Style (and More) After Baby

I’ve been receiving quite a few questions about how my style has changed after baby. This is a topic I addressed briefly earlier in this post, but I think you guys want more details…so I sat down and wrote down some more thoughts about how my style and shopping habits have changed after having a kid. While doing this, I had some general before/after thoughts as well, so put them all together in this post. Please share what’s changed for you before and after kids as well….I’d love to hear!

1. I machine wash everything now. Yes, everything. I basically only send things to the dry cleaner twice a year now, after each season, for one big cleaning, but otherwise, everything needs to be able to be cleaned by machine. This includes all my expensive cashmere pieces like Saint Laurent and Chanel, which just gets dumped in a delicates bag and then air dried over the tub. It’s worked out fine so far, and one of my Saint Laurent sweaters even has suede (!) elbow patches. I just brush them out after they dry. Speaking of Chanel…

2. I have not shopped the Chanel RTW sale for at least two seasons. Normally the Chanel sale is like an event…you prepare for it the week before, noting down everything you want, your size in them, and which stores have it stocked. Then the day before, you go on a crazy email/texting spree, trying to secure everything before the salespeople give it to their super VIPs more important than you. It’s kind of an adrenaline rush, and I’m the sort of loser who normally finds this kind of event fun. However, I’ve come to terms with the fact that Chanel RTW is not practical for my daily life (except for those excellent cardigans and sweaters), and thus have taken a pass the last few sales. Naturally then, this is the season that out of a blue, a sales associate contacted me with all kinds of fabulous goodies they had on hold, including that classic gold tweed jacket from Paris Rome. But I was strong and passed. Sigh.

3. You all know I love and watch Real Housewives by this point, right? You know that part in the beginning when they introduce each new housewife, and do a little intro? Well before I had a kid, I never listened to when they went on about their household staff…I just wanted them to shut up and go straight to the closet. Now, I’m the most interested in their staff…that’s what I really want to admire and go gaga over. Skip the Birkins…I want to hear about how many nannies, housekeepers, and cooks you have. That’s the real good stuff.

4. I pay for return shipping. It used to be that I would do anything to avoid paying for shipping…to or from. Paying for shipping I felt, was a major crime and one that I would never be guilty of (except for ordering chocolates from Christopher Elbow, but I justified that because they need all those ice packs and expedited services). Instead, I would save up all my packages and go to the mall at once for one big spree. Now, since time is at such a premium, I’d rather just pay and avoid the mall altogether. That’s why I do most of my shopping now at Nordstrom – free return shipping, yahoo!

5. When I really like something, I just buy it. I don’t want for a sale, because by the time I remember, it will have likely sold out. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sale stalk anymore of course (I do quite a bit of it) but the stuff I really want, I just snap up. Again there’s a money/time formula at work here.

6. If I have to go out somewhere after 8 PM, I need a week to prepare myself. Both from a household perspective (lining up a sitter, having dinner made for little Feather), and a mental one. If I will need to be out after midnight, I will ideally have had several days of mental preparation and earlier bedtimes immediately beforehand. I’m sure I would have reached this point with or without kids, but I feel like having a baby has aged me even faster in my night time habits.

7. I always look for pockets. I’ve always liked pockets, but before baby they were always kind of a fun extra to have in a jacket/dress/sweater…like a cute little space to stick my hand into for photos, and that was about it. Now I actually use all my pockets. I put my keys in them, tissues (so many tissues), chapstick, hand sanitizer, whatever. Pockets are a must.

8. Different clothing descriptives now attract me.  The words which used to interest me were: velvet, fur lined, high heel, cashmere (OK I still love cashmere), silk bias cut. Now they’ve all been include magical wardrobe words such as: circle cardigan, stretch waist, stacked heel, machine washable, and deep pockets. If I’m looking at a piece of clothing which has at least two of these descriptives, I will likely purchase if I like the design.

9. There’s guilt! So much guilt! now about buying pricey items. People always told me to “buy everything I wanted before baby came,” which was advice I never understood. I mean, how can it be responsible to blow all your money before the kid comes? How does that make sense in any long term scenario? Whatever you didn’t spend before would just carry over to after, right? So if you held off on that Cartier purchase before kids…you could just buy it after right? Didn’t that just make logical sense?

