Episode 33 –
How to build a wardrobe you love as a mama with little ones with Jennifer Mackey Mary
“Aside from the clothing part, there are so many other things going on at the end of a pregnancy, and it’s how you feel about yourself is one thing that you can control. It is one thing that you can do to feel good about yourself and kind of maintain that sense of self.”
Dressing your pregnant belly and feeling good in your clothes postpartum are things that so many of us moms struggle with and that’s why on this episode of the Raiseology Podcast I’m speaking with stylist Jennifer Mackey Mary!
Jennifer shares styling tips I would never have thought of for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond! Check out her seasonal wardrobe capsules for even more direction on how to make styling yourself simple and easy.
Jennifer also recommended checking out ShopStyle for maternity and postpartum ideas!
Find Jennifer on Facebook and if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend! Thank you for listening!
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Click Here to Read the Full Transcript
Welcome to the Raiseology podcast with your host, pediatrician and parenting mentor Sharon Somekh, here to empower parents to raise resilient and independent children. Grab your coffee or your Margarita and let’s get started. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.
Sharon: Happy Tuesday, everyone I have today, a really special guest and I’m excited to introduce Jennifer Mackey Mary. She is a wardrobe stylist who’s on a mission to make style simple for women at every stage. Over the last 17 years, she’s helped thousands of women cut through the clutter in their closets and build stylish wardrobes that make getting dressed fun and easy. Jennifer’s passionate about raising confident daughters, which definitely speaks to me with four daughters, watching historical dramas on PBS and getting every woman in America in a better bra. So today Jennifer and I are going to be talking about how to feel and look like your best self during pregnancy and after you have a baby. And just as a mom in general, because I know that I definitely struggled with this after I had my kids and I sometimes struggle with it still. So thank you so much for being here, Jennifer, and I would love to hear a little bit more about your family and yourself.
Jennifer: Well, thank you so much for having me talking about feeling good in those postpartum days, weeks, months, years. Because for some of us, the baby years can last a very long time, is such a passion of mine. So I’m really, really excited to be able to talk about it today. My family, I have two daughters, they are 10 and 7, which means that I am far enough from the baby years to not remember why I couldn’t take a shower, but still close enough to remember that I couldn’t take a shower. So I’m, I’m kind of losing my grasp on the, uh, on those newborn memories. But yeah, I know it’s a, it’s still a challenging time and I work with a lot of women who are still struggling with that. Let’s see I live in suburban Minnesota, just outside of the twin cities with my fantastic husband and my two fabulous confident daughters for now, let’s hope it continues. And my little tiny rescue dog.
Sharon: Very cute! So yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about, you know, the struggle of how women often feel sort of. I finally ended up pregnancy to be a tough time because you’re already kind of feeling tired and run down and then you know, you’re excited but you don’t feel like yourself in those months and nothing seems to fit right. And, and it just, I don’t know if I remember it feeling just kind of off.
Jennifer: Yeah, it’s very, very awkward when something happened to your last few weeks of pregnancy where all your shirts just short this I do remember. Right. So the belly panel is showing you’re doing everything you can. And I, I don’t know, maybe it’s just because of the bellies going out more, but all of your shirts get too short. Your jeans get so stretched out all of your maternity pants just, I don’t know, they kind of give up. Like at week 37 I know they’re supposed to hang in there, but they don’t. They just give up around around week 36, 37 and you just feel, you feel off, you feel awkward and you don’t want to go buy more stuff because you know you’re close enough. So you just kind of cobble it together. And so I think just recognizing that that is a shared experience. It’s not you. Nothing weird is happening with your belly. Your shirts are not shrinking. It’s just, that’s what happens in that last month.
So just recognizing that that’s a thing. I remember with my first daughter, I had her in June, so it was May and we were living outside of DC and it was starting to get really hot. But I was determined not to buy summer clothes because I was so close and I literally had one blouse that fit and I had one pair of cute jeans that was still working for me. But I had all these events I had to go to, but I, I made this rule that I wasn’t going to go anywhere that I couldn’t wear my blouse and jeans. That was that. That was the only place I would go, but I bought accessories, I bought necklaces, I bought shoes that actually stuff kind of fit, but all of those things, I could change up those few literally few things that I had and still feel great and not feel like I was wasting money, which I think is a great strategy to kind of get you through those end weeks of your pregnancy.
