Obviously don’t forget a hot nursing bra to go underneath. Von Follies by Dita Von Teese no longer available, but still hot.
The first time I went to a wedding after having a kid, I somehow didn’t realize that nursing-friendly dresses were… a thing. (To be fair, I also was very sleep deprived.) I was just so excited that six months in I could (sort of) fit into a pre-baby dress, that I squeezed myself into a one-piece dress with a high neck, and literally zero stretch. Fast-forward to the moment when the baby needed to nurse RIGHT NOW, and in a panic I realized how grave the error that I had made really was. And that is how I ended up nursing a baby in my underwear, in a storage closet, on a cold metal folding chair, while my husband guarded the door.
Chances are you’re reading this article because you are, in fact, smarter than me, and you’re making advance plans about nursing-friendly dresses, because summer and summer weddings are coming. But the thing is, retail hasn’t caught up to modern motherhood, and it’s not that easy to find nursing-friendly dresses and outfits for wedding guests that aren’t… maternity clothes that you can maybe wear for a few months after giving birth. Because the fact that you’re nursing doesn’t mean you don’t still want to look hip AF.
Nursing Outfit Hacks
So as someone who has nursed two babies for most of the last four years, I’m here to help you out. Since that ill-fated wedding outfit, I’ve discovered a few awesome hacks for breastfeeding babies. The first one is the #nursingjumpsuit. Let’s make them a thing, okay? Tons of jumpsuits offer low cross-front tops, as well as hide all the things you want hidden. And the second is the excellent combo of a skirt and a tucked in T-shirt, or a long crop top. I know, I know: you just had a BABY and you don’t want to show off your TUMMY. But a long crop top can go hand-in-hand with great support garments, keeping your tummy safe from the world, your boobs readily available, and your style on point. (I get my support garments at Target, and am way into medium or light compression for a feeling of protection without suffering, plus they have great plus sized stuff.) Beyond that, searching for a wrap dress is always a win, and anything low cut can always be paired with a cami, nursing or otherwise. And if you’re really lucky, you might stumble upon the magical two-piece dress (sometimes called a twosie), offering you the look of a dress with the boob access you always dreamed of.
What To Look For
Here is what to look for, both in nursing friendly dresses and… dresses you might wear to a Vegas bar: low necklines, a little bit of stretch (or a lot of stretch), and nothing that would turn into an immediate disaster if you happen to leak a little/spill some a drink on yourself. And since I hate the idea of buying an expensive dress you’re only going to wear once, most of these will still be flattering as your body continues to adjust to its new normal.
Beyond that, you may well want a dress with a little support (some of you may be able to pull off strapless nursing dresses, but for many, that’s not super practical). And you’ll want to consider modesty and how you feel about it. If you can whip out a boob, but it leaves you half naked, figure out if that would work for you with a nursing cover up, or if you want nursing-friendly dresses with more built-in coverage. Full disclosure: I’m way to lazy to have ever used one of those full coverage nursing things. But if you’re picking a spaghetti strap or strapless dress, you might want to consider a cover like this, or just a nice shawl, so you’re not left… half nude at the reception table. Unless that’s your thing.
As a general bit of advice, I’d try and give yourself as much time to try these out before you need them for an event. I’d probably buy two or three of your favorites, with the intention of sending two back, and then try them on at home, see how comfortable you are in them, and how easily you can nurse as needed. The worst thing you can do to yourself is wait until the last minute, only to find that the dress you loved isn’t as comfortable to nurse in as you were hoping for, and then ending up naked in the bathroom anyway.
And with that, here are my best picks. I tried to include a range of prices, styles, and outfits flattering for a variety of body types. So hopefully there is something here that will keep you (not too) covered.
