Mamas, we take our job seriously here at Ain't No Mom Jeans. (I know you are thinking, "what job"? but I have a point. I do.)
We do consider it our job to not only find practical yet stylish inspiration for mamas who love to be involved with their kiddos, but to be very upfront about certain body issues that childbirth brings. I know I'm preaching to the choir here...but LOSING THE BABY WEIGHT is sooooo NOT the issue. Post-baby, even if the weight is theoretically gone, things are just...different. In different places. Frankly, I could care less about the number on the scale. But if someone could figure out how to remove my pooch and apply it to my bum (or even better - Cryofreeze it for my post-nursing boobs) then I'll get excited.
Never are these body changes more glaring then during swimsuit season.
Lane, bless her, has continued our embarrassing awesome!!tradition of posting on real-life, post-partum swimwear (here's last year's). But she's done one better: she recruited her friends. (Which should tell you somehow about how awesome Lane is. Or at least how awesome her friends are.)
In any case....many thanks to Lane & friends for both the inspiration and the recommendations. You Mamas rock. (And look really, crazy-amazing, BTW.)
I still refer to my body as post-partum, though I gave birth a year and a half ago, and I maintain the right to keep on referring to it as such until I can shift to calling it post-menopausal. I actually don't have a ton of angst over my body. I am thankful for my health, for how good I feel and for the way I finally got over myself and started dressing to suit my body. But all the body confidence in the world can't keep me immune from the dread and angst of trying on bathing suits. (Do you remember how BEFORE you ever had a baby you hated trying on swimwear!? Little did I know I should have been dancing around the department store in the tiniest string bikini they had...with my underwear on of course for hygienic reasons.)
Sometimes when I mention to friends my bathing suit quandary and explain that my preferred solution is a one-piece, they act AGHAST. Don't give up on bikinis! You're not old enough yet! You can still pull off a two-piece! Next thing you know you'll have mom-hair!
First of all, everyone calm down. Secondly, this moment in my life calls for a one-piece and I'm TOTALLY FINE WITH IT.
One-pieces have come a long way ladies, and I'm not using a bikini as the litmus test to gauge whether my pre-baby body is back (it isn't and it won't be and that is just a matter of gravity and elasticity). Just because I can wear a bikini (not even totally sure what that means...I can wear it and no one will arrest me? Or run screaming? Or accuse me of violating the acceptable body-type standards of our society?) doesn't mean I should. I can wear stilettos every day. I can wear a tank top when it's snowing.
But I shouldn't (and don't) because those things don't make me feel comfortable. Same goes for a bikini. The only scenario where I could feel comfortable in a bikini is one where I'm lying down flat or standing up straight (and un-moving). First of all, that sounds really relaxing. But secondly, that sounds like the very last two positions I will be holding while on the beach with a toddler. Lots of crouching and crawling and sitting and hunching. In a one-piece. Sounds perfect.
To those mamas who feel great in a bikini, I say rock it and love it and feel good about it. CONFIDENCE, in swimwear as in all the ways we present ourselves, is key (remember last year? Swimsuit confidence was a thing.). Whether you wear a bikini or a one-piece should not be decided by your weight, your love-handles or your stretch marks. Wear what feels fun and functional. Right now, I feel confident in a one-piece because I've found that covering my mid-section does NOT have to be dowdy and frumpy.
My quest to find the right one piece took me in many directions. I went to American Apparel to try deep-V halter thinking it would be sexy (but actually it was scary...a nip-slip after 18 months of nursing is...not ideal) and a high-waisted swim brief hoping it would be like bikini-lite (but the fun retro look was overshadowed by the fact that I didn't have enough shape to my cheeks to fill out the back of the suit). I pondered Robin Piccone's 'Penelope' suit but the crochet felt a little too stuffy for me. I liked the pin-up vibe and bright color of Seafolly's 'La Vita' but the boyleg cut my already short legs even shorter. Ultimately I chose J.Crew's Fanfare Ruched Suitfor it's awesome pattern, bright color, and ruching here and there to make anything that may or may not be toned in my middle very ambiguous. As a bonus I loved the idea of being strapless to avoid tanlines, but having the choice to attach a strap for when a certain greedy little lady starts clamoring for 'milky.' (Her words, not mine.)
