After spending nine pregnant months outgrowing your wardrobe, the first thing you want to do postpartum is put on some of your “real” clothes. But we all know it’s not that easy. Not only does that belly usually take a lot longer to shrink than you’d anticipated, but if you’re nursing, you may be reevaluating your wardrobe options — easy access has taken on a whole new meaning. And although motherhood is pretty amazing, with all the changes going on in your life (and to your body), sometimes a girl just wants to feel like her old beautiful and chic self. Emily Hsu knows that feeling well, and created the Au Lait line of nursing tops to flatter new moms while allowing ease and privacy for breastfeeding. “Just because we are breastfeeding doesn’t mean we should all of a sudden throw all our standards to the wind,” she says. We couldn’t agree more. Read on to hear how Au Lait is ushering in a new wave of style and performance for nursingwear.
How is Au Lait different from the other nursing lines in the market?
There are a lot of good nursing brands in the market that try to address the issues of over-exposure, but for many, the area that is used to nurse is just a hole dug out of the garment. I wanted every seam in the garment to have an impact on how the mother feels, and to create a high-quality, well-constructed and elegant item.
Who’s the gal that would wear Au Lait?
When I first tried to answer this question, my answer was that the Au Lait mom has an active lifestyle. Then I realized, all moms are active, trying to balance the demands of a newborn, home, family, and possibly career. Au Lait was created because since the moment of pregnancy, everyday was a learning experience in loving my own body and a battle of self-esteem. I understood the joy that I was feeling but at the same time, I felt completely out of control because I was changing from the girl I’ve known for the past 30-plus years. After the pregnancy, while basking in the glory of loving Avery everyday, I just wanted to look the way I feel inside.
How does your background in garments and textiles inform your design?
It allows me to really delve into the fabrics and construction to create a nursing line that makes sense for a modern lifestyle. Although stretchy jersey is easy to wear, it was unrealistic for me to wear a T-shirt everyday, especially once I started consulting again and had meetings out of the house.
Your fabrics look beautiful — can they really withstand the lifestyle of a nursing mom?
I remember one night after I had weaned but had to test a fabric for Au Lait — I was standing in the bathroom at 2 a.m. with a vial of my neighbor’s breast milk, splattering it onto the fabrics to test staining, laundering, and quick dryness.
Walk us through some of the pieces for the launch fall collection and let us know what we can expect in future seasons.
My personal dream item while I was breastfeeding was the Pullover Cardigan. This is the style I am most proud of and took many many months of trial-and-error to achieve. You literally pull it over your head like any T-shirt, but you look like you are in an outfit that took some effort to put together. Also, the front panel is swappable so you can look different every day, then just throw the front panels straight into the washer. The Blouse is another style that took a lot of effort to construct. I think this is the one style that will really shock people to learn that it’s a nursing top. The Tee-Dress is inspired by one of my favorite tops. I even wore it through most of my pregnancy. This is the style that I hope can help breastfeeding moms who are pregnant with their next. I hope to have sweaters with swappable jewel collars for the holiday.
Why is it worthwhile to invest in nursing garments?
Nursing can be a fleeting experience for some women. However, more and more women are choosing to breastfeed their babies up to one year and some even past that. I believe that investing in nursing garments to wear for a year or more is definitely worth it if it makes you feel beautiful inside and out.
Which look is your favorite?