Hip Nursing-Friendly Dresses
For those of you that can pull off nursing in a strapless bra (or better yet, no bra at all), please buy the ASOS Floral Textured Ruffle Off Shoulder Double Strap Midi Dress immediately, because it is the goddamn cutest. Also, you’ll probably want to bring a nursing cover up, or a shawl. ($53)
Sure, this Eliza J Two Piece Dress is a little pricy, but it’s one of the rare magical twosies that looks like a dress but allows you to nurse like a dream. Perfect for when you need something a little more formal. ($208)
Yes, you’re doing to need to wear a lace cami under this Selfie Leslie Floral Maxi Dress, but it is so totally statement bad ass, that you’ll win all of those “I thought she just had a baby, how does she look that put together?” awards. I mean, not that you’re trying for them. But if you got one by accident, you’d take it right? ($58)
Jury is a little bit out on if you can wear a bra with Stripe Lace-Up Maxi Dress, but the fact that you can untie it to nurse? And it’s gorgeous? All in. ($105)
If you don’t need to worry about a bra, the Audra Dress is perfection. It’s stunning, while still being easy to wear (and nurse in). ($108)
Okay, I’m totally aware that the Flounce Off-the-Shoulder Dress is fucking bonkers. But it’s also awesome, and amazing, and I hope one of you wears it. ($38)
Proving that you can, in fact, get nursing friendly dresses that fit any style, the Fitting In Floral Midi Dress fulfills all of our world traveler mama fantasies. ($128)
This Plus Sized Off-the-Shoulder Dress comes pre-wrinkled, so your kid can’t make it worse. (I kid, I kid… do I?) But it’s effortless summer sexy, with easy boob pull down. ($24.90)
Another rare and blessed two piece dress. The tiered scalloped skirt in eyelet is effortless and boob accessible, and it comes in navy (and white, if you’re
dumb daring). ($110)
The Petite Denim Belted Shirtdress is one of those perfect denim dresses, that I’m pretty sure we all should own. Add buttons and you have nursing magic. ($89.98)
The Club L Plus Velvet Wrap Dress technically breaks our rule about no velvet with liquids, but sexxxxxyyyy. ($49)
The Hatch Collection isn’t cheap, but people who grew humans deserve the occasional treat, right? The Daisy Flutter Dress comes Dusty Rose and Soft Navy and can be worn on or off shoulder, pregnant or not pregnant, which makes it basically four dresses right? Treat yo’ self… or better yet bribe someone to buy it for you. ($278)
Okay, yes, I hear you, the J’adore Maxi Dress is not cheap. But it’s also G-O-R-G, so here is hoping one of you invests in it, and we can live out our fantasies through you. ($288)
The ASOS New Look Plus Frill Wrap Midi Dress is cool, effortless, and an awesome price. The perfect plus sized summer little black dress, plus nursing access? Maybe!! ($43)
The fashion gods so rarely bless us with zip front dresses, that when they do, we must offer small sacrifices, because they are both nursing friendly dresses and badass. On that note, please disregard the horrific styling Zara has given us with their Zip Front Dress, because I guarantee it will look a million times better on you than it does on the model. (And for goodness sake, add a colorful shoe.) ($69.90)
This Melissa McCarthy Seven7 Faux Wrap Maxi Dress is basically everything we’ve been waiting for. Hip plus sized shirt dress? Check? Skirt that’s not actually a wrap skirt so you don’t have to worry about unwanted nudity? Double check. ($108)
Most dresses that bill themselves as maternity clothes and/or nursing-friendly dresses are not also… style friendly. But the ASOS Maternity Slinky Kimono Knot Front Dress (also available in non-maternity plus sizes) nails it. Good color, good stretch, good cut, great price. ($58)
Shirtdresses are excellent for nursing, because buttons. But it’s a rare shirtdress that makes a maximal glam statement, and the Striped Maxi Shirt Dress for sure does. ($58)
Oh hey! The Gods of nursing fashion spoke, and they delivered an actually really cute dress. If you’re looking for modesty and function, the ASOS Maternity NURSING High Neck Mini Dress is here to save you. (Plus you can wear it pregnant too, so double win.) ($49)
The Contemporary Foliage Dress is the perfect hip dress for an easy breezy beachy summer wedding. Put on high heels and a messy bun, and you’ve got this. (And a great beach cover up later.) ($19.98)
The Z and L Europe Maxi is one of those rare beachy maxis that really delivers for formal wear as well… and if this is your style, you know it. I might order this one for me, because damn. ($58)
You’ll probably need a cover up with ASOS Ruffle Bardot Midi Skater Dress, but it’s the epitome of summer sexy without even trying. I mean, obviously you’re trying, but nobody has to know. ($38)
Club L Plus Slinky Wrap Front Midi Dress is on the simpler side, but now is always the time for an effortless little black dress, and the wrap top is nursing friendly dress perfection. Plus the combo of a low cut and long sleeves is just right. ($49)
Turns out there are a lot of plus sized wrap dresses in truly dubious prints. But after lots of searching, I found the Plus Size Mock Wrap Maxi Dress, which is sexy AF, nursing ready, and pattern approved. ($29.90)
Even with five years of keeping my eye out for nursing friendly dresses under my belt, I’ve never come across a sexy belted tunic dress (rimshot, please). The Garment Died Trench Dress is decidedly effortless urban cool, but the buttons give you perfect access. Plus it still has a few sizes left in both navy and pink. ($128)
