Firstly, don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more on these items, they will become your staple pieces both during your pregnancy and beyond (maybe far beyond depending on how long it takes to lose the pregnancy weight).
Secondly, unless your bank balance allows for a decent clothes budget every month don’t be too tempted to go for the latest styles, better to keep things classic and adaptable, i.e. wearable with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots…..(you get the picture) of other clothes.
My next point is one you will hear me say more than once due to its extreme importance, and it is this – you absolutely must think ahead when it comes to your pregnancy. In this case I’m referring to the time of year during which you find yourself pregnant. For example, if you find yourself pregnant during the summer months you might not have to buy anything more than a maternity cardigan for over your clothes, but if your pregnancy encompasses winter be prepared to have to shell out for a good coat. You might not see the point in this but bear with me, I will come back to maternity coats, for now let me just say that even if you do have to spend more than you would have liked on this particular item of clothing you can always recoup some of your money by selling them when you no longer need them to auction sites or companies which sell second-hand maternity clothes, and there are a few of them out there.
Speaking of cheap options brings me nicely to my next point and this one is very close to my own heart – accessorise! It doesn’t matter what it is, a scarf, a pair earrings, a bag or necklace, all accessories work and they will extend your wardrobe exponentially. This is my cheap cheat when expanding your wardrobe (any wardrobe!)
My next pearl of wisdom is one of the absolute don’ts of wearing maternity fashion. Don’t EVER be tempted to just buy the next size up in normal clothes. Maternity clothes are designed for the pregnant figure and a lot of clever people spent a lot of time and energy creating clothes to make you look a-maz-ing while you are pregnant. Buying a size up is just cheating you and them, and you will be doing yourself absolutely no favours!
The last thing I want to say is more of an aside, a reminder if you like. A small minority of truly blessed women spring back into their pre-pregnancy clothes the second they give birth but the rest of us mere mortals could find ourselves in pregnancy clothes for anything up to a year after the birth. My point being, thinking ahead again, your maternity clothes may not just be your staple wardrobe items for the duration of your pregnancy so choose carefully.
So, now to the important bit, the clothes………
1. The Maternity Bra
A well fitted bra is always essential but never more so than during pregnancy. A good bra will support your breasts as they change (and, trust me, they will change) and maintain your shape. I would suggest that you get fitted professionally and many stores, such as Debenhams, will offer this service free of charge.
Now, I know as well as the next girl that money is tight at the moment so you might have to save up to buy a really good bra, in the meantime why not invest in a bra extender. A pack of 3 will cost you just £5 at Debenhams. I must stress that this should only be a short term solution, the benefits of getting the proper bra far outweigh the expense and, as soon as your old bra becomes uncomfortable, you must swap it for one that fits.
I should warn you that you may find that your boobs will get bigger long before your belly catches up, around weeks 8 to 10 (I know, yikes!) and when choosing your bra make sure you choose the one that’s right for you. Many experts will tell you to avoid under-wired bras, purely from a comfort perspective but I (being rather larger in that department than the average girl) found that, during my pregnancies, the under-wire gave me support that I would not have had with a soft cup. BUT, that was my own personal choice and you’ll find what works best for you in your own time!
The last virtue I will extol on the subject of bras is to be prepared, your changing shape may mean that you will go through more than one bra size change (and here we are thinking ahead again) you must take into consideration your post-pregnancy body. Referring to the point I made before, you may not be lucky enough to ping back into shape the day you leave the hospital (in fact, there’s a really good chance you won’t)!
2. Essential Underwear
Maternity underwear and maternity bras are, to me, a bit like the chicken and the egg – which came first? Who cares, the point is that they are both essential, so don’t skimp on either! I think if you dress well from the inside you will feel great on the outside. Sadly, people often underestimate the value of good, well fitted underwear.
So, what to consider?
And again with the planning, essential when it comes to underwear because you need to consider the potential for expansion (and I don’t mean an extension to the house). Think big nights out, slinky (or as close as you can get when pregnant)dresses, figure hugging finesse. If any of this starts ringing alarm bells then you and I both know that you are going to need scaffolding! So, check the diary, any weddings, parties or soiree’s in the offing while you’re pregnant – need I say more?!
