Interview Clothes for the Nursing Mother
February 3, 2015 7:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm interviewing for jobs a few months out from having a baby and I'm at a loss for what to wear. I could use suggestions for a few clothing items to buy to interview in now that I have some in-person interviews, without having to buy a new outfit for every interview or spending a lot of money on clothes that won't fit for very long.

Some specifics:
I'm looking for mid-senior level IT jobs. East Coast/NE US. I have an interview this week with a nonprofit organization.

I've been working in frumpy casual or business casual IT environments for a while. I feel like there's been a shift in women's fashion in the last 2-3 years. Last time I did interviews I wore pant suits, but I don't feel very comfortable in them when they don't fit perfectly. I've checked out previous questions but the most applicable are from 2011 or earlier.

I'm tall, broad-shouldered and very busty (UK H), but I have good nursing bras. I'm 15lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight, and also hippier, much thinner up top and smaller over all so I'm starting from nothing. I don't fit in any of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and I'm likely to lose more weight. I was size 14/16, 12 in some pants before pregnancy, and size 10/12 in maternity clothes.

I've got shoes and bags and jewelry covered, and some belts that I think are conspicuously 3-4 years ago, so I don't need tips on accessories.
posted by sputzie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Black pencil skirt and white button down top. As you have accessories down, dress it up with accessories. Clean, simple, and looks like you can fit in anywhere.
posted by skittlekicks at 8:03 AM on February 3, 2015

Best answer: A good, basic grey or black suit jacket should help give you options. You want the jacket to button just below the bust, and lay flat above. This is actually fairly forgiving of size changes, and you may be able to move the button (fairly easy DIY) to accommodate some weight loss.
posted by zennie at 8:09 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would not get a button down shirt-they are often hard to size appropriately for busty women any way, and it sounds like that is an area that may fluctuate for you if you are smaller now. I would get a skirt, silk (or similar) shell, and a blazer that looks good buttoned or unbuttoned. That will be a bit more forgiving of weight changes.
posted by Missense Mutation at 8:12 AM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm busty and hour-glass shaped so I know that blazers and shirts are a nightmare.

Black slacks are good for an interview and you can wear them to work once you've landed the job. Pair with Sweater sets and scarfs, or a shell and jacket. I like black because you can wear it twice and change it up with different tops and shoes.

I'd recommend a knit tops/shells paired with a longish jacket. I have a cream shell and black jacket, and I wear it with a chunky pearl necklace and black heels. I can also swap in a red/burgundy shell, a chunky red and gold necklace and same colored heels. Same basic "suit" two different looks.

It's okay to buy something nice while you're in transition. You don't have to get by with schleppy or frumpy.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:27 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with Ruthless Bunny that you should buy a few nice things for the weight you are now, even if you know you'll lose weight going forward. Think of them as your current interview uniform. I would not limit yourself to things you can nurse in, either, as this will limit your options. Maybe a nice sheath and a coordinating blazer (like BR)? Then you can also wear each piece separately.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:35 AM on February 3, 2015

Best answer: I'm in a similar position, still nursing (trying to wean). I've been working from home for the better part of the last 8 years, have had 2 kids in the last couple of years, and have my first onsite interview today. I pretty much have *nothing* in my closet that fits. And now I have a small fortune of clothes in my home office right now trying to get an interview outfit pulled together. It's hard! Not just to find something that fits but also is the 'vibe' for the interview.

I think the first thing to figure out is 'what is the interview uniform' for IT jobs on the NE? Is a suit or dress too dressy? Out here the culture is so casual that you could lose points for showing up too dressy, i.e. 'not a culture fit'. Frumpy casual is a great way of describing it, sigh. I struggle with this having grown up back east and being used to everything been a bit more formal on interviews. I'm opting for a (long enough to be modest, but not midi) pencil skirt and a knit top, it will be dressy enough that it will show I care/tried, but not so dressy that I'll feel out of place. But it might not be dressy enough for your situation.

