Breastfeeding-convenient fashion help!
January 2, 2014 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Tall, broad shoulders, large bust, small waist and hips, at two months out I fit back into pre-pregnancy jeans but none of my shirts work for my new (hormonally-enhanced) shape or for breastfeeding. What do nursing mothers with the shoulders of a lumberjack wear?

I'm tired of having to effectively disrobe to feed babylemon, and I have exactly one shirt I can wear if I want to breastfeed in public without going totally al fresco. What did you wear when breastfeeding and what would you recommend for my shape? I'm thinking button down shirts, but if I get a size that fits my shoulders (14 - 16), they are usually way too big for the rest of me (8 - 10). Cardigans and stretchy tops work well for me when not breastfeeding, but they are inconvenient. Please help me not look like a bag lady!
posted by yogalemon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I always wore a stretchy cami underneath whatever shirt I was wearing on top. Top shirt up, cami/bra down, and hardly any visible skin once baby got latched on.
posted by chiababe at 9:47 AM on January 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

I wonder if tunic-style shirts would work for you? They generally button down halfway, lots of styles nip at the waist or even have ties/belt things so you wouldn't completely lose your shape, and they're meant to be open/flowy at the bottom so it wouldn't matter terribly if your shoulders size them up too wide for your hips. I'm envisioning something like this or this.
posted by phunniemee at 9:52 AM on January 2, 2014

I loved this shirt from Japanese Weekend (pricey, but I could even get away with the black one at a wedding with the right accessories, so very functional). The flaps make it easy to nurse without anything showing above or below, and it's really stretchy - the same piece looked good just after giving birth as well as after I lost weight.
posted by Mchelly at 9:54 AM on January 2, 2014

I like this style from target. You can throw a cardigan on top for warmth. I often find them in the clearance racks too as they swap out colors.
posted by chiababe at 10:09 AM on January 2, 2014

Nursing tanktops from Target with with a variety of cardigans. The cardigan also provides reasonable "nursing cover" type coverage if you feel more comfortable that way in public, or you can just attach a swaddling blanket under the strap and have that as coverage.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:17 AM on January 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Check out anything "wrap" - just as in Mchelly's picture. If you don't like the low neckline, you can put a stretchy cami underneath. The wrap style usually cinches in at the waist. Linking random examples of wrap shirt, wrap top, nursing wrap dress...or check out this cowl neck shirt for nursing.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:20 AM on January 2, 2014

Nursing tank top with regular knit shirt over it, like chiababe said. for extra modesty I'll add a big scarf that I adjust to obscure baby without having to use an annoying cover.
posted by gatorae at 10:20 AM on January 2, 2014

Well hello, shape twin! Baby Architeuthis is 7 weeks today. I've found that cross front tops like the ones linked above work well. Even non-nursing ones are good. I wear a 34F currently and haven't had good experiences with most nursing tops, even tanks, because the openings never seem to be in the right place for my fairly abundant d├ęcolletage. My current wardrobe is mostly stretchy shirts and sweaters that can be hiked up or yanked aside, along with a Bebe au Lait nursing cover for nursing in public. I find that the wire in the nursing cover enables me to see the baby and keeps the material off his face better than just a blanket.

If you want something to unbutton, I'd suggest a button down shirt, again with some stretch, bought to fit your shoulders and bust and tailored to add darts and narrow the sides for your waist. I've had good luck with Lands' End stretch button downs although usually that brand is very boxy on me.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 10:24 AM on January 2, 2014

Oh, button downs didn't work at all for me without basically getting naked. They look right in theory but they don't mold to any other shape. What did work:

-Stretchy top plus cardigan (pull the top up, wrap the cardigan around any spot that feels cold).
-Nursing tank and pretty much anything (I got cheap ones from target; they cover everything but the top of the breast during nursing).
Honestly after a while I got pretty comfortable with knowing that the maximum amount of skin exposed was surprisingly small even without additional layers and just went with stretchy shirts most of the time, but I'm an immodest person in a hippie town.

I knew a number of people who swore by pulling down the neck of stretchy shirts but my body (similar to yours but not tall) did not work that way. But it's another thing to try.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:26 AM on January 2, 2014

I breastfed two kids for almost three years straight and never bought a nursing top, I found them a waste. YMMV. I also hated button-ups. I don't normally have big boobs but lord, when nursing, I did, and since the rest of me was still tiny, nothing "fitted" ever fit right. So I lived in drapey slouchy tops like this or this.

