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The Maternity Clothing Debate

hands holding pregnant belly with purple tank top and tan skirt

You're pregnant, hooray! But now what to do about your wardrobe? As your body begins to change and your belly grows, you'll have the opportunity to sport the latest in maternity fashion, which can make you look fabulous but cost a lot. Or, perhaps you will buck the mom-to-be threads and utilize your current clothing (okay, and maybe your partner's) throughout all nine months (and afterward). Whatever you decide, every woman could use a little help in the clothing department, so read on.

Making Adjustments

In the first four months, it is feasible (depending on the size of your growing bump) for most pregnant women to adjust their clothing so that it is still wearable. Here's some help:

  • Longer-fitting shirts and blouses work well, as do tunics, stretchy tanks, and tees.
  • Sport one of your favorite skirts and wear it a little higher on your stomach, making sure not to constrict your precious cargo, of course. (This would just be uncomfortable for you, but wouldn't hurt your baby.)
  • Dig out your looser-fitting pants and flowy tops during this stage.
  • Your favorite pair of jeans can be worn comfortably for a while with the help of a rubber band or elastic hair tie looped through the buttonhole and wrapped around the button.
  • Go ahead and unbutton that top button of your pants, using a large safety pin to secure them, and conceal the evidence with a longer top or wide belt.

If you are a mom-to-be who plans on not wearing maternity clothes, here are some tips for you:

  • Elastic waistbands and drawstring bottoms may make you cringe (they're historically unhip, we know), but they will treat your baby bump kindly by not constricting your slowly stretching skin. Many clothing stores -- even more high-end boutiques -- sell pants and skirts with elastic in them, so you can experiment with colors and patterns. And with elastic, you can choose to wear your clothing over the bump or below it to suit your comfort -- and style -- level.
  • Soft knits have a similar appeal because they are forgiving. Many are also made with stretch, which ups the comfort level. Pair a soft knit skirt with a similar colored top worn untucked.
  • For working moms who need to be dressed formally, you can utilize your blazers and cardigans by wearing them unbuttoned. Pair them with a cute shell or blouse underneath!
  • The ultimate tip? Buy regular clothes one or two sizes larger than what you are currently, and use them throughout your pregnancy. In addition, these pieces can be great transitional items for after your pregnancy when your body has yet to get back to its pre-baby size.
  • Wear low-rise pants below your growing belly.
  • The Bella Band is a knit elastic band for pregnant women to be worn over unbuttoned pants or unbuttoned skirts. It will hide all zippers and buttons, while keeping your pants or skirts where they belong. It can be worn peeking through to create a layered look, or can be hidden under your top. Different versions of this belly band are available on the Internet. Added bonus: These bands are super helpful after baby is born.

 

  • Opt for clothes with Lycra and spandex.
  • Wear your partner's clothes. Long-sleeved oxford shirts worn tied and rolled up over a camisole can be a sexy maternity clothing alternative. Also wear your favorite old T-shirts and sport a long tank top in one size larger than normal to layer underneath as your belly grows and the T-shirt rises up.
  • For those crafty moms-to-be, make holes by the zipper on your pants and use ribbon to lace it up, instead of zippering. This will allow the pants to grow with you as your belly does. This trick works well after baby is born as well.

Ready and willing to jump into a new maternity wardrobe? Here are some things to remember:

  • Shop around! Don't just limit yourself to the popular maternity clothing stores. Visit consignment shops, garage sales, and even eBay for hand-me-downs. Search the Web for sites dedicated to maternity wear, such as Japanese Weekend Maternity or iMaternity.

 

  • Invest in good undergarments that will take you through your pregnancy with no hassle. Find your exact maternity bra size.

 

  • Find maternity clothes while shopping for milk at Target and Wal-Mart.
  • Borrow from friends and relatives who just had babies, or are looking to get rid of their older maternity wear (steer clear of anything too dated-looking, which may be economical but may make you feel frumpy).
  • Buy one or two outfits that you feel beautiful and confident in. Pair these pieces with other items to create a wardrobe of figure-flattering duds.
  • For the working mom-to-be, have fun looking for work-appropriate gear. To look professional, stick with a more neutral color palette, such as black, charcoal, olive, camel, and even some red, for accent.
  • Look for more form-fitting articles of clothing to show off that bump, not to hide it! Of more than 3,000 AmericanBaby.com readers polled, 50 percent said that they were happy to participate in the pregnancy fashion trends that show off a mom-to-be's curves. (Thirty-three percent said they appreciated the style, but chose, themselves, to cover up, and only 16 percent wished those curves would stay clothed.) Take it from our readers: Pregnancy's a time to look and feel great!

Copyright © 2006 Meredith Corporation.