Julian Paik On Being Present During Motherhood–And Wearing Lots of Pleats Please

·6 min read

There was a blip of a scene in season four of Sex and The City where Carrie described an effortlessly cool Park Avenue mom, dressed in a sharp pink trench, as someone “for whom Barneys would always be stores, not dinosaurs.” Indeed, in the real New York, there are plenty of these inherently chic matriarchs roaming the streets, uptown and downtown, providing a portrait of aspiration and elevated taste that usually feels unattainable, as a mom or otherwise.

Retail consultant Julian Paik, an unstuffy Manhattanite, has that covetable, inherent chicness, but hers comes without any pretension or prissiness. Her personal style is nonchalant and well-heeled, every bit as deeply cool as her work through Paik Studio; her client list includes Commission, Hommegirls, and Luar. Paik’s aesthetic is a little classic and a little prep, kicked in the ass by a Tabi boot or Prada lug sole. She loves sports bras and vintage Umbro soccer shorts just as much as a Thom Browne tweed jacket.

Fashion is a huge part of her universe, which also includes food via her small bread-baking brand called Breadrose. But when she became pregnant with her daughter Noon, now six months, Paik’s love affair with clothes began to shift slightly, as they do for all of us fashion nerds.

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Being self-employed, Paik didn’t have any real maternity leave. She of course stayed close to home for the first few weeks, with Noon, her husband Robert (women’s design director at Thom Browne), and their dog Archibald. But for her, pregnancy and postpartum dressing was about blending even more pragmatism into her wardrobe while still adhering to the pieces and designers that sparked joy.

Paik exemplifies that delicate balance between Barneys and Barney, between loving fashion and loving motherhood (dinos, diapers, and all), and below, she delves into the why and how.

Paik and Noon.
Paik and Noon.
Julian Paik

What positive changes have you noticed in yourself since becoming a mom?

I find that I’m more present than I have ever been. I’m an overthinker and my brain is always two steps ahead. Now, I am more tuned in to doing what needs to be done in the moment and taking it one step at a time without stressing too much about the future. Plus, what they say is true: babies grow up SO fast and I want to soak in all of the precious moments, like seeing my baby’s first tooth peek up from her little smile!

How do you tackle unsolicited advice and/or negativity around parenting?

I try to let the negativity fade out and focus on the reality of it all. Parents have provided real-life anecdotes of their own experiences and they’re just a reminder that there are many ways of going about it . It’s totally dependent on you and your child.

How has your personal style evolved since becoming a mom?

This is a boring answer, but I always went with ‘comfort first’ when it came to dressing and it still holds true now as a mom, though with an added level of ‘..and fast’. I wear my super old vintage t-shirts on rotation because they’re soft to the touch for my baby and I can easily tuck her head underneath to feed. Also, I rarely wear make-up during the day because Noon likes to rub her face onto mine, so I keep the natural skincare routine up. And it always ends with SPF!

How did you evolve your style during pregnancy and right after giving birth? Did it change or shift in any significant way or did you feel like you were able to hold on to your style even during drastic body changes?

I briefly perused maternity clothes when I found out I was pregnant and quickly decided to not go down that path. I wasn’t finding anything I liked and was lucky to keep wearing most of what I loved to wear before my baby belly, sans any pants with zippers. It was a lot of Pleats Please and my husband’s old jeans paired with my knit and mesh tops and button downs. I was fortunate to have an enjoyable pregnancy experience and I loved watching my body change, so it was fun to play around with my new proportions.

What did change was my choice (or lack thereof) of footwear–after a few months I exclusively wore sneakers, as my feet felt like they expanded half a size!

Also, right after birth, there was little consideration around style and it was all breastfeeding bras, sweatpants, and boxers. The first few weeks of postpartum were a blur and quite a painful experience, so it was really only about feeling secure and cozy while navigating the healing and the feeding.

<cite class="credit">Julian Paik</cite>
Julian Paik

What are your thoughts on a traditional diaper bag? Do you need one? Can it just be a regular bag? If you carry one, what’s inside?

So long as the bag has an adjustable strap, some compartments, and maybe a side pocket or two, it can be a ‘diaper bag’. We use a utility bag from Snowpeak and it does the job of carrying diapers/wipes, a changing pad, an extra set of clothes, my favorite little bonnet, a pacifier and some toys. Oh, and a blanket!

What’s been your approach to buying baby clothes thus far and has it been fun and/or inspiring for you to dress Noon? Any tips or tricks for smart but also still stylish baby clothes shopping?

Baby clothes are next-level cute–everything is better in baby size! We have kept it simple with all white outfits while she’s still an infant, which our family finds… charming. But she’s about to turn 6-months soon and so we’ve incorporated some color provided by friends and family, like her New York Rangers onesie that her Aunt Steff gifted her–perfect timing for the playoff season. I’ve also done a bit of shopping on SSENSE for some fun outfits, so stay tuned.

Originally Appeared on Vogue

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