Erika Bearman on Maintaining a Sense of Self as a New Mom

The completely glamorous fashion consultant on embracing motherhood while remaining wholly herself.

By: Emily Ramshaw

Erika Bearman has got to be one of the most glamorous women we know. Full stop. Formerly @OscarPRGirl and SVP of communications for the company, now an independent consultant, the woman has a prodigious collection of gowns (and actually has occasions to wear them), never wears flats, and is consistently on some white-sand beach or in some beautiful home or attending some exclusive benefit. Just check her Instagram feed for proof. And then, she and her husband had a baby—Electra, now six months, who, just like mom, is one exceptionally well-dressed infant. Bearman is one of those mothers who, for now at least, stands by the maxim that as much as one might have to adapt for your baby, the baby should also fit into your life (we’ve only experienced this with puppies and new roommates, but you get the point). Herein, she talks about the importance of maintaining your sense of self and how having a baby actually makes that self exponentially better.

 

Pregnancy is empowering:

“I loved being pregnant. You know what’s funny? I wasn’t sure that I would like it, but I was really fortunate. It’s an amazing reminder of your strength as a woman and what you’re capable ofwhat your body is capable of. I have so much more respect for my body now than I ever did. I think, as women, we are very hard on our bodies, constantly striving for perfection. But having been pregnant and giv[en] birth, I’ve never had more respect for my body and what I can do as a woman.”

 

Having a baby is a confidence booster:

“I was surprised by how powerful I felt after carrying her and giving birth to her. It gave me a lot of confidence in the early days of Electra’s life. I felt like I could do anything, and I was proud. I was proud of her, first of all, and I was also proud of myself. I was proud of my body. That carried me through the beginning. If you can access that within yourself and bottle it up, I think that’s awesome. You can give that strength to your child.”

She says no to maternity clothes:

“I never wore maternity clothes. I have nothing against them, I just never did. I was pregnant in the summer, and I just wore dresses—flowy dresses or stretchy dresses. I actually have this one dress that I literally wore almost every day. I was washing it and then putting it back on. It was this stretchy black Norma Kamali dress—a tube dress, long, with three-quarter sleeves. I found that it was more flattering for me to be in fitted styles versus flowing styles—in flowing you just feel even bigger. I didn’t buy one pair of pants! No pregnancy jeans, no coat. It was pretty easy. I wore darker colors like black and navy because they were more flattering, but that Norma Kamali dress really came through for me.”

Embrace the changes in your body (and use them):

“Physically, obviously you’re softer after you give birth, but emotionally I think you’re stronger. I was lucky; six weeks after Electra was born, I went back into the yoga studio, and I think I’m stronger now than I was before I got pregnant. Just having been able to exercise these past five months, I’m in better shape.”

 

Get your fashion mojo back:

“Style is always evolving throughout our lives. I was really happy to go back to clothes that highlighted my waist, because that’s a lot of what I wore before—to go back to things that are fitted and go back into Oscars gowns. I loved being pregnant, and I was in awe of the changes in my body, but I was also happy to go back.”

How to make heels motherhood-friendly:

“I wear these high-heeled clogs that are super comfortable when I’m out with her on a walk or when we’re running around. It’s nice because your foot feels like it’s flat, but you still get a little height. I just don’t like flat shoes—I think that’s well documented. I like to be barefoot—I do yoga barefoot, I exercise barefoot, I’m always barefoot in my home—but there’s something about flat shoes that just does not appeal to me. So right now it’s a high-heeled clog. I wore them when I was pregnant too. Obviously when I go out I wear real shoes, but this is when I have the stroller.”

“Working mom” isn’t necessarily a juxtaposition:

“Part of the reason why I wanted to work for myself and start my own business was to have more control over my schedule. Right now I’m working two to three hours a day, which is really nice. I usually do work in the morning, take meetings in the morning, take a lunch with someone, and then I usually spend time with Electra in the afternoon. That’s our time—three to five, before my husband gets home from work, we have our alone time. I love to work, I’ll always work, it’s just nice to have it be on your own time and have more flexibility. But I think it’s really important as a mom that you have to have your own things going on. You have to have your projects, your interests, your work. You can’t give up everything, because then there’s nothing left—nothing left for you and nothing left for your child either. I think that the things you do on your own ultimately make you a better mother.”

