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I've never experienced the struggle of trying to dress comfortably and stylish while carrying a baby in my belly. I honestly can't imagine how challenging it might be. You have a new body to get used to, and you have to dress it in a way that suits your ever-changing moods. We have a hard enough time dressing for our regular body, and now we have to dress for TWO! Not to mention, it can be financially strenuous as well. So, I want to help to the best of my ability, while not actually being a pregnant woman myself.
A few of my followers promoted this blog post to happen, three of them looking for style advice and affordable places to shop - and another other with the brilliant idea to find a velcro belly so that I could create my own Maternity Lookbook. For those wondering, I'm not opposed to the idea - I just have yet to find one. Hook me up!
Because I've never been pregnant, I didn't know how to help other than to crowdsource real-life experience from my Instagram community. I asked for tips, and ya'll delivered. Below is the result of my crowdsourcing, a list of tips for dressing and styling yourself throughout the stages of pregnancy, and a list of affordable places to shop.
TIPS FOR EARLY PREGNANCY / STYLING YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE
A good strategy for maternity wardrobe building is to take inventory of the things in your closet that you may be able to wear as your belly grows. Stretchy material like yoga pants and casual skirts are a good start but the lower the rise the better. Many women hate the feeling of anything on their stomach as it grows and may become tender. Look at empire waist dresses and shirts that may be able to accommodate a growing bump for a few weeks. Fold over yoga pants, long tank tops, wrap dresses, leggings, and tunics are all possibilities for early maternity wear.
When you can no longer button your jeans you can grab a belly band. These stretchy bands are like a spandex belt that can keep your pants up while unbuttoned. Another great use for them is postpartum when your maternity clothes don’t fit anymore but your regular clothes are still too small or uncomfortable.
Swing dresses work for all stages of pregnancy. It can hide the bump during the awkward ‘no one knows yet’ phase, you can belt it to add shape, and it will still fit when you are at the end of the pregnancy (given that it is long enough) as the bump will raise the hemline.
Kimonos, button downs worn open, and cardigans are a great way to add interest to a basic tee and jeans, while allowing you to show off the cute bump! The bonus of this tip is that you can use the kimonos, button downs, and cardigans that you already own.
Find a few good bottoms that you can cycle between, make sure you try different styles and find the best fit for you and your body. Don't settle, you won't be happy with yourself!
Wear a Knitwhits Couture scrunchie on your wrist if you have bad morning sickness. It's much cuter and looser than a hair tie!
GENERAL SHOPPING TIPS
Don't go to a regular store and just buy a size or two up, because the items will likely be disproportionate to your body.
For stores that have maternity lines as well as their other lines, ordering the size you normally wear, for the most part, will be the right size in the maternity line.
If you think you will have more children you may want to invest in a few higher quality maternity outfits, particularly dresses, which can be dressed up or down and made warmer with a sweater and leggings. After getting two or more maternity seasons out of the clothes you may save more than if you bought cheaper clothes that only lasted a few months.
BRA SHOPPING TIPS
Don't just buy a bigger fashion bra. Seems like that would be an easy solution -- just size up a cup and add an inch or two of girth. But honestly, that doesn't solve your problem. The fabric may fit around your enlarged breasts, but the design and construction of a fashion bra doesn't provide the support necessary for a pregnant or nursing woman.
Buy more than one. Experts say it's important to have at least two or three and launder them often for optimum health benefits.
Be prepared for two trips. If you're buying your first maternity bra in your first or even second trimester, keep in mind that you may have to make an additional trip in the final weeks. Resist the temptation to buy your first bras with "room to grow." They won't fit properly at the onset. Better to just resign yourself to the idea that you may outgrow your first maternity bra.
Consider nursing bras. They offer the same support as a maternity bra, and they have openings to feed the baby through. You may save yourself some money by going this route, even if feeding your baby seems a long way off.
GETTING A GOOD BRA FIT
Most traditional lingerie rules don't apply to maternity or nursing bras. Consider seeking out a professional bra fitter. Although mass merchants and mall-based sellers of lingerie might have a staffer with maternity expertise, a department store lingerie department or a specialty store that caters to maternity wear will have a certified specialist on staff. She can help you make the appropriate choice. You can call ahead for an appointment.
For the band size, measure around your body, just under the arms, with a measuring tape. If the measurement is an uneven number, round up to the next even number.
For the cup size, take a bust measurement, using a measuring tape, around the fullest part of your bust. Be sure the tape is flat against your back and level all around your body.
Signs of a good fit: the cup covers your breast, and nothing "spills out." The band is level all the way around, not riding up in back.
Try them on. This is the only way to be sure that you've found a bra with a good fit. Don't rush the process.
Underwires are a source of some controversy in the maternity bra business. There are lactation consultants who recommend against underwire bras for nursing mothers. The concern is that the rigid wire will put pressure on the breast and lead to blocked milk ducts. However, there are now nursing bras made with flexible plastic support, similar to an underwire. Most experts recommend that if you're used to wearing an underwire in your fashion bras, it's okay to try one out in a maternity bra. Be aware of any discomfort that may indicate the need for a change in bra style.
WHERE TO SHOP FOR MATERNITY CLOTHES
Below are a list of places to shop when you're expecting, including the types of items they specialize in as well as their price range. For the price range, I've used $ (inexpensive) + $$ (moderately priced) + $$$ (expensive) to indicate the level of cost.
Go Green Baby (local) - Everyday // Price Range:
Pink Blush - Everyday // Price Range:
Motherhood Maternity - Everyday // Price Range:
Ingrid & Isabel - Everyday // Price Range:
Blanqi Supportwear - Activewear // Price Range:
Thyme Maternity - Everyday // Price Range:
Go Green Baby -
MATERNITY SECTIONS / OTHER OPTIONS
Thrift Store Maternity Sections
Hip Kids Kingston (coming soon) - Everyday & Basics // Price Range:
Lululemon Align Pant - Activewear // Price Range:
Target - Everyday & Basics // Price Range
Buttercream - Everyday & Basics // Price Range:
The Bay - Everyday & Basics // Price Range:
Old Navy - Everyday & Basics // Price Range:
The Gap - Everyday & Basics // Price Range:
If you have any additional tips or resources for dressing/shopping when expecting, please drop them in the comments below! I would love to create a Maternity Lookbook for women, but I won't be expecting for at least another five years. If you are someone who is pregnant, or know someone who is - please send them my way and I can plan to style a series of Lookbooks (first, second, and third trimesters) to help women who are pregnant find the clothes and styles they need to feel at least some sort of comfort and ease during their ten months.
Thanks for reading! xo