The honest truth about curating a good, even a decent, pregnancy wardrobe is that it may be nearly impossible.
During my first pregnancy, I curated my summer pregnancy wardrobe. In this era of capsule closets, I was fairly confident in these choices, and I still think there are some smart buys there. I did a lot of research and read post after post about what other women were wearing throughout their pregnancies and postpartum. I tried really hard not to overspend, remembering that I would much rather buy something after the baby when I was back to being “me, my size.” But, I’ll never forget when my husband basically dragged me to buy two maternity sweaters at nearly full price because I was freezing at work and everything I had was now uncomfortably tight. It was probably the sweetest shopping trip of our marriage.
But here’s what I’ve noticed lately… Pregnant mamas, especially with their first pregnancy, feel the pressure of being a mindful consumer when picking out their pregnancy clothes, much like their baby registries. There’s so much advice online about when to splurge and save. There are new brands that are really expensive and gorgeous (like, Hatch) and a lot of the clothes (like Gap, Old Navy, Asos) are only available through the mail, so you have to guess on sizing. As your body is growing and changing, it feels like an enigma – completely out of control and foreign. Most of the style formulas you relied on in the past don’t look right on a body with a bump. On top of that, the ideal clothes should theoretically work for pregnancy AND postpartum, including nursing. Yes, that spans all four seasons. Yes, it means the clothes you pick today have to work for a job (breastfeeding) that you’ve never done before and on a body size and shape you can’t predict. It’s hard to be mindful and smart when you feel clueless.
So, if you’ve gotten frustrated (on top of the hormones raging through your mama body) you are definitely not alone.
On the opposite side of the coin, women on their second, third, etc… pregnancy may have noticed that the clothes they wore the first time around are wearing thin or covered in toddler stains, like mine. But it is even harder to spend cash on clothes that will cycle into your closet for a few months and then (hopefully) cycle right back out again. Truth time? Yes, I cried when the elastic band on my go-to pair of jeans from my first pregnancy ripped a few weeks ago. You might also be like me and realize that your pregnancies are ending in a different season. So that summer pregnancy wardrobe is no longer helpful when you have a December due date. And even if you are lucky with the seasons, fashion may have dealt you a low blow and completely changed the silhouettes between babies. Maybe jeans have switched from bootcut to skinny, or tops now have longer, oversized, drop-hem shapes. So, the personal style you’ve worked so hard to hone doesn’t match with the bin of pregnancy clothes you pull out of storage or the bag of hand-me-downs you gratefully accept from a friend who is done having kids.
Where am I going with all this? Good question. I think I’m partly a pregnant girl, 32 weeks in, who wanted to rant a bit. But also, if you feel uncomfortable with the clothes during pregnancy, it’s ok. If you make an impulse buy just to get something that covers your growing stomach, it’s ok. If you feel totally at a loss and just want to wear leggings and your husband’s t-shirts with some big, cozy socks, it’s ok. Me too. As much as I love style and can’t wait to get back to a closet that feels tailored just for me, this is a short season and sometimes style takes a backseat. I’m calling it a win anytime I get out the door and I’m covered up in something that fits in the general sense of the word.
photo credit: Marisa Pardo
And with that, here are a few things that work for me. They are not rules or advice, but just observations from the third time around.
- Avoid maternity clothes for as long as possible into the pregnancy. (like this)
- Anything that no longer fits should be out of sight. About once a week I move stuff over to the guest room closet.
- The farther along in the pregnancy, the more often I choose “ninja-style.” All black makes me feel better.
- Dresses, tunics, and leggings are forgiving and comfortable. However, dresses aren’t great for breastfeeding, so it’s a trade-off.
- You can outgrow maternity clothes. Surprising, but sadly true.
- I’ve used this during every pregnancy to prevent stretch marks.
- If you have a special event while you’re pregnant, it is worth it to wear something you feel good in. (more on that here)
- Think in layers – buy maternity for underneath and put your normal cardigans, jackets, blazers on top. (like this)
- A good haircut or new lip gloss can genuinely help when you are missing all your old clothes. I am so glad I chopped off four inches for a lob a month ago.
- Share your maternity clothes when you aren’t using them. It is such a gift to not have to start from scratch.
A few tried + true basics: crewneck tees + tanks (so soft), black t-shirt dress (versatile), slim jogger pants (comfy and good for postpartum), legging jeans (stretch is your friend), nursing sleep bras (for the hospital and postpartum)
Congratulations to you and your sweet baby on the way! Feel free to add any of your own observations in the comments.