My Story: Maternity Wear for Less
contributed by Michelle
The Maternity Wardrobe
I'm now on my third pregnancy, so this is old hat, but there are a few tricks that I've learned to keep the cost down. It has been a challenge as I am a professional and the usual outfit in our office is a suit. I have been especially happy with shopping at stores meant for larger size ladies. My normal size is about an 8, but I will buy pants that are an 18 or 20 with an elastic waist. With a long top over, nobody really knows the difference. This works best with pants that are a bit tapered. This also goes for nightgowns and slips (just hike the waist of the slips up over your stomach and go for ones that have a lot of lycra/stretch).
Probably my biggest saving has been buying pantyhose at the store for larger size ladies. I was very frustrated with the ones at the maternity store as they were about $7 per pair and so thin that I usually ripped quite a few when I was putting them on. I buy pantyhose that are 3X or 4X. They normally have a panel at the back. Turn them around backwards and you have the equivalent of the maternity panel for no more than $4 per pair.
I also look for opportunities to wear my normal clothes. For example, I wear a stretchy regular turtleneck with a maternity skirt or a regular blouse under a maternity jumper (you can leave some bottom buttons undone and nobody will notice). You also get more wear out of maternity skirts and pants with an elastic waist band that can be adjusted as opposed to an elastic inset panel as there is more opportunity to use your existing tops rather than invest in extra long maternity pieces.
I also purchased a number of items from a work colleague who liked to spend a lot on outfits, with a new wardrobe for each pregnancy. I paid her less than the consignment store prices but received some really nice outfits. It pays to ask around.
With my first pregnancy, I purchased a few quality pieces new (black wool skirt and pants, classic blouses in flattering, conservative colors) and handwashed or home dry-cleaned them carefully. Almost 5 years later, I have had people ask me if they are new. It goes without saying that before you store away your pregnancy wardrobe, you should ensure that all the pieces are cleaned and mended, and hung up on proper hangers with dust protection or packed away in a closed container. I would rather buy a few quality pieces and take care of them than buy a new cheaper wardrobe with each pregnancy.
Finally, I am an advocate for sharing amongst friends (or family), especially for maternity wear, which is used for such a short time, but if you have some really nice pieces that you want to re-use for other pregnancies or sell later at a consignment store, you should be very sure that the person you lend them to will follow the care instructions, or else don't bother. Not everyone understands that wool crepe shrinks if you put it in the washing machine and dryer!
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com
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