I often tell people that nappies are for the baby, but the sling is for me. Which is why I can wear a little boy in a very girly floral embroidered carrier if I feel like it. He’s not the one wearing the sling, he’s the wearee. And besides, when I’ve got a baby on me, nobody can see what my shirt looks like – so I make my fashion statement with the sling.
So here’s my style guide to making a fashion statement with your slings or baby carriers:
Colour – coordinate your sling with the clothes you’re wearing. I start by choosing the sling that best suits my babywearing purpose from a functional perspective, then choose the rest of my clothes to go with the sling. It doesn’t matter how nicely that mei tai feature panel goes with your formal dress to wear to a friend’s wedding, it’s no good if you really need a ring sling for feeding the baby discreetly during the reception.
Pattern – don’t overdo the patterns. If your sling has an intricate pattern print on it, wear plain clothing. Or if your skirt is making a bold statement in print, wear it with a coordinating sling in solid colour. The exception is when you can match the Amy Butler feature panel on your mei tai to your pre-schooler’s Amy Butler print pinafore, or if you’ve managed to get a silk ring sling made with silk Alannah Hill trim to match your Alannah Hill dress. It goes without saying that some prints will clash – but wearing stripes and spots together can work if the colours match.
Favourite fabrics – a luxe look can be created with plain colours simply by choosing the right combination of fabrics. For example, sturdy hand-woven cotton carriers are a great match for both well-worn denim and delicate linen pants. I love putting silk together with velvet, or combining varying weights of corduroy. And I do love embroidery or hand-painted feature panels on an SSC or mei tai.
Getting it on – some outfits make it fiddly to get slings on or off. For this reason, I hate tying straps over a bulky jumper in winter, so I prefer to put a big poncho over both me and baby after the carrier is on. In summer, my pet peeve is tops that ride up, exposing my chunky middle, while I’m tightening the sling. Choose tops that are a bit longer than usual so you don’t feel exposed if they ride up, and wear close-fitting clothes that won’t bunch up under the baby carrier.
- Don’t be a drag – if you’re babywearing outdoors, think about what will happen when you drag long wrap ends or mei tai straps through the mud or dust while putting it on. If you’re not in the habit of putting wrap ends or straps between your knees to keep them off the ground, consider wearing a soft structured carrier, ring sling, or shorty wrap instead. Or if you must have long straps, choose a mei tai with dark coloured straps that won’t show the dirt as much – brown or khaki are more forgiving than either black or white.
Last week, I went out shopping with Billy in a hand-dyed green hemp silk sling. I wore white t-shirt and jeans, he wore a light green singlet and matching green minky cloth nappy, embroidered with a green tree frog and studded with Swarovski crystals. Very cute, I thought! Plus, the sling covered up the dirty marks on my t-shirt 😉