Now that I have little Feather though, I feel like I understand this sentiment so much more. The best way I can explain it given my own scenario, is that I’m the sort of person who has to feel like I’ve reasonably accounted for all my major expenses before I splurge on a goodie for myself. So if I think I’ll need a new car in a year, or a new roof, etc, I need to have all that set aside and accounted before I indulge in those excellent Chanel strappy shoes I’ve been wanting so much.

The thing with kids are…they are this huge expense! I mean, when I see little Feather I’m of course filled with love and awe and wonder, but I’m also experience this sensation of, childcare + tuition + university + everything else…basically up to when he graduates from college but beyond, too. I need to have all of that! Preferably right now! And what if we want to have more kids? Then that all has to get multiplied? How many times? And then you start to have this enormous sum in your head…which ideally to feel like a super good, non selfish parent I need to have all right now…so do you really need that new VCA piece?

That’s the best way I can explain the guilt I feel….I’m not saying it’s correct, but I wanted to share my experience. Of course what I’d really love is to hear yours, as I’ve learned so much from the collective wisdom of readers over the years. What changed for you, style wise and beyond, after having kids?

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  • tata
    December 12, 2016 at 9:58 am

    lol~! i can totally relate. I used to love white! Until my son came and tried to give me the biggest hug with his chocolate covered hands.

    do you wash anything silk in the washing machine too? i also learned cashmere actually wash ok but i have been too scared to try silk.

    • Diane
      December 14, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Hi. I wash silk tunics all the time. I’ve had no problems at all. anything in a natural fiber (unlined of course) I feel I can wash. After all, natural fibers have been around forever….long before dry cleaning was available.

      • tata
        December 14, 2016 at 8:54 am

        lol! omg duh!! you are so right!!! why didn’t i think of that!!! thanks for the tip!

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:47 am

      I have washed silks in the machine, the only reason why I don’t is because I hate ironing after, those I tend to save for dry cleaning.

      • Diane
        December 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm

        I was never getting my ironing done so I bought a standing steamer like they have in stores. It’s fast and easy but I do have to be a bit careful not to burn myself.

  • Anonymous
    December 12, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Love this post! I just had a baby this year and while I adore nice things, having them seems less important since the baby has come around. I wouldn’t say I experience guilt when thinking about splurging on items for myself. Rather, it makes me feel good knowing that my money is going towards something else that will help baby’s future, than a pair of shoes I will grow tired of at some point.

    Life is about being efficient now and having a “uniform” of go-to quality clothing that I don’t have think about, fits well and WASHES well are the most important.

    I also miss TV and watching the Real Housewives. I am just. so. tired. Do you employ staff? We tried the both daycare and nanny routes, and while daycare was great for socialization, we found that having a nanny has been a life saver in terms of our crazy work schedules, and managing if the baby gets sick. Finding a great nanny was a challenge though, and not without drama. The childcare options and support of families in America, in general, continue to disappoint me. We are lucky that having a nanny is even possible.

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Thank you! Yes we have a nanny, but I always want more, ha! I never even paid attention to people’s staffs before, now I am envious of everyone I know in Asia!

  • Oonagh
    December 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    I have a pearl necklace with baby teethmarks on it. I have a shearling coat with a toddler’s greasy handprint on it. What can you do? At the time the damage to my precious possessions upset me, but now I look at the damage and think, awww, that was done by my son when he was little.
    Kida are expensive though. Best not to think about how expensive, and treat yourself every now and again anyway.

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:48 am

      That’s wonderful that it is now a good memory. I have a few items already which I hope will reach that status soon, ha.

  • Phil
    December 12, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Kat. I presume you use The Laundress products for your delicates?

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:48 am

      I do have the Laundress, I also use a Nordstrom gentle lingerie wash.

  • Iris
    December 13, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you so so so much for sharing this! I really enjoyed reading it. Not sure whether it’s common in SF, but dry cleaning companies offer delivery service in a lot of apartment buildings here in NYC, which saves a lot of time. I’m incentivized to cut spending on heels, pocket-less clothing, top handle bags after reading your blog:-)

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Yes they do! I try to just group mine with my husband’s, and then he can go deliver and pick up, ha.

