When Laurel was a baby, one of my rookie nursing mom mistakes was attending a wedding in a regular dress -- meaning, one with an inflexible neckline and a side zipper that basically made it impossible to nurse without undressing. So when I started looking for nursing-friendly dresses to wear to a couple of weddings this year, after being completely underwhelmed by the nursing cocktail dress market, I was thrilled to land on the perfect style -- a dress that looks fabulous, nursing or not.
Basically, the key to finding a non-nursing, nursing-friendly dress is a stretchy material with a crossover neckline that will open widely enough to nurse. And here is where Ralph Lauren became my best friend. In general, I love the simple elegance of Ralph Lauren's style, but after I started prowling department store websites, I noticed that he clearly gets the perfect combination that is stretchy jersey, a trim silhouette, and waistline shirring and has run with this concept in a variety of lengths, colors, and sometimes patterns.
I wanted something other than black so was thrilled to find these two Ralph Lauren dresses on separate occasions:
I wore the purple Elsie dress (left; $130 at Lord & Taylor) to a wedding in California. The dress has a flattering deep neckline that makes nursing very easy, and a fitted empire waist with flattering shirring. The color is fantastic; a nice change from the LBD. And I found the red Casimer dress (right; $134 at Lord & Taylor) a couple of weeks ago when I was prowling the new arrivals section and ordered it immediately to wear for my sister's wedding this past weekend. The dress is already sold out online but it would be worth checking local stores. Featuring the same shirring as the Elsie (though not empire style), this dress features a stand collar and also pretty shirring at the sleeves. The color is stunning!
These dresses are both gorgeous in color and flattering in fit; I really liked having long sleeves on both since I haven't exactly had a lot of time to tone my arms (short of hauling Violet), plus it's perfect for chillier temperatures. And though I'm thrilled that these dresses work for nursing (I nursed Violet at both wedding receptions -- once while wearing the purple and twice while wearing the red), I'm also glad that they'll carry through in my closet once I'm done nursing.
A couple of final comments: 1) I recommend wearing Spanx with these dresses, as they are clingy. 2) Keep your eyes peeled for sales and coupon codes if you are shopping department stores for these dresses (I recommend checking Macy's and other department stores -- they all seem to carry Ralph Lauren). Lord & Taylor sends a lot of coupons by e-mail and post and I did not pay full price for either of these items!