advert

Maternity Clothes for the Tall, Tailored Girl

Oct17

by

Your intrepid advice columnist has up and had herself a baby (Welcome Baby Ezra!), and will be taking a couple weeks off from her bossing-around duties. In the meantime, she’s arranged a cavalcade of her favorite writers from around the Web to come and take a crack at some of your questions, share their personal style secrets and wisdom, and hopefully keep you entertained while Amy attempts to remember to occasionally put a shirt on.
Today’s guest columnist is the lovely Leah of Working (on) Motherhood and agirlandaboy.com . Which will soon be more like a girl and a boy and another boy dot com, once her new baby arrives in December. She’ll be offering her advice about maternity clothes for the tall and long-torso’d, since I sent her a couple boxes of maternity hand-me-downs earlier this year, and let this be a lesson to you all: whenever I do something nice for you, I will inevitably come crawling out of the woodwork a few months later and demand that you write columns for me. NOW. DO IT, OR I SHALL COME OUT THERE AND STEAL ALL YOUR SWEATERS.

My dilemma is that I am 5’9″, plus I have a long torso. Shopping has always been fun — I’m not really a “tall girl” but only the high-end brands fit my torso. Usually most jackets and tops leave a 3-inch gap above my pants!
Now that I am four months pregnant and looking as if I have been on a beer-and pizza binge, I’m starting to panic.
I am a director at a professional organization — so I have to look sharp. I usually dress in slim-fitting blazers, trim button-downs, and trousers or pencil skirts with the occasional sweater on top.
I hoped I would be able to just keep wearing my clothes and layer tanks under my sweaters — but already my button-downs barely stay tucked in with all my extra curves.
Any ideas where I could find jackets that don’t look dowdy — but not shrunken? Is there any substitute to a well-tailored shirt?
Help!
Shannan

