The nursing years can present stylish moms with a conundrum — your clothes need to be compatible with breastfeeding, but do they have to be plain?
The key to great nursing outfit ideas is focusing on anchor pieces, like nursing tops and bras, that make it easy to feed your baby. From there, stylish additions like wrap dresses, cardigans, and even rompers and formalwear can be turned into nursing outfits.
Ready for your closet makeover?
Nursing wardrobe must-haves
Any good wardrobe starts with foundation garments, essential pieces that can be dressed up or down, or in the case of some nursing items, add function to your outfit. These must-haves are the pieces to stock up on, as having a plethora on hand will serve you well (and save you from back-to-back loads of laundry, because motherhood gets messy).
- Nursing bras. Designed to allow you to offer your baby easy access to your breast without fully disrobing, nursing bras are central to the idea of a nursing outfit. This isn’t a time when you’re likely to be going braless in public — your breasts are likely to need support, and may be leaky — so making the switch to a nursing bra is the first step.
- Nursing tanks and t-shirts. Although these garments can be fairly plain on their own, that’s a good thing when it comes to creating an outfit — they make a great shell for a colorful cardigan or patterned blazer, and they’re ideal for layering (a nursing mom’s style bff).
- Comfortable, high-waisted leggings. This isn’t about nursing, it’s just about comfort. High waisted leggings that aren’t too tight won’t be constricting or uncomfortable, and they’re ideal for moms who are recovering from a c-section. They’re also surprisingly easy to dress up, as they’re a more comfortable substitute for pantyhose under a dress or jumper — a cute pair of boots makes it a perfect spring or fall look.
10 nursing outfit ideas
1. Wrap dresses
Pair with: Leggings, scarves, boots or flats, cardigans
Wrap dresses are breezy and fun, with a style defined by a front panel which wraps around the body and ties at your desired tightness. Their design makes for an ideal nursing outfit, as it’s quite easy to simply move the fabric of the v-neck aside in order to feed your baby.
There are wrap dresses for all seasons, with shorter sleeves and skirts for warmer weather and full-length, long-sleeved options for the cooler months. They’re often made of stretchy, breathable fabric, so they’re quite comfortable when you’re wearing or carrying your little one.
How we wear it: paired with coordinating leggings and capped off with our favorite zippered ankle boots, accessorized with a wide headband
2. Button-down tops
Pair with: Nursing tanks and tees, leggings, jeans
An oversized-button down shirt offers breathable coverage that can be paired with a nursing tank or tee or worn on its own. It’s an ideal option for layering in cool weather, and with the right pair of jeans or leggings, it walks the line between comfy and sexy.
While we love a good long-sleeved button-down for layering purposes, short-sleeved and sleeveless tops that button up are just as useful for nursing and can be fun to style with scarves and other accessories.
How we wear it: over a nursing tank, sleeves rolled up, with stretchy skinny jeans, our favorite tennis shoes, and hair in a messy bun
3. Stretchy v-necks
Pair with: Leggings, jeans, skirts, cardigans, scarves, overalls, jumpers
V-neck and scoop-neck shirts with stretchy fabric that springs back into place instead of turning slack are ideal for breastfeeding — it’s why most nursing t-shirts are designed this way. Of course, a v-neck doesn’t have to be explicitly designed for nursing in order to be an effective nursing top, but it should have fabric that’s able to bounce back.
In terms of both style and season, the world is your oyster here; short or long sleeves, colors, patterns, etc. It’s all about that neckline!
How we wear it: With a long peasant skirt, beaded sandals, and a gauzy scarf, hair down
4. Stylish scarves
Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Pair with: Nursing tanks and tees, v-necks, dresses, jumpers, off-the-shoulder tops and dresses
Scarves aren’t just for keeping warm, but making the jump from winter woolies to chic fashion accessories can be a challenge if you’re not sure how to tie them — this YouTube video features an amazing 14 different ways scarves can be worn!
For the purposes of your nursing wardrobe, scarves are both a layering piece and a potential privacy garment. If you decide you want to cover up a little, you can always take off your scarf and create an instant nursing cover for discretion.
