Wednesday, February 27, 2013

maternity clothes

So, remember how I said I wanted to reminisce a bit and do some of the blog posts I never got around to writing while I was pregnant?  Well, this one is for an anonymous friend of mine who recently found out that she is expecting!  Such exciting news!  She asked me where I got maternity clothes, so... here goes!  This post is dedicated to her.

{Disclaimer: I am not a fashion blogger.  There is probably a reason for that.}

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I currently have one (1) bin of maternity clothes down in the basement, and it's not even full.  I'm kind of proud that I made it through pregnancy without spending a fortune on new clothes.  If I can do it, anyone can!  A few clothing items were generous hand-me-overs from a formerly-pregnant friend, some came from Mighty Aphrodite Maternity (a local consignment store), and a few others were from Old Navy, Target, or Gap (on sale).  I had a maternity dress I wore to my baby shower that was from Motherhood...

...but other than that, I didn't really shop at the specifically maternity stores like Motherhood or A Pea in the Pod.

Why not, you ask?

Because they are (what I consider to be) kind of expensive.  I'm not saying you can't ever find a good deal there on a cute piece of clothing, just that it wasn't my go-to type of place to shop.  {But hey, I'm cheap.}

Being pregnant is kind of like being engaged.  Everyone wants to make a lot of money off of you during that time in your life.  It's a smart business move, too, because the "you deserve it!" of getting married is an even more powerful cry when it becomes, "your baby deserves it!" during pregnancy.

Bah.  If spending tons of money on clothes that will fit you for less than a year is your thing, then that's fine!  But it wasn't going to happen for me, and I got by just fine.

Here's my basic advice for all you pregnant people:


Yes.  Your stretchy clothes will be your best friends.  I didn't need any maternity clothes until I was past 20 weeks, but even then, I wore some of my 'regular' clothes for a long time, in the form of elastic waisted skirts with tights or elastic waisted leggings, which are also, you guessed it, stretchy.  

Here I was at 28 weeks, wearing non-maternity clothes:

Embrace the stretchy clothes.  If you're crafty, you can find some pretty great tutorials online for sewing elastic into clothes you have or clothes you find at thrift stores.  But even if you don't know what a sewing machine looks like, I bet you have a few things with elastic waistbands in your closet.

Like foldover skirts!  If you don't already have some nice foldover maxi skirts, get some -- you can wear them while you're pregnant, and keep wearing them when you're not!  I have two such skirts I got on clearance at Target for around $8 apiece; one is a blue chevron print and one is a solid gray.  I would think these would be perfect for someone who will be pregnant over the summer months.  Those stretchy foldover waistbands are so soft and comfy.

{That's me at 38 weeks pregnant.  Just kidding.  That's a random model in a random picture I found online of a foldover maxi skirt similar to one that I have.}

Lots of knit dresses or sweater dresses are nice and stretchy, too!

And like I said in this post, you can wear plenty of non-maternity shirts while pregnant.  I love thrifting, but even if you're not really a thrift store shopper, stores like H&M, Old Navy, Target, etc. are full of loose-fitting boyfriend-style cardigans, flowy tops, and other styles just waiting for you to work them into your maternity wardrobe -- and usually for a lot less than you'd pay for clothing labeled 'maternity.'

I wore this plaid shirt a lot, and it was a regular non-maternity shirt I got on clearance from H&M that just happened to be pintucked and then loose down around the middle.  Perfect.

With that said, I definitely had a few maternity shirts, and if you've never been pregnant before, you can't fully imagine just how large you will get.

Target, H&M, Gap, and Old Navy, as well as most department stores, have maternity departments.  You'll probably find more selection online than in stores.  ASOS has some cute and stylin' maternity clothes too - that's where I got my dress for my master's recital. 

I vividly remember donning a blue and gray maternity shirt one morning and exclaiming to Nathan,

"I look like a hot air balloon!"

Yes, a day will come when you will want some real live maternity clothes despite your best efforts to make regular clothes work.

There is one category of clothing where you definitely can't get by with regular clothes, anyway, and that's pants.


I had three pairs of maternity pants: a pair of demi panel skinny gray corduroy pants from Gap, a pair of full panel jeans from Target, and a pair of Citizens of Humanity maternity jeans that would have been crazy expensive except that I got them at a maternity consignment store.  

The Citizens of Humanity jeans had a very flared leg, which I promptly used my sewing machine to alter into a more slim leg.  They still didn't end up ranking as a favorite, as they had a strange belly panel that was somewhere between demi and full, meaning the snuggest part of the elastic was neither below nor above my belly, but right in the middle of it.  None too comfortable.  You can sort of see me wearing them in this post.

The Gap cords.  I practically lived in those Gap cords.  Which is kind of hilarious, because I had never hopped on the skinny jean bandwagon before that.  Why I chose pregnancy as the first time to rock attempt skinnies is one of the deep questions of the universe.  That along with why I chose labor and delivery as the first time to wear a bikini.  But they were super comfortable, and I seriously loved them.  I had ordered them online at a clearance price, because really, who wants to pay like $70 for a pair of pants you'll wear for a few months... or for any pair of pants, for that matter?  You can sort of see them in this post.  Oh!  And they made an appearance here too.

{Mine are similar to this pair, but in gray}

My only complaint about those pants was that towards the end of my pregnancy, my huge belly would cause the demi panel to roll down.  Another complaint really has nothing to do with the pants at all, which is that towards the end of pregnancy anyone except celebrities looks ridiculous, and it doesn't matter what pair of pants you wear.