Sharon: Yeah, I found that I wore just elastic skirts a lot where I could kind of put them under my belly and I knew I could still wear them after I had the baby. So for summertime I also, I had a baby in May, a baby in June, and it may be in July, and so that those were my go tos and I had these, like longer, they were maternity tank tops, but I was able to actually, I can honestly say I still have them in my closet and wear them now, but I carried small and I know that that’s not the case for a lot of people. I’m very long and so my belly hid itself for awhile and it’s hard and you definitely don’t want to buy new things because even if you’re going to have another baby in the future, you never know when that pregnancy is going to be in what seasons you’re going to need. And it makes it hard. It’s sort of, it’s a very frustrating thing.
Jennifer: Yeah, it really is. And I think it’s important to recognize that every woman does carry so differently. You know, there are women that I’ve worked with who never wore a piece of maternity clothing through their entire pregnancy. And then there’s me at 16 weeks with the first one I was in maternity pants, I think at 10 or 12 weeks with my second. I just love maternity pants though, stuff that could just be me. I love them. I think they’re fantastic. So you know, recognizing that every woman does carry differently. And if you like maternity pants, go for them. Don’t feel like you’ve got to struggle through. You don’t do the rubber band trick with your jeans if you are not comfortable, if you’re not feeling good in your clothing, it’s time to buy those things, to buy a few things that make you look and feel fabulous because you know, aside from the clothing part, there are so many other things going on at the end of a pregnancy you, it’s your first, you’re fearing the loss of your freedom. If you, it’s your second or third or fourth, you’re wondering how this new little person is going to fit into your world and it’s how you feel about yourself is one thing that you can control. It is one thing that you can do to feel good about yourself and kind of maintain that sense of self. I think that pregnancy and postpartum clothing, it’s such a difficult time because you already don’t feel like you and then your clothing choices are in some ways decided for you, right? Whether it’s maternity clothes or breastfeeding clothes, I don’t think women really give that part enough credit for how difficult that really is. That as long as you breastfeed, you are dictated by clothes that you know you can pull a boob out wherever you are. Right?
So I think finding clothes that fit those functions but still make you feel good. It is worth the extra struggle to do that. If you have to go buy a pair of maternity jeans, go buy a pair of maternity jeans.
Sharon: I love your tip about accessorizing. It’s definitely something that I lack knowledge and pizzazz in, I’m not the best set accessorizing and it definitely makes such a difference in your whole feeling and the way your outfit looks and you get away wearing the same clothes with different accessories more than I think most people realize. Yeah, and that’s definitely a pregnancy tip. Postpartum, you know, accessories are out the window. You’re not going to be wearing big chunky necklaces. You’re not going to be wearing those things at, you know, your baby starts to get a little bit more mobile. They’re pulling on things. So that is definitely a pregnancy tip, but it’s a good one. It’s a great way to be able to invest a little in your wardrobe and not have it just sitting there. Like you said, you don’t know if you get pregnant again what season it will be, what size you’ll be and I think most women are shocked when they pull their maternity wardrobes out the second time. I think most of us go, why did I save this? This is in such bad shape. Maternity clothes are not meant to hold up, they’re just not. I actually worked for gap maternity right before I had my daughter, so it was kind of the, it was the perfect time, but the clothing is a little bit lesser quality because it’s not made to be as durable and you pull those things out again and you go, why would I even put this in a box for two years? What was I thinking?
So instead of spending a ton of money on lots of clothes, I think it’s buying a few things that all work together to create a ton of outfits and then bringing in those accessories and things you already have. Yeah, sort of to make it work.
