2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to buy nursing-friendly clothes for work — links have also been updated below. You can also check out our page with all of our advice on nursing clothes for working moms.
Which are the best nursing clothes for work? Can you look professional in comfortable, accessible, washable clothes? Reader E, who is lucky enough to have a daycare at her office, asks:
I’ve come back from maternity leave and can’t find any clothes that are both work appropriate and nursing friendly. I’m lucky enough to have a daycare at work, so I nurse her at lunch time, and pump in the afternoon, so I need versatile outfits. So far, I’ve been relying on ponte skirts (easy to wash if she spits up on it…), and a couple of motherhood nursing tops that look professional-ish, on Fridays I also wear nursing tanks from Nordstrom that have wide straps so I feel I can get away with it on casual days.
I don’t want to spend a lot of money as I still have a lot of weight to lose, and will stop nursing her in 3 months when she turns one. However, it’s getting really boring …. so I’d love to have some more tops that I could use that don’t scream “I used to wear this when pregnant,” but are still user-friendly.
Interesting question — and one that I can see a lot of women struggling with as daycares at work get more and more popular. I have a few thoughts, but am curious to see what other people say:
- Hadley Stilwell specializes in “effortless elegance for breastfeeding mothers.” — I drooled over the brand’s pieces frequently when I was nursing, but never pulled the trigger. Pictured above: their Signature Jacket, only $67 — it’s machine washable, and coordinates with a number of their other items to make a suit, a twinset, and more. (2017 update: The brand is now available on Amazon!)
- Get thee a nursing tank! I was a huge fan of the Undercover Mama nursing tank, which readers mentioned in our discussion about pump-friendly work clothes. It basically meant I could wear any top I wanted because my belly and back were always covered, even if my boobs weren’t. (I also liked that the version I got had a bit of control but was more comfortable than a lot of shapewear — I never had that dreaded “rolling-up-and-yanking-down-all-dang-day” problem.) Wear your regular, pre-pregnancy tops and blouses — push ’em up, pull ’em down, unbutton it — anything works because the nursing tank has you covered. (If you’re looking mostly for coverage from the top, do consider a nursing scarf or poncho — even just a regular scarf can work.)
- Focus on pants + tops (or skirts + tops), unless you’re really a dress girl. There are a ton of nursing-friendly dresses, but this is going to be cost prohibitive. You can always stalk eBay or ThredUp, but with a mere three months to go, I wouldn’t spend the energy. A lot of the best dresses are good for both maternity and nursing, so for readers who are still pregnant and plan to nurse when they come back to work, they’re good to consider. Some classic styles include the Seraphine knot dress, Isabella Oliver dresses, and Japanese Weekend‘s entire “DBA” line (during, before, after). (Note: Sadly, Japanese Weekend closed last year, but for now you can still find their clothes at Amazon and elsewhere.)
- Layer with cardigans. I think it was a combination of nursing and working from home that led me to my waterfall-cardigan obsession — I have them in literally every color. They’re generally washable and soft (for you and the baby!), they add color and an added dose of privacy, and they’ll fit regardless of what size you are. Some of my favorites are from pricier brands that I got on sale (Splendid, Elliott Lauren) — I’d suggest looking at the Bobeau long cardigan (pictured) to start, because they’re often on sale for around $35 and available in many colors, and the instructions usually say “hand wash.” (For my $.02, I would skip the extraordinarily highly-rated Bobeau one-button fleece cardigan if you’re looking for something for work — it’s very casual!)
- Consider accessorizing for the office only. Blazers and statement necklaces aren’t very baby-friendly (at least, they weren’t with my babies), but they ARE easy to remove before you head down to the daycare. Look for flattering colors for both — they’ll help to make that “black t-shirt and gray trousers” combo feel fresh.
Ladies who nurse during working hours, what are your favorite things to wear? Which nursing clothes are best for work?