How To Build a Maternity Wardrobe
By Leah of A Girl and A Boy
If you haven’t already heard the rumors, allow me to let you in on a little secret. Psst… Babies are expensive. Even before Junior arrives and starts demanding fresh diapers and teeny tiny jars of organic pureed plums and a half dozen bulky, plastic contraptions that can hold, soothe, and entertain him while you steal some “me time” (no doubt for something selfish like brushing your teeth), you’ll be spending a good deal of your pre-baby paycheck just preparing for the baby. There’s the carseat and the stroller and the layette and the nursing pillow and the mobile and the board books and the big block letters that will spell out his name on the freshly painted wall above his crib (with the coordinating sheet and blanket and dust ruffle, of course). All that plus the childbirth classes and the surprise redecorating of the living room because, Honey, we can’t possibly bring the baby home to this and…you probably don’t have much extra money at the end of the month to spend on yourself.
Of course, this all comes at a time when none of your pants fit, your belly is peeking out from the bottom of your favorite T-shirt, and you feel just generally awkward and bulgy. Face it: You not only need a maternity wardrobe but you deserve a maternity wardrobe (you are, after all, creating Life!), and I’m going to tell you how to get it without breaking the bank.
1. Borrow, Borrow, Borrow.
Ask your friends if they have any old maternity clothes in storage that they’d be comfortable lending you for a few months. Even if you are not quite the same pre-pregnancy size as your pals, you’ll be surprised at what fits given the generous use of elastics, tie-backs, and graduated buttonholes in today’s maternity wear.
2. Shop Consignment/Outlet/Ebay/Online Networks.
Deals abound if you’re willing to venture outside the mall. Consignment shops are great places for higher-end items at more reasonable prices; outlet stores will have last season’s trends for cheap; eBay sellers frequently offer entire “lots” of maternity wear for one low price; and your local Craigslist or Freecycle site likely abounds with not just sweet steals on clothes for you but gently used clothes (and toys and gear) for baby as well.
3. Don’t Buy Everything at Once.
As tempting as it is to go hogwild and buy a closet’s worth of clothes on your first giddy visit to the maternity section, you’re better off spreading out your purchases over all three trimesters because, speaking of spreading, pregnancy is not just all about the belly. Your hips will widen, your ribs will expand, and your chest will fill out beyond your wildest dreams/nightmares and, all of a sudden, those jeans you thought were so gigantic when you bought them at four months don’t fit over your butt at month eight, and you have to go shopping again whether your budget allows it or not. So, no matter how smart you shop in the first and second trimesters, don’t forget to save some money (and closet space!) for a mini-wardrobe update in your last trimester.
4. Splurge on a Nice Dress that Will Grow with You.
Nine (well, actually ten) months is a long time, and chances are you’ll be invited to at least one semiformal affair during your pregnancy. An empire-waist dress with a hem that falls below the knee and a neckline that offers plenty of cleavage coverage will save your life more than once, so don’t be afraid to spend a little more money on The Perfect Maternity Dress. If you know you’ll be attending several fancy events, you’ll do well to find the pregnancy version of a Little Black Dress–something you can dress up, dress down, and accessorize in a variety of ways depending on the occasion.
5. Shop Where Everyone Else Shops.
A lot of today’s non-maternity styles are long enough and roomy enough for a baby belly, and you’ll probably find a better selection and better prices shopping in regular stores than sticking solely to maternity sections and boutiques. Also, the lack of oversized bows on non-maternity wear will help you feel more like yourself and less like a faded photograph of your mother when she was pregnant with you twenty or thirty or forty years ago. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to look and feel like a different person.
Don’t forget to visit our hilarious, but informative, Pregnancy Weekly.