Building a maternity wardrobe is a bit different than building a regular wardrobe. First, there is a lot more expediency – you have to build one quickly in order to accommodate your growing belly – and it is much, much shorter-lived. I built mine to my priorities – I work in a business-professional setting in which most women wear dresses and skirts. Because I am client-facing, I often wear suits, or at least a jacket over my dress. While there is a limited selection of maternity wear appropriate for the workplace, it actually makes the process of building a wardrobe much easier – having fewer options sometimes helps!
My first pregnancy
Like many first-time pregnant ladies, I started from scratch. I went to the typical maternity stores – Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity – and found most of the inventory to be a bit lacking for my needs. The items I did like, I found to be pricey. I was willing to invest some money because quality is important to me, I need to look pulled together for work, and because I expected to wear the clothing through at least another pregnancy. However, I didn’t want to make unreasonable purchases. In a simple search for famous pregnant moms, I landed on Kate Middleton, who consistently looked classic and sophisticated throughout her pregnancies. She had a lot of high-end, expensive clothing, but she also wore what the Brits called “high street fashion”, which is clothing that isn’t cheap, but is accessible. A few of her dresses were from the same brand – Seraphine – which quickly became my go-to for my entire professional maternity wardrobe. I ultimately made four large orders, purchasing 16 dresses for almost $1,200.
My new work wardrobe felt a bit like a capsule wardrobe. I could fit almost everything into a single drawer and I never felt at loss for what to wear every morning – I liked nearly every piece of clothing I purchased.
I had less of a need for casual clothing and tried to make do with oversized shirts and two pairs of jeans – blue and black – and a pair of leggings. However, I ultimately made a few more purchases for my babymoon (in which we took a Disney cruise!) including two tank tops, two casual light sweaters, a pair of shorts, and a bathing suit, totaling another $250. Definitely not an insignificant amount of money, but an investment I was willing to make because I knew I would be able to wear it for another pregnancy.
I would note that the one or two duds I bought were all casual wear. Because I assumed I could get by with cheap casual clothing, I made a few purchases on Amazon, but found that the fit was poor and the material was uncomfortable. Building my maternity wardrobe reminded me that quality clothing is worth it – I may pay a bit extra, but I will enjoy wearing it. The clothing I bought on Amazon was barely worn and eventually donated – ultimately money poorly spent.
My second pregnancy
To be honest, it took a good amount of willpower to not go on another shopping spree with my second pregnancy. I wanted to justify it with the fact that I had more client meetings and I was pregnant in different seasons – my first pregnancy was mostly fall and winter, my second pregnancy was mostly spring and summer – so I obviously needed more clothing. I ultimately did do some shopping but practiced some control by choosing to purchase only used clothing. Used maternity clothing is actually great – it’s not worn for long and thus, generally in good shape. Because I liked my Seraphine dresses so much from my first pregnancy, I specifically searched for the brand’s dresses on Poshmark, which I found to have a better selection than Ebay. Despite the high shipping costs, I ended up purchasing 6 dresses for $210, which I found to be really reasonable. It is a bit of a crapshoot – one dress had a bit of cat hair on it – but on the whole, the dresses were all clean and showed little wear and tear. I made one new purchase – a pair of white jeans from Loft’s maternity line – which brought my grand total to $260. Not bad. When I added my “new” clothing to my preexisting wardrobe, I felt like I had hit a saturation point. I knew I could go through my second pregnancy comfortably and with style, both in my professional and personal life. Win!
Photo: Laura Lee