At my baby shower recently, I chatted with moms from several generations. One remembered sewing herself a shapeless gray maternity dress that made her think she looked like a beached whale. Another reminisced that her otherwise relatively liberal husband didn’t want her going out in public—more for the state of her clothes than her belly. And they all lamented that they’d never had the option to wear anything as cute—and normal—as the brown shirtdress I was sporting.
Maternity fashions have certainly come a long way since our mothers’ days of shapeless muumuus and ugly blouses completely covered in ribbons and bows. Designers have cottoned on to the fact that women want to dress much the same way they did pre-baby bump, and that many women continue to work throughout their pregnancy.
Fortunately, maternity fashions are now available for every occasion, from formal wear to swim suits and everything in between. But all of those choices can get a little intimidating. So, for mamas just starting their journey, or those of us in need of a few en-route directions, here are a few tips to finding your maternity style.
Don’t wait too long to start shopping. Maternity clothes are an investment, but you’ll get more for your money the longer you can wear them. Many styles are designed to grow with you. Take advantage of those funny faux tummies available at maternity stores to see how that top or dress will look in a few months.
Do invest in the basics. As with any wardrobe, spend a little more on basic pieces you know you’ll be wearing all the time, then have fun with a few trendy pieces that are less expensive. Boutiques, such as Becoming Mothers in Boulder, will be able to supply you with basics and those fun, on-trend pieces.
Don’t panic about the price tags. You can find quality for less. Check the Maternity Works/Motherhood Maternity outlet store in Castle Rock for great deals on their name-brand pieces, or visit consignment stores such as Childish Things Consignment Boutique in Boulder for gently used items.
Do update your lingerie drawer. You’ll need to invest in new bras and panties at least once during your nine months, and some experts recommend buying even more often to accommodate your changing size. Squeamish about getting a professional bra fitting? Bosom Buddies (with locations in Westminster and Lone Tree) offers a “Fit Kit” for $7.95 designed to help you measure yourself at home as expertly as any professional. bosombuddies.com
Don’t forget your shoes. In the third trimester, many women experience swelling in their feet, which can be moderate or Bigfoot-esque. It’s hard to shop early for this eventuality, but it helps to have several pairs of comfortable lace-up shoes that can be laced more loosely as feet swell. If you need to buy new shoes toward the end of pregnancy, skip the laces: They can be a pain to tie as your belly gets bigger.
Do show a little skin—however much you’re comfortable with. Let’s face it: You’ll never have a better opportunity to sport a little cleavage, and your legs will look super skinny under your ample belly.
Don’t be afraid to show off your curves. Opting for loose clothes seems like a good idea, but all of that bulk can create a bulky look. Try styles that accentuate your skinnier bits, such as skinny jeans and tops with close-fitting sleeves. And don’t be afraid to show off that baby bump with stretchy knits. These looks can be super-feminine and sexy.
Do invest in a few pieces with plenty of color to help your solid basics pop. You can even use some of your pre-pregnancy pieces, such as a bright sweater or scarf draped around your shoulders, or a button-down shirt left unbuttoned.
Don’t forget the accessories. Long earrings and necklaces can help distract from the fullness in your face. Fun headbands and barrettes can perk up any outfit, and if you know you won’t be on your feet all day, throw on a cute pair of shoes.
Look for something you love in each of these categories:
Denim: Go for a dark wash that can easily be dressed up or down for day or night. Try on several pairs with different types of elasticized waists.
Little Black Dress: A wrap-style dress in a jersey fabric will work for a night out or a day in the office.
Tank Tops: Maternity tanks are longer than regular tank tops, and in a few basic colors, you can mix and match or layer these with cardigans and open button-down tops for lots of different looks.
Belly Band: This elastic band helps your pre-pregnancy clothes fit longer (by concealing an open zipper), holds up too-big maternity pants and helps you get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes sooner.
Stretch Pants or Leggings: Even if you don’t wear them normally, embrace these stretchy bottoms for comfort and ease.