Courtesy of Jam Kotenko

The Cozy, Blanket-Style Cardigan That Every New Mom Needs

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Let’s be very, very honest about this — pregnancy and childbirth change your body. Regardless of what tabloid headlines about celebrities’ post-baby bodies and Instagram #fitspo posts might tell you, the reality is that your body’s going to look and feel a little different after having kids — which means your clothes will probably look and feel different, too. Luckily, you don’t have to wear your maternity jeans and your partner’s ratty old college sweatshirts forever (unless you want to!). Mom Jeans is Romper’s guide to helping you figure out your postpartum wardrobeduring the first few months postpartum and beyond.

I grew up in the Phillippines, which has very warm weather (think 70 degrees and hotter, plus high humidity). So when I moved to the United States a few years ago with my then-boyfriend (now-husband), I knew I would have to be armed against chilly climates and air-conditioned spaces. And armed I was: every time we left our apartment, I made sure I always had a cardigan in my bag. Over the next few years, my collection of sweaters grew, and cardigans became a wardrobe staple.

When I got pregnant, I was pretty sure my cardigan habit would come in handy, but I soon found out that the bigger I got, the less comfortable I felt in most of my wraps. They were either too snug in the arms, or too loose, or the style didn’t complement my baby bump. My husband and I both worked from home at the time, and since my pregnancy happened to coincide with the colder months, neither of us were motivated to leave the house. I convinced myself that it was OK if I didn’t feel super spectacular about my clothing choices. After all, no one but my husband would be seeing them, anyway.

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Of course, after I gave birth, our hermit status (and my DGAF attitude about my appearance) had to end at some point. I had a new baby that I needed to slowly introduce to the outside world. The more I went outside, the more keenly aware I was of the drabness of my wardrobe. I wanted something new, something nice and colorful, something comfortable and attractive that could both show off my body and conceal my new bulges. That something turned out to be a geometric print blanket cardigan.

The cardigan was a total impulse purchase. I had originally dragged my family to the mall to find myself a nice pair of jeans. Normally, I bought jeans from Forever 21's website because they were super affordable, but since I was on a mission to celebrate my new motherhood, I wanted to splurge a little. I browsed the racks of J.C. Penney, found a pair of jeggings, and headed for the cashier.

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"Why did I not try it on?," I asked myself. "Am I honestly still a medium, despite my not having shed all my pregnancy pudge yet and my suddenly ginormous boobs? Also, I am a 32-year-old woman. Should I really be shopping in the juniors section?"

As I passed through the juniors section of the store on my way to pay, my eyes landed on an Arizona Jean Company Aztec print cardigan. It was soft, roomy, and most importantly, extremely colorful. The problematic implications of the term "Aztec print" aside, I couldn’t resist the sweater's splashy, colorful design. I grabbed a medium and paid for it without trying it on.

On the way home, I started to regret my purchase. "Why did I not try it on?," I asked myself. "Am I honestly still a medium, despite my not having shed all my pregnancy pudge yet and my suddenly ginormous boobs? Also, I am a 32-year-old woman. Should I really be shopping in the juniors section?"

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The moment I tried the blanket cardigan on at home, however, it felt like magic. While I'd thought the blanket style would make me look disheveled, it was cut in such a way that it perfectly draped over my body, framing my new curves. I'd also been concerned that the pattern was too busy, and that it would be hard for me to find pieces that would match. But the sweater looked amazing with everything I tried on, whether it was a pair of shorts, leggings, skirts, or a dress.

From a new mom perspective, the sweater was also the ultimate breastfeeding accessory. Its lack of snaps, buttons, or enclosures made it easy for me to whip out my boob to feed my baby, and it was just as easy for me to cover up my stomach flab when I happened to be wearing a snug top. The fact that it was pretty much a blanket allowed me to cover my baby with it as well, which helped him relax while he was eating.

Courtesy of Jam Kotenko
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I wore my blanket cardigan all the time — to doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store, on the couch in the comfort of my own home. For a while, I kept it on the sofa so I could wear it any time I felt chilly, just like I would with a regular blanket. When I wasn’t wearing it, my dog liked lying on it during his naps, I guess because I wore it so often that it smelled like me.

The cardigan was also basic enough that I could easily transition it for special occasions. While my husband and I rarely got to go out by ourselves, we had the opportunity to have a date night when my mother-in-law offered to stay over and babysit. We got tickets to The Book of Mormon, and I paired the sweater with my stretchy maternity LBD, hiking up the hem to make it short and sexy.

Courtesy of Jam Kotenko
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Unfortunately, I bought my cardigan a little over a year ago, so it's currently sold out on the J.C. Penney website. There are, however, some available in various sizes on Poshmark and eBay. There are also similar, low-budge styles available on Amazon ($19.99), Charlotte Russe ($5.99), and Forever21 ($22.99), as well as a pricier version on sale from Lucky Brand ($51.60) (below, left). There are also a ton of handmade geometric-print sweaters on Etsy, like this black and grey waterfall cardigan for $78 (right).

We're currently in the process of moving to Singapore, and right now, my beloved blanket cardigan is in a shipping container on the way there. The only reason I didn’t bring it with me is because I knew Singapore weather would be super warm over the next few months, and I had to make room for more weather-appropriate clothes. I don’t think I will ever get rid of it, though. There are enough air-conditioned spaces there that will require me to get back to my cardigan habit, and I’d like for my favorite to still be in rotation. And I definitely want to have it around during my next pregnancy, which will hopefully be later this year.

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