If thongs are your thing then don’t think you need to sacrifice them at this point. Stick to what you know and love, maternity companies have put a lot of thought and effort into catering for all of us or in other words there is underwear out there to suit us all.
And, while we’re on the subject of thongs, I should also say that you will find many companies leaning towards these mini marvels for pregnant women. I’ve thought about the reasoning for this and my theory is that if, at the end of the day, you can’t be as comfy as you’d like then you might as well wear something that’s designed to go in places no other underwear can reach (No?). Anyway, I may be wrong but I’m not a fan of this particular genre of under-garment for that very reason so I’ll leave it to those in the know.
Now there are those who shun convention completely and (wait for it) Go commando! It actually isn’t as unpopular a choice as you might imagine. Honestly some women just prefer to enjoy the freedom.
P.S. On the Q.T. I have also heard of women swapping to men’s undies and, having been there (pregnant) done that (again, pregnancy – not the underwear thing)I would definitely say – whatever works!
3. Good shoes
Putting together the perfect capsule maternity wardrobe is a bit like building a house. You have to get the foundations right and, after the underwear, the next essential is the right pair of shoes (I know, music to all our ears). Shoes can make or break an outfit, and the wrong shoes could break you back!
There are people who have no issue wearing heels during pregnancy and I salute them. You only have to look at pregnant celebrities in any magazine or newspaper to see how it can be done. If you are one of those people the only thing I would suggest is carry a little pair of pumps with you at all times (balance is an issue at the best of times during pregnancy, add a pair of Jimmy Choos to the mix and you have a recipe for a lot of unnecessary discomfort).
I admit that during my own pregnancies I was the queen of comfort, so much so that I have found it very difficult to get back into heels post-pregnancy even to this day (6 years later). The wonderful thing is that there are so many pretty pumps, flat shoes, court shoes etc out there that there is no reason to sacrifice fashion for comfort in choosing the right shoe, fact!
4. Maternity Jeans
For most women, jeans are the staple of every wardrobe and, during pregnancy, there is no reason to do things any differently. A pair of well fitted jeans should always be the staple of your capsule wardrobe. Just remember that the fit will be as different as night and day depending on which style you choose, so don’t be afraid to try before you buy or, if buying online, check the companies returns policy thoroughly.
Now, repeating the absolute no-no, Do Not be tempted to just buy the next size up, buy jeans in your pre-pregnancy size but be absolutely sure to buy maternity jeans (that’s what they’re there for).
As with normal fashion, there are maternity jeans out there to suit every shape and size but I would definitely recommend buying more than one pair to accommodate your changing shape.
5. Maternity Dresses
When it comes to maternity dresses forget the shape you used to have and start shopping for the shape you are now. You might find that your breasts are bigger or you might find that with carrying the extra weight your legs are more toned, but remember the golden rule – pick one asset and show it off. Make it about the breasts or the legs but never, never make it about both.
Now, obviously, we all have different taste and we all suit different styles, but when it comes to maternity fashion the experts agree that there are two dress shapes which are particularly flattering to the pregnant form. The wrap dress looks good because it clings to the body in all the right places and in a flattering way, and the asymmetrical dress lends an effortless timelessness (is that a word?) to the pregnant form.
To take you right back to the beginning of what I consider should be your wardrobe essentials, I must just tell you that no matter what dress you choose in whichever style, the key to the perfect dress is the perfect underwear. Your carefully chosen underwear (already purchased thanks to my stellar advice) will ensure that no matter what outfit you are wearing you will be wearing it like a star, or as close as us average joe’s ever get.
6. Maternity Trousers
For those ladies who have to wear dress trousers on a daily basis for work then it is importnat to make the right choice The good news is that there are a lot out of choice out there, trousers in every colour, style and price and most not more than a click away.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Do Not be tempted to go a size up rather than investing in a couple of pairs of good maternity trousers. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it. The thing I like about trousers is that with a well fitted jacket and shirt they can look very professional and dressed up, whereas teaming them with a nice jumper can give you a more casual day-to-day look.
