The moment I found out I was pregnant with Baby Sweet 2015 I went and bought maternity clothes from Motherhood Maternity at the seedy indoor mall in Charleston. At four weeks pregnant, I obviously had zero need for them, but I already felt huge (ha!) and wearing anything with a maternity label made me feel legitimately pregnant. I was also convinced made me look legitimately pregnant.
It really wasn’t until the in-between time–the almost exact year between when we had Baby Sweet 2015 and found out we were having Baby Sweet 2016–that I was going through my box of haphazardly packed (winter) maternity clothes and realized maternity clothes are hideous. And a huge waste of money. Unless you can spend upwards of a hundred dollars each on stretchy dresses and designer maternity jeans, most clothes designed for moms-to-be are frumpy, ill-fitting and unflattering. And in a time when I guarantee you’ll feel more frumpy, I’ll-fit and un-flattered than ever it’s cruel when your clothes force you to accentuate it.
Of course, there are a few diamonds in the rough. My coworker got a great maternity dress from Target that I accidentally also bought, my mom found a cute maternity shift dress on Zulily last time, and I bought an expensive pair of skinny jeans on extra sale at Pea in the Pod. But, besides that and a pair of old cut-off maternity pants that I desperately turned into shorts one especially hot day, I’ve avoided the maternity section. Instead, I’ve found stretchy dresses and grow-with-me pants that I can wear pre-mid-and post pregnancy without feeling like I’m outfitted in a tent or forced into a cheap polyester wrap dress that looks more like a Party City Halloween costume. This strategy has allowed me to shop normally at my favorite sites and feel better about where my clothing budget is going.
It’s also helped me get out of the consumerist attitude that’s constantly pushed on moms. Pregnant? Buy all new clothes. Nursing? Buy all new shirts. There are times when supplementing is important. If your clothes legitimately don’t fit because of baby weight, you’re more comfortable with a belly band, or you plan on nursing on the go and want to be discreet. But things don’t have to be bought just because of their label, and that’s the mindset I’ve gone into this pregnancy with. Here are three of my favorite maternity-not-maternity looks that have gotten me through the first and almost second trimesters.
I had no idea these pants would fit, and fit…and continue to fit throughout the first two trimesters. They’re stretchy and have an elastic waist, but aren’t maternity. The details–a side zipper and ridges–give them an edgy look but they’re as comfortable as yoga pants. I wear these to work on casual days with a loose chambray shirt, button down or longer, flowy top. They’ve been especially good for traveling, airplane rides and light packing because they’re so versatile. And I currently have four colors. And they need to stop coming out with more or I’ll end up with a rainbow of Motto leggings for every occasion.
I think this is the most flattering look in the second trimester–when you have a bump but you’re not yet swollen into a giant tootsie roll. I have several (striped) pencil dresses that I alternate wearing during the week and they make me feel both comfortable and professional. My favorite dress is one that I’ve talked about before, the Sonnet James Reese dress that I bought early in the year.
I’ve always leaned towards pencil dresses because I’m tall and too much fabric makes me look like a pair of curtains. But pregnancy changes your body and mindset, and I’m loving a more billowy look for especially hot and humid workdays. (So…every day in the South). This dress is my favorite because it also has billowy sleeves that make it seem a little more whimsical, but it’s not too big and long to be tent-like and it still shows off you’re pregnant.
I’ve had a lot more fun dressing for this pregnancy than the last, a lot of it having to do with finding my own comfortable style and finding clothes I know I’ll love post-pregnancy and into life with a toddler and a newborn. And hopefully these pieces will bounce back to their original shape (after a couple washes) faster than I will.
What’s your maternity style philosophy?