For general breastfeeding/mom fashion, though, I cannot overrecomment Shana's advice at Ain't No Mom Jeans. You can search "tops" and get literally pages and pages of recommendations, links and breastfeeding-specific commentary.
posted by celtalitha at 11:01 AM on January 2, 2014

I am also big busted but I only have one (well two in different colors) top intended as a "nursing" top. It buttons down on one side but doesn't really hide much unbuttoned (might if you wore a low cut camisole or something under). That said, I actually got it while still pregnant because it looked like it would handle curves well and not make me feel dowdy.

For nursing I just wear whatever fits over my boobs which includes some of my button downs (I don't have as narrow a waist). But really I'm not dressing very stylish right now and don't care if my flesh shows when nursing.
posted by R343L at 11:52 AM on January 2, 2014

My favorite type of shirt for nursing was a knit henley, something that was relatively form-fitting in the waist (unlike a woven button-up shirt) but stretchy and could be buttoned down several inches from the top for easy access. Maybe something like this from Old Navy, or this from the Gap. I also wore a lot of cowl-neck shirts with a thin camisole underneath; this allowed for top-access again but the cami prevented any serious low-cut boob exposure. I never liked having to pull up my shirt from the bottom, because I felt like it got in the way of my baby's face (and put the whole shirt in the danger zone for spit-up or leaking milk).
posted by Jemstar at 12:28 PM on January 2, 2014

I have never had a baby, but I do have broad shoulders, big boobs and a much smaller waist than those boobs/shoulders. I recently purchased this shirt, from the same company R343L linked. It's a) really nice quality, b) the "wings" are wide enough at the top that I can wear it with or without a camisole depending on the look I'm going for. You could easily pull a boob out and over the wrap part. And, since it's a wrap-you can tie it as tight as you need at the waist part. Previous comments said it ran small so I bought a large. I would have been fine with the medium I usually wear, but since it's a wrap shirt, it looks just fine as a large. Also, the shipping info said it was going to take like 6 weeks or something crazy to get to me-it took less than a week.
posted by atomicstone at 3:07 PM on January 2, 2014

Seconding chiababe. I never had any "nursing shirts." I wore the cheap $3 strappy tanks from Forever21's plus size section under all my tees, and to nurse, I pulled the tee hem up and the tank's neckline down. I'm a size 14 and a 34GG, and the 1X worked perfectly for me.

I wouldn't even bother with button-ups. They're so hard to fit anyway and you really do have to take them nearly all the way off to nurse (or at least I would have - I will never understand why they're touted as breastfeeding-friendly). Most of my t-shirts were cotton-spandex $10 ones from Target, and I often wore an unbuttoned cardigan over the top for warmth/color variety. The 5% spandex was key for me - 100% cotton shirts seemed to just stretch out into unflattering bags over time whereas the spandexy ones snapped back into shape better.

Really though, the key is the under layer. You could also probably use a BellaBand (or the equivalent) for the same effect and you wouldn't have to pull anything down, but I preferred the tank.
posted by meggan at 4:53 PM on January 2, 2014

I find I'm most comfortable when I wear layers, usually a nursing tank under a shirt that can be easily pulled up over it. Pulling shirts down has never worked for me. Due to bustiness, I have problems with the fit of button-down shirts even when I'm not nursing, and I also find the openings in most nursing tops aren't in the right place, or they feature some kind of gathered or empire waist that actually ends up in the middle of my boobs. The tank (and I too like the Target ones) keeps everything covered but the essentials, and I find they can be worn with a nursing bra and not be too restrictive. (Can't go without the bra in public, so I just deal with the multiple hooks thing.) I do also have a lightweight nursing cover that I use when out and about--works better for me than a blanket since my kidlet's kind of a difficult latch right now.
posted by percolatrix at 4:58 PM on January 2, 2014

In public, I wore a nursing bra and tshirt or jersey camisole under an unbuttoned button-down shirt. Tshirt up, and overshirt available for privacy if needed. At home, nursing bra and loose shirts.
posted by theora55 at 8:21 PM on January 2, 2014

Yeah, follow the one-up, one-down theory; regular shirt that you would normally wear on top, nursing tank underneath. The nursing tank keeps your belly & back covered, when you've lifted the top shirt to nurse. The only skin that will end up exposed will be the one breast, which will be covered by the baby's head anyway.

Cardigans and nursing tanks work especially well for nursing in public, because you can nurse with relative modesty, and also pull the cardigan around the baby, to keep out some of the distraction.
posted by vignettist at 11:14 PM on January 2, 2014

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