Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Editor: Vol. III, No. 16

Maternity evening wear, navy blazers that don’t look like suit jackets, and shorts for an ‘old Mom’ are on offer today.  Let’s go to the mail bag for this edition of Ask the Editor.

A-

Can you help me find a pair of denim shorts that won’t make me look like an ‘old Mom’ trying to wear shorts?  

Thank you. Lee

First off, I won’t have that disparaging talk here.  ‘Old’ is in the eye of the beholder.  Don’t let society’s mistaken belief that only women in their 20s are vital and sexy take down your self esteem.  Women of any age can wear shorts, and there are lots of styles that flatter a myriad of body types.

My first suggestion would be to choose a longer inseam.  5″ is my ideal length.  I would also recommend choosing fun styles.  It’s summer, getting dresses should be a joy.

For denim shorts, Old Navy always has a wide selection of styles that are well-made for the price point.  I like these 5″ cut-offs in a light wash.  These white shorts are still available in plus-size.  And these $12 rolled front shorts are a great option.

If you don’t find something at Old Navy, Gap always has good choices.  Including these maternity options.

If you prefer chino shorts, J.Crew and J.Crew Factory are my go-tos, no exceptions.  J.Crew offers their 5″ short (also in plus) in more muted hues.  Factory is bringing the bright colors.

Belle/Abra:

Do you have a drugstore dupe for your Hourglass eyebrow pencil?  I bought it and loved it, but it’s too expensive to become a regular thing.  Thanks for the great recommendation.

Casey

I do love that Hourglass pencil, but she is not cheap.  To get a wider selection of hair colors, I think the Morphe Micro-Pencil is the best option.  Same thin pencil, spoolie at the end, long-wear formula.

Abra,

On behalf of pregnant women everywhere, thanks for incorporating tips on maternity wear. I’m only a few weeks behind you with my first – also an IVF baby – and due in late August, which brings me to my question: My cousin is getting married in late October and the dress code is black tie optional (which I always take as a chance to dress up – my husband will be in a tux).

I’ll be about two months postpartum and have no idea where to begin in planning for body shape, size, nursing or not, etc. Most maternity clothes I wear to work now are from I & I or Seraphine, but still have that extra soft, pregnancy-comfort texture (jersey, cotton, etc). Any recommendations you might have for black tie wear during the fourth trimester would be much appreciated – and, if not, we’ll navigate it somehow!

Thanks so much, K

My thought here is to buy a dress that you think you will feel comfortable in, so that you know you have something, and then try on a few more styles closer to the day.  That way, you’re not left stuck, but you also can change your plan, to fit your body or your mood, when you know how your body will look and feel.

I really like the neckline on this Seraphine navy gown.  The dress doesn’t read “maternity,” so it’s a good choice for post-partum.  And I’ve seen this style on Poshmark gently used, so the price tag doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.  In the same vein, I like this Grecian, one shoulder gown from Tiffany Rose.

Another option would be to size up in a gown with a wrap-dress style.  You can do a lot with a maxi-wrap, including adding statement jewelry and cool shoes.  And since the dress is adjustable, you can usually avoid shape wear if you don’t want to wear it. I adore this split sleeve wrap in deep green from Mac Duggal.  This Ralph Lauren Knot Front Gown also has a flattering style that would work well.

Hello Abra,

I found your blog from the New York Times article, and it’s what I always needed.  Can you help me find a relaxed navy blazer?  I have suit jackets, I need a blazer that is not a suit jacket.  I also want to spend $250 at most.

Can’t wait to hear back! Kaylee

This is an interesting question.  My first thought is a gold button, double breasted blazer like this one from Lioness.  I also like this one from Bar III with a puffed sleeve.

My beloved Cinq a Sept blazer is finally on sale, so it’s under $250 right now.  It comes in many colors, but the pushed up sleeve makes it look relaxed and cool.  I have the mid-slate-blue, but I would own them all.

And for one last option, I like this belted navy blazer from Ralph Lauren.  It’s a nice alternative to a regular jacket.  It looks very cool, thanks the the wider, substantial tie.

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LEAVE A COMMENT

    14 comments

  1. Naomi says:

    A thought for K- will baby be at the wedding? Will you be breastfeeding? If so, then it’s a good idea to think about a dress that’s nursing friendly (it looks like that Seraphine gown fits the bill). At that age, babies are so unpredictable, that even trying to time nursing isn’t a guarantee that they won’t want to nurse in the middle of the best man’s speech.

    May 26, 2022/Reply
  2. Kathy says:

    Another rec for K if she decides to breastfeed — Lilypadz. They’re a combo of breastpads and nipple covers — either way great for Postpartum Black Tie. They’ll catch a sizeable leak (I went off once when a train went by), and smooth out constantly pointy nips.

    For the dress, I would just rent something! Two months PP is so early in what your body might settle into, I wouldn’t want to invest.