We’ll, I’m definitely not the poster child for Business Casual (I’m a jeans and T-shirt girl who works in a jeans and (tie-dye) T-shirt office), but I am qualified to speak on the issue of being both tall (5’8″) and pregnant (seven-plus months), so before I address your specific questions, let me tell you what I know about maternity clothes in general:
In theory, maternity clothes with actual numbered sizes (6, 10, 14, etc., as opposed to the uber-unhelpful Small, Medium, and Large) are supposed to be just pregnant versions of your normal size. If you were a size 8 before you got pregnant, you should be buying a size 8 now. But…yeah. Not so much. I have a smaller upper half and a larger bottom half (your classic pear shape), and although buying maternity versions of my regular sizes worked for a while, that didn’t last long. Somewhere along Week 20, my hips started spreading, and those nice, expensive maternity pants with the elastic panel that was supposed to enable me to wear them to eternity and beyond? Useless, because the non-elastic part (the part with the fake half-zipper and the laughably miniscule pockets) not longer fit over my butt. Lesson: Maternity sizing is not to be trusted.
6705510swd.JpgShirts were another problem entirely. I also have a longish torso, and the mistake I made was thinking that if I just wore regular, non-maternity shirts in a size or two larger than normal I’d be fine, especially since so many of the styles these days are of the “spacious” empire-waist variety. My other mistake was thinking that because I normally wore Small tops, I should be buying Small maternity tops as well. WRONG. Maternity shirts aren’t just bigger in the belly but they’re longer too. Much, much longer. All that extra fabric needs to not only drape over the baby bulge but also conceal that oh-so-attractive elastic waist panel. So whereas the Small maternity tops I bought in the beginning still, at 7.5 months, fit my arms and boobs and ribcage, they’re at this point all too short to completely cover my stomach. I wish someone had told me that in maternity wear, Small, Medium, and Large are more likely to match how tall you are rather than the build of your frame (i.e., if you are tall, you probably can’t wear Small shirts). The same is true for a lot of roomy non-maternity shirts I bought: they “fit” but they didn’t completely cover the belly. Again: Sizing lies.
What it comes down to is that even if you can get away with wearing non-maternity shirts (and stretchy pants) for the first six or seven months, chances are that you’ll eventually be too big for everything you own and will have to shop maternity anyway. I say have to because it sounds like you’re a little resistant to the whole idea. That’s understandable — I was too — but then the frugal side of me, which always wins out, piped up with, “Look, you’re going to have to buy mat clothes at some point, so you might as well buy them early and wear them often instead of waiting until those last few weeks when you’re way too cranky to go shopping anyway, especially to spend money on gigantic clothes that you’ll only wear for a month.” My only warning about this is that if you buy mat clothes super early, don’t fall into the “oh, I’ll never be THAT big” trap because you WILL be that big, and the only thing worse than being THAT big is being THAT big in too-tight pants.
In short, if you’re resistant to buying maternity clothes, my best advice is to try to get over it. You’re pregnant. You should be wearing clothes designed for a pregnant body. The end.
Now, to answer your specific question — jackets that fit and substitutes for well-tailored shirts…
First off, you don’t have to find substitutes for the look of a well-tailored shirt, you just have to be more flexible with your definition of “well-tailored.” There’s a good selection of fitted maternity button-downs out there, but the reality is that what is “well-tailored” today might not fit so well in a few weeks or months. Also, there’s a lot of diversity in where different women carry their baby weight–high, low, wide, in their boobs–and even that changes over time for individuals, so it’s possible that you might not ever find the perfect fit unless you take your shirts to an actual tailor, which, seriously, for something you’re going to wear for such a short time, is So Not Worth It.
13-7038-081-2.jpgIf you really need something that looks sharp, though (say, if you’re a director at a professional organization!) maybe a tailor is what you need, albeit on a more limited basis. Having one (or two) outfit(s) that make(s) you feel fabulous and not the least bit compromised by your new body shape could make all the difference in the world in terms of how you feel about yourself when representing yourself and your company, and that’s worth some bucks. The price of clothing isn’t, after all, determined solely by materials and craftsmanship; a lot of what you’re paying for is how they make you feel. In general, though, all of the major brands of maternity wear have perfectly nice-looking button-down shirts, and a good portion of them even come sans enormous bows or oversized pastel polka-dots, which really comes in handy when you want to be taken seriously. At three different price points, Gap’s Classic Shirt is a no-frills option, Mimi Maternity’s Faux-wrap Collared Blouse has a little extra style, and A Pea in the Pod’s Crossfront Woven Shirt makes a statement.
And there are, of course, many more options besides plain white Oxfords.
In the end, you’ll probably have some hits and misses, but the good news is that maternity clothes today are more stylish and sophisticated than they’ve ever been, and there’s no reason you have to give up your sophisticated style just because you’re having a baby.
Now on to jackets:
Blazers are a girl’s best friend. They can dress up a casual outfit, they can make a curvy frame look defined, and they can say “I mean business” more than any other piece of clothing in your closet. Unfortunately, the magic of blazers is their structure — specifically that the seams mirror the natural line of your body. You can see how that might be a problem at a time when the line of your body seems to be changing by the day.
When Amy first punted me this question, my initial response was, “Oh crap” because while I do love a good blazer, I haven’t gotten around to finding a maternity version that works for me. So far I’ve been able to get away with wearing my pre-pregnancy jackets unbuttoned without looking too ridiculous, and I was going to suggest you follow suit (ha!) as well, but then I found this: Japanese Weekend’s Career Maternity Before and After Jacket. The secret is side zippers that release extra panels of fabric that, in theory, allow the jacket to grow (and then shrink) right along with you. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t provide a detail shot of what exactly the zippers look like, and it apparently only comes in brown, but the concept is nevertheless promising and might be worth a shot.
That does, however, still leave us with the problem of your long torso. If you have trouble finding non-maternity blazers that fit well, you’re probably going to run into the same thing now, if not on a more exaggerated scale. In that case I think your next best bet is cardigans. They’re stretchy, soft, and warm, and they layer over anything–button-downs, tunics, dresses, even hideous tie-back bows. Worn in the right combination, they can even help smarten up some of your more casual tops, which means your office wardrobe just got that much bigger. Which is just the thing we should be celebrating right now: Bigger is better. Big is beautiful. You may be large but you’re still in charge.
There are also consignment stores, although I always find those to be more about finding expensive brand-name clothes at discounted prices than just Really Cheap Clothes, which is what I’m normally aiming for. You have higher standards than I do, though, which makes me think that would be a good route to explore.
A good no-cost way to try out different brands, though, is to borrow maternity clothes from friends if you can. (Amalah herself sent me two huge boxes of clothes cross-country! Love her!)

Don’t forget to visit ourPregnancy Calendar.


Picture%2039.png

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


Subscribe to posts by Amalah

9 Responses to “Maternity Clothes for the Tall, Tailored Girl”

  1. Jennifer Oct 17 at 12:57 pm Reply Reply

    JCPenney does offer a few items in Tall Maternity online. Most are more casual than you are looking for, but there are a few that might work.

  2. Jess Oct 17 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

    I’m not pregnant, but I am 5’11”. I scoff at your 5’8″ and 5’9″! Ha! And it never occurred to me that I might have a problem finding maternity clothes. Guess I’ll have to time it just right and get preggers when it’s warm out and I can just wear skirts and tank tops. Good thing I have at least 4 or 5 more years!