Sharon: Let’s shift a little bit to talking about what happens after you have this baby because I find, yeah, that is I think universal. It doesn’t matter how well you carried or how much weight you lost in the first week or whatever it is. I think that it is a universal thing that no matter which baby is you’re having or, or how your pregnancy went, that you, between your hormones and your, you know, sleep deprivation and all of that, you’re bound to feel a little bit sort of stuck in that you are kind of in this sweatpants and you know, a button down shirt so that you can pull your boob out whenever you need to or, and even if you’re not breastfeeding, it’s just such a tough time because you want to be back to yourself and you need to be okay with the fact that it does take time to get there. But it’s challenging.
Jennifer: It is. And I think that women don’t give themselves enough credit on the front end, right, that we think we should be able to be back in our pre-pregnancy clothes. I know a woman who left the hospital in a pre-pregnancy jeans and first of all I was like, yes, optimistic, even bringing those jeans to the hospital. Right? But we see celebrities doing it, we hear of the odd normal woman doing it. I think those are really genetic anomalies that it’s the, that’s not the experience for most women. And that’s okay. If you are not back in your regular jeans six weeks after you have birth, that’s okay. I think what women do is they think they should be back in those things so they don’t sort of accept that that whole fourth trimester and even beyond is this season of life that you need to dress for.
And I am a big fan of dressing wherever you are well. Right? So instead of just cobbling it together with frumpy sweatpants and you know, your husband’s button downs and whatever you can make work, go buy a few things, go buy a few things that make you look and feel fabulous. One mistake I see women making over and over and over is the trip to old navy to buy some ill fitting jeans, right? Every woman hits old navy and we go, I’ll just buy some jeans to get me through and what happens is we have to buy a big enough to fit our mid sections, which is always the kind of the last area to spring back and then they don’t fit anywhere and they don’t look good. You don’t feel good in them. You feel frumpy and you never wear them. A better strategy for postpartum genes is go to the maternity store, go to the maternity section and buy a smaller pair of maternity jeans.
Whether it’s one that doesn’t have a panel or has a demi panel, they’re going to fit you everywhere better. Like I mentioned earlier, at the end of your pregnancy, your jeans just give up. They have worked hard for how many weeks. They’re tired, they’re done. So when you put those on, yes, they are going to feel stretched out and they’re going to feel frumpy. Go buy new maternity jeans to get you through. Guaranteed they are going to look better, make you feel better. And if you’re not tucking things in who cares? And most women eight weeks out from having a baby aren’t talking at all and and adding a belt, right? I mean we’re still kind of like an a pull it all down over the top. So a good fitting pair of maternity jeans in a smaller size that hasn’t been stretched out and put through ringer is a much better plan postpartum.
Sharon: I love that tip and actually I would not have bought to do that because I think that psychologically to go to a maternity store after you’ve had a baby is not an easy thing to do, but it makes so much sense and I think it would have made me feel much better.
Jennifer: Right? Like if you had jeans that fit you in the butt and fit you in the legs and weren’t just kind of sloppy all over, it makes you feel better. And if you don’t want to go to the store, just buy them online. Yeah. Honestly, there’s very little difference between maternity jeans without the panel and some of the pull on jeans that were seeing, pull-on jeans are a thing now. It’s kind of that athleisure influence that we don’t like things with buttons and aippers and all that. So I know, right?
Sharon: Just too hard.
Jennifer: It doesn’t feel good. But if you can’t wrap your head around getting a smaller pair of maternity jeans, which is the best option, go for a pair of pull on jeans. Again, you’re not tucking things then. So who cares?
Sharon: I think I lived in leggings after my last pregnancy, which was also great. And I mean, honestly, some of those leggings don’t fit me now, but they’re not crazy expensive to buy. No they’re not. And you can buy like, I don’t know, two or three pairs of good leggings in different styles. And those are great for going out. I mean, and I know some of you might be listening and saying like who’s going out after they had a baby? But if that’s what you’re saying is you need to talk, right? So you know for going out a little bit and just feeling like you are wearing what you feel comfortable in and you look great and you feel you look great, you’re going to look even better because it’s that aura shows, you know.