How we wear it: In a bright print, paired with a chambray off-the-shoulder dress, a sun hat, and flats
Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Pair with: Nursing tanks and tees, dresses, v-necks
The ultimate cool-weather layering piece, cardigans can add a little extra class (and warmth) to your favorite tanks, tees, v-necks, and short-sleeved dresses. They’re a perpetual style favorite, so finding colors that pair well with your wardrobe isn’t hard.
Many cardigans button up or have a waist tie, allowing you to wear them open or closed as you prefer. We like wearing them open, which can create a slimming silhouette.
How we wear it: Over a comfy nursing tee with stretchy jeans and boots, a loose ponytail, and hot tea in hand
Pair with: Nursing tanks and tees, v-necks, off-the-shoulder tops
Cute but rugged, overalls have come back into style in a big way, and new takes on the look force the classic design well outside of its denim-clad box. What hasn’t changed is the over-the-shoulder strap that fastens just above the bust, making them an unexpected nursing wardrobe star.
Although full-length styles are also on trend, we love short overalls, which have a romper-y feel when paired with a ruffled off-the-shoulder-top. They’re also great with your favorite tanks, tees, and v-necks.
How we wear it: Short overalls over a long-sleeved off-the-shoulder peasant blouse paired with flats and our favorite sunglasses, messy braid.
7. Button or zip-up rompers
Season: Spring, Summer
Pair with: Sandals, lightweight scarves (Spring)
Rompers and breastfeeding are a polarizing combination, as the right style can be an ideal nursing outfit and the wrong one can essentially mean having to breastfeed in your underpants in a public toilet (not ideal, in case you’re wondering). If a romper buttons or zips up in the front, it’s a prime candidate for a cute Spring or Summer look that’s bf-friendly.
If you’d prefer to keep things discreet, wearing a nursing tank underneath your romper can add a bit of extra coverage when you’re feeding your baby.
How we wear it: Worn over a comfy nursing tank top with flat espadrilles and a fun summer hat
8. Off-the-shoulder tops and dresses
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Pair with: Leggings, jeans, flats, boots, sandals, scarves, overalls and jumpers (tops)
The flowy, dreamy look of off-the-shoulder tops and dresses is as lovely as it is comfortable, and their design naturally facilitates nursing your baby. As they tend not to hug the body, they’re easy to move in and flattering to most body types.
You may wish to wear a strapless nursing bra with an off-the-shoulder top or dress, but a supportive nursing tank with a built-in shelf bra may be able to suffice if your bustline is on the smaller side — just coordinate colors so that the straps won’t take away from your look.
How we wear it: With jeans, sandals, and a gauzy scarf, hair pinned back at the temples
9. Nursing dresses
Pair with: Leggings, boots, flats (casual); all the fineries (formal)
Available in formal or casual styles, we’re loosely defining a nursing dress as any dress with features built in to allow easy breastfeeding. Some use simple wrap and v-neck styles that mimic dresses and tops we’ve already suggested, but others use a ruffle or cloth panel to offer double coverage to the bust, under which the breast can be accessed for nursing.
When it comes to nursing-friendly formalwear, the latter is one of the best options — frankly, one of few — but thankfully, there’s quite a few colors and styles available.
How we wear it: With your best kitten heels and diamond studs, of course!
10. Jumpers that button
Pair with: Leggings, nursing tanks and tees, v-necks, scarves
The perfect cross between dressy and casual, a jumper with buttoning straps is a versatile wardrobe piece with a design that makes nursing easy. Wearing it over a maternity tee or stretchy v-neck makes for a cute look that can be gussied up or kept simple.
In cooler weather, skipping tights in favor of soft leggings and boots can help to keep you warmer and more comfortable in a jumper.
How we wear it: Over a stretchy scoop neck top with a bright, fun scarf, ankle boots, and a ponytail
Although your nursing years might not be your stylistic peak, there are plenty of ways to keep your look fresh without sacrificing convenience. Choosing foundation garments like nursing bras and tops which can be dressed up or down makes your wardrobe more versatile, as do anchor pieces like high-quality cardigans, dresses, and jumpers.
Of course, it’s important not to forget accessories — though dangling jewelry isn’t ideal around babies, stud earrings, hair accessories, and stylish shoes can all help to round out your nursing outfits.