That ever-elusive “me time”:

“You have to make time, whatever it is. Whether it’s work or your interests, I think you have to have time that’s for you and for the things that you love, and then you have other time that is completely devoted to your child and the things that they love and their development. No day is perfect, and every day is a learning process—that’s something that Oscar used to say that makes more sense to me now than ever before. He would say every day is a learning process, and it’s true—I don’t think it’s helpful to strive for perfection. I just think you have to do the best that you can every day and make time for yourself.”

 

New mom = new life:

“Right now, with my business, I’m experimenting. It’s pretty early days. I will say that I am very selective with the things that I’m doing because you have to be really passionate about it, especially when it’s time away from your child. And also, quite honestly, I feel as if I’m in a place with my career where I can do that. I loved my time as the head of PR at Oscar, and I like the idea of having more than one career in your life. I feel like I’m on a second wave, and I really don’t know what my business is going to be. Right now it’s consulting, but it could evolve into something different. I’ve always been drawn to really creative projects. I would love to do something that is more specific to art or music, or my own brand, or a book. I like not knowing, I like that I can take this in whatever direction I want it to go.”

Have baby, will travel:

“Bring extra clothes on the plane in your handbag or your diaper bag. (I don’t have a diaper bag—I’m against that—I use a normal handbag.) But to be honest, before I had Electra, I would never even have a bag. I’m not a purse girl. I like to have my wallet and my phone, or I’ll have a clutch. I always like to travel really light, so it’s a new experience for me that she needs stuff. When traveling, definitely have extra clothes. Otherwise, I think it’s all about your vibe. If you are relaxed and happy, they are more likely to be relaxed and happy.

“Electra’s at a great age for travel because she’s just really portable. She can’t walk, and she’s also out of that newborn stage where they’re a little more unpredictable. Now that it’s been six months, we know what she needs if she needs something. And we’ve traveled with her a bunch! We took her down to Harbour Island in the Bahamas, which is a place that Jonathan and I have been going for a really long time. It was so fun to have her there and show her our place. But you learn as you go. For example, I didn’t realize that she couldn't just hang out on the beach all day. I ordered this beach tent, and I knew that we would obviously keep her in the shade, but I thought that she could just hang and take her normal naps. And it really didn’t go down like that. You have to be flexible. It was too warm for her, so I started taking her up to the room for her naps. I think as a mother your instincts are really strong, and even if you start off thinking one thing, you adapt and change.”

 

 
Don’t stop the party:

“Electra is six months old. She was born on October 31st, Halloween night. Is that a good birthday to have or not a good birthday to have? I already have a fantastic idea for her first birthday party because I figure it’s the only birthday party of hers where I can get away with having an adults’ party. Once she’s two and three, she’ll have her own friends. My idea for her first birthday is I’m going to have a black-tie masquerade ball—black tie and masks. On Halloween it’s always nice to have a party to go to. At our age we don’t go out jumping around to the bars, so I just thought, how cool! Who wouldn’t want to go to a masquerade ball? But then it’ll be a first birthday party as well [laughs]. We’ll see if I can pull it off.”

Babies can still dress up:

“I like very traditional clothes and a lot of the French brands like Jacadi and Petit Bateau. I love the Beaufort Bonnet Company. I put her in as many bonnets as possible just because I think it’s the sweetest, and they frame her little face. And also because she cannot yet take them off on her own. I’m sure that day will come. I love knits—I mean I love knits for myself, too. I like to be comfortable, and I’m always mindful of dressing her in things that are comfortable. There’s a knit company called Misha and Puff, which is really sweet. But when my husband comes home, she doesn’t have her sweet outfit on from the day anymore because everything has drool on it, and I just take those clothes off and throw them in the laundry. But I love these camisole onesies from Dott Child. They’re cotton, and it’s really beautiful. It’s just a sweet square-neck camisole with little straps—I love the style. You have to be really relaxed about the mess. She might have drool all over her, and it’s a really cute outfit, but you just can’t sweat it. You just want them to be happy.”

 

Everyone adapts (including baby):

“I very much feel that she can adapt to our life. I understand that she needs things and certain things inevitably change. Someone gave me that advice: that they should adapt to your life and not the other way around, and I think that makes perfect sense.”

Having a baby is like falling in love:

“Having a baby makes everything more vibrant. It’s like turning on the color in your life, and the things that you love, you love them more. Beautiful things seem more beautiful. It’s like falling in love!”

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