Once upon a time, a girl could get through pregnancy by wearing her partner’s shirts and a smock dress. Not anymore. Now it seems as though you need an entire new wardrobe of maternity wear to stay in fashion as your belly grows. And a whole range of fabulous maternity fashion lines have sprung up in the last few years to tempt you.
But how much do you really need in the way of maternity wear? And how much do you need to spend?
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on maternity clothes to look great. The key is to choose wisely and plan ahead. We suggest you buy a capsule wardrobe of maternity wear basics to mix with items in your existing wardrobe.
Maternity wear has changed enormously from a tiny little niche industry to something much bigger. If women can’t find what they want, they design and market it themselves.
A capsule wardrobe
These are the essential fashion items you can’t be without during pregnancy:
Maternity bras (see below or read our maternity bra article)
Stretch jersey wrap dress: It will grow with your belly, it’s unrestrictive and you can wear it in summer with flip flops or in winter with leggings or tights.
Black maternity leggings: The best ones go over your bump and give you support.
Empire-line top: It’s flattering, beautiful, floats and shapes your new-found cleavage!
Maxi dress: They’re easy and make you feel great, especially when they’re roomy.
Something special: During the course of your pregnancy, you will be invited to and event where you need to wear something special. Make sure you have something that makes you feel beautiful.
Comfortable, cotton maternity underwear.
Long tops: These are useful when you go to exercise classes as it prevents you from showing off your belly every time you lift your arms.
A great pair of flat shoes: Your ligaments loosen with the release of hormones, so it’s important to have a good, supportive flat shoe.
How can I save on maternity clothes?
It’s important to remember that you might be in some of these clothes for a while after the birth as well, so choose wisely, and use the cost-per-wear as rule of thumb. You may not wear your maternity clothes much in the first trimester, but if you buy capsule items they will be on high rotation throughout your pregnancy. Your best bet is to look for quality fabrics that wash well. If you cannot afford new maternity wear, ask around – there might be a few of your friends who will be only too willing to help out. Thrift stores and charity shops are also great places to find bargain basement deals. But no matter how good the bargain seems, make sure you need it and that you can afford it.
The foundation of maternity wear
One of the most important maternity wear garments you’ll buy is your maternity bra While the wearing of a bra during pregnancy or breastfeeding is a matter of personal choice, a supportive maternity bra may reduce the stretching of tissues that could result in sagging. Quality maternity bras may be pricey – but they are worth it.
The right time to be fitted varies from woman to woman, but it should occur about the time when you begin to outgrow your regular bra and lactation kicks in. Most of the changes to the breast have occurred around the 16th week mark and this is a good time for fitting if you haven’t already had to do so.
Ideally, you will have your bra fitted professionally. Maternity bras are designed to adapt to your changing needs.
Be sure to look for:
Wide elastic around the diaphragm
Six hook-and-eye extensions on the back to accommodate the growing baby
Fully adjustable straps
A design that is wire-free
Having said that, you should consider another fitting at around seven months, and then again around 4-6 weeks after the birth of your baby.