What do breastfeeding women want from fashion?

I conducted a survey of 1000 breastfeeding women to find out their opinions about the clothing available to them both online and on the high street. This survey pointed out the following:

  • That 95.54% of breastfeeding women feel that nursing clothing (excluding maternity wear) available on the high street is inadequate.
  • That 76.76% of breastfeeding women feel that nursing clothing (excluding maternity wear) available online is inadequate.
  • That 68.89% of breastfeeding women are not happy purchasing clothing which is primarily designed as maternity and secondarily as nursing wear – 27.06% are sometimes happy with this.
  • Only 4.30% of breastfeeding women feel the prices of nursing specific clothing are reasonable.
  • That 53.08% of breastfeeding women feel that having easy breast access is the most important feature, followed by ability to feed discreetly at 29.82%.
  • 88.22% of breastfeeding women are happy to spend between £20-£70 on a good quality outfit, with the highest number happy to spend between £30-40 (28.29%).
  • 56.57% of breastfeeding women are happy to spend between £0-£20 on a casual everyday breastfeeding friendly outfit
  • That 81.12% are not happy with the selection of nursing bras available on the high street.
  • That over half of those surveyed (55.71%) found that high streets tend not to stock their bra size.

Link to full survey results: Breastfeeding fashion survey

‘That’ BF Friendly dress everyone’s talking about…

By Gwen Atkinson

You may not have met her yet, but Faye is very popular. In fact, right now my Facebook feed has 8 posts from the last hour about her. Proud selfies with her, events she is going to, and people just bragging about how happy they are to have met her. Those that have been introduced extol her virtues, how flattering she is, and how good she makes them feel.

Faye
 Who is Faye? What paragon has created such a following among five thousand (and counting) women on social media? A model? She is pretty, but no. A self help guru? She’ll make you feel better about yourself: more confident to go outside, but she won’t solve all your problems. For the uninitiated Faye is a reasonably priced, floral print dress. Surprised? I think the people at Boohoo are. I have an image of the warehouse staff, darting from shelf to shelf, looking for spare supplies to keep up with demand. Their fingers aching from making packages and tongues tasting quite vile from tearing all that sticky tape. All the while the managerial supremos are scratching their heads struggling to find out why she is a top seller and how to replicate it. Then again, I don’t get out much, but I’ll explain why later.

The reason why Faye is so popular is because the cut of the dress means women can breastfeed in it. And in age old tradition, one woman told another, who told another. The difference is that in the world of social media this turned into a few thousand in a very short space of time. The comments have stressed how it suits women of different heights and body types, including the common post birth special of extra lumpy. The stretchy material skims the parts women feel less confident about at this time, and enables the mums to pull the neckline down to nurse when needed. Some praise the straps for improving the fit and making feeding easier, others found them a little thin. Alongside the commentary of Faye’s sins and virtue ran a discussion on what bra to wear with it, but this a blog post all by itself. Another recurring theme was how generous the sizing was. Remember the unfettered joy at having to get a size smaller than normal? Even the most body confident lady finds will use this as an extra reason to get a dress.

Before I became a mother, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I didn’t understand the practicalities involved, and suitable clothing was one I completely underestimated. Maternity clothes were hard enough to find, mostly falling into two categories that I named tent or twee. Yes, there are some designer clothes, just look at the Duchess of Cambridge, but I have neither the budget nor the figure of Kate, particularly as a soon-to-be mum. Clothes you can breastfeed in are usually a more difficult to find subcategory of maternity wear. Designers seem to believe women are both heavily pregnant and breastfeeding at the same time (no I don’t understand that either) and create clothing that are functional for both. But, and here is the issue, while I have many more wobbly parts than pre-pregnancy, I don’t need to accommodate a football / baby rhino under a dress or top anymore. I want to feel that I am still the same sophisticated, fashionable and, dare I say it, sexy woman I was before. Nor does life stop after motherhood; there are still invitations to weddings, parties, christenings (unsurprisingly) and gosh-darn-it-I-just-to-feel-pretty days.  

Once upon a time shopping meant collecting money and keys, heading out to wherever I fancied, sure in the knowledge I would return with something suitable without too much effort. Not only are the right dresses in short supply, I now have a man in my life who really isn’t that easy to get out the front door, doesn’t know if my bum looks big in it, and just when I finally squeezed me, him, the pram and nappy bag into a changing room decides to drop a big one into his pants. Then if I get one I like, it often needs altering; a press stud here, an extra zip there. Not everyone is that crafty, and even if you are, who has the time or opportunity to get sharp implements out? At the end of a long day not sure whether I’d trust myself with scissors. 

So I asked my fairy godmother to find me an outfit that was pretty and feminine, reasonably priced, that flattered someone without a model figure and could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I asked for it to be sent to my home address promptly and without spending more than a week’s supply of nappies on delivery, so I could try on it on in my own time. My fairy godmother, in the disguise of Can I Breastfeed in it UK, told me about Faye, tempted me with positive their reviews, money-off voucher codes, and I am so very glad she did. But, and this may not surprise you, as much as I love Faye, does she have a rock chick sister?

  

Links:

eBay!
THAT dress at Boohoo.com
Groupon: boohoo.com: £7.50 for £15 to Spend Online (50% Off)

Wardrobe staples: the boob friendly skater dress

My first review is going to be of my favourite breastfeeding friendly item of clothing so far. This dress is *technically* maternity wear but with its cut, I’d say it’s nursing friendly with the added bonus that you could wear it whilst pregnant, rather than the other way around!

Plus points for me are:

  • Nice and stretchy. If you are unsure of sizing, you could go for the smaller size and get away with it!
  • Comes in at the smallest part of the waist
  • Flattering v-neck – some ladies may prefer to wear a crop top or vest top underneath for modesty (not me though! 😆)
  • Stretchy enough to accommodate a large bosom!
  • Easy to pull down to get a boob out
  • Could be worn as casual or smart
  • Available in many different arm lengths/colours/patterns
  • Long enough to wear without leggings, short enough to not look frumpy
  • I’ve found it to be flattering on the mummy tummy where there is a good amount of material at the front
  • CHEAP!

I’m yet to find any against points but the largest size is an 18 although if you are a small 20 you could probably squeeze in ok.

I bought two dresses in different colours and arm lengths:

Black sleeveless dress
Black sleeveless dress

Purple short sleeve dress
Purple short sleeve dress

Easy boobing!
I am a size 16 and I think I could’ve fit a 14 but not sure I would’ve had the extra material available to flatter the tummy and bum/legs.

**edit** NEGATIVE POINT:With the purple one in particular I found that even water leaves the fabric a slightly different colour once wet (and dried). Not sure if this effects other colours but the black one seems to be fine. 

This dress seems to be a generic style across many different sellers on both eBay and Amazon. They can be found by using the search term ‘maternity skater dress’ but here are some links to make it easier for you:

eBay – Happy Mama (short sleeved, plain colours)

eBay – Happy Mama (sleeveless, plain colours)

Happy Mama Boutique eBay shop

Amazon – Zeta Ville (sleeveless, plain colours)

Amazon – Zeta Ville (short sleeved, plain colours)

Amazon – Zeta Ville shop