Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don't flash your father-in-law: A Skinies Nursing Cami review

This post is a continuation of Hobo Mama's celebration of World Breastfeeding Week: August 1-7, 2009.

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!


Skinies Open Cup Nursing Cami logo banner

Skinies Open Cup Nursing Cami whiteIf you've been following along, you'll know that I won a Skinies Open-Cup Nursing Cami a couple months ago and promised to write a review once I'd had a chance to try it out.

Well, dear readers, it's a hit!

I must admit I'm relieved, because if I hadn't liked it, I'd have felt sheepish panning it after getting one for free. I guess that would be one of them ethical dilemmas I hear tell of.

Well, I'm off the hook. I'm here to say, with a clear conscience, that the Skinies cami rocks.

So thank you again to Skinies, and to Mommy News & Views Blog, owner of A Mother's Boutique, for hosting the giveaway.

I had wondered if there was a good nursing tank for big-busted women, because with my milk-filled bosoms pushing out a 36I (that's I as in I can't believe they make bras this big), I don't think the standard shelf bra is going to do it for me. I needed a tank that was compatible with my own supportive nursing bra.

The Skinies is doing it for me. The open-cup design allows you to wear any bra you want to over or under it. If your bra's underneath, reach into the stretchy daisy openings to get to your clasp. If your bra's above the Skinies, then obviously it's no problem to get to it.

Skinies Open Cup Nursing Cami directions

Either way, the circular opening allows the right amount of your breast to get through so that your baby can latch on properly, but it covers up: (a) glowing-white expanse of jiggly breast and (b) glowing-white expanse of jiggly tummy. (NB: Your colors and jiggliness may vary.)

I was actually worried that the cami might be too supportive in the tummy area, because it touts itself as helping to hold in that postpartum belly. I don't know about you, but I can stand control-top pantyhose for about, oh, 2 seconds, before wanting to rip my legs off. But, as it turns out, the stretchy cami is smoothing without being constricting. I like that the length is long enough to tuck in, too, without riding up, as can otherwise be the case for Spandex-y materials.

So I'll tell you a little of how I put it through its paces for my tests.

Skinies Open Cup Nursing Cami openingsI first wore it with my bra underneath, because that made sense to me and it's how all the pictures show it. I found it a little fiddly reaching in to find my cup latch when I needed to breastfeed Mikko in front of some friends, both unhooking and rehooking. I had breastfed him in front of them a bajillion times before and not felt awkward, so this was a worrying start to my Skinies experience. I'm thinking it might take some practice to get used to wearing your bra under.

Splash Dody Goodman braI didn't get that practice, because round about the next time I decided to try the other suggested variation: wearing your bra over the Skinies. I thought this was a hilarious idea. It reminded me of Splash — anyone remember Splash? And the woman who comes to work with her bra outside her clothes? Anyone?

It was especially chuckle-inducing, because my bra for the day was black and my Skinies cami was white. Yea for contrast!

As it turns out, though, if you're wearing your clothes right, no one will be able to tell you're wearing a cami underneath your bra. Because — work with me here — if you're wearing your clothes right, no one will be looking at your bra, and the cami will be hidden below it. See? So it seems bizarre, but it actually works.

And I really liked wearing it that way.

First of all, I had easy-peasy access to my nursing bra's hooks. And once my bra cup was down, the Skinies covered the breast that would have otherwise been exposed on top, if I was pulling my shirt down, or my tummy, if I was hiking my shirt up.

So, now for the real tests. My parents-in-law were visiting, and I found myself with several opportunities to wear what would otherwise be inappropriate nursing clothing, in front of my father-in-law, and not show him any boobage.

Skinies Open Cup Nursing CamiHere is a run-down of some of the test items I wore that week: a fitted button-down shirt (usually exposes a whole heaping lot of chest when I nurse), a tight-fitting silky shirt that I have to pull up from the bottom (but isn't stretchy so usually exposes a whole heaping lot of stomach and back), and, yes, to be absolutely daring — a dress. An honest-to-goodness dress. Not a nursing dress. Not a dress with convenient holes. One that I had to yank down to get at the goods.