Jennifer: Without a doubt, without a doubt. The other thing I would add is we live in the age of athleisure. There are so many cute leggings out there. There are so many cute jogger pants. There are so many, you know, adorable athletic skorts out there that if you are not, if you don’t have cute things because you want to be comfortable, that’s not an excuse anymore. There are so many cute things. I put out enough leisure capsule guide for fall and winter. There is not a button and a zipper in the entire thing. It is all pull-on clothes. It’s cute pattern, leggings, all these things. It is not dumpy. It’s not frumpy, but it is as casual and comfortable as you can possibly get so you know it’s out there. It’s out there. Your head has to accept that it’s out there and you’ve got to work a little bit for it, but it is absolutely out there.
The other thing I want to say about postpartum dressing is once, if you are breastfeeding, once you suppliers established, I understand the bras that they fit you for in the hospital. Those are nice and stretchy and they’re comfortable. Once you’re supply is established, when you’re like six, eight weeks kind of into it, go get fit for a proper maternity or have for a proper nursing bra. Go to Nordstrom, you can find beautiful, beautiful nursing bras. I think nursing bras are one of the things keep women feeling so frumpy, right? Every woman feels, I just feel like the cow and they just kind of get gray and they just feel frumpy. Go to Nordstrom. A Lomi is a brand that makes gorgeous maternity or nursing bras, cake, lamastair. Some of the best brands out there make gorgeous nursing Bras and wouldn’t it feel nice under your clothes to feel like a woman and not just the fast food station. it does so much for your psyche and they actually give you a little bit more support so you’re not just feeling, you know, like a cow. And that’s how we feel you.
Sharon: If you are going to have another baby and plan to breastfeed, you could reuse. And to be honest, it’s something that if it fits you great when you can use, even if you’re not nursing right?
Jennifer: Without a doubt, without a doubt. And women are nursing longer and that is fantastic. But it also means that you don’t get yourself back for longer.
Sharon: Yeah. I always felt like I, you know, honestly never felt a hundred percent back to myself, my regular weight or any of that until I completely stopped nursing. And even though you know, there are obviously the say you lose weight faster when you’re nursing. And I think that’s true for the initial weight, but I always held onto at least five pounds until I was done.
And I listen, I have friends now that are postpartum and it is frustrating for them and sometimes they consider like, well, should I liked nursing but I want to be back to myself and it’s a struggle that a lot of women have and I don’t think that you need to feel guilty if that’s a struggle that you have or feel alone. Everybody is feeling that way and it’s, you know, like you said, it’s really few and far between those women that are just, you know, go back and bounce back to themselves and, and that’s not who you should be comparing yourself to and you just need to really think about what is going to make you happy and make you feel good. And I think the bra tip is great because I would not have thought to do that. I definitely did not have that many pretty bras when I was nursing and it makes a huge difference.
Jennifer: Yeah. I in the beginning, in those first six weeks or so, listen, I get the whole nursing cammie thing, under the cardigan. Again, you want to just be comfortable, but if you’re looking at it as a longterm thing, you, even when you have kids, you get to be a person. The clothes we wear are one way that we get to be a person. So being able to take back that personhood a little bit in small ways does such amazing things for your mental status. You know, I have women who clients I’ve worked with who wanted to quit breastfeeding because they were tired of the ugly bras and I was like, really? That’s the only challenge and they said. Yeah. So we went and got him pretty broad and to take that struggle out and they, a lot of women just don’t know that these things exist, that the world is a little bit different as a little, I mean there are so many great nursing clothes out there that don’t look breastfeeding friendly, but they are. They’re absolutely gorgeous.
And if that’s what it takes for you to feel like yourself and be the kind of mom that you want to be, it is absolutely worth the investment.
Sharon: And what’s your tip to where to find some of those? Like really nice looking nursing clothes that don’t feel or look like they’re nursing clothes.
Jennifer: I used to send people to Mama’s milk box. Is that, I don’t know if that’s still a thing. I haven’t had any nursing clients in quite awhile, but mama’s milk box used to be a subscription service like stitch fix. We should look that up. I’m going to look it up right now and they would send you things every six weeks or so. Honestly, Google and shopstyle, shopstyle.com and you can just put in, you know, breastfeeding dress and there are some that just looked like they have princess seams along the bodice, but it’s actually zippers, but you would never notice that there’s zippers, so there are things like that. I would hit Google, I would hit shop style for some of those. A lot of the brands are flying out of my head right now, but they’re, I see them come across my news feed all the time and like, oh, that’s cute. Oh, it’s nursing. Well I don’t need that. But there are clothes that you could definitely keep wearing even when you’re done.
