Samantha Dooey-Miles was once voted the best-dressed woman in her office. She doesn't mention if she was working from home at the time, but we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and let her share some of her new mum fashion insight anyway...
Prepare for a humble brag; I was once voted the best dressed woman in my workplace. While I regularly drop this fact into conversation, I refuse to divulge the number of employees I was up against to receive this accolade. Maybe because of my award-winning style credentials, maybe because of my pre-existing vanity, I spent a large chunk of my pregnancy plotting my new mum look.
If you too are concerned how your wardrobe will fare when you've a new little person to take care of, I've compiled a list of what I learnt during my first months as a mum. Know this information is provided by me, one of my office's most influential fashionistas.
I have never and will never understand the need for a changing bag. Is that controversial? If they work for you, great. To me they seem prohibitively expensive, generally a bit ugly and I hate to repeat myself but, madly too much money. As far as I can tell, any decent sized bag is as capable as a changing bag of carrying nappies, bum cream, wipes, a travel mat and a spare set of clothes. What I found worked best was a backpack. I love mine so much I could write sonnets about it. There are many reasons I adore it so but the top one is that it leaves me with two free hands which is particularly handy while carrying a wriggling baby to the changing room.
If I'd invented a truly sick-proof material I certainly wouldn't be declaring it on the internet, I'd be too busy spending my millions. Until I crack the formula, when I say 'sick-proof' I mean two things. Firstly, clothes which you've bought at a price point which will not break your heart should they be destroyed by a destructive vomit incident. Secondly, clothes you can chuck in the many, many loads you will be doing for baby and not have to give them any special attention. Anything that needs to be hand washed or dry cleaned will, in the first few months of your child's life, remain soiled, destined to live in the bottom of the laundry basket for an indefinite period.
A good quality raincoat (with a hood)
Oh, the daily walk with the pram whilst on maternity leave, how I miss thee. Some days it's a chance for fresh air. On others you spend it wishing the baby will nap so you can switch off from mummy mode for half an hour. On the very worst days, it's a time for the screams of the baby to be lost in the sound of the outside world rather than echoing around the rooms of your home.
Before my daughter was born I found my old pac-a-mac and put it in the bottom of the pram, a symbol I was prepared for anything. The first time I had cause to wear it I discovered it was no more waterproof than the laptop I am writing on right now. I felt every drop of water as I trundled home, getting more soaked and miserable with every step. Do not fall for the crappy pac-a-mac as I did. Buy something substantial and showerproof so that your hallowed daily walk does not need to be cancelled due to rain.
A warm jacket (with a hood)
As above but this time make sure you will not be shivering in winter.
When my daughter was first born I lived in central(ish) London and didn't fancy wheeling the pram everywhere so went out and about with her in the sling. Which was great but it brought with it an intense fear I'd slip while wearing her because I fall over - a lot. This isn't a condition or anything, I am naturally incredibly clumsy. This led to a hunt for sturdy, non-sliding shoes. I opted for a pair of Doc Martens with their reassuringly chunky rubber soles which screamed to me, 'EVEN YOU CAN'T FALL IN THESE.'
If you're going to sling it about town, which I highly recommend by the way, then seek comfortable shoes which say the same thing to you. Although maybe they don't need to scream at you if you're not unusually fall prone.
When it comes to what to wear when you're breastfeeding, the answer is clearly whatever you want. Although I'd stay away from long dresses with high necks and no other point of entry to your boobs, a lesson I learnt the hard way.
A nursing bra which offers support doesn't seem like a priority when your milk first comes in. When your boobs - and there's no nice way of saying this - deflate a few months in, they will need more a bit care than the amazing bouncing bosom that arrived when your baby did, a depressing thing to look forward to and something you should definitely consider at your bra fitting.
I know, I know. I announce myself as a beacon of fashion good sense and then suggest leggings. Hear me out. They do not require your body to miraculously 'ping back' before you wear them - they ease into your post-baby body as you do. They do not require ironing to look presentable. You can pop a pair into your backpack so it's not just the baby who has a spare set of clothes and they won't take up a lot of space. Plus they are so, so comfortable.
Shop in your own wardrobe
This is a phrase I had never heard of until I was on maternity leave and then found it was uttered in practically every This Morning fashion segment. It is a fancy way of saying you should check you don't already own an item before you go out and buy it. Which makes sense, doesn't it? As you're waiting for baby to come, or once they're here and napping soundly, sift through your old clothes, look at bits you haven't worn for a while which lurk at the bottom of your drawers and see if anything is worth washing and promoting to the top.
Create a colour palette / make a capsule wardrobe / insert another way of saying 'make sure your clothes match'
Does this need much explanation?
Stuff you like
Even if you experience the happiest first few months of motherhood there is a good chance you will have days where you feel like you look like crap, your body isn't your own, and other silly thoughts brought on from a combination of sleep deprivation, hormones and being overwhelmed you've a child to look after. If you curate a wardrobe that you like, which is easy to put together and comfortable, it won't magically make you feel like nothing is bothering you but it will help you feel like you.