The jeans from Target were pretty good.  They were another clearance find, and the size 4 fit me all the way through my pregnancy, which is weird, because I don't think of myself as a size 4.  When you're pregnant you're having nightmares of hippopotamus-like weight gain, and it's easy to think you should buy everything a size or two or three up from your regular size, but really, maternity clothes take a normal amount of weight gain into account, so just buy your regular size, okay?  No freaking out necessary.

My main complaint with the Target jeans was that the full panel was extremely itchy on my belly.  Maybe I just had unusually itchy skin during pregnancy, but even after slathering myself with coconut oil and/or lotion, some days that belly panel was just too itchy, and I'd end up folding it down and hoping it didn't look too weird and lumpy under my shirts.

My other complaint is that the only part of the jeans that was stretchy was the belly panel.  You might find yourself wanting a little bit of stretch in the legs, too; by the final weeks of my pregnancy I wished they were a little more stretchy.

You can see me wearing the Target jeans in this post.  (And I was still managing to wear them at 40 weeks... I'm all about the clothes that can take you from the early days of needing maternity clothes all the way through the end!)

Aside from maternity pants -- and no, you can't just 'suck it in' and wear your regular jeans, because being pregnant is nothing like eating a big Thanksgiving dinner or gaining a couple of pounds over the holidays; it's more like you swallowed a hard, unripe cantaloupe and it's growing every day and sometimes flailing around and kicking you in the ribs -- there are a few other things you probably can't do without.


Maternity tanks!  I got three of the Be Maternity tanks from Target, and I definitely feel like I got my money's worth.  In fact, I'm continuing to get my money's worth, because they fit me snugly during pregnancy but miraculously still fit me snugly now that I'm not pregnant (oh, because they're STRETCHY), and the STRETCHY top can be pulled down for nursing, so I basically wear them under all my clothes now that I'm nursing, if I'm not just lounging around the house and wearing a nursing tank instead of a nursing bra.

I wore one of these tanks under my shirt every day while pregnant.  They are nice and long, which is pretty important as your baby will keep getting bigger and bigger and taking up more room in your clothes, making your shirts ride higher if you haven't made sure to get long ones.

Maternity tanks.  These things are awesome.  And no, that isn't me in the picture.

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Shoes.  Apparently pregnancy makes some people go up a shoe size.  This didn't happen to me, but I did need to wear loose-fitting shoes towards the end of my pregnancy because my feet were so swollen and puffy!

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And if you want to swim while you're pregnant, which I highly recommend, the other indispensable item is a maternity swimsuit.  You will look ridiculous wearing a swimsuit while pregnant, but not as ridiculous as you'd look if you tried to wear a regular swimsuit, so just bite the bullet and get a maternity swimsuit.  Swimming while pregnant is sweet, sweet relief.


Stores want to sell you maternity underwear, maternity bras, maternity tights, maternity leggings, maternity yoga pants, maternity pajamas, maternity EVERYTHING.

Everyone has a different experience, but I wore my regular all of the above until the day Nell was born, and even went home from the hospital still in my regular bra, and regular (stretchy, of course) yoga pants.  I had a few nursing tanks at the ready (my favorites are Gilligan & O'Malley from Target!), but I didn't buy nursing bras until after Nell was born (otherwise you might end up spending money on something that doesn't actually fit you after your milk comes in).  And since you can't nurse a baby on the drive home from the hospital anyway, I just wore regular clothes home from the hospital.

Maternity underwear?  My underwear doesn't come up high enough around my middle to have been an issue.

Maternity tights?  I just rolled my regular ones underneath the belly, or pulled them up over, depending on the size of the pair of tights.

Maternity leggings?  Just folded regular ones down at the waistband.

Maternity pajama pants?  Seriously?  Just let 'em ride low and cover up with a soft, cozy shirt that's long enough.  I had this gray Pure Body long sleeved shirred shirt from Gap, and slept in it pretty much every night of my pregnancy from 20 weeks on.  Soft and stretchy, yes.  But sadly, the fabric is so thin it got holes in it by the end of my pregnancy.  But considering I probably wore the thing for 140 nights or so, I guess I can't complain.

A final word of CHEAPNESS ADVICE:

If you're looking to get through pregnancy without spending a fortune, another thing you can do is check your local Craigslist listings.  Many women are so over being pregnant by the time they deliver, that they immediately want to get rid of their whole maternity wardrobe.  A friend of mine found someone selling all of her maternity clothes, including lots of designer label things, in one lot, at a great price.  She bought the lot and was pretty much set for her whole pregnancy!

And of course, try thrift stores and consignment stores!  Most used maternity clothes will still be in good condition, because people wear them for such a short period of time.

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Well, there you have it!  My advice on maternity clothes.  From someone who is not the most fashionable person in the world, but hopefully also not the least. 

P.S.  Being pregnant can be lots of fun.  And when it's all over, you get one of these:

I mean, {hopefully} not this big at the beginning, but it doesn't take long...

Before you know it there are smiles and giggles...

And lots of sleepy snuggles...

And it really is the best thing in the world.

Even better than waddling around pregnant.  If you can imagine that.


  1. I'm so with you on the "cheap" bandwagon! I've always said over and over that when I'm pregnant, I will not go over the top with brand-new clothes, toys galore and the "biggest and the best" of anything. I am totally for second hand, hand me downs from my in-laws or anyone else we know who already have had kids. I don't think it takes away from how special that particular time in one's life it really is...I think it's just being smart and logical about what's REALLY important!

  2. Be warned: I was with you on "stuff you don't need" for my first pregnancy. But the second one... I think I bought all of those things. I would probably buy maternity socks, were they offered. (Don't get any ideas, retailers!) But I never darkened a Motherhood or Pea in the Pod door, and happily those stretchy skirts and dresses still worked.