Sharon: Yeah, I think that that is true and if it’s, I think that that’s the thing that is it really more of a mindset thing. It’s like the same thing as wearing maternity jeans after you’ve had your baby. It’s like if it looks good on you, who cares that it’s a nursing shirt right now and if it feels good to you and you feel good in it, then no one even needs to know.
Jennifer: Exactly. Now I will say that a lot of women I’ve worked with try and give me that line, you know when we’re going through their closets and they say, Oh, I wore this when I was pregnant and I said, is that maternity? Yeah, but it doesn’t look at it. It’ll be kind of like an open card again and there’s so much extra fabric through the belly. If it does look maternity, it’s not doing you any favors figure-wise when you’re not pregnant. So some of those things, you really have to be honest about what they’re doing for your body. But you’re right, it’s a mental thing. Once I’m done being pregnant, I don’t wear those clothes again. I just don’t want to look at them. I don’t want to see them. I love my maternity wardrobe when I am pregnant, but I’m done after. And that’s okay. If that’s you, that’s a perfectly okay way to do it. The goal though is just to buy enough clothes to get you through that all work together and make you feel good. Don’t overbuy so that you’re feeling like you have to keep wearing these things to get your investment back.
And I think a lot of women do that. We, oh, I bought so many things, I have to wear them. Well, if you only have five, you don’t, you don’t feel so guilty about that. Whereas if you have an entire huge wardrobe, you feel like you do have to stretch it a little bit more.
Sharon: Yeah, that’s true. So I did look it up. I don’t, I couldn’t find a link to use Mama’s milk box. It looks like they were on shark tank for a while, but they did not. They, it looks like they didn’t get a deal and I don’t know what happened to their business after.
Jennifer: So, so there you go. But that was, that was one that sent a lot of different brands. But I would hit shopstyle.com and I hate to give away my, my super top secret shopping tip, but Google will find you anything, so if you put in like gorgeous nursing dress, you’re going to find brands that you have never ever seen that.
Sharon: I bet you could find pretty nice things on Amazon too these days. You can, you can, once you know the brands that you’re looking for, and unfortunately a lot of these smaller clothing brands come and go. You know, you’ll see them for a season or two and then they’re, then they’re gone. So that’s why I would recommend, see what’s out there currently and then hit Amazon and see what you can find.
Jennifer: I bet some of the maternity stores are now also selling nursing where it would surprise me if Pea and a pod didn’t have stuff for, you know, I don’t know how beautiful it is or what you know, but I think it’s, they probably have some stuff. I would imagine they do. I again, I’ve been out of, I’ve been at a Pea and a pod for seven years, which is, it’s a long time. It’s a very long time.
Sharon: So tell us a little bit about what it is that you offer mom’s now and what it is that you do because we were talking a little bit about it before we hit record and I think it’s a really awesome service and it sounds really like something every woman can use, so I would love to hear a little bit more about it.
Jennifer: So I do still see clients, I see them online just like you and I are doing now through a web chat. And we go through closets, we help them figure out what works, what doesn’t. But my biggest product is my capsule wardrobe guides, which is a seasonal ebook and it shows you what to buy, how to put, where to get it, and how to put it together to make usually 150, 160 outfits out of 34 pieces. And those 34 pieces are tops, bottoms, dresses and accessories, everything that you would need for a season.
So it’s really fantastic for women who are in transition. I actually, this last season had a ton of pregnant women in my group, so we had a bunch of maternity links going for just about every single piece that normally doesn’t happen, but you can buy if it’s a black dress, you can buy that in a maternity style, but it shows you kind of how to do more with less. It’s the blueprint for a wardrobe so that even if you are pregnant and you don’t want to have a huge wardrobe, this, these are the pieces you need to buy for maximum impact. If you are postpartum and you don’t want to invest in a whole new wardrobe because you’ve got your gorgeous clothes waiting for you that you’d like to get back in, you know the key pieces that you need to buy to get you through. Or you know, if you are a busy mom and you don’t have time to read blogs to find out what’s big or go from store to store looking for the perfect dress, we tell you what to buy. And we also give you the links to buy it. And all of our links have a spend in a save option. So your budget can, you know, stay in tact and as well as the petite and a plus. So even if you’re outside of a standard size range, there’s something in there for absolutely everybody.
