Help me dress, and appreciate, my post-baby body
June 11, 2021 4:49 PM   Subscribe

My body shaped changed after having a baby in the past year and I've gone from hourglass to "bottom hourglass" and I need help figuring out what to wear and how to feel good about my new shape.

I had a baby last fall and now my waist and hips are both about 4 inches more around than they used to be. I'm having a hard time coming to terms with this because prior to pregnancy I was fairly athletic and then...well, pregnancy and parenthood. I've resumed my workout schedule somewhat but I've come to terms with the fact that my skeletal structure has likewise changed and some things just won't go back to what they were before.

I also don't know what to wear. I used a measurement tool and found out I'm now a "bottom hourglass" which I guess is somewhere between an hourglass and a pear shape. I need ideas on how to dress to flatter my new shape. I have a small wedding to attend this coming fall and none of my dresses fit right anymore.

I'm looking for answers on two things:

1. Are you a bottom hourglass shape? If so, what clothes suit you best and do you have evening gown recommendations?

2. Are you a person whose body shape changed after giving birth? How did you learn to love your new body (or at least, be more ok with it)?
posted by donut_princess to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I probably shouldn't give out fashion advice but as a woman with a similar body:

-Anything with lots of fabric on the bottom just makes my bottom half look double the size, and isn't flattering. Generally I have the best luck with A-line cuts for skirts/dresses.

-any neck cut that draws attention to shoulders/makes shoulders seem wider is generally good. Boatneck, for example, or cap sleeves.

-it might sound counterintuitive, but I generally have luck with pairing a tight bottom (like skinny slacks/jeans) with a slightly loose top (but not boxy).
posted by coffeecat at 5:46 PM on June 11, 2021 [6 favorites]

It took me a couple of years to sort of even back out after my last pregnancy, but I, too, tend toward the pear. I do like a-line, as coffeecat suggests. Also, sheath dresses (not bodycon, but just sheath). I've also really embraced the fit and flare silhouette. I find that Jessica Howard dresses tend to flatter (and are budget-friendly).
posted by girlbowler at 6:02 PM on June 11, 2021

Best answer: Yes my body changed after giving birth. I have never been particularly negative about my body pre or post pregnancy, although I did always want to lose weight since the age of 14-15. I thought I had a great body if only I could lose weight. If I could go back I would never diet or try to lose weight on purpose with the latest diet or any plan that centers around restriction-- including intermittent fasting.

You don't have to love your body but you can be neutral about it. I am okay with my body and even veer on love and like at times-- more often than not it's appreciation. I like Jessi Kneeland's channel on YouTube. She has videos on Body Neutrality and other body issue content. You don't have to have an opinion on your body. It can be what it is.

As far as flattering silhouettes, I would try dresses this summer. I am more of a curvy rectangle. I have curves but not much waist definition compared to my hips, and my hips are not narrow. I would try dresses this summer. Choose something that flows over your lower half.

Evening gown example.

I have recently been inspired by the show Jane the Virgin. I love the styling (plenty of dresses) and how they have fun with clothes and color and accessories. It's all very pretty and accessible if that's your thing. I get a lot of inspiration to have fun with attractive clothes and color, even if the female cast are smaller in size.
posted by loveandhappiness at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2021 [5 favorites]

Are you breastfeeding? Honestly until we weaned I felt kind of “eh” about how I looked because I felt like my boobs were always this drag on things - the non underwire nursing bras I had were functional, not cute.

I tried to just be gentle with myself about how I looked for several years. It’s okay to be in the middle of it all for a while.

My wedding wear recommendation assumes you are trying to accommodate nursing or pumping. I pumped at a wedding in a sheath dress with a drapey enough neck that I could pull it down when my kid was about 8 months old. The dress was from Anthropologie and clingy without being body-con. It had stripes which broke up my outlines a bit.

It’s great to remember that noone cares what anyone is wearing at a wedding besides oohing over the bride, for the most part.

In the rest of your life, don’t assume that this year of post partum represents the way your body will be for the rest of time - 5 years later, I look older (I am!) but not significantly different in shape from my pre pregnancy shape either.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:36 PM on June 11, 2021

Response by poster: Are you breastfeeding?
Nope. We weaned after months of nightly cluster feeds. Everything above the waist is entirely back to normal.
posted by donut_princess at 6:57 PM on June 11, 2021

Best answer: I have not given birth, but I've always been fairly pear-shaped and have yo-yo-ed in weight. My recommendations for dresses are something with some structure, and where any top/bottom/waist size mismatch is not a problem. Halter top/waist detail/flowing skirt is my favorite for evening gowns. For casual dresses, the Tommy Bahama "Clara" dress is very flattering.