    May 26, 2022/Reply
  3. Ashley says:

    a thought for K based on my experience with 2 weddings when my first was 6 weeks and 8 weeks old. pre-pregnancy, I was an 8-10 (maybe 12). i bought a size 12 and it fit fine – something with enough stretch and drape that I probably could have worn any of the 3 sizes. what was most important is that my breastfeeding breasts went from a Bish to DD, so i needed space/comfort for those. and easy access for nursing/pumping. I ended up with something not too far off from this: https://www.nordstrom.com/s/levkoff-v-neck-pleat-chiffon-a-line-gown/5187587

    May 26, 2022/Reply
    • KLO says:

      Yes, agree! I have a formal wedding to attend in Sept and am 6 weeks post partum right now. My advice is to get something with an empire or raised waistline, so the dress fits at the smallest point of the abdomen and then flows down to the feet. The style you shared is what I’m looking at also. Since I’m nursing, my chest fluctuates size a LOT, so fitted crew neck, halters, etc feel like a risk. They might fit at the start of the night, but by the end…?

      May 26, 2022/Reply
      • KLO says:

        Oh, another thing I’ve looked into is having a dress made to my measurements. eShakti might be an option closer to the wedding date (with enough time budgeted to make and ship).

        May 26, 2022/Reply
      • Lindsay says:

        This comment gave me a chuckle. I attended a black tie event a few months after my baby was born, and rented a gorgeous dress from RTR with a plunging neckline. My boobs looked incredible at the start of the night, but I had to pump a few hours into the event, and you can absolutely tell the “Before” and “After” in pictures 😉

        June 7, 2022/Reply
  4. S says:

    Another thought for K – the two commenters so far have brought up great points so far re: nursing/pumping and breast size. But I would say, don’t buy anything until you’re actually postpartum. Maybe it’s not the norm, but I unexpectedly dropped 35 pounds in the first two weeks after giving birth (ending 15 pounds below my pre-IVF weight). Most of the things I had bought during pregnancy for 3rd/4th trimester were HUGE, and all of the things I hadn’t been able to wear in years suddenly fit again.

    May 26, 2022/Reply
  5. Rita says:

    I had quite a few events while pregnant/post-partum and I found some great dresses at Asos. Their maternity clothes are at a great price point and some of the designs look quite high-end!

    May 26, 2022/Reply
  6. JLO says:

    Re: denim shorts, I found a wonderful pair at J.Crew Factory, which I almost passed on trying because I don’t normally wear denim shorts but am so glad I did. These are the High-rise Midlength Denim Short in Harbor Wash. I got them on major sale back in April and it looks like they’re on sale again! One recommendation is to size down…I am normally a 27 but got these in a 26. They’re soft and something I’d actually feel comfortable wearing all day. They feel broken in already.

    https://factory.jcrew.com/m/womens/categories/clothing/jeans/even-more-jean-styles/high-rise-midlength-denim-short-in-harbor-wash/MF188?display=standard&fit=Classic&color_name=harbor-wash&colorProductCode=BF777

    If you’re looking for a stiffer denim, I do like these Madewell shorts linked below. They’re out of stock now but you might be able to find them elsewhere! They’re a more traditional stiff denim but break in fairly easily after a few wears so they become loose.

    https://www.madewell.com/relaxed-mid-length-denim-shorts-in-scottsburg-wash-MD744.html

    May 26, 2022/Reply
  7. Meghan says:

    Additional comments for K – you may also want to consider if you will be pumping/breastfeeding. That early on your boobs may still be learning and long durations could get painful. Easy access may be a necessity.

    May 26, 2022/Reply
  8. Caitlin says:

    The best shorts (jorts?) I found were actually from American Eagle. They have several “boyfriend” or “mom” or “midi” styles with a longer inseam, and most importantly – STRETCHY. For some reason most of GAP’s longer inseam shorts were zero-to-low stretch denim, and I know they’re the parent company of Old Navy, but YMMV.

    My main goal this summer is to be comfortable while doing things. Life is too short and unpredictable to show up to an event or gathering and be uncomfortable because of stiff shorts.

    May 27, 2022/Reply
  9. Rebecca says:

    Abra: your first paragraph in your first response (about disparaging talk and societal expectations) is what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

    May 27, 2022/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It’s hard to silence, but a lot of the negative self talk just comes from the decades we all spent with the whole world commenting on the appearance of women. And we just need to say, you know what, that was bull. Even though it will be a struggle for all of us.

      May 27, 2022/Reply
  10. Emily says:

    Another comment for K! I had to attend a black tie evet 5 weeks postpartum with my second. I was able to shop and find a dress in person. I too was very uncertain of the size I would need and this allowed me to try things on. Mainly I want to recommend checking your Nordstrom and Bloomingdales – both had nice mother’s rooms in my area for sitting down with a baby to nurse/bottle feed/take a break/whatever – so they made it easy to be there with baby in tow and you didn’t feel like you were sitting in a bathroom or changing room. I was also lucky enough to have a friend on maternity leave with so we shopped together and she helped me find the right outfit.

    May 31, 2022/Reply