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.
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?