Can Breastfeeding Dresses Also Be Cool?

Who makes 'em? And are they what women want?


“This might be like, a ‘truth bomb’ to people,” said Ellie, mom of two and general BAMF, “but [breastfeeding] moms are also women.” Ellie was one of a few stylish moms whose brains WTG picked out of curiosity on a topic we don't see covered enough in magazines: what happens to the way you dress once you start nursing? Does anyone make fashionable breastfeeding dresses? Ellie continued on to explain that when she says, "women," she really means to say (with a good dose of tongue-in-cheek), is that she feels as if women who are nursing are often expected to forgo any interest in looking stylish as a breastfeed-er to either 1) let their personal style fall by the wayside, and wear whatever makes nursing easiest or 2) conceal their breastfeeding and try to "come off as a non-mom," she says with a laugh. “It’s so infuriating that sometimes even friends don’t get why I’m not ok just wearing something that makes me feel like a paper bag. I don’t think they mean to [be offensive], but I’m also like, ‘Hey, still the same person over here.'” 

It’s something more and more brands are recognizing. Loyal HanaBoob and ASOS, for example, get a gold star for delivering on-trend designs (i.e. asymmetrical cut tops, shoulder cutouts and velvet dresses) for ladies who nurse. Katie, another mom with style swag, told us she practically lived in a ribbed dress (that feels very The Line By K-cool) by Wilfred Free. "I wore [it] everyday pregnant and you can totally pull it over and breastfeed in it…” she said. Otherwise, “pants and skirts with button down blouses” and “yoga pants and sports bras” became go-tos for this mom, who, when she thought about it, admitted she didn’t really know any brands that make breastfeeding dresses. “I feel like companies should make them specifically for breastfeeding,” she said, “since they do really make sense.” 

Consider Au Lait (that's French for “with milk”), a brand whose mission is to offer up clothes that women enjoy on a practical and aesthetic basis: “[Au Lait was] created because new moms should not feel like they do not have the time nor the option to feel beautiful and desirable while also being able to nurse.” Then there’s the Brooklyn brand Allette, which is the lovechild of two hip Brookyln moms, Celine and Oksana. “[We] love fashion almost as much as we love our kids,” they told Thrive Global, “and wanted to show other moms that 'nursing fashion' does not have to be an oxymoron. So our idea, while simple enough, is actually quite novel; to design breastfeeding clothes that nursing moms actually want to wear while nursing, but keep on wearing once they’ve weaned baby."

As it turns out, these brands are showing that there’s more than one way to make a sneaky, sartorially chic passageway to the chest. For beginners, there’s the wrap-dress (shoutout to Diane Von Furstenberg for these babies, which are always worth investing in), whose elegant drapery and adjustable waistlines are always a plus (#foodbaby anyone?). Then there are dresses with zippers on the chest, shift dresses with side panels, slits, flaps and other hacks that we imagine make women feel like a top-notch boob magician. 
“I mean look at Pinterest, people obsess over babies and maternity wear stuff... but once I popped [my babies] out, it was almost like, ‘ok, now [that] you’re not pregnant, you have to jump right back into being the regular person you were a year ago,” said Ellie, “which is such a strange standard.” In other words, she felt like there was no social – let alone fashionable – space carved out for her; either she was a pregnant Pinterest Madonna or a “regular” woman. Where could she thrive as the person she was: the nursing-woman-who-has-just-had-a-baby lady? Allette has also picked up on this disproportionate focus, explaining that, “while the maternity fashion market has exploded over the last few years to cater the bump, clothes designed specifically for the nursing mom, has yet to catch up.” 

As the fashion industry becomes more and more inclusive, we want to see more brands address the diverse needs of nursing mothers. The way we dress can be a cathartic form of self-expression, and there's no reason that having a child should change that.

Here are 15 dresses we love for their style and nursing ease: 
Wilfred Free Yasmin Dress - $65
Boob, Tilda Dress - $105
Club L Plisse Wrap Over 3/4 Sleeve Midi Dress - $38
ASOS Maternity Stripe Ruffle One Shoulder Mini Dress - $49
Allette Black Margot Dress - $158
ASOS Maternity NURSING Embellished Mini Dress - $98
Boob, Long Wrap Dress - $149
ASOS Maternity Cold Shoulder Slip Dress - $38
ASOS Maternity NURSING Velvet High Neck Mini Dress - $58
Club L Plus Plisse Wrap Dress - $46
ASOS Maternity Dress in Stripe with Drape Front - $64
ASOS Maternity NURSING Double Layer Bodycon Midi Dress with Cold Shoulder - $22
Mamalicious Nursing Double Layer Ribbed Dress - $41
Boob, Simone Wide Skirt Dress - $109
Loyal Hana Cybelle Box Plaid Dress - $125

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