All I know is that last year at this time, I was just over four months pregnant and couldn't wait to treat my changing body as a blank canvas, dressing it in a new maternity wardrobe. I was really excited for my totally legitimate excuse to go on a shopping spree and drove to the Galleria multiple times to try on clothes with the fake bump at Gap Maternity as well as online-shopped for hours to see what was available. I eventually bought plenty of clothes, some of which I wore over and over again throughout my entire pregnancy and loved and others that I barely wore at all. Thinking back on the pieces I wore the most and felt the most comfortable and stylish in, I came up with three tips that I wish I would have known before to save both time and money. I am writing them now not only to (hopefully) help out some newly pregnant women but also to preserve them as reminders for myself if I am ever blessed to get pregnant again.
ONE// Take it slow.
- You probably already have a lot of maternity clothes even if you have never been pregnant before. They are in your closet and your dresser. Those flowy blouses and sweaters and dresses with 5% spandex that you already own will work wonders. I wore many of my normal-size sweaters and t-shirts right up to the very end, and after a normal wash and dry, they still fit me today. (It might help that I have about five pesky pregnancy pounds still to lose.)
- Also, take it slow because all those tips you read (including the following two) might not work for you and your body just because they worked well for me or the other woman who wrote them. Just because your best friend or sister loved the Bella Band or full panel pants, doesn't mean that you necessarily will.
- Buy one or two things that you think will work. Wear them around the house with the tags still on. Sit, stand, and walk up and down your stairs before you commit to an item. Once you commit to the item, take off the tags and wear it out and about before you buy more from that particular store or brand.
- And don't feel bad about returning things. You will never have returned more things than me. I promise.
TWO// Invest in a few good pairs of pants.
- Look at what pants you already wear and invest in a maternity version of that. For me that was a pair of black and dark blue skinny jeans, ponte leggings, grey dress pants, and black dress pants. My favorite maternity pants were all from LOFT. Their pants had the most comfortable bands and were truly better quality than anything from a maternity store or Gap or Target Maternity.
- If you can wait a week or two, LOFT will eventually have a sale, so I would suggest signing up for the emails or checking back on the website frequently and wait for the sale if you can.
- If I couldn't go to the actual store to try on pants, I ordered them in more than one size so that I could check them out at home before choosing the best size. If you wait for a sale and get free shipping, it won't seem so bad when you have to pay to ship some returns back.
- Also, if you want to feel better about paying $60 for a pair of nice leggings, just apply price per wear (dividing the price by the number of times you were the item). I wore my LOFT ponte leggings at least twice a week for the last 15 weeks of my pregnancy, so that takes a $60 pair of pants down to $2.00 a wear. Doesn't that make you feel better.
THREE// For everything else, shop where and how you would normally shop, just one size up.
- For tank tops, sweaters, blouses, dresses, just buy what you normally buy ONE SIZE UP. I actually purchased multiple shirts, sweaters, and dresses from maternity stores that I only wore once or not at all because they weren't really my style. The shirts, sweaters, and dresses that I wore the most, even at the end of my pregnancy, were the ones that I bought in one size up from my normal size at Banana Republic or J. Crew Factory because those were the stores that had styles that fit my body. And guess what, even eight and nine months pregnant, shirts and dresses from those stores fit me better in one size up than most maternity shirts and dresses.
- Also, I have found that maternity stores' clothes are poorly-made, awkwardly-styled, and over-priced whereas I could buy a striped boatneck tee from H&M for $15 dollars that made me feel Parisian chic even with my big bump.
- The best part of getting an item I would normally get in just one size up is that because the items don't have weird gathering on the side or are some funky maternity style, I can still wear some of them now. (Again, those pesky five pounds might be helping out.)
If you are pregnant right now, congratulations! I hope these tips will help you out. For all those mamas out there, if you have any other shopping tips that worked for you, I'd love to hear them.