Oh, but perhaps you were looking for something with a little more… zing? The ASOS Maternity Nursing Embellished Mini Dress is here to give you the flair of a showgirl with the nursing modesty of a nun. Just what you’ve always wanted, no? ($98)
The Venus High Slit Dress by Monif C. slays all day, every day, in every goddamn way. And it’s a nursing friendly dress? Enough said. ($138)
But maybe you want a little flamenco drama? The True Decadence Petite All Over Ruffle Detail Cami Maxi Dress is enough to distract from the fact that you may be a little bit of a three-ring circus, at a party with a baby. ($106)
Nursing tops and bottoms
The combo of Libby Top and Hampton Skirt from BHLDN (the skirt comes in a ton of colors, and the top comes in a dreamy dark grey), are formal enough to wear to a black tie event, but chill enough to be the glamour girl at a more casual daytime event. The best part is that it won’t occur to anyone that you’re wearing separates so you can tuck a baby under that lace. (Skirt $220, Top $100)
Pairing this Clip-dot tiered skirt (which comes in fresh poppy too, swoon) with a button down chambray top gives an unexpected preppy twist. And while those shoes are to die for, they’re almost out of stock, and I’m in love with these shoes (from France) that are still an investment, but less money. (Skirt $89.50)
The perfect flowing maxi skirt is everything when putting together wedding outfits you can nurse in. Pair the Cleo Pastel Skirt with the Mia Cold Shoulder Top for the relaxed T-shirt look. But the real winner might be this amazing loose cut cross front body suit in rose, which you should snap up before it’s gone forever. (Skirt $278)
I’m a sucker for this long lace crop top, which would work with so many skirts. Since it has a high neck, it’ll be best for the less busty among us, but pair it with a black nursing bra, and you’re gonna be one sexy mama. Since this tulle skirt is out of stock, I’m going to suggest the Harley Maxi Skirt as a great substitute. (Top $40, Skirt $40)
This metallic pleated skirt is the kind of magical object that you can throw on, even at your worst mom moment, and feel 100% pulled together. I’d pair it with this keyhole halter, but you could go with this pink split sleeve blouse or this cold shoulder cami if you want to make more of a statement. (Skirt $44.17, Keyhole halter $31, Pink blouse $31, Cami $28)
If you’re just never going to get yourself in a crop because you know yourself, then go all in for the silky white cami with the magical skirt. The Blythe Skirt slays on its own, but with this top it’s near perfection. (Skirt $220, Top $75)
I’m super into this plus sized lace maxi skirt, which is a statement in its own right. the more daring among you could pair it with this metalic cami, if you don’t mind yanking down the sleeve a little, but I’m also way into this dove gray wrap top. (Skirt $48.67)
Okay, fine, sure. Just because you’re a mama now, doesn’t mean you’ve given up your badass edge. I feel you. In that case, this Katherine Leopard Skirt is the ticket, though I’d pair it with this black strappy-T, or for a pure (nursing) biker badass look, this black metallic cross front body suit. (Leopard skirt $25, Black tee $24, Body suit $30)
The Zula Lace Jumpsuit is one of those magical #nursingjumpsuits that combines a vintage feel with wearability. Pair it with some killer heels, hoops, and some bangles and you’ve got a party look (that you can wear later just day to day). ($158)
The ASOS CURVE Plisse Jumpsuit with Wrap Front And Long Sleeves lives up to it’s name by hugging those curves in the hottest way possible, while also being one of the most nursing friendly jumpsuits I found. ($61)
I’ve found that one of the keys to flattering jumpsuits is ruffles, so that your midsection isn’t on full display. The Jamie Wide-Leg Jumpsuit fits the bill, and my bet is with high heels, you’ll even be able to pull off the crop pant. Obviously, bring a nursing cover up for this one as needed. ($138)
The Expressive Sentiment Jumpsuit ticks all the #nursingjumpsuit boxes: cross front top, statement looks, and a one and done outfit. (The jumpsuit is the statement—you don’t have to bother dressing it up.) ($79.99)
Look. I’d be telling you to buy the Wrap Jumpsuit with 3/4 Sleeve no matter what, because it’s just that good. But the fact that it’s also perfect for nursing and plus sized? WINS ALL THE THINGS. ($43)
Okay, I’m sneaking one romper on here, which admittedly, you might only be able to wear to a more casual event. But the ASOS CURVE Long Sleeve Wrap Romper In Bird Print, is perfect for nursing and hot AF. Pair it with high heels, and it totally qualifies as party attire. (Romper $43)
Never underestimate the wearability of a black jumpsuit. I know it’s not a little black dress (yet), but it should be. And that makes the Willa Tie-Waist Jumpsuit (also available in a gorgeous wine color) an investment piece. ($118)
This ASOS CURVE Wide Leg Jumpsuit In Abstract Print With Knot Detail is just… everything. Full stop. (With the sheer legs? Stop it.) ($61)
Who knew we’d ever live in a world where I’d say, “There were just so many nursing-friendly flattering plus sized jumpsuits I didn’t know when to quit?” But blessedly, that world seems to have arrived, and the ASOS CURVE Jumpsuit with Cold Shoulder in Dark Floral Print delivers. Not a dress! In fact a #nursingjumpsuit in disguise. ($83)