Monday, April 8, 2013

Maternity Shopping 101

When I learned I was pregnant I knew NOTHING about maternity clothes...where to shop, what was needed, nothing.  I also wasn't lucky enough to get any maternity hand-me-downs from friends or family.

I asked a lot of questions from friends who had very recently had babies and then hit the shops and Internet with my stylist (mom).  Most of what I learned was trial and error.  I hope this helps you navigate maternity clothes shopping, but also know that every body is different.  What works for some did not work for me. 

For instance, someone told me rather than buying "maternity" clothes to just purchase clothes in bigger sizes.  For whatever reason, this didn't work for my body.  Official maternity clothes with longer lengths (and usually lots of stretch) looked better.

The key (for me at least) was to buy stuff that looked like my style, was comfortable and would grow with my bump...and still could be worn AFTER the baby (meaning it didn't necessarily look "maternity" AND was affordable.  Sound like a tall order?  It is, but you can do it!

Where I shopped:  Motherhood Maternity, Pea in the Pod, Old Navy Maternity, Gap Maternity, Nordstrom Maternity (just one top), Target (mostly just activewear)

Others to checkout:  Kohls (carries a line by Motherhood called Oh Baby), Walmart (I received a few cute tops from Walmart maternity as gifts that I love), ASOS.com 

I found that there was not one "go-to" store to buy everything.  For instance, the very first place I went to was Motherhood.  I was looking for work clothes: pants, top, dresses and was so very disappointed.  Weeks later, I went back to Motherhood and hit the jackpot when shopping for casual clothes.  I have lived in Gap jeans, but can't wear the Gap dresses. 

My favorites: 

Best Work Dresses - Pea in the Pod (Pea in the Pod brand Wrap Dresses are the BEST)

Wrap dress from Pea in Pod.  Has lasted the entire pregnancy, but I will also be able to wear after pregnancy.  I always get compliments when I wear this...even from the non-preggers wanting it!

Best Casual (Knit) Dresses:  Motherhood
Best Work Pants -  Gap (loved the boot cut with stretch and the demi panel slim cropped)
Best JeansGap (loved the 1969 Demi Panel Always Skinny Jeans, but be warned that the different washes fit differently...the darkest wash was my favorite because it could be dressed up or down)
Best Casual Tops -  Motherhood Maternity, Old Navy
Best SweatersPea in the Pod
Best Tees -   Gap and Motherhood
Best Bargains -  Motherhood, Old Navy
Best Shorts - Gap, Motherhood

Other tips:

-  Check the sales rack first (especially at Motherhood and Pea in Pod).  Also, always look for online codes.  I don't think I ever paid full price for anything on Gap.com, Old Navy.com, or Motherhood/Pea in Pod. 

-  Gap makes jeans and pants in Maternity Short sizes which is great for us shorties!  Usually you can not find those in stores, but online only. 

-  I'm not sure how this works in other cities, but the back of Baby Gap (Houston Galleria) carries Gap Maternity clothes.  Not a huge selection, but enough to get started and get an idea of fit before ordering more online. 

-  For the most part, I bought items that fit my size at that particular time (using the bump they give you in the dressing rooms) to make sure I could grow into it.  When in doubt though, I sized up and am glad I did since I'm now HUGE!  Most everything I purchased in 2nd trimester still fits me now at almost 9 months. 

-  Try on as much as you can.  My mom is great at making me try things even if I think it will look like poo.  I'm often surprised what ends up looking good. 

Me and Ashley, both rocking dresses from Motherhood.  I thought this dress (in black) would look horrible on me, but it ended up looking surprisingly slimming.  The dress Ashley is wearing looked horrible on me, but looks fantastic on her!

-  Don't buy too much too soon.  Wear it for a while and then buy more when based on what you like.  I bought too many pairs of jeans in the beginning then was kicking myself when all I wanted was the skinny pair. 

-  Black and other dark colors are your friend!

-  Basic pieces and solids are great so you can wear more often and change up with jewelry. 

-  Some Macy's stores have a maternity section that carry Motherhood and Pea in the Pod brands.  My Sugar Land store does (near the lingerie section) and it was a lifesaver for one stop shopping!  Lots of sales and it was convenient for people to give me Macy's giftcards for Christmas. 

-  Demi panel pants are my fave, but I could make full panel pants work just by folding over the panel. 

-  Camisoles will be your best friend to give you extra coverage underneath your shirts/dresses.  I didn't want people seeing my awkward bulges or belly button popping out.  I literally wear a cami under everything now.  My go-to isn't maternity and can be found at Anthropologie.  More info HERE. 

-  Skinny belts can help you get through the awkward tiny bump phase where you want people to know you are pregnant and not just bloated. 



-  Maxi dresses will be your best friend in the third trimester.  Just add a regular size cardigan or denim jacket if it's cold. 

-  Leggings will be your best friend if your are pregnant in the winter. 

-  Don't waste your money on "maternity underwear."  I just stuck with what I already liked, but did size up one size. 

The Genie Bra saved my life.  I have worn them everyday since the 2nd trimester.  Warning: if you are bustier, these may not offer enough support. 

-  Cheap Statement necklaces, big earrings and scarves were my friend when I was sick of my lack of options in the clothing department.  Each of these necklaces below were purchased for under $12.00 on Very Jane. 



 
 
Note:  I'm wearing the Gap Always Skinny Jean in every picture above!  Told you I loved them.  I own 3 pairs in 2 different washes and 2 different lengths.
 

-  Don't buy expensive shoes.  Your feet will end up swelling and stretching them out.  I purchased a couple more pairs of cheap flats at DSW since I lived in heels pre-pregnancy, then I just made due with what I had.  Wedges have been good to wear.  Lots of times I will start the day with a "cute" pair and then change to flip flops or flats once work or the main event is over. 

I hope some of the tips help you!  Good luck shopping.  You can also check out more of my pregnancy must-haves here

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