Not forgetting casual trousers, particularly if you’re not a first time mum, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Trousers that you can roll about in and don’t care about scuffing are a wardrobe ‘can’t live without’ for those all too frequent play days. Casual trousers are easier in a sense, though, because sometimes with these baggy is best.
The type of maternity top you buy will very much depend on what you do on a daily basis (too obvious?). Anyway, for office chic you’ll be looking for shirts and blouses, and a well fitted one will stand by you. My suggestion would be to find a maternity shirt or blouse which ties, either back ties or a wrap top. The reason being that you’ll get more mileage from this style of top, as your belly expands you’ll be able to loosen the ties without losing shape.
Thinking ahead yet? Time to go even further to a time when you may (or may not) be breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is going to factor into your post-pregnancy plans then it is worth taking a minute think of the practicality of a shirt/blouse which will allow for it.
8. Maternity Skirt
There’s not a lot to say about skirts, you’re either a skirt girl or you’re not, but they do make a good alternative. Particularly in an office situation, they give you the option of wearing trousers one day and a skirt the next – two days, two looks even if nothing else about your outfit changes.
For all those ‘skirt’ girls there are so many styles out there it would make your head spin, and the right skirt makes it easy and quick to change your look with a wide selection of tops/vests/accessories.
9. Maternity Cardigan/knitwear
Cardigans and coats share a common raison d’etre in that the time of year during which you are pregnant will have a bearing on your choice. You know what I mean – a thicker one for winter and more of a light boyfriend cardigan for Sprimg/Summer. It doesn’t matter, though, because there are enough styles out there to cover every season of the year and then some.
A maternity cardigan is a practical purchase as well as an essential accessory so you absolutely don’t have to sacrifice style, it (thankfully) all goes hand in hand.
I’m putting a question mark against this particular item because (personal opinion) the need for depends very much on which time of year you find yourself pregnant during and which part of the country you live in. For example, I (living in Northern Ireland) experience a climate which varied from horrible in winter, not much better in Spring, a bit of sun in Summer and four seasons in one day during Autumn. The point being that there is very rarely a time in this part of the world when you can step out of the house without a coat. You see where I’m going with this one.
Should you need a coat then fear not, the choice available is eye popping, and I personally love it! In my days of pregnancy, many moons ago there was so little choice in maternity coats that I was reduced to options that are just sad to talk about. Back in those days (btw it was only 6 years ago) I just don’t think fashion companies thought maternity coats worth the effort and that not many people would invest. Thank goodness for forward thinking.
The biggest question mark when it comes to this purchase is the amount of money you have to part with to get one. What I would say is that where there is supply there is demand so, as long as you take care of your maternity coat and don’t use it as a cape in a bull fight, you can always sell it on when you’re finished with it – use auction sites or companies which specialise in selling second-hand maternity clothes.
This next point I’m making isn’t as much about your capsule wardrobe as it is about you, a little tip I picked up during my own experiences and it is this, don’t be afraid to treat yourself if the budget allows. It doesn’t matter what it is but even the littlest treat will lift your day when you’re feeling a bit down or in the dumps, or whatever negative emotions your pregnancy brings out.
The thing is (and the thing that no one tells you) is that, although there is a huge amount excitement and wonderful feelings at the beginning of the pregnancy, around month 6 to 7 those feelings are long forgotten and have given way to feelings of fatness, bloatedness, sore ankle-ness and a lot of get this baby out of me-ness, and everyone deserves a little pick-me-up from time to time.
So, have a manicure, have a facial, go to a spa – whatever it takes to make you feel that wee bit pampered, go and do it because once baby comes along it won’t be all about you for a very long time to come!
Maternity size guide
Most reputable companies will have a size guide on their sites and bear in mind that sizes will vary from company to company but the same is true even for normal clothes but to give you a rough idea, below is a chart from Dorothy Perkins…………