The Maternity Wardrobe

by Wendi Brandow

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One of the harshest realities of the pregnant woman is how hard it is to find decent maternity clothes that are affordable, wear well, and make you feel good. A maternity budget of $200 (or less) can easily be blown on two or three items at specialty shops. The mom-to-be can save her time, sanity and, most importantly, money by using the following tips:

  • Timing is everything. Many women don't begin showing until the second trimester. This means that you won't likely outgrow your clothes before then either. Work with what you have for as long as you can, because soon you won't have a choice.
  • Help your existing clothes along. Chances are that your pants will be one of the first things you outgrow. Help your pants along by using a hair elastic, looped through the buttonhole, to give you an extra inch or so of space. This one trick could keep you in your pants for an extra four to six weeks. Just make sure you wear a shirt long enough to cover "your secret."
  • Evaluate what you have. When you do start outgrowing your existing clothes, take stock of what you have that may still work. Sweat pants, elastic-waist pants and skirts, ski sweaters of winter, etc. are things that might work with your body throughout your whole pregnancy.
  • Ask your friends and anyone else you know. The average American family has 3.18 children. This means that most women will only wear the maternity clothes they invest in a handful of times. Think about women you know who have been pregnant recently and are similar in size and build to you. Ask them if they have maternity clothes they would be willing to loan you. Just remember to return the favor should they get pregnant again. The beauty of this is the clothes are usually in mint condition because they are worn so infrequently.
  • Work with today's trendy styles to avoid living in maternity clothes. Let's face it, maternity clothes are expensive and have a limited shelf life for most women. When you begin shopping, think about what hot styles of today might become tomorrow's maternity clothes. Kimono tops and tunics are just a few examples of hip styles that will cover your second trimester belly in style and still look great long after you're toting baby around.
  • Think about what you really need. Do you work in an office with a strict dress code? Do you work in a profession where your work and play clothes are interchangeable? Think about your biggest clothing needs, and start by shopping for them.
  • Adjust to the idea of a limited wardrobe. You are not building a wardrobe to last a lifetime. These things likely won't be classic items you'll have in your closet ten years from now. They simply need to get you through nine months, possibly a few times over. Think simple, interchangeable, and coordinated. Two to three pairs of pants, a pair of jeans, a few skirts, four to five tops, and a few sweaters (if your climate calls for this) should suffice. Make sure they are all washable and in like colors, then mix and match your way through your pregnancy.
  • Splurge on a few key items. Every mom-to-be needs a few things that will make her look and feel great, no matter how tired or nauseous she is. Buy a few items that do this for you, but make sure they work with a number of pieces you already own.
  • Check out consignment stores and sales. Maternity items are some of the hottest things going at consignment shops because the quality for the value can't be beat. Maternity clothes are almost always "gently worn," so browse the racks and see what you find.
  • Try everything on before buying. This is definitely not the time you want anything itching, hitching, riding up, or pinching. In addition, some maternity stores have very stringent return policies. Make sure you are comfortable with your purchases, you know the return policy, and that you keep your receipt as long as necessary, preferably until you outgrow the item or, at the very least, have worn it several times.

Here's one last piece of advice: don't scrimp on bras or shoes. You will need good ones of each to provide support to your changing body throughout your pregnancy.

Wendi Brandow is currently trying to get through her second pregnancy with a very limited clothing budget. When she isn't scouring for good deals and "hand-me-overs," she writes full-time for a national non-profit. As a freelance writer, Ms. Brandow has had her works about parenting and child welfare published on a regional and local level. She has just recently broken into the national market with tips published in All You and Parenting magazines. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, their son Luke, and Snuggles the wonder dog.

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