  • ABG
    December 14, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Love this post, it brought back memories. I turned to backpacks back then — Birkins stayed in the closet., and when I was going out without the baby, I was too tired to carry a bulky bag without a strap.
    My change of wardrobe lasted a few years, even when the push chairs disappeared from our lives.
    To some extent, now that I have much older children, I am back to my previous fashion habits, but with a twist — still love pockets, bags with straps (I carry the Birkins again though), and heels are still for the most part manageable …

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:49 am

      I have so many backpacks right now! You are so right. I think I’m resigned to using them for at least the next few years.

  • Diane
    December 14, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Have you seen the ads for the LG Styler Steam Clothing System? I’m very interested since it claims to clean clothing at home. I haven’t seen a price advertised yet but I think it could be a game changer. It’s like a small closet height cabinet that steams and disinfects clothing. You hang the clothing in it and turn it on. On the other hand, I’ve had great success washing “dry clean only” items the same way you do.

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:49 am

      Yes I have! Our home isn’t so large but for some reason we have a huge laundry room so this is actually something I have been eyeing. We’ll see when the price come sout 🙂

  • Emily
    December 14, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for this post! I can relate to so many of these points!

    Stylewise, It’s been 10 months since I’ve worn a dress! With all the breastfeeding and pumping I have to do, it’s just not feasible to wear a dress.

    Lifestyle wise, I am no longer jetting to an international location 2-3 times a year. If I had one of those babies that could fall asleep anywhere, I might feel more comfortable but mine took a few days of screaming to adjust to napping at daycare. A vacation would feel infinitely less relaxing if I knew that I was in for a screaming fest for each nap and bedtime…sigh.

    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Oh man, the travel! Everyone says it’ll get better soon…I’m just waiting!

  • Ava
    December 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Love the photo of you and Little Feather – so adorable!

    And yes, I look for POCKETS constantly!!! And if it’s an item I really love and in some basic color and fabric that I can easily find, I will get pockets made and added on! Lol!


    • Katherine
      December 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Thank you my friend! Happy holidays!

  • Irina
    December 15, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Kat! This is such an interesting topic. My wardrobe changed but I feel that now that i’m almost done nursing it’s changing back little by little. I was never a tight clothes, high heels girl though:) In terms of spending, my philosophy is this- yes, we want to give him the best but we also work and have been working so hard that it just doesn’t seem right to now completely exclude myself from the reward process;) Also, everything we have ( which might not seem like a lot to other people, of course) is because of us. We didn’t have any family support any step of the way and, in fact, now we are supporting our parents on both sides. So I feel that if we could do it, he could definitely at least try:)

    • Katherine
      December 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Irina I love your comment, you write it so well about not excluding ourselves from the reward process. You guys are heroes for doing it without family support, and the fact that you’re now supporting both sides….you are my hero! You deserve all the best and more 🙂

  • Khin
    December 15, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Because of you I just ordered Christopher Elbow 48 pc assortment box. My first time and I can’t wait to get them.

    • Katherine
      December 16, 2016 at 7:45 am

      OMG! My favorite! I’m sure you will love them. Enjoy!!

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    January 3, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Belatedly catching up on reading after the holidays so of course this post needed some attention! 🙂

    I was always dressing in two modes, casual or full businesswear, before the baby, and now I’m looking for chic low maintenance stuff because like you, EVERYTHING has to go in the machine. There’s no time or money to waste on dry cleaning lovely delicate things. And I’m such a klutz anyway, half the time I’m likely to be the culprit who stained my good stuff.

    Pockets, machine wash, hands-free, and sturdy – all musts.

    I have all the same Responsibility First! thoughts about daycare, school, saving for college, a house, on top of taking care of my parent’s expenses, and we also don’t have any family help, so if I listened to that voice entirely, I’d still be wearing clothes from 1998. It’s easier to compromise and give myself a clothing allowance – I can’t run around like a bum all the time. But my luxuries are books and I haven’t bought more than a few in the last 3 years. It’s always hard to justify spending my Amazon dollars on something that’s just for my enjoyment when I could pay for diapers instead! 🙄

    We’re both responsible people, the occasional treat is not going to be what breaks the bank 😁

    • Katherine
      January 4, 2017 at 8:04 am

      Totally well informed, thought out perspective….and life is short too, no? 🙂