How to Find Non-Maternity Clothing for Maternity Wear

  Finding appealing maternity clothing is a nightmare.  I’m just going to put that out there.  No qualifiers, no apologies.  It’s over-priced, typically unflattering and, despite recent improvements, still mostly clings to one type of style that all pregnant women “should” be wearing.  Prefer a minimal, simplistic wardrobe of neutral colors like I do?  Good luck.

  At 20 weeks my belly has popped out, so it’s time we talk about this:
  With my pregnancy with G I started out trying to use traditional maternity clothing.  Target, Kohls, Motherhood Maternity…I even shopped at a couple upscale maternity boutiques trying to find things that let me feel, well, like me.  I was always horrified by the prices for something I wasn’t going to be able to wear beyond a few month period, and, as a small framed woman, frustrated by how little I could find that even fit.
  The color pallets that were offered always seemed to be extremely limited, and the extent of this became exceptionally clear when, upon opening my stored tub of maternity clothing this fall, 90% of what I found was fire engine red or dark purple.  Not my favorite colors, but better than the other options available at the time.
  By the time I was a month from my due date it was driving me crazy.  I felt like a whale…and a whale who was wearing somebody else’s clothes.  So I decided I was done with maternity clothing and went back to buying “normal” clothing that worked for my pregnant body.  The clothing was less expensive, more attractive, and I immediately felt more comfortable than I had since “showing” had kicked me out of my own wardrobe.
  So what do I look for in non-maternity clothing when I look like I’m smuggling a basketball in my shirt?
  • Extra length.
Tunics are your friend in this situation.  The shirt in the picture below is a cowl necked tunic that I picked up from Target’s clearance section less than a month before I gave birth.  I can wear this shirt at my thinnest (I was surprised it wasn’t stretched out of shape, but after a wash it was fine!) and it’s almost a dress, but as you can see, the extra length pulled up and over my 9 month belly perfectly.
  On that note, dresses make great stand-ins for tops when your belly starts to swell!
  • Belts that tie

  One of the most frustrating things about the first few months of your pregnancy showing is that if you aren’t careful your baby belly can make you look like you’re just getting fat.  Rather than walking around with a sign saying “it’s a kid, not a beer gut”, try cinching a belt above the top of your belly, just below your bust like I’ve done on my sweater in the picture at the top.  When looking for non-maternity clothing with this option, I prefer cloth belts that tie around the natural waist to traditional buckling belts because as your stomach grows your belt will need to bow upwards onto your ribcage to fit.  Leather belts don’t bend very easily and so they can be extremely uncomfortable.  As a note, I’ve found that the stretchy BeBands that are sold to allow you to keep wearing your pre-maternity pants with the zipper undone are great for avoiding the lumpy potato sack look if you have blousey tops (like below).

  • Low rise pants

  Recognizing that this is the sort of statement that is going to make some of you want to create voodoo dolls of me and force feed them jelly doughnuts, I’m going to say it anyhow: I am too small for maternity pants.  This might seem like a enviable problem, until you realize that the only thing less flattering than maternity jeans is too-big maternity jeans that have been safety pinned to stay up.  Trying to find jeans when I’m not pregnant makes me want to cry.  Trying to find jeans when I am pregnant?  The words “justifiable homicide” come to mind.  Luckily pant waistbands are at an all time low so once my uterus lifts (usually around 11 or 12 weeks for me) I’m able to wear my normal, super low rise jeans.  They may drive me crazy because my underwear sits higher than the waistband, but hey, so does my belly.

  • Spandex/High Stretch Knits
  This one is kind of a no-brainer, in that, duh, you want stuff that stretches, but it’s more thinking about the myriad different places you can find it that can be a game changer.  Back when the Mr. and I first moved to this area I was a manager for a short time at a teenie bopper clothing chain that I’ll go ahead and leave unnamed.  Part of working there was having a wardrobe of that brand’s clothing.  Imagine my amusement when I found that my Aber-postle-eagle leftovers were some of the best maternity pieces I had!  They tend to be extra long, super stretchy and have a much broader set of color selections (especially in neutrals).  Obviously, bought straight from the store, these are unlikely to be much less expensive than plain old maternity clothes, but luckily, trendy teens are always ditching last season’s looks and Goodwill and resale stores like Plato’s Closet are swimming in them.  This is a great resource especially for small women like myself…and frankly, I find it terribly amusing to turn the “cool kids'” wardrobe choices into mom-wear.
  • Dresses

  Ok, I sort of already said this back up in extra length, but dresses (especially knit dresses) transition from non-maternity to maternity wear so easily.  Obviously you’re not going to be squeezing into any form-fitting sheath dresses any time soon, but a dress with a high waist and a stretchy A-line or gathered skirt can be a life saver with a pair of tights.  Gets rid of the whole “maternity pants are horrible” problem completely!

    Do you have other hints for avoiding the “maternity” section when you’re expecting?  Leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear t


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