Don't have my short legs or flat-chest? Can't relate to my flat butt? Don't worry, three of my friends dared to share their own one-piece adventures and were generous (and brave!) enough to allow me to use their photos. Because a picture of a one-piece on a 6 foot tall 18-year old model only gets you so far.
Raquel's Reviews for Big-Busted Mamas
When I asked my friend Raquel about her challenges finding the right suit after having Abram in November 2011, she described her body as 'sleep deprived' and I was totally like YES, I GET THAT and said her big bust (made bigger by nursing) was the trickiest issue when it came to the fit of the suits she tried on. Most of the suits she tried on had ZERO support in the chest. Some of the losers included this bandeau-keyhole suit from Old Navy, though she loved the color. Athleta's Shirrendipity One Piece had a cute detail in the back that made it very adjustable, but still lacked any support. And this ruched number from Old Navy was great in theory, but Raquel used the words 'absolutely inappropriate for my bust size' and I trust her on that.
Ultimately she chose Athleta's Solid Bra Cup Twistini One Piece in Vivid Blue and she's happy with the bust control and the overall comfort of the suit. Budget notwithstanding, Raquel is still hoping to land this gorgeous Tory Burch Floral Print One-Piece Swimsuit.
Cristie Works with her Long Torso
When we talked about the one-piece situation, Cristie made it a point to tell me that while she does have a very small bust, she didn't consider that a challenge and found that one-pieces were pretty well suited to an A-cup (or smaller?) which is pretty well in line with what Raquel discovered. Her long torso, however, led to a *ahem*camel toe issue in suits that weren't long enough and a saggy butt in suits that fit her length-wise. Neither of those conditions were conducive to chasing 13-month old Pennie around at the lake.
Cristie had very high hopes for Splendid's Bayside Removable Soft Cup One Piece in theory. In reality, she found it extremely unflattering, to the point that it gave her 4 butt-cheeks instead of the usually desirable two. She found this lavender Nanette Lepore suiton Bluefly but found that the side ruching actually made her look more bulky and her post-nursing-small-boobs-made-smaller couldn't hold up the top. *Sigh*
Remember the ruched, dramatic deep-V neck from Old Navy that left Raquel feeling like she was exposing herself to the youth of America? For Cristie's slightly *ahem* lesser chest this suit was TOTALLY sexy and still functional. Plus, she and P coordinate so well!
Jess Wants it All, Tries on Everything
My best friend Jess is basically the most thorough person you are ever going to meet in your entire life. Her approach towards finding a suit that works for her current needs was very detailed and is actually still ongoing. Jess' objective was to find a suit(s) that would conceal her C-section scar while disguising her pooch. She wants to be more confident about the scar specifically, and hopes to see it less as unsightly and more as BAD-ASS in the near future, but until that day comes she plans on giving it some time to heal by hiding it from the sun while she chases 14-month old McCarty around the beach.
Jess initially trid on suits from Old Navy (too long for her short torso), Athleta (fit the top but left her with a saggy bum) and even Land's End (found a few cute options among some more matronly choices, but the sizes ran big and the price was a bit high). Despite all this initial disappointment, she endured and tried on J.Crew's jersey blouson tank and ruched bandeau tank. The ruched bandeau was flattering and she liked the strapless feature for tanlines but appreciated the optional strap for when toddler hands get grabby. The blouson is extremely flattering and fun (Jess's husband even suggested this tank would double as a top if you threw on a pair of shorts or a skirt), but she worries that it just might be 'too much suit' for a person of her stature. Eventually she decided on this halter number by Jessica Simpson (but in a pattern no longer listed on Macy's website) because the straps gave her security and the pattern "distracts" from...whatever needs distracting. AND, in a surprise twist, she found that her 'apple bottom' (her words, not mine!) was well-suited to the high-waisted bottoms that left me looking flat, and is going to rock a scar-hiding, pooch-tucking, two-piece this summer as well! Her bottom is from J.Crew (paired with a top she's had for ages) and it looks so cute I might just have to give this look another chance!
So mamas, what do you think? What kind of swimwear are you rocking this summer?
Want to read more from Lane? Check out her awesome blog here.