Work appropriate plus-size nursing dresses and tops?
July 27, 2016 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find plus-size nursing clothes (ideally dresses but tops too) that I can wear to work?

I go back to work in about three weeks and I need clothes I can wear to pump easily. I'd also like to be able to leave the house looking like an adult but still be able to feed my baby. I'd prefer dresses although tops are okay but I'm not great at putting together outfits so if you have a suggestion for a top I'd really, really appreciate it if you could let me know what skirt I should wear it with, ideally with a link (not pants, I don't find pants comfortable unless they're yoga pants). I'd prefer not to spend a TON of money but really I'm most concerned with actually finding some damn clothes that fit and aren't terrible.

If at all possible, I'd like links to specific articles of clothing; plenty of maternity sites have both nursing and plus-size sections but with very little overlap so links to places like that aren't particularly helpful.


1) You can't be able to see my bra, either in the cleavage area or under the arms (normally I'd just wear a camisole but that defeats the purpose of wearing nursing clothes).

2) Skirts and/or dresses need to be at least knee length. It drives me CRAZY how short everything is! I'm looking for nursing clothes; I don't need to look like a gogo dancer!

3) My office isn't super formal but it's an office; "business casual" is the official dress code although I'd prefer the slightly more formal end of that scale.

4) NOT regular button down shirts. I hate them, I hate how they fit me, I am not comfortable in them, and I won't wear them. If you are thinking "that crazy Mrs. Pterodactyl doesn't know what's good for her, Oxford shirts are the only good option here and if she won't wear those she is not willing to solve her problem" you might well be right and I totally understand your frustration with me, but I hate them and won't wear them so please don't suggest them.

I am really struggling to find work-appropriate nursing outfits that will fit me and not look just godawful. I'm also not great with clothes in general and would like to look good since this is the first time I'll be wearing anything other than maternity clothes at this job. I am super grateful for any suggestions you can make. Thank you so much for your help!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This kind of thing was my favorite solution and this one comes in up to XXL. This one is more business-appropriate but I think the first one could work with black pants and some jewelry..?

I would never wear a button down shirt or encourage you to do so, nursing or otherwise. you're ok.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:48 AM on July 27, 2016

I found that nursing clothes weren't really necessary for pumping at work (and I didn't really care for most of them, they were expensive and I already had enough clothes, etc.). I wore mostly dressy non-maternity/nursing tops, either in a stretchy knit fabric or with a blousy/swing fit, and I'd just yank the top up over my boobs for pumping. Something like this, for example. Pair with a stretchy pull-on skirt in a dark neutral, like this one, add a blazer or cardigan if necessary, and you're good to go. This isn't a super great strategy if you plan to breastfeed in your work clothes, but it's totally fine if you pump at work and change into non-fancy clothes once you're home.

And yeah, button-down shirts suck, especially when you have boobs, double especially when you have larger-than-usual nursing boobs and need quick access.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:29 PM on July 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Right now I'm 32 weeks pregnant and still working in a professional office. I've had a hard time finding double-duty maternity/nursing clothes that will be ok for the office...but I'm doing well with hiding my black maternity/nursing tank top straps with blazers or cardigans, and dressing up the look with pretty scarves and a bit of statement jewelry. I either wear black pants or my black patterned skirt.

Really, the tip to looking professional as a woman any time means having a "complete" outfit, with the accessories and good shoes finishing the look. It doesn't have to be expensive, pick a color palette for your wardrobe and work with that. I tend to do black, beige, grey, and white as my base colors, and then bring in a favorite color with a scarf. My jewelry is typically gold-toned, with white/black/a color.

The bonus part is with the blazer/cardigan and scarf combo, I can also a) hide stains/wet spots, and b) stay warm in this freezing office.
posted by lizbunny at 12:33 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Will you be pumping or nursing? Nursing tops help hide what the baby is doing. If you are pumping in a private area, having a few rock-solid nursing bras with nursing pads underneath a shell, t-shirt or sleeveless shirt that you can lift for pumping and put together when done will be solid when you pump & return to work. If you are nursing before dropoff & when you pick up, a shirt with even the tiniest bit of give or drape will give you cover if you are in the car or nursing at the child care provider's place. You may just want to go for it with non-nursing tops & run a few dress rehearsals in a Lane Bryant or Macy's dressing room with a friend. One you have some sizes nailed down, hit the Internet.

There is a corporette moms site that may have done some legwork for you, try adding that to your Google-fu, too. Happy hunting!
posted by childofTethys at 1:42 PM on July 27, 2016

The best pump at work ensemble I found was

Top layer 1:Really good nursing bra that fit well, Freya/cake/elomi/hotmilk quality. You may not be as busty but this was the key for me to look put together but still find pumping easy. Also really helped my comfort level. I bought a couple when I returned to work and a couple more at 9 months or so.

Layer 2:. Stretchy cheap camisole, to be pulled down as Metroid Baby describes. I didn't find the nursing ones useful - cheap ones in packs from Costco in standard undershirt colors were great. You will throw these away when they get too stretched out, but how long do these really last?

Top layer 3: Wrap tops, knit tops, wrap dresses that could be pulled aside or pulled up. Nothing that requires getting into or out of - other types of dresses didn't work. I liked the Japanese Weekend nursing tops for days I was home and breastfeeding full time, but they weren't necessary for pumping, or even when I had the opportunity to do lunchtime feeds.

Bottom layer - maternity skirts and pants for a few weeks, then just plain a-line or pencil skirts or plain black pants. Some top/skirt combos were matched so closely they passed for dresses. I also agree with the advice to do a very limited color pallet -black/gray so you can wear everything with everything else and all accessories.
posted by sputzie at 2:15 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Old Navy is where I got all of my plus size pregnancy & nursing gear.
posted by tristeza at 5:51 PM on July 27, 2016

You do not need nursing shirts for pumping at work if your pumping location is private. All you need are clothes that will allow you easy access to both breasts simultaneously for pumping and that you can put back together pretty quickly, since you'll be doing it 2-3x/day. Do not worry about discretion because you'll (hopefully) be in a locked room with your nipples on full display.

Any dress or shirt that can be pulled down or aside for access will do fine. The only clothes that are really difficult are high-necked tailored sheath dresses where the only option is to remove the whole dress. Most other clothes will be much easier to manage. A shirt can just be pushed up for pumping, even if it's high-necked. A cardigan can be unbuttoned. Surplice/wrap dresses- just pull the sides of the top apart like you're Clark Kent transforming into Superman! A lot of your regular clothes may work fine!

Instead of spending your money on nursing-specific shirts, invest in well-fitting nursing bras (I love the Elomi ones!) and clothes that fit you now and make you feel beautiful. Going back to work with an infant at home can be a very exhausting experience, so do what you can to make yourself feel good, confident, and energized where possible.

You do want a pumping bra! I liked this one. These are (generally speaking) not supportive like a real bra, and you do not wear them all day- you just strap them on when it's time to pump. I would adjust my clothes for breast access, open the nursing flaps on my bra, strap on the pumping bra, adjust the flanges into place, and I was ready to pump. (After a week or two, you get the hang of it and it goes quickly.)
posted by aabbbiee at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2016

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