Sometimes, I go to the store with the best intentions – Must! Buy! Nursing! Tops! – but even with my wallet out and my debit card a-wavin’, I’m thwarted in my attempts to be somewhat fashionable even as I tote around a hungry baby.
Thanks to the site Dress The Bump, I got the idea, when pregnant, to learn how non-maternity wear could suit my purposes for less money – empire waist, you are my friend! Could non-nursing clothes be similarly re-purposed? I’ve found the answer – and (spoiler alert!) it’s a resounding yes.
My favorite nursing top, in fact, is a cross-front Weston Wear knit top that I got for $11 at a sample sale. I know, I rock. And I’m about to blow your mind as I expand every nursing mom’s wardrobe possibilities, with tips for your own shopping expeditions.
This simple solution from Target is a perfect example (as is my favorite top, above). If you search "knit, cross-front" or "jersey, cross-front," you will often find many options that let you pop out a boob without performing calesthenics. This can be worn over a thin v-front nursing bra in the heat, and topped with a muslin blanket or hooter-hider, you can easily feed your little one. Buy it a little large if you want to be able to pull it aside more easily. $10 at Target, even easier version $17 at Old Navy.
I have several knot-front dresses that go neatly over a nursing tank to provide easy access with minimal fuss. Three search terms are going to be your guide to finding the right one: Knot-front, jersey, baby-doll. As with all the other suggestions here, you've got to buy it where you can try it on or return it, because a little experimentation is always helpful. This is definitely one case where "eek, I can't wear that without a tank-top" suddenly becomes "Hey! I can wear this with a nursing tank! I got mine for $25 at Loehmann's, but you can also spend $129 at Amazon.
The Plunging V
Also called the Plunging U, these are shirts that you might not have considered in your pre-nursing life -- but that suddenly make life easier when your decolletage has a new purpose. Again, you buy it a little big so it drapes rather than clings; you try a few different ones till you find the right mix of access and cover-up; and then, you buy one million of them. Mine was bought many moons ago at Banana Republic, and is no longer available (waah!), but you can get the same idea for $22.99 at Victoria's Secret.
The Henley Tunic / Shirt Dress
I mean, we all know that buttons mean access, but how about making it look nice in the bargain? My Henleys aren't worth reproducing here because if it doesn't flutter around your tummy, it's not going to be useful post-partum. I bought a Victoria's Secret version that I thought would answer all my prayers, but the empire waist didn't go down low enough to be useful (I had to hoist my breasts up and over the edge), and I ended up giving them away. Sad times. But I think this version, even though it clearly makes the model sad, might be a better fit. (Technically, it's not a Henley, but I like the word so much.) $275 (?!?!) at Urban Outfitters.
The V-Waist Tunic
A perfect example of fashion meets function -- and not necessarily the one the designers expected. This tunic is slimming, tummy-hiding, and the stretchy fabric combined with the plunging neckline and front-cross design makes it easy to get at the goods. $39 at Urban Outfitters.
The Cowl Neck
This is the item that set off my obsession, and it caught Dress the Bump's interest too: a loose, louche cowl-neck that can both expose and hide simultaneously, in some kind of crazy David Blaine nursing-trick. Would it work for you? Will it work for me? Am I really going to click "buy" right now? Tell me! $13 at Old Navy.
Have you found nursing-friendly fashion in non-nursing parts of the store? Have you modified your tops to accomodate breastfeeding?