How To Get Dressed When You're Running On Empty, According To Moms Who Know

Being short on time and energy doesn't mean you have to give up feeling alive. Moms share their best tips.

My clock reads 8:44 a.m. My eyes peer down at my ensemble. Old college sweatpants with a drawstring that has worked overtime stare back at me. And because it’s been cold lately, my robe is still firmly over my arms, a gag gift a friend gave me years ago from the BravoTV website, albeit it’s very comfortable. My frizzy hair is held up by a claw clip, which isn’t helping as much as I’ve convinced myself it is.

This isn’t the start of a Diablo Cody movie or an alternative Cathy cartoon, but rather a very typical morning in my new world. After giving birth to a daughter in 2021, my mornings have been … rougher than before. For a few months I had no idea when the morning started. When you’re up every two hours, does the sun ever rise or are you in the simulation? Eventually bedtimes were established, stomachs were full, and life found a way to hit a beautiful status quo. But taking care of another life meant mine would go on hold. Hair uncut, nails chipped and T-shirts still dirty from the day before.

But one morning I woke up with a new sense of motivation. It’s incredible what a night of sleep will do for you. The energy that hit me was like a long-lost friend. I welcomed her with open arms and decided to start putting myself together once my feet hit the floor.

No longer would I drink coffee in a robe, but rather, I’d get dressed and put myself together. And like everything I do, it was just that — for me, myself and I.

It is important to note I was excited to dress for myself. My body was “back” (never left, never really came back, the ideology that you lose something or get it back in relation to physical form is gross and annoying, but that’s a different story) and I had the energy to care again. First, allotting time was the most important factor. Which meant, gulp, waking up before the baby. I absolutely, unequivocally, adore sleep. I love to sleep. I think it’s one of the best things in the world. But knowing that I wanted to start my day with some “me” time meant less time snoozing.

Be it fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans or buying a new size, I was adamant about wearing jeans. Whilst pregnant, I hated maternity jeans, and I loved being back in denim, regardless of any number etched on the interior tag. I might be in the minority, but it was nice to be in a regular pant, as I felt I lived in leggings for a long 10 months.

Look familiar?
Willie B. Thomas via Getty Images
Look familiar?

But I wanted to talk with other moms, whom I found on Facebook groups, about what makes them feel their best when they might be running on empty. To be a new mom is a terrifying and exhausting task, but in that groggy state there are other women willing and able to share advice, stories and words of wisdom. I asked other new moms (and some veteran mothers) how they avoid feeling frumpy when their environment may work against feeling great.

It seemed an overwhelming amount of women agreed: Comfort is key. Adriana mentioned one sartorial importance: pockets. “Leggings with pockets. Pockets are very important, I have my phone in one [hand] and a bottle in the other or whatever I need.”

Stephanie mentioned uniformity to make for an easy morning: “Buy versatile lounge sets and have them ready for the week. It’s like I’m back in school with a uniform.” I agree wholeheartedly.

When approaching style, some moms had some insightful hacks. Lindsey said, “I worked for a few celebrity moms in New York when I was in my 20s and their secret was to size up instead of trying to cram yourself into a size that was too snug. Other than that mindset reframe, I am always in layers: a cardigan with a tank under and a scarf with loose boyfriend jeans and sneakers is my go-to. I always hide a couple pairs of earrings in my car for when I’m so tired and forget to put them on at home.” Blair credited “the French tuck” for changing her morning routine, and “putting on a pair of earrings made me feel a little more put together postpartum.”

Of course, being kind to yourself is the first step in getting dressed for all moms. Leah emphasized, “One of the biggest things for me was to not focus too much on fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Even when I lost weight, my body was different after having a baby. When I kept trying to fit my new post-baby body into my old pre-baby clothes I kept getting discouraged. It’s OK to let go of the old stuff and make room for new stuff that fits comfortably on your new body. Whether you lose weight or gain more after having a baby, I just try to remember what my body is doing for me and has done to bring a healthy baby into this world, and to be grateful for all it has done and continues to do for me at any size.”

Lastly, speed and efficiency are of extreme importance to new moms, especially those who breastfed. “Mornings are insanity so having a drawer set aside for ‘quick and comfy grabs’ is essential,” mentioned Tiffany, a mom of two children under 4 years old. Ariel added, “For me, the most important factor is ‘are you breastfeeding or not?’ If you are, EVERY outfit needs to have easy boobie access. Nursing tops are fine, but I usually go for a button up or tank top with a sweater over. Nothing like throwing on a basic tee and then in a panic needing to go the route of pulling the shirt up over your boob from the bottom and having your belly out. I’ve done it many times [and it’s ] just not [my favorite] move.”

Motherhood is extremely overwhelming but bizarrely perfect. Currently, I can’t stop saying “a year ago today…” and time travel to the year prior, when I had a small little baby compared to the pterodactyl that ate turkey off the floor today. The emotions, hormones and feelings are equivalent to a Jackson Pollock painting, but living in a world where other moms openly and happily share their experiences or are here to help you ― even as a stranger ― is worth its weight in gold. Especially at the end of the day, when I read said encouraging words with my jeans unbuttoned because they simply can’t hold it all together anymore.

An ergonomic body pillow

The Best Pregnancy Pillows

Popular in the Community

MORE IN LIFE