Monday, November 17, 2014

Vintage Mama Monday: Shirtwaists and Breastfeeding

Vintage picture of woman breastfeeding in the 1950s
Where I found this picture, but not the ultimate source. I really found the contrast between
the nursing mom who looks tired and a bit tense next to the young woman with beautiful
hair and makeup seeming so happy very funny. Motherhood is more enjoyable when you feel good about how you look, but sometimes I look more like this lady nursing her baby.

I've now had four children and have breastfed three successfully for a year or more and hope to do the same with our youngest. I absolutely love breastfeeding. I love, the closeness, the ease of always having her food with me, the health benefits for us both, and being in awe of God's incredible design for mothers and feeding their babies. I say all this not to make anyone who does not or cannot breastfeed feel badly, because it's okay. 
1930s Cotton Dress / XL Laundry Day Dress / 30s
1930s with a great print and colors and pintucks on the shoulders.
Find it here. Oh, and this is actually an XL if you're interested.
While I am passionate about breastfeeding, I find it next to impossible to be as passionate about how it changes my wardrobe. Things like nursing bras, huge breasts and cleavage, and everything needing to have easy access for feeding. It means almost no dresses for most women, as well. But let me just let you in on a little secret, breastfeeding is, I think, a little easier for the vintage wearing mama and her wardrobe, depending on which era of clothing she prefers to wear.

Vintage 1940s Shirtwaist Dress Shaped Shoulder Yokes Flared Skirt Round Pocket 1942 Advance 2752 Bust 32
Grab up a 1940s version for a totally different look.
Find it here.
We have the advantage of the quintessential, the amazing, shirtwaist dress. There's nothing like being able to put on a cute dress and still being able to feed and take care of your baby. I love that it makes looking and feeling a little more put together so much easier than trying to match up or find separates that still fit. Put on a shirtwaist, grab a few accessories and you're out the door a whole lot faster. 
1950s Vintage Sewing Pattern Shirtwaist Dress Bust 34 UNCUT Butterick 6710 Full Skirt, Wing Collar, Tab Accent Day or Evening Dress
What a great change up from the standard shirtwaist.
Find this 1950s pattern here.
I love that shirtwaists came in a variety of prints and colors and were made with easy care materials. I love that they are relatively easy to find in vintage or to purchase a vintage pattern and sew. You can even find many modern shirtwaist dresses that look vintage. 
NOS 1960s shirtwaist dress. Peter Pan collar short sleeves. June Cleaver. Button front dress. Jeune Liegue by Cherberg. Toile look dress.
Awesome rooster toile print. Get it here
Some tips for planing your postpartum and breastfeeding wardrobe are things like looking for looser fitting ones on top, because well, you're gonna be bigger. Also look for elastic waistbands, yes, some vintage shirtwaists had them, definitely makes your fluctuating size a whole lot easier to deal with. A great source for cheaper priced shirtwaists often with elastic waistbands is to look for 70s and 80s vintage shirtwaists. (A little tip that I do to keep elastic waist 80s shirtwaists from looking too much like 80s and not enough 40s or 50s is to buy them to fit me with the elastic stretched almost as far as it will go. It's still comfy, but looks a little more fitted at the waist, something that may mean a lot to you after 9 months of no waist.)
1970's japanese pink aqua blue floral vintage dress,Floral dress,Pink dress,Shirtwaist dress,autumn winter dress,art deco dress,tea dress
Look how crazy cute this vintage 70s shirtwaist is, but it ain't cheap.
Find it here. 
I think all us vintage mamas probably all have an appreciation for the shirtwaist dress, but when you're sleep deprived, need to wash your hair, and carrying a ton of supplies for baby everywhere you go, the shirtwaist dress just makes one more step a little bit easier. 
Shirt Dress, Red Dress, Floral Print, Vintage 1980s Size Medium
1980s red shirtwaist dress available here. 
Hope this encouraged and helped you to feel a little better in a season of life where feeling good about your appearance can be a daily struggle. And if you're expecting and think you might breastfeed, I would suggest that you start planing and thinking about your postpartum wardrobe and what you need to add if anything. It just makes that time a little less hectic and depressing. 
Modern "shirt dress" here.  I just pefer a vintage version because
you get more length and usually a little more design details than with modern,
but modern versions are pretty easy to find and fairly affordable.

What was your go to wardrobe staples postpartum or while breastfeeding? Do you love a good shirtwaist dress or shirt dress? 


  1. well as someone with out kids Ive never thought of that as a use ofr a shirt waist but of course it makes a ton of sense

    retro rover

    1. I didn't figure this out after my first and couldn't to wear dresses again. A year or longer can be a long time to have shut out a chunk of your wardrobe, lol.

  2. I am still getting the hang of this breastfeeding business, but I am already totally on board with you about shirtwaist dresses! I wish I had thought of it earlier and planned my wardrobe better, but they are definitely my favourite style so far. Blouses and circle skirts are the other look I'm enjoying, along a similar line of thought.

    1. I was completely caught off guard after our oldest was born. I was so naive, I didn't even know nursing bras existed. Since then I've tried to plan out my postpartum wardrobe while pregnant each time and that helps tremendously.
      The thing with breastfeeding is that the first couple weeks or even the first moth is the hardest. If you can make it that long, you can continue to breastfeed as long as you want.
      Enjoy your little one!

  3. Thanks for featuring the red shirtwaist from Black Rock Vintage

    1. Your welcome. It's a beautiful dress

  4. I'm with you all the way on the shirt dress for breastfeeding ~ I adore the fact that I can wear a dress again after baby is born, so my wardrobe is about 85% shirt waists now; two babies, and one more on the way just keeps you collecting for some reason. ;D

    I also agree with Tanith ~ my second favorite outfit is a circle skirt and blouse. You can get away with no buttons/front access with vintage styles, because the high waisted clothing covers you up more if you're lifting your top for 'access'!

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    1. I agree completely. I love separates for nursing, too, and I actually have an upcoming post about them.
      And higher waisted looks can hide a lot of mommy tummy, lol.