It isn’t news that a woman’s dress sense can go amiss when she has a baby. Until they confused us all by becoming trendy, ‘mom jeans’ were a byword for bad fashion. The likes of Stella McCartney and Georgia May Jagger might remember their mothers’ wardrobes as a treasure trove of Chloe and Terry de Havilland, but for most of us they were the place where Wallis batwing sweaters went to die.
As a mother, it creeps up on you slowly, this post-partum loss of style. After all, you start with good enough intentions. Buoyed by pictures of your Gwens and Gwyneths looking hot with a child or two in tow, you tell yourself that there’s no reason you too can’t keep the side up once the baby’s born. True, you might not look so fabulous at the minute, while you’re 8 months’ gone and 46 stone, but nor are you going to spend the rest of your life in your husband’s T-shirts and bobbly leggings that sag at the arse. At least, that’s the plan.
Then you have the baby and all bets are off. At this stage of the game, if it goes over your boobs, it goes on. In any case, you tell yourself, it’s early days. It doesn’t matter if you spend the week in the same tracksuit bottoms. You got dressed, didn’t you? Christ, there’s only so much you can achieve in a day.
Eventually, after what feels like – and indeed is – months, your boobs settle down to something approaching humanoid size and you realise you can’t face another day in those tracksuit bottoms and your old maternity vests, which admittedly you now quite like because, unlike all other clothes, they make you feel slim.
But trying on clothes is still depressing, and you’re feeling way too poor to spend money on them. Not that there’s any time for shopping, what with all the feeding and the changing and the weeping ‘Why didn’t you warn me?’ down the phone at your mother. And all that time you should be drifting around Zara, you’re instead spending eating cake in cafes, listening to other women’s boring breastfeeding stories so that you can chime in with your own.
It’s at this stage that, fashion-wise, you start to lose the plot a bit, because practicality has so forcefully entered the equation. A notion you embrace perhaps a bit too enthusiastically as you try to convince yourself that those feeding tops in JoJo Maman Bébé are nice, and that Hooter Hiders are anything other than revolting.
When, finally, you do return to shopping, you break into it gently at Gap, where the sizing is so kind and there’s a near-permanent sale on. Besides, it sells all the clothes you will ever need for your new life, which is to say it stocks boyfriend jeans, grey T-shirts and navy jumpers. Or even navy T-shirts and grey jumpers. You will wear these solidly until time comes when you’re invited to an occasion that calls for something dressier. Here you’ll wish it was 2006 again and you could trade the T-shirt for a sparkly top and be done with it, as all this new fashion is so baffling, what with all the pyjama suits and pool sliders and garish floral patterns. And this is when you’ll realise that you’ve only gone and goddamn done it. You’ve turned into your mother.