When vanity strikes…

Here’s this week’s Standard Examiner column, pasted in. I need new clothes.

“Last Sunday I experienced a typical pre-church morning. The entire hour before blast-off was spent chasing down shoes, diapers, hair bows and ties. There were shirts to press, teeth to brush, quiet toys to track down–it was a beautiful example of just how far a little procrastination can take you: right to the edge of patience.

Per our usual morning ritual, we had eight minutes left on the clock when I suddenly realized I was running around in nylons and a slip. My hair was not brushed, my makeup consisted of the previous evening’s smudged mascara, and I had nothing to wear. When I say nothing, I mean one skirt that I’m seriously sick of.

This has been a rough year on my closet. I went and gained 50 pounds in the course of growing a baby, and unfortunately the fetus came out weighing 7, instead of the much anticipated 42 pound kindergardener I had half convinced myself of. The consequences have put a serious strain on my zippers. It’s been four months and I might have lost the initial 40, but these last ten might as well be Mt. Kilimanjaro.

With 42 seconds left on the clock and my husband honking the horn, I stared with desperate vanity at my limited selection. Gray skirt, white blouse. Gray skirt, black blouse. Could January be more depressing?

It was at that particular moment my eye lit upon an old green number from days gone by. If I remembered correctly, it had always been a little roomy, maybe I could squeeze myself into it.

I grabbed the sheath dress, scrambled through the opening, and presto! We had liftoff. Zipping the back up to the top, I looked in the mirror and saw a glimpse of the girl I used to be before girdles and support hose took over my wardrobe. I thought, who needs to lose ten pounds when you can fit into a dress this cute? I grabbed a sweater, earrings, a couple diapers (for the baby), and we were off like a well starched suit.

I sat in the first meeting with the baby on my lap, feeling way too cute for comfort. Mothers aren’t supposed to feel too good about how they look, it’s part of the job description. We’re supposed to feel frumpy and outdated at least 85% of the time (minus date night). This thought alone made me slightly nervous. The baby sat on my lap like a happy little puppy, blowing spit bubbles at the teacher and cooing at the girl next to me.

I looked at my cute little dumpling and thought about how much I love being a mother, what a wonderful, selfless job it is, how this little child depends on me for her very existence, her well-being, her…food. Wait, she depends on me for her food. The food that I keep in my shirt. Not my dress, my shirt.

It was at that moment that I realized the fatal flaw in my sabbath getup. I had forgotten the number one fashion rule that all breast feeding mothers must never overlook: no matter what you wear, you must make sure you can feed the baby. One look down and it was all too clear that there was no getting into that dress. Three hours of church to go with a four-month-old who think she’s going to starve when the clock hits 120 minutes, and I’m locked into my dress like a snug little sausage.

For the last thirty minutes of class I sat and tried to think up a solution that didn’t involve public nudity. Sheath dresses are cut high at the top, and straight at the bottom–getting into them without completely removing the dress is a trick I’d like to see Houdini master.

After class, I headed out to find my husband. The only solution I could think of involved a trip home and a change of clothes. Waiting for him to come out of class, I stood and visited with a few of the teenage girls who wanted to hold the baby (the baby who was suddenly getting hungry and fussy).

“Girls, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’ve got to get keys from my husband so I can go home and change my clothes. There’s no way I can feed the baby in this dress.”

Without skipping a beat, those brilliant little women took one look at my outfit, another look at my baby and said, almost in unison, “Why don’t you just turn your dress around?”

And that is how I ended up wearing my clothing backwards on Sunday. My baby thought I looked fabulous.


  1. DIDN’T involve public nudity? See, that’s where you went wrong. What’s even the benefit of breastfeeding if you can’t whip out the boobs for the world to see?

  2. mom of a mob says:

    Bril.I. Ant!!! I have been in similar situations (duh – you’d think I’d learn by baby #5) & just had to make a trip home, or partially unclothe under many draping swaddling blankets. These YW are going to be awesome mothers! Please tell them I said so!!!

    BTW – glad you looked & felt fabulous! Moms w/babies, toddlers, & school age children need that uplift once in a while!

  3. That.is.AWESOME!

  4. LOVE IT! Those teenagers are SOOOOO smart.

  5. Why is it that young women can come up with brilliant ideas that we, as nursing mothers, can’t? I remember the week I decided to wear a pretty dress- and I got to walk home to feed my littles.
    It’ll be the new fashion for nursing moms.

    • “Why is it that young women can come up with brilliant ideas that we, as nursing mothers, can’t?”

