Maternity clothes are fugly. Plain and simple.
I’ve been repeatedly frustrated by my disappointing maternity wardrobe throughout my pregnancy. In one hormonally charged moment of emotional weakness, I even stood naked in my closet for ten minutes crying over how much I hate maternity clothes while my husband sweetly stood by, pretending like this was a solvable problem and we weren’t at all late for our dinner date with friends. Was that a little dramatic? Maybe, but I swear there is real substance to my fashion problem.
First off, I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a whole new wardrobe that will realistically only be in play for a few months. At the same time, I like good-quality clothes that are on trend and make me feel stylish. I’m guessing it’s actually pretty common for twenty- and thirty-something women to want to look and feel good in their clothes. Why, then, does everything in the maternity stores feel cheap and look like the stuff my kindergarten teacher used to make herself with a bolt of obnoxiously patterned fabric? What’s up with all the horizontal stripes, as if I want to look even bigger than I already do? Yesterday I tried on a dress that had shoulder pads in it. That doesn’t even warrant further comment.
My solution, in the end, was to spend more on less, and then embrace the more frequent chore of laundry. Here is my shopping checklist that will hopefully keep you from your own version of a spontaneous cry-fest in the closet:
1) Buy one great pair of maternity jeans, and don’t over-think the price tag. Whether your designer denim poison is Paige, True Religion, 7 for All Mankind or Citizens of Humanity, if you lived in jeans before you got pregnant then trust that you’re probably going to live in them for the next nine months or so and take the plunge. They’re something you’re going to wear, wear, and wear again and, chances are, you’ve spent a lot more on something else in your closet that you’ve used a lot less, like that fabulous cocktail dress hanging in there with the tags still attached because you had to have it even though you didn’t have an occasion in mind for its use. Seriously. Just buy the maternity jeans!
2) Working out is a chore when your energy is zapped and your belly is forever growing, so if treating yourself to some quality work-out clothes helps keep you in the gym, it’s well- worth the cost. At three months pregnant, I bought one pair of inexpensive yoga pants from Motherhood Maternity and one pair of much pricier yoga pants from Lululemon (hot tip: Lululemon’s Astro Fit style, though not technically maternity, is very pregnancy- friendly, and Zobha has a solid maternity line of yoga gear). While the Motherhood pants are now coming apart at the seams and fraying at the edges, I’m happy to report that I’m still rocking the Lululemon’s six months later. I wear them to yoga two or three times a week and don’t feel at all bad about the $100 I spent on them. And neither should you.
3) On that note, don’t be afraid to check out your favorite non-maternity stores for clothes that might still accommodate your pregnant belly. I’ve had good luck finding basic tees and tanks in pretty colors from Victoria’s Secret that still fit me even in my ninth month. Empire waist cuts, maxi dresses and flowy tops are also very forgiving to pregnant bellies. Bonus: you might be able to have some of these types of non-maternity purchases altered once your baby’s out and you’re back in shape.
4) Your boobs are bigger. You need new bras anyway, so why not get a couple pretty ones? And add a cute nightgown to your shopping bag while you’re at it. You don’t need to suffer the limitations of a maternity store to find intimate apparel that appeals to you, and a little nice lingerie goes a long way in helping you continue to feel sexy in your changing pregnant body. Plus, your partner will enjoy the view.
5) Focus on the bling. Your handbags, jewelry, scarves and (maybe) shoes probably won’t be joining your maternity clothes in the Goodwill donation box next year, so keep what clothes you do buy in the maternity stores neutral and enjoy accessorizing the heck out of them.
Now wipe your tears. These fashion set-backs are only temporary, after all. And if you’re still feeling a shopping void in your life, refocus that yearn for good fashion on tiny little baby clothes. What’s cuter than that?!