In the nine months after having a baby, I was amazed to watch my body change and shift, creeping back to a new normal.  While I lost my baby weight fairly quickly, I was amazed to find that my evolving body hadn't shrunk back to the same size.  Things had...shifted.

Nursing and weaning had taken my breasts on a roller coaster ride, where I bought gigantic nursing bras in sizes I never imagined owning and then bought another round of different sized bras after I weaned.  My jeans size - different.  My rib cage circumference - different. My wardrobe requirements shifting from working professional to SAHM - totally different.

As I stared into a closet of worn-to-death maternity wear and ill-fitting, irrelevant clothing, I knew I would have to slowly tackle a full wardrobe overhaul.  The trouble was that I knew such a big change would require a big budget, and I just didn't have it.  Here is where I decided to splurge versus where I decided to save.

Splurge

1) One great nursing bra:  Nursing can be uncomfortable, especially at the beginning.  When I was 34 weeks pregnant, I marched into Nordstrom and got a fitting for a high-quality nursing bra.  Their fit specialists measured me, talked me through how they adjusted expectations for how much I would grow when my milk came in, and helped me identify my size and brands that made it.  From there, I took that knowledge and the one fabulous bra I bought, and did my best to supplement my wardrobe with a couple more budget-friendly options.  Nursing is foreign enough, that I found it was more than worth it to buy one expensive bra that fit be beautifully.

2) One great bra once you have weaned:  Again, the girls go through major changes once milk has traversed your tissue.  For me, not only were my boobs smaller, but after my insides shifted around to make room for seven pounds of baby and all of his accessories, when things settled back into place, my rib cage had actually shrunk a bit.  After trying on dozens of options on my own, again I showed up at Nordstrom clueless for a fitting.  Because a great bra is the perfect accessory under any top you wear, I definitely recommend getting at least one great bra that makes you feel fabulous.

3) One fabulous pair of yoga pants:  This sounds so cliché, but after you go through the labor that is childbirth, the last thing you will want to do is wear jeans or any bottoms with a non-elastic waist.  When you are sleep deprived, spit-up-on and showering far less frequently, anything that can make you look and feel prettier and more human is worth a little bit of extra coin. Black yoga pants will become your new best friend, and I couldn't be happier to have purchased an amazing pair.  A crazy splurge, I know, but if you wear these far more than jeans in new motherhood, it's worth it (to me, at least) to splurge here just as you would on a high end pair of jeans that are made to last.  Plus, since they are stretchy, they will likely continue to fit as your shape and size shift through the reduction in size as you slim down post baby (and even through future pregnancies - my Lululemon pants were the only clothing I owned that I could wear until I was ready to explode when I was pregnant with Little C).

Save

1) + 2) Casual tops:  For Little C's first six months, he spat and spewed constantly.  While I was ever-ready with a cloth diaper or A&A blanket to wipe up the messes that C created and shared with me, it never failed that I would be a mess by the time we had reached lunch time, if not sooner.  Between that and my leaky boobs, my shirts in those first months postpartum took a beating from stain removers and extremely frequent washing.  As C has gotten older, it hasn't gotten much better.  From solid foods to snot, he always finds a way to share his mess with me.  Anything that is dry clean only is no longer considered day wear over here, and I am even wary of buying clothes that can't go in the dryer, since my never ending laundry pile isn't always treated with the TLC it deserves.  Again, my go-to's have been Forever21, Target, Old Navy and Gap.  The caveat here is that I always made sure that while I am not splurging, I am making sure that I pick shirts that I really like, since oftentimes I end up wearing them week-in and week-out like this from Old Navy and this from Gap.

3) Underwear:  In the early months postpartum, I knew that I wouldn't want to transition from the mesh hospital undies back into my regular intimates right away.  One of my best cheap buys was a big pack of bikini underwear from Target that I could wear without worrying about ruining them in the early weeks, and continue wearing until I was ready to return to thongs.

4) Jeans:  Buying jeans postpartum was something I avoided.  I gave up on my maternity jeans by the time I reached my third trimester because of the sag effect, and I had no intention to resuscitate them postpartum.  Once I was ready to attempt denim, I found that my jeans did not fit at all.  In my pre-motherhood days, I found that denim was an item that I was comfortable splurging on, finding a great timeless pair that were extremely comfortable and built to last for years.  But knowing that I would likely face another pregnancy or two (or three - who knows) in the next decade, I couldn't imagine splurging on jeans in my new size without knowing whether they would fit for more than a year or two.   I was thrilled to discover that Forever 21 makes adorable skinny jeans with stretch that cost ONLY $7.80 (when I bought them in store after trying them on, they were $10.80 - apparently they are even cheaper online! The colorful ones are $15.80.).  If I hated them, it would barely be a waste of money.  And then, I discovered the even better news - I didn't hate them at all.  They are AWESOME.  I can follow the skinny jean trend and even get them in colors, and if my weight fluctuates, no big deal.  I've also had great luck with affordable denim buys at Target and Old Navy.

Where are you willing to splurge when it comes to your wardrobe?  What items are you more comfortable with finding great bargain pieces instead?