      Ha ha… my instant thought? Because they aren’t sleep deprived! 🙂

  6. The only ‘dresses’ I own are little wrap style things that allow access for me. I didn’t do this on purpose — it’s just that the only time I’ve ever bought dresses I had a little one in the dressing room with me serving as a blatant reminder.

    Someday, SOMEDAY, our girls won’t be working girls and we can wear what we want. Garment, permitting, of course.

  7. I can honestly say that solution would never have occurred to me. Never. Way to think outside the dress, girls!!

  8. Those girls deserve one major award. I probably would’ve cried when they came up w/ the answer. Seriously just sat down & cried.

    I’ve been dying to know which ward you’re in. I grew up in Layton over in the 10th ward (my dad was agent bishop when they built the stake center there) & now my parents are in the old 22nd ward which is the… *crickets chirping*… um, I’ll get back to you on that.

  9. What smart girls:) Never would’ve thought of something like that—but it’s genius!

  10. That is exactly why I don’t own any dresses anymore…

  11. Kaimalino says:

    I read your column in today’s Standard and wanted to thank you for the smile! I am a breastfeeding counselor with La Leche League (meeting tonight, mamas and mamas-to-be at 6:30 p.m. at the Pleasant Valley Library in South Ogden) and I will be using your column as part of the discussion tonight about “avoiding difficulties.” You just made my meeting-prep easy!

    Really, though, I want to offer you a huge thanks for making nursing normal for your readers and the young women who bailed you out of your wardrobe challenge. While they may remember you were in a funny jam and needed to choose your clothing with function and access in mind, they will also remember that you were enjoying your life as a mom, you and your baby were a happy duo, and you were not house-bound because of your choice to give your baby the superior, biologically normal food. Thanks for nudging the world in such a positive direction!
    Best wishes to you in writing and mothering (and finding fabulous clothes that accomodate both)!

  12. Hahahahahaha. This totally happened to me too. AND I forgot the nursing cover. So I nursed with the baby’s blanket covering my lap, my dress all the way up, and a burp rag over my baby’s face in the mother’s lounge (which, of course, had about 200 people in it that day). It was quite an amazing experience. And the last time I’ve worn a dress. One day, I’ll get to wear it again…

  13. This whole story is absolutely the best. It’s so great that you confided in the teenagers AND that they had a solution.

  14. And this is why I selfishly only nurse for a few months. I get tired of wearing boob-baring-friendly clothes! (Yes, I’m the worst mom ever…)

  15. Such brilliance – of a teenager!

  16. I have no fashion sense. I can’t tell you the last time I actually had a DRESS. Skirts and tacky shirts all the way baby.

  17. Do you think maybe you should have a discussion with those teenage girls’ parents since they obviously know creative ways on how to get boobs out of dresses? (ha ha.) (yes, I’m laughing at my own lame joke.)

  18. First posting Ive ever read on your site and I absolutely loved it!! OMGosh. My little boy kept asking me, “Mama what’s so funny?”

  19. If there was more public nudity at church that might give me a reason to go every week.

  20. haha smart girls you have in your ward! I love good solutions.

  21. That’s awesome. I love the YW.

  22. I need to see a picture of this.

  23. Miss Jackson says:

    The seamstress in me is wondering how well the dress fit you backwards. They’re generally made to only fit one way, in order to accomodate the girls. Unless this was more of a shift than a sheath? At any rate, you made it work, so hats off to the problem solving YW!

    • annie valentine says:

      I’m going to have to post pictures, I think it worked well because it’s actually a little roomy on me. It’s not a totally plain sheath, it’s got…parts.

  24. seriously so funny! i am the same as you! every sunday i go through the same skirts and tops…i’m so sick of them! and then i look at my dresses…nope i have to stick with skirts! and your story about the dress, i did that a couple years ago…thought to myself, dang i look good! then went to church and realized that there was no possible way of feeding my baby unless i wanted to seriously flash every one! so i went out to the car and fed her!

  25. HA! Those smart yw! I couldn’t even tell you turned it around till you told me. I commend you for sticking to it. I also feel you on nothing fits. All my skirts have gone through at least 1 pregnancy and are stretched out. But because i’m short it’s really hard to find things to fit my body.
    Happy weight loss (even though you already look great) and eventually new clothes.

  26. Oh my gosh! I laughed so hard! I have to ask permission to use this in a talk!

  27. Wow. Genius!! Pure genuis! I, like Elisa, don’t remember the last dress I owned. The size 8 I wore to the temple the day I got married is still hanging in my closet. I keep it because I holds sentimental value and I keep hoping that one day I’ll be as skinny as I was when I was 21. (Yeah..I weighed 126 pounds at 5’9″. Pretty sure the sentimental value is all it’s ever gonna do for me!)

    Yes, please post pics!!