And the Skinies cami persevered through it all.

I was wearing it every day my in-laws were visiting, until it was more of a Skankies than a Skinies. I think I will have to branch out and buy another — maybe this time in black, to match that bra! (Hey, Skinies, how about even more colors?)

I will now present my only minor quibbles with the cami, to be comprehensive and fair and show that I'm not being bought off with my awesome win... First of all was what I mentioned already, about finding it fiddly to reach into the holes and grab at the latches on my bra. But problem solved with wearing my bra on the outside. Secondly, I'm cheap and each Skinies cami costs $33. Is it worth it? You and your pocketbook would have to judge that. I think it's priced fairly; I'll just say again that I'm cheap and that I'm glad I got to try it out for free. I have a load of regular old plain-cotton tanks and camis for layering that cost very little (and are in a wider array of colors), and I've learned how to nurse in public comfortably without any specialty items. So if I know I'm not going to see anyone I'd fear flashing, I often reach for a regular tank and just go ahead and show a little skin if necessary, reserving my Skinies for times when I know I want to be especially covered, or for when I'm wearing an outfit that I know will be hopelessly indiscreet to nurse in (see my dress story above). My last quibble is that sometimes a low-cut top will slip so that you can see the top of the holes. This is a sartorial issue whether I have my bra on under or over (especially so if it's under and my bra peeping through the holes is a different color!). My usual layering tanks come up higher than my bras so that my shirts don't necessarily have to. Maybe I just buy slutty shirts and this is only my problem. I only point it out to say that sometimes I felt I needed to wear a Skinies and a tank and then my shirt, but that can get a little too layered, especially in Seattle's recent heat wave.

Skinies Open Cup Nursing Cami breastfeeding motherBut I don't want to end on a quibble, so I'll just reiterate that Skinies is very inventive, high quality, and useful for breastfeeding mamas. It transforms any outfit into a nursing outfit by giving you coverage where you need it, but not a bulky shelf bra that won't do you (well, me, at least) any good. It lets you wear your own favorite bras so that you can be literally any cup size and still get the support and coverage you need. I was worried that the holes would dig into my skin if I wore it under my bra, but that wasn't the case; it's very comfortable. It has stretch but is soft and isn't overly synthetic feeling. Overall, it's also slim-fitting, so it doesn't add bulk to your outfits and can be tucked in easily. The holes were cut big enough that no fabric got in the way of Mikko's mouth. Trust me, I would have heard otherwise. You could also pump in this garment with no problem.

The Skinies cami is the brain child of a breastfeeding advocate and mom of six (and you can visit Jodie's own blog here). She had the same experience I did: big lactators and no good nursing cami options. Instead of just complaining and speculating, though, she designed her own. Upon further reflection, I think the price can be justified in a couple ways: First of all, you're supporting a small, mama-owned business. Secondly, you could get two or three of these camis (to allow for washing so you don't get yours all smelly like I did mine) and still spend a whole heaping parcel less than if you tried to buy a whole nursing wardrobe. It will also keep your regular wardrobe looking nicer longer, because I know I've stretched the necks out on all my regular tanks!

One more plus in its favor: The literature that comes with it recommends it as a good sexy option, sans bra, to surprise someone special with. Gotta love that!

Skinies Open Cup Nursing Cami packageI think Skinies would really be a blessing for any of you nursing moms who otherwise would feel uncomfortable venturing out to nurse in public, or even at home in front of visitors if you're just getting the hang of nursing a newborn. It would also make a gracious baby shower gift if you know a mother is considering breastfeeding.

So there you have it. I will have to add it to my stockpile of discreet and easy nursing-in-public options.

Thanks again to Skinies and A Mother's Boutique for letting me test-nurse this beauty!


stella said...

"until it was more of a Skankies than a Skinies"

love it!! haaaaaa.

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