Fashion and Motherhood

Since Littlest was born I’ve had conflicted feelings about dressing myself.

To be clear, especially since arriving in France, I’ve gone through phases of loving clothes shopping, like my year in Reims, when I even wore jewelry almost every day. I used to be fascinated with the way (fashionable) French women dressed. Shoes have become a burden for me because of my feet, but that’s another story. As for make-up, I subscribed to Birchbox for the past two years and enjoyed testing out and ordering new things, including curly hair products.

When Littlest was a newborn and I was on maternity leave, I made a point of taking a shower every day but I scaled lots of things way back. I only put on moisturizer and foundation. I often let my hair dry on its own. I was jealous of my husband and how it took him 30 seconds to get dressed after a shower. It seemed entirely unfair so I tried to reduce my routine to get as close to his as possible.

When I went back to work I did start putting on a little more make-up, but only for work days. Breastfeeding has limited my wardrobe a bit—no thigh-long tunics for example—and over the past years I’ve thrown out anything that has holes in it (a surprising amount of things). So overall I feel like my wardrobe choices have gotten pretty drab.

There’s also a financial element. Money has been tighter this year (a complicated issue with maternity leave and being taxed on last year’s much higher earnings) and so spending money on clothes means no savings for the month. I put my Birchbox subscription on hold several times this year and finally ended it (though they were also sending me too many things I couldn’t use on my sensitive skin).

I miss taking pleasure in dressing myself, I miss elegance and novelty, and yet I also still yearn for the simplicity of male fashion that my husband gets to enjoy. In men’s fashion, clothing and shoes are comfortable and long-lasting. Even dressy women’s shirts and skirts are made so that you’re tugging at them throughout the day and I have no patience for that now. I feel like my body did something amazing, and I’d like my natural beauty to dominate rather than poking, prodding, and spending time on it, and yet…

I guess I’m wondering, am I the only one who resents and still sort of misses dressing fashionably?


4 thoughts on “Fashion and Motherhood

  1. I’ve just replaced most of my summer wardrobe, as I bought almost nothing last year apart from maternity and nursing things and most of what I had from before that was through in holes. But finding things I wanted to buy was really hard! The quality of the clothes in the cheaper shops has really gone downhill over the past few years and although I don’t mind spending more on clothes which will last, I’m not keen enough on this year’s fashions to invest lots of money in them. (This article by one of the Guardian’s fashion columnists made me laugh because it sums up the problems perfectly:

    I ended up buying a lot of things from Uniqlo, so my clothes are now basically pure normcore 🙂 I would usually liven them up with a bit of jewellery, but SCB is at the grabbing stage, so I’ve more or less resigned myself to being boring.

  2. L says:

    It’s not the best solution in terms of time available and time needed to learn, but sewing your own clothes is a good option, in my opinion. You choose the fabric based on a texture/stretchiness/color/pattern you like, and if you’d like a higher or lower neckline, pockets, a looser fit, etc, you can make your clothes just like you want them. A second best option is buying used from places like You can get high end (and quality) clothes for high street prices, knowing of course the wear varies.

    • Well, good to know, since my husband just bought a sewing machine! Not sure I’ll have any great clothes right away, but hopefully in the next year!

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