It’s been a fertile start to 2017. Several friends are due soon, and half a dozen have recently announced they are expecting for the first time or again this year. When one first-time mumma-to-be asked me where I suggested shopping for maternity clothes, I thought it would be a good topic for a style blog as it’s a challenge I also faced.
When I found out I was pregnant, I got a little excited about the excuse to buy more clothes (because I needed an excuse?) and started looking online and stalking stylish mamas on Instagram.
My first mistake was to buy maternity clothes too early. For example, I got lost in ASOS’s maternity section and ‘accidently’ bought a cute dress with convenient ruching along the side seams to allow for a baby bump. What a great idea. The trouble was, it looked ludicrous for the next seven months, until I had enough of a bump to fill it. Every few weeks I’d think, ‘yep, I have enough of a bump to finally wear this dress’, would try it on, and take it off again as the material sagged so much around my middle. I only got to wear it twice, right towards to end.
This tragic lesson (if there is one thing that makes me sad, it is unworn pretty things in my wardrobe) shaped my goals for future maternity purchases.
So, mumma-bears-to-be, here is Mrs M’s Definite Guide to Maternity Style (or, the things I wish someone had told me):
Wait until you have a bump before buying bump clothes. Every mumma-to-be’s body is different and bumps come in all shapes and sizes. Try extending your existing wardrobe by using belly bands or button extenders (Target has them for $25) and delay purchasing maternity clothes until you actually have a bump so you can see how the cut suits your pregnant body.
Try before you buy. Or buy online from brands that allow refunds/exchanges. I followed advice to buy the same size as I am un-pregnant (is that a word?) but found that there is just as much variety in sizing in maternity wear as non-maternity wear. I personally found that maternity sizing runs large and I went down a size or two in most brands.
Remember that you are only ‘bumpalicious’ for a few months. After my initial excitement about this whole new world of maternity shopping wore off, I decided to only invest in pieces that would see me from bump to beyond. New purchases had to pass a test: could they serve double duty? Features such as wrap styles and button or zip fronts were important so I could wear tops and dresses again while I was breast-feeding. For example, this gorgeous floral maxi dress is from a maternity shop (Pink Blush), but it relies on stretchy – not extra – fabric to cover the baby bump. I was able to wear it after Oscar was born as it is a flattering cut and the wrap style is perfect for feeding.
Look beyond maternity shops. True maternity clothes are often expensive and the range can be limited. Although I did buy a few core maternity pieces, such as jeans, most of the clothes I wore while I was pregnant were not actually from maternity brands. I shopped around to find brands which ticked my ‘double duty’ requirements and ended up with some lovely pieces which I could wear right through pregnancy and afterwards. The key is to buy clothes that are stretchy enough and long enough to cover your bump. I looked for quality fabrics that wouldn’t be stretched out of shape so the garment could be worn post-pregnancy, and chose styles which worked for pregnancy and after – such as this polka dot wrap dress from Feather and Noise. It’s not a maternity style, but I wore it for my baby shower, three weeks before Baby M arrived.
Build a capsule wardrobe. The rules of any capsule wardrobe apply:
- Find core pieces that reflect your existing style.
- Pick styles (cut, quality, colour) that can be worn in high rotation.
- Mix up your look with accessories.
My maternity capsule wardrobe included:
- Jeans: There seems to be two camps when it comes to maternity jeans: over the bump or under the bump. I preferred an under the bump pair from Just Jeans as they could be worn right through pregnancy (even when I didn’t have much of a bump) and afterwards. Don’t rule out non-maternity styles. I wore a low-cut pair of ‘normal’ jeans right through pregnancy, and also lived in a pair of stretch-denim Jag jeans which I just wore lower than usual, under my bump.
- Seasonal-specific items: I was pregnant during winter, so leggings and long jumpers were staples. I looked for non-maternity styles that would still cover my bump as these were cheaper than maternity styles and could be worn post-pregnancy. (Cost per wear people, cost per wear!) For summer, I just wore ‘normal’ elastic-waisted shorts. I also bought a maternity swimsuit from Target on sale for just $15, which was perfect for our ‘baby moon’ to Hamilton Island.
- Basics: I splurged on a couple pieces, such as dresses, but averaged out my maternity-spend with some low-cost tops. I had two maternity long-sleeved shirts from Target (white and striped) on high rotation during winter. At $15 each I didn’t mind if I never wanted to wear them again. I stocked up on longline singlets (non maternity) from K-Mart which were long enough to cover my bump. At just $6 each, you can buy one in every colour. Which I may have done. Stretchy skirts were also comfy towards the end, such as this Pol number. It was a pre-pregnancy piece which I just wore over or under my bump. Check out Betty Basics for similar styles.
- A special occasion dress: A first time mumma needs at least one special dress for her baby shower, so find something you love as you’ll be in lots of photos. I also had a wedding and a Melbourne Cup lunch when I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant so it was nice to feel pretty towards the end of my pregnancy.
- Something fun but comfy: I lived in these striped joggers from Feather and Noise. Again, they were not maternity wear so I’ve still been able to wear them. They feel like pyjamas but can be dressed up or down so I’m glad I bought a couple pairs.
- Throw-on-and-go dresses: I lived in striped t-shirt dresses towards the end of my pregnancy. They were non-maternity but nice and stretchy, and could be dressed up with heels or wedges or dressed down with flats.
Top left: Metalic spot/stripe long-sleeved Elm Accessories dress from My Friend Alice. Bottom left: Betty Basics singlet dress from Birdsnest. Right: Striped t-shirt dress from Witchery.
Good luck styling your baby bump! My next challenge was finding stylish feeding-friendly clothes, so I’ll tackle that in the next post.
Love, Mrs M xx