Sharon: Yeah, it sounds awesome. And you do this seasonally and you, most of the women are in the group and they just get new things every season. Is that how it works?
Jennifer: Well, I try and reuse as much as I can. So the girls who have been in my community from the first capsule are buying very few pieces. When the new one comes out, it’s, it’s adding a new color. Like I was saying earlier, bright yellow is the big color for spring. So maybe they’re popping a few pieces of bright yellow into their basics that they’ve been collecting. You know, if you are starting from scratch, yes there is more to buy, but every season you’re adding just kind of these fun pieces, these things that will change it up to your standard basics that you can reuse over and over and over again.
Sharon: And do you offer tips for accessorizing as well?
Jennifer: Well, yeah, in the guide, and I’m working on the spring one right now in the guide there’s a scarf. There are three necklaces and two bags. So every outfit is actually shown with accessories. So you know, how do I wear this statement necklace? Can I wear big earrings with, you know, a tee shirt and jeans, all that kind of stuff. It’s really, it is meant to be foolproof for creating an effortlessly stylish wardrobe. That’s what I heard from every client I’ve ever worked with. I just want it to be easy. I just want to look good and not think about it. Literally you can print the guide, put it in your closet and say, okay, I’m going to wear that outfit. I love it. Yeah, moms have bigger things to worry about. Right. And no time. We have no time to figure out where clothes are and which close we should be buying in which clothes it’s time to retire moms to be for sure.
Sharon: Thank you. I and you have a free guide that you are offering the audience?
Jennifer: I do. I have a free mini capsule guide, so it is 10 pieces that combined to make over 30 outfits. Yes, and I actually did this. I took a clear small duffle bag, which is actually the size of a personal item on a plane and I put all 10 items in an I can pack for a month in a carry-on. It’s a pretty amazing thing. So you can either, you’re going to put that in your show notes and then I’m also on my website, which is youreverydaystyle.com and it’s right at the top.
Sharon: Yeah, that sounds awesome. And do you have an Instagram we can follow too?
Jennifer: I do at right now it’s apple and pear wardrobe.
Sharon: Okay. And you are rebranding soon to everyday style?
Jennifer: Yes, yes I am rebranding in two days so wow, that’s really exciting. This is crunch time though.
Sharon: And how can people reach you if they would like to follow along and hear more from you? I will put the links for sure to the free guide and to your website too in the show notes but I would love to know how to follow along.
Jennifer: Awesome. So I’m most active on Facebook. My group is just Everyday Style. So if you search everyday style group on Facebook you will find it.
Sharon: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. I really enjoy talking to you. I think that I certainly learned a lot about things I could have done differently. And I know a lot of women listening are in those phases of life and it’s just nice to know that there are people out there that are working to help you feel good about yourself and that there are simple ways to help you feel better about yourself during those times. So thank you so much.
Jennifer: Thank you so much for having me. And I just want to add that the mindset shift that happens when you put clothes on that you love is monumental. It sets you up for a better day of motherhood. It sets you up for a better day at work. And I would love to see more women giving themselves that gift of looking the way they love. Yeah. Wherever, whatever stage they’re at, whether you are in your 39th week of pregnancy and can’t take it anymore, whether you just had a baby six weeks ago, there are little things you can do to make yourself look a way that you would like and the things that we’ll do for your day just, they can’t be underestimated. So thank you for having me and allowing me to share that.
Sharon: Yeah, it was. I totally agree by the way.
Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast. Head over to www.Raiseology.com where you’ll find plenty of, you’ve got this resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned in today’s show. Be sure to hit subscribe on your podcatcher so that you can listen to the next episode. The minute it’s out, until next time, have an empowered week.
Meet Your Mentor
Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.
After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.
The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.
Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.
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