  3. Jenn Oct 17 at 2:45 pm Reply Reply

    I kicked myself for not splurging sooner, but check out the Motherhood and Oh Baby line (at Kohl’s) for the “secret belly” pants. Don’t know who they think they are fooling because my 8 month belly is no secret but anyway….
    The pants feature not a cotton knit wrapped elastic band (which gets soooo uncomfortable at about 6 months) but a nylon sleeve reminiscent of the top of a pair of pantyhose – but no control top. Granted, the panel goes straight up to the bottom of your boobs, but I find with my very long torso, they are a blessing when I need to look my very best at work. I also find them very comfortable and not at all constrictive (unlike the aforementioned knit-wrapped elastic) The height of the elastic panel also keeps your britches from sliding down when you have bought a size larger knowing you will grow into them.
    Expect to spend $40 a pair on these, but they have certainly been worth it to me. Honestly wish I had bought them sooner.
    Also for that gap between blazers and pants…try a knit “belly band.” These are available all over etsy and ebay.

  4. Danielle Oct 18 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

    For blazers, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the swing jacket. Your shirt is supposed to extend below the bottom hem, so it’s alright if they’re a little short, and the’re open across the belly (and in some cases, the boobs, if, like me, you need a LOT of extra room there all of a sudden). I’m waddling into my 8th month and teach at a Catholic college where we’re expected to dress pretty professionally, and the swing jacket has been my friend. Dressier than the cardigan, but more forgiving than the structured blazer.

  5. Brooke Oct 20 at 12:35 pm Reply Reply

    I’m 6′ and really long all over. Despite my attempts to dress snappy this time around, I pretty much failed. I hated everything. Even Gap’s tall maternity jeans felt like floods to me. The stuff I did like to wear? Wife beaters and sweats? Not so much for work. My last two weeks at work I wore the same pair of cargo capris every day. Shirts were a disaster. Everything showed my belly by the end. I know I’m a downer. Maternity clothes is only one thing I hate about being pregnant, but I really do love my kids. :-S

  6. epoh Oct 20 at 3:44 pm Reply Reply

    I am only 5’7″ but I’ve always had problems with clothing not being long enough. My advise – avoid Mimi Maternity and Old Navy. I swear all their pregnant clothes are made for people under 5’5″. 5’6″ is apparently their definition of tall. Oh, and everything shinks, which is wonderful.
    Gap was great for pants. Hit or miss on tops (stretchy definitely better. Not to mention your tummy may get very sensitive and you will appreciate having some jersey cotton tanks and such for layering from there.)
    Pea in a Pod, Ann Taylor LOFT and Japanese Weekend have much better business wear. You may get luck with a top from a department store or Target, but those are mainly for the 5-7month “cute belly” range.
    Another option to consider – empire waisted dresses with slim-fitting khakis underneath. Not quite as dressy, but far more forgiving in those last few months.

  7. Diane Oct 23 at 3:25 pm Reply Reply

    I recommend Gap Maternity, not just because you can find pants in longer lengths, but also because their maternity shirts seem to be longer. My torso is long, too. In fact, you might be interested in my maternity wardrobe (which I no longer need). I shopped hard for professional-looking maternity work clothes and managed to find five pantsuits and five button-up blouses in my 4-7 months maternity size (large), plus two blouses in my 8-9 month maternity size (XL), among other things. Motherhood Maternity and Pea in the Pod were also good sources, as were local maternity boutiques.

  8. Mother of Five Oct 31 at 11:30 am Reply Reply

    As a Mother of Five, OB RN, and Owner of a Maternity Boutique, I think I’ll chime in instead of just lurking.
    In the Maternity Boutique category of designers, there is a European Designer, moderately priced, called Noppies, made for tall Scandanavian Women. The biggest problem we have is that petite women love their professional clothes as well, but must have the hems taken up. These items typically have as much as a 34-35 inch inseam. They have career worthy items as well as great designer jeans and very urban looking casual tops and dresses.
    Yes, buy tops with longer bodies, available from a variety of designers, any good boutique should have a sampling of appropriate sizes. Allow the salesperson to help you, you are not alone in this dilemma, we have dressed much taller women with babies on board for the office.
    Good luck!

  9. Ashley Aug 12 at 2:54 pm Reply Reply

    I found a great site for tall maternity pants. Its called Mommy Long Legs (www.mommylonglegs.com). It offers the basics every girls needs. I found the trick was to buy the basics and then accessorize!
    I bought the trousers, lounge pants and jeans from Mommy Long Legs. They have 34, 36, 38 inch inseams and are very affordable compared to other specialty shops.
    Good Luck!

Like us on Facebook

Close