Even though at a wedding it's true that no one really cares what you're wearing, _you_ will feel better if you're wearing something you feel good in, so (pandemic willing) I recommend if you can make time for it, some shopping trips or other beautification steps like getting a haircut you like, a manicure, buy some earrings or makeup, whatever you think might make you feel better _for yourself_.
posted by LadyOscar at 9:18 PM on June 11, 2021

This sort of shape is good, I searched "fit and flare princess seams". (Fit and flare means fitted on top and flaring out at the bottom, princess seams means that the seams go vertically down the dress so there's not a waist seam or a belt or anything)
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:26 PM on June 11, 2021

I am not shaped like you (would LOVE if we could do a trade, please take some of my boobs for a couple inches of your hips), but it all boils down to manipulating ratios. The thing is, when we look at a whole person, we aren’t sizing them up with inches and declaring their waist should be smaller and their shoulders broader. We are comparing different points of visual reference within that entire body. So it’s the comparison between, for example, the perceived span of hips to what is displayed as the waist and again to the chest and shoulders that form our impression of a person’s shape. A particularly rotund large person could have an hourglass shape by adding padding to chest and hips and drawing attention to a point above the natural waist via a bright belt - this is how drag queens roll, giving us legs for days and voluptuous body. But we can echo these lessons in real life much less drastically.

For me, because I have no ass, a chubby tummy, and enormous breasts, I need to add lots of volume to my hips and take interest away from my chest, when I’m feeling femme. I do this a few ways. Full skirts are great. Skirts and dresses with embellishment on the hem are great. Layers of flowy tunic and pants with cargo pockets are nice too. To draw attention away from my chest I rarely wear big necklaces and opt for statement earrings and fun hair, and keep tops plain, or incorporating interesting shapes and volume on the sleeves. Obscuring large prints in a tunic or dress that are broken up by a solid belt in the center define a waist where I want it and not where it actually is. A patterned mini skirt, plain top and leggings, and structured jacket is fantastic.

You should do the opposite! Take interest away from your hips and thighs by keeping to simple (but nice! good fabric, big pockets, quality construction) bottoms, like short a-line skirts, sleek leggings, simple ponte trousers, flowing solid color maxi skirts. Slightly longer shorts with cuffed hems would be a cute summer choice and pull interest down to your calves (and possibly your cute sandals). Then add volume and interest on top. Fun patterns, interesting ruffles and textures, layered looks like a soft tank under a draped shell in a contrasting color, buttoned tops or embroidered yokes. A square neckline is quite flattering and will display a little extra collar bone without depending on cleavage. Have fun with chunky necklaces and big draped scarves.

For a wedding guest look, especially in the fall, I would suggest an open embellished jacket, and a solid color tea-length dress. The solid color will make you look a bit taller, because there is no break from the bottom to the top. Get a jacket that ends at where you want your waist to be, generally whatever is the smallest spot on your torso (this is often a few inches above your belly button). That will define the waist for you without completely cutting you in half like a belt would do. Cute embellished boots or pumps will draw the eye from your shoulders where the jacket is all the way to your feet and back, so the outfit feels harmonious without much pause in areas you are self conscious about.

As for loving your body, don’t feel obligated. Try to love the things your body can do, like hold family, make things, experience pleasure, transport you to lovely places and special events. But being okay with your body is a more viable ask, I think. Learning to manipulate its presentation is a useful skill, and one that I have lots of fun with sometimes. Maybe you also can regain that fun. But women get so much pressure, so many mixed messages, to love our bodies and hate them and change them and want the changes and despise the changes... it’s hard not to play the game but by working on being okay with things and not focusing on anything more intense you might avoid it on occasion, and that’s much less burdensome.
posted by Mizu at 12:54 AM on June 12, 2021 [5 favorites]

I have not had a baby, but I’m in my late thirties and sometimes think about the ways my body has changed since I was in high school. There’s the trope of people trying to get back to their high school weight for big reunions, which seems increasingly bizarre to me. My perspective is that bodies aren’t necessarily “supposed” to stay the same over adult life and that it’s fine and totally appropriate that my 38-year-old body is not my 18-year-old body or 28-year-old body [even though those were closer to what The Media says bodies should look like.] Very little about life on earth is static—there are rhythms and cycles. We evolve and shift over our mind (fortunately) isn’t the same as it was at 18 either!
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:04 AM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I actually go for the opposite style than some recommendations above - I’ve always been a “bottom hourglass”, and I love emphasizing the gloriousness of my hips and keeping a trim silhouette up top. Flowy, cropped, tie-waist pants with a tight tank or tee on top; wide-leg, high-waisted pants with a fitted blouse or knit sweater - sometimes something a bit more blousy; skimming-fit pencil skirts, wiggle dresses, etc. Separates are generally helpful because they allow a different size from bottom to top: I love knits on top and tailoring for bottom. High waists are very in right now, with a lot of paperbag trouser styles for summer, 90s barrel jeans with ample thigh room, longer shorts that let you make a statement with your lower half and yet not take the skin off your inner thighs.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 2:37 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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