During the early stages of my pregnancy, I made a trip with my husband to the Gap in downtown Chicago. Inside that huge, multi-level Gap store, I found a sweater on sale that I immediately knew I had to have. It was expensive — about $40, even though it was on clearance. But it was super comfortable and fit me like an oversized men’s cardigan. It hung off my shoulders, my hips, my backside. I felt like I looked like an Olsen twin. I told my husband that it would be the piece of clothing that would carry me throughout my pregnancy. He said that sounded like it was worth at least $40.
I wore the sweater constantly. (It's no longer available for sale, but similar styles are still being sold on the Gap website, like this merino wool cardigan in oatmeal heather.) I'd put it on over a t-shirt and jeans and instantly feel glam. I looked like someone who gave a sh*t about trying to look like they didn't give a sh*t. You know, just like an Olsen twin.
The sweater became my best friend. I could wear it over anything. At home, I wore it with pajamas. When I left home, I would drape it across dresses, skirts with blouses, T-shirts, and jeans. There was nothing it didn’t look right with. As my belly began inching out, the sweater let itself open further. From behind, you couldn’t even tell I was pregnant; I just looked fabulous. Sometimes, I would close all the buttons and wrap it around a tight dress. I let my stomach be the star, crying out to the rest of the world: "Holy sh*t, look how big I am."
I felt cute nearly every day of my pregnancy, a difficult feat when you're carrying an extra 20 to 30 pounds and your organs are quietly redistributing themselves inside you.
I loved playing off the shabby chic look with bright red lipstick or big hoop earrings. That sweater was my security blanket. I felt cute nearly every day of my pregnancy, a difficult feat when you're carrying an extra 20 to 30 pounds and your organs are quietly redistributing themselves inside you.
After I had my baby, the sweater came out again, this time for different reasons. It had been such a good friend. It still fit. And it still covered up my stomach, which surprisingly didn't go down in size all that much by the time I got home from the hospital. My body had changed and I was totally uncomfortable with it, but at least I could still hide in my giant sweater.
My baby is 2 years now, which means the sweater is coming up on its third year anniversary. While it comes out less often and most certainly looks worn, sometimes I put it on, even though it has red and green streaks from the time I accidentally put it in the washing machine with a bunch of crayons in the pockets.
The sweater reminds me that I managed to feel great dressing a body that was foreign to me, both while our baby was growing in my womb and after he was born.
The sweater is now ripped in multiple places, baggy in unflattering ways, and spotted like a Christmas-themed cheetah, but it still means the world to me. It reminds me of that day in the Gap in Chicago with Nic, before our baby was in the world with us. It reminds me that I managed to feel great dressing a body that was foreign to me, both while our baby was growing in my womb and after he was born. And it got me through some hellacious low self-esteem days after our child’s birth.
The sweater is on its last leg, and I don’t think I should wear it out much anymore. It doesn’t look shabby chic anymore – it looks straight-up shabby. But I want to keep it in my wardrobe (if only at home) forever. After all, it was such a good friend to me.