Happiness, Life Hacks, Organization, Productivity, The Projects

The Great Maternity Leave Projects: Hack your Wardrobe

Why Read this Article:    I take two staple clothing items and show you how to create a stylish look + capsule wardrobe from them that WORKS on maternity leave.  I also address the obstacles that sometimes prevent us from dressing up – and how to deal with those obstacles.

Reading Time:  Less than 5 minutes.

Today, as I sit in Ikea eating my $2.99 breakfast, I am very excited to bring you:  Hacking your wardrobe only with TWO items. 

I recently saw a post by Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook about having trouble deciding what to wear for his first day of work after paternity leave; his closet was full of the same grey shirt.  Obama does it too.  Blue suits. Every day.  What are they onto? Genius things!!

I feel like I am letting you in on a deep, dark secret today.  Lean in and I’ll tell you.

I wear black leggings and a black tank top EVERY DAY.

I have equal amounts of love for yoga pants and getting glammed up. I happily switch between 4 inch heels and my “cat hair pants” depending on where I am.  Such is life on maternity leave.  But, I try not to look too bedraggled when I go out.

(When I do, I run into at least 10 people I know.)

What nobody knows is I have the same 2 pieces on every single day.  It’s like my little fun secret. I smile to myself when I get a compliment on my outfit and think “if you only knew!”

Why did I make this a project?  Because at some point after childbirthing when my vagina stopped hurting in jeans, I decided it was time to get my groove back.  I am a strong believer that there is something magical that happens to your confidence when you put on lip gloss and mascara, a nice accessory and a decent outfit.

It’s not about the look.  It’s about that little spark that it produces inside your mind – that nobody else can see.  That little spark that says:

I started my day taking care of me.  

I started my day with good energy.  

I did something special for me.  

It’s not about portraying an image to the world.  It’s about the effect it has on the inside.

I don’t dress or do my makeup for anyone.  I do it for me.

My body has built, housed and birthed one 10lb and one 8lb baby in the space of two years.  It has lost and gained, and lost and gained again 40 pounds each time.

I deserve to honour it by adorning it in clothing.    

I deserve to put some tinted moisturizer on this face that has documented my emotions and collected memories for safekeeping in the lines upon its surface.   

After all that poetic prose, let’s get back to reality.

Do you Struggle with These Things when you Try to Dress Up?

Spending money on clothes (my financial priority is funding my lifestyle of fun adventures & travel, not being able to participate in a spontaneous activity because of my outfit, and struggling with decisions.

Honestly, getting out of the house is a bit more time consuming these days – getting shoes on a two year old took over what used to be my “casually peruse my wardrobe and pinterest for ideas” time.

The Capsule Wardrobe is a Great Solution

The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is that you have “base layers” – neutral coloured, simple pieces that all go with each other.  Then, you can really go to town on colourful accessories.

I loved this idea from the start and began researching style blogs and pinterest.

For example, this Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget.

It is a great idea, and one I immediately jumped upon.  In my post partum body I’m more likely to buy accesories anyways, so this seemed perfect!

What is it about maternity leave and clothing that is a challenge:

One of the things that is a struggle in maternity leave (I know this is a struggle for me) is that you have specific needs.  Your need for comfort is higher, because you’ve got that weird flappy area of your abdomen where a baby used to be, you may have to get your boobs out alot, you overheat at the snap of a finger, you have sutures, your vagina hurts, etc.

Have a good think about your clothing items you wear ALL the time.  Seriously, the outfit you could wear every single day.  What needs do they satisfy?  

Here are the Pieces that Became the MAGICAL Base of my Wardrobe:

1.) Lululemon cool racerback black tanktop OR a black generic maternity tank top:  long for my tall body & oversized abdomen, easy to access boobage, layers under everything, just the right flattering neckline for the post partum boobs, no cold wind on my tummy, fits me pregnant and not pregnant, lasts FOREVER.

2.)  Lululemon wunder under leggings with the HIGH waist:  They don’t fall down; I can wear them at home and the gym or for a walk, I can match any shoes with them, they last FOREVER, pregnant and not pregnant they fit, layers with so much, keeps the abdomen in, comfortable as f*ck.

So, I decided to make that combo my base layer and build my capsule wardrobe on top of that.  I’m kind of anal so I had multiple requirements of any outfit.  Because dammit, we have babies and life is busy, and clothes need to be as versatile as we are!

From the FIRST day I saw this meme I knew it was for me. I am all about efficiency, productivity and speed. This lady pops up in my mind the MOMENT I decide something is too time consuming.  She is like my spirit animal. She’s there errrrryday.

She would approve of this wardrobe hack using the idea of capsule wardrobes. 


I needed to be able to: 

  • Wear pregnant, post partum or on a regular ‘ol day.  I can’t afford to spend a lot on clothes.  Vereee limited budget.
  • Make dressing a QUICK and EASY process each day.
  • Transition to summer, to winter and back again with accessories.
  • If I sell or consign they hold resale value (I consign and always buy on the sale rack.)
  • Take off just one quick layer to get into gym or activity clothes.
  • Hold body parts together when I bolt after my 2 year old.

I feel like I am asking to win the lottery, but after research and testing things out on myself, I found it IS possible to check off all of the above boxes with particular types of clothing.

I get all of my outfit inspirations from Pinterest and have a huge British Style Board – but I’ve put together a board so you can see exactly what pieces I am talking about.  I like ot think it’s on par with current trends, but if you wind up looking far too disenfranchised, maybe nudge me and say “hey…Carina…”

In this case, I think visual images are more powerful than words, so hop on over to the Great Maternity Leave Capsule Wardrobe Board for some inspiration.  Because the pictures are soooo much more exciting than this list below.

Pieces to add to your leggings + tank or leggings + long sleeve tshirt base layer:

-Open vests, cardigans, jackets or blazers (so they fit the bump; post partum you can close them with a belt)

-Oversize / blanket scarves

-High boots 

-Loose / oversize sweaters

-Any accessory you like!  I am a cliche and love my scarves + raybans combo.  

-Capes / Ponchos

See, on screen these look kind of … blah.

In fact, these items on their own in the wardrobe just look like a bunch of boring colours designed to hide your body.

NOT THE CASE AT ALL.  Look how powerful a basic oversized white blouse and leggings can become with the right accessories.    BAM.

And accessories always fit. 

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