for everyone, but for me, that 9-10 months was about me parenting in the only way I knew how: lots of love, cuddles, stolen naps and cake!
After baby number 1, who exclusively breastfeed for the best part of a year, I lost my “baby weight” within 12 weeks and my body sort of readjusted pretty much. It was different, a little saggier in parts, a bit squidgy, but largely my shape was still there and I was back into old clothes approximately 6 months after giving birth and feeling pretty much back to normal 9 months after.
After baby number 2, who finished breastfeeding at 5.5 months, I was 3.5 years into sleepless nights and utterly exhausted. My body clung onto every calorie it could find and I was craving any sort of starchy, quick-energy-releasing foods I could get my hands on. My tummy was way more squidgy, the excess skin has hung around a bit more this time round and generally I’ve found it harder getting back to the “old me”.
it doesn’t matter what size or even really what style an item of clothing is, as long as it fits!
The effect on mental health
I got into a vicious cycle of buying clothes without trying them on first, picturing them looking amazing in my head, only to be bitterly disappointed when I got them home. That’d make me feel like shit. I would reach into the depths of my wardrobe, finding clothes I wore 5 or 6 years ago, remember the younger, fitter, firmer me looking and feeling great in them. I’d merrily whip them on, hoping to recreate that feeling, onto to realise that I couldn’t even get them over my arse (and if I did, they’d be popping at the buttons or I had new skin to roll over waistbands). That’d make me feel like shit. So what would I do? Pile on the larger, usually more ill-fitting and baggier clothes that I thought were making me look and feel better, but were in fact, just destroying any semblance of personal style I had left. Vicious cycle and entirely my own fault.
Time to rediscover my style
So this last month or so, I’ve had a light-bulb moment! I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter what size or even really what style an item of clothing is, as long as it fits! Good fitting clothes make you look slimmer/better, not the size label! I know!! I’ve stopped beating myself up about still being in a size 14, as I desperately want to be back in a 12. Instead, I’ve been focusing on the clothes I have that fit nicely and flatter my new shape.
I’ve also spent some time thinking about how my lifestyle has changed and the impact on what I like to wear. I’m no longer a twenty-something city-slicker, with disposable cash to spend on the latest fashion items. I’m a thirty-something mother and entrepreneur (sounds wanky saying that!), who likes to dress more simply and who’s focus is more on smart-casual and dressing-up my daytime skinny jeans, than on trend-led items.
Cleansing my wardrobe
Having spent a day with Kilter Home, cleansing my wardrobe back in the new year, I realised how much I was holding onto that “old me”. I had hundreds of pieces of clothes that I no longer wore and that the “new me” wouldn’t buy today. It was such a relief bagging up some of these items that I’d clung onto for years and rediscovering the bits I loved about my wardrobe and enjoyed wearing. It also meant I could see if there were any gaps in my wardrobe and think about how I could adapt what I currently own, to reflect my new sense of style. I love having less items to choose from and sift through every morning. I doubt I’m ever going to be a capsule-wardrobe kinda gal, as I love shopping and clothes too much for that, but I have genuinely saved so much time, energy and heartache since narrowing-down my wardrobe.
Lucy, owner of Love Lucy Boutique (in South Manchester and online) has also been a real eye-opener for me. She’s taught me about the art of layering, to maximise the wear-opportunities of pieces in my wardrobe as well as transition more seamlessly from winter, to spring, to summer. She’s taught me to nail the basics and add a few more trend-led/style pieces. I’m also loving a cheeky “french tuck” (try saying that fast!), which is tucking your top/jumper into the smallest part of you (my waistband) at the front, then leaving the sides and back untucked. It’s really flattering for my curvier figure and hides a multitude of sins. Lucy has also taught me to team floatier skirts/dresses with jumpers and tights to maximise the wears. All of these little things have really helped me on my journey of rediscovering my style.
Where I’m at now
Nearly 11 months after giving birth to my second baby, aged 32, I’m really in a good place with my personal style. I’m enjoying walking into shops with more of an idea of what I’m looking for, what will suit me and what will reflect who I am now. I’m making less impulse purchases and less emotional purchases too. I’m not beating myself up if something doesn’t look right or fit well and I’m not focussing on the number on the label. It’s a really positive place to be.
So what is my style?
Well, in a nutshell:
- I prefer simpler more chic pieces. Choosing quality over quantity.
- I have a thing for jumpers (I realised this when I was editing my wardrobe with Kilter Home!).
- I tend to opt for neutral tones of blues and greys, with pops of colour like red and yellow.
- I like things to skim my larger boobs and bum and nip in at my smaller waist.
- I love a midi length skirt, dress or culotte.
- I always opt for flat shoes over heels.
- Most days I can be seen in pair of skinny jeans and a nice jumper.
- I love a good bit of layering.
I’m still on this journey of rediscovering my style, but I feel so much more focussed and positive about it all. It’s been a journey spanning nearly 5 years, but I’m excited for what the rest of my thirties are going to bring to the table…and my wardrobe!