At the risk of stating the obvious to those veteran moms out there, there are quite a few things I realized when purchasing maternity clothes that I wish I had known ahead of time. No one wants to make a huge investment in maternity clothing - even if you are planning to have more than one child and it might seem 'worth it' to buy nicer stuff - fashion changes, clothes get worn out and your body changes in somewhat unpredictable ways...
I thought I could just buy a few basics and borrow the rest from generous friends who already had their babies. My friend, Anna, gave me a big bag of clothes when I was about 10 weeks. I tried everything on, excited that I wasn't going to have to buy a bunch of temporary clothes, and hung everything up in my closet.
Fast forward a few months and it turns out my tiny friend is much smaller as a pregnant lady than I am! While people comment that I'm "all belly", there is no denying that other parts have gotten a bit curvier. No complaints here, my body is doing what it needs to do to grow a human but it has made shopping a necessity to stay comfortable.
In case you don't want to start out completely clueless like I did, here are my top 5 Maternity Clothes Shopping Lessons Learned over the past eight months...
Lesson 1: Fitted is better than flowy.
I thought loose tops and joggers were the way to go but I quickly ended up feeling frumpy in them. Early on in my pregnancy I bought boyfriend jeans and tops like this, and even though I wasn't really showing, I still felt as if I was hiding a food baby or trying to survive shark week (a.k.a. that time of the month, a.k.a. your period). I'm not sure that fitted is the cure for the early, awkward stage but I know buying more flowy tops is not the answer.
I thought I could get away with leggings and dresses but leggings made me feel like I was living in pajamas and work out clothes and I needed some jeans. Late in my first trimester, I splurged on a pair of Paige jeans with side panels and wore them from week 12 to about week 24 before I had to un-button those bad boys at my desk one day. I wasn't excited to rush into the full panel, especially going into winter while pregnant (read: itchy!), I wanted my skin to breath for as long as possible. I think these jeans will work great shortly after baby arrives and they can double as my 'I'm having a fat day' jeans since I hear everyone should have a pair. I actually don't have any so-called 'fat jeans' and the day I started to get bigger with pregnancy (around week 10) all of my jeans were uncomfortable. The Bella Band only went so far for me because I have a low tolerance for being squeezed, although I hear it works great for a lot of women.
At the start of my third trimester I took the cheaper route with Jessica Simpson jeans (get them here) and Motherhood Maternity brand petite jeans (get them here). These are working for me now and I expect I'll wear them through the end. They stretch out after one wear so I wash them often and they don't look awesome but...I'm pregnant, I don't expect to look my best ever...come on ;)
Lesson 3: Don't buy directly from maternity clothing websites.
I am a loyal Nordstrom and Gap shopper. However, I was excited to get some maternity clothes from brands I'd read about, Seraphine and Ingrid & Isabel. I'm pregnant, I deserve a few nice things, right?! At 5'2" and 110 lb to start, I ordered a size small shirt and the London Bump kit in a size small. At 10 weeks the size small was already too small, my arms, which are arguably toned and not affected by pregnancy, couldn't fit into this shirt. Unfortunately I had already washed it so that beauty is going to my tiny friend who lended me her maternity clothes that are too small for me. I hope someone can get some use out of it! The Bump kit consisted of stretchy material and was nice enough for a while, but leggings were treadbare after a few months of wearing 1-2 times a week and the dress is starting to pill after a few months.
The moral of the story is, while you're figuring out your maternity sizes, buy from retailers with awesome return policies. As it turns out Nordstrom sells Seraphine and Ingrid & Isabel. Despite being fit and small before pregnancy, maternity clothes don't much account for athletic frames, so I'm a 6 in Seraphine and I haven't kept anything from Ingrid & Isabel but I suspect I'd be comfortable in size large (at 135 lbs), everything is tight and tiny on me. (Update: I have a pair BeMaternity by Ingrid & Isabel yoga pants from Target that are very comfortable, I think they are medium or large...)
Here are my two favorite Seraphine dresses from Nordstrom: Burgundy Shift and Printed Twist
I really love this Olian dress that I found on Nordstrom too: Olian Caroline Colorblock
This Pea in a Pod dress from Macy's (a gift from my MIL!) was perfect for the holidays:
Gap is my favorite maternity-wear friend. Everything is so cheap and so comfortable. I bought my staples: several long sleeve and short sleeve Pure Body shirts and leggings. The tops usually last a few months before they look too dingy to pair with a fun scarf, sweater or my favorite, the Asos blanket cape. At that point I just buy new ones, each shirt is usually around $10 (seriously don't ever pay full price at Gap). My first pair of Gap leggings lasted about 6 months before it got a hole in the knee and I just stocked up on three more pair for the home stretch since they are $20 each and I'm sure I'll wear them after pregnancy for a while too. Some of the reviews say they are see-through, but I think the key is to wear a top that covers your butt if you're going to wear leggings in public. I haven't had a problem with my knees being seen through these leggings.
I bought one pair of "nice" David Lerner leggings from Shopbop (during a sale) and while they felt great, fitting perfectly in the legs and were completely opaque, I had to stop wearing them towards the end of my second trimester because the band was leaving a serious red mark on my stomach after only a few hours. A size up might have fit my growing tummy but then would have been baggy in the legs and butt and that's just not a good look! No regrets on this splurge except I wish I bought them earlier.
I knew before I was even pregnant that I wanted to continue to workout throughout my pregnancy. It isn't the easiest thing to keep up on with all of the changes happening in your body - getting bigger and shorter of breath - and you don't need ill-fitting workout clothes to add any de-motivating factors to your life. I found that Athleta Fastest Track tank (size medium) and the previously mentioned Target yoga pants work great for me, at a reasonable price.
For pajamas, while I'm fine wearing Andy's t-shirts and hoodies at home, his sweatpants were a step too far. I was swimming in them and just felt all around frumpy. My mother-in-law was kind enough to insist that she buy these Pea in a Pod pajamas for me and I'm so so grateful, I basically have been living in them since the beginning of third trimester. I recently purchased these and these non-maternity pajamas from Nordstrom. I love them both and I'm sure they'll be sticking around when I'm back to my normal size!
Hopefully this helps some of you navigate the extensive world of maternity clothing! If you have any tips that you want to share or have any questions, I'd love to hear them!