If a wrap dress would work, I'd go for that, you'll get a lot of mileage and they are very forgiving for size adjustments. That's how I would go if I thought it would be ok. And you might as well have a pant/blouse combo as well. There are a lot of tops like theseat Nordstrom, they don't work for me, but they might for you.

I wore this top a ton when I first had my daughter and needed to go into a business casual office on occasion (although I definitely needed a cami), and just ordered another one. But it might not be dressy enough for you.

Unless you have *amazing* nursing bras, I'd buy 1 or 2 inexpensive but really supportive regular bras to wear just to work. It makes such a difference on how everything looks.

Buy a few outfits now and then when you get the job you can decide to return them if they aren't appropriate for the environment and you haven't yet worn them. If going to the mall isn't an option (ours is hours away), Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and Boden are your friends, b/c they offer free shipping and returns. I've also been buying from Land's End (return to Sears) and Nordstrom Rack (free return to store). Although they all may ban my address by the time this process is done. Good luck!
posted by snowymorninblues at 9:16 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would actually recommend against any clothing dress or top that wraps or layers over the bust. I find it's easily for them to slip open and show unprofessional amounts of cleavage, or for one half to slip under one boob, or a million other shifty accidents that I personally find distracting when I'm trying to be on top of my game.

So, no wrap dresses or faux wrap dresses. Just my two cents, maybe others have more compliant chests than I do.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

And I'm a jerk for not mentioning any things you SHOULD wear; I think a black dress, black blazer (a $20 jawn from H&M that fits your shoulders even if you can't button it is fine), sheer-or-opaque black tights*, and your fanciest shoes and bag and necklace would be fine. The Pink Superhero's linked suggestion is what I'm imagining.

*this is regional/personal/depends on the industry, according to previous ask metafilter questions - i'm darkskinned and look ludicrous in "nude" pantyhose that doesn't match my skintone, some warmer weather places might not require tights, etc
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:45 AM on February 3, 2015

Make sure you have industrial strength nursing pads so you do not leak on your interview clothes, no matter what kind you get. I was fortunate not to have to work when my babies were small, but ruined a few tee shirts with milk stains.
posted by mermayd at 10:15 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I cannot recommend this Japanese Weekend top enough. It dresses up and down. It has amazing stretch, so as you lose weight it still fits, and as a bonus, it opens super-discreetly (above or below the wrap) for nursing and pumping, should you so desire.
posted by Mchelly at 10:39 AM on February 3, 2015

Take a look around Chico's website for ideas...

I used to think of it as a frumpy resort-wear brand, but my MIL got me some tops and sweaters for Christmas (still nursing 4 mo old, here) and you know what? They look like the cute stuff at H&M but higher quality and more generously cut. I've got a boyfriend cardigan that I can practically wrap around baby_dactyl when we're nursing in public. But with the right pants, boom, interview clothes.
posted by polly_dactyl at 11:07 AM on February 3, 2015

Corporette Moms is a business style blog that has regular round ups of breast feeding friendly clothes, as well as advice and more.
posted by fermezporte at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2015

When I was young, I wore mostly front-closing bras. When I breastfed my first baby for 22 months, I never owned a nursing bra. Being able to unsnap my front-closing bras worked just fine for nursing.

I also found it perfectly okay to wear knit tops and just lift the top from the bottom. It wasn't necessary to even have stuff with buttons, as long as it was a style I did not have to tuck in. That may be too casual for what you are doing. I was a homemaker at the time. But I did breastfeed in public (at cafes or while shopping or whatever -- people often had no idea that the little bundle I was carrying was being fed).

I don't know how realistic it is to find front closing bras at your size. I know they are harder to find or non-existent (or were, back in the day) for larger sizes. But if you can find front closing bras that work well for you, that might be an option for you that is a "normal" bra but still works for feeding baby.
posted by Michele in California at 1:41 PM on February 3, 2015

« Older help me become Left Shark for Halloween   |   Call Timer App Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.