Myth: It’s okay to just buy whatever maternity clothes you like.
Truth: You need a plan here too.
In my last column I told you about how to plan for your maternity clothing shopping. Now it’s time to actually look at the clothes and decide what to purchase. But even here you need to be careful.
From me you get the truth.
Maternity clothes are rarely cheap. And even if you can get good bargains, you’ll still have to spend some money. But since maternity clothes are a short-term investment, you need to make sure you get your money’s worth, and that means shopping smart. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of clothes to get you through. You just need good versatile clothes that fit you and flatter you.
Once you’re in the stores, you need to look for the following silhouette: fitted on top, loosely fitted over the belly, and narrow on the bottom. This is one time when you do not want to hide your tummy. In fact, trying to hide a baby belly will only make you appear bigger and heavier than you actually are. There was a time when women had to wear big tent-like tops because pregnancy wasn’t something you showed off (Lucille Ball had to wear tent tops on her show as Lucy Ricardo and she had to say “expecting” instead of pregnant because even the word was considered too risqué back then). But times have changed and now pregnancy is seen as natural and nothing to hide. Fitted clothes show off your good health much better.
While your tops need to be a bit looser over the belly for comfort, they still need to be fitted in that area. If they just billow out over the belly you’ll get the tent look, as described above, that you need to avoid.
If you need overtops like jackets or cardigans, you may be able to get away with your regular ones. Normally, if you cannot close a jacket or cardigan, then it doesn’t fit and you need a different size. But when you’re pregnant, it’s fine to wear your jackets and cardigans open. Just make sure your underpinning fits right and covers you.
I used to wonder why some fashion gurus described the A-line skirt as “almost” universally flattering. After all, what body is not flattered by the A-line? But a pregnant body is not flattered by any fuller-skirted style, including the A-line. A fuller skirt only makes the woman appear bigger on her bottom half. And if the skirt falls just below the knee, you get the “mushroom on toothpicks” look of big body on skinny legs. It’s best if skirts are straight and narrow from just below the belly all the way down to keep the bottom half slim. But you still need length in your legs and that’s why I recommend keeping your skirts long enough to cover the knees. JBTK (just below the knee) does flatter as long as the skirt is straight. Ankle-length skirts are fine if that length flatters you. Avoid mid-calf as always: you do not want your legs to look stumpy.
When looking for colors, it’s best to stick with classic neutrals such as black, navy, dark chocolate brown, and charcoal. If you like lighter neutrals such as white, ivory, cream, and beige, those are fine too. Classic neutrals go with everything and are easier to mix and coordinate. That means that you need fewer actual items. And since the neutrals go with everything, you can add accessories in any flattering colors you like.
The actual items you buy depends on your lifestyle. No matter what, you need two refined skirts and four tops to go with them for Shabbat, Yom Tov, and special events. If you work outside your home, you’ll need one more refined skirt and one to two extra tops plus a denim skirt for weekday casual and dressy casual. If you don’t work outside your home, then you won’t need that extra refined skirt, but you’ll need an extra casual skirt. Focus on what you absolutely need.
Try to shop in brick-and-mortar stores where you can try things on before buying. Maternity stores may have tummy pillows you can use for try-ons to make sure that everything will fit even when you’re huge. Just in case, bring along something to tuck under the clothes to make sure you get the right fit. The clothes need to last until you give birth and they have to fit. If you’re shopping online, try to avoid any sites that don’t allow easy returns. When the items arrive, try them on immediately and return whatever doesn’t fit. It’s okay if your maternity clothes are a little big when you’re just starting to show because you haven’t grown into them yet, but use a tummy pillow and make sure that you can grow into them.
You may need new shoes during pregnancy. My feet swelled a bit and at least one pair of my regular shoes didn’t fit me. If you do need to buy new shoes, go with one pair of real shoes, preferably with just a little heel, and one pair of casual shoes like sneakers. But this may not be necessary, so don’t buy new shoes unless you do need them.
You definitely will need new unmentionables here. However, you just have to go up one or two sizes and you don’t have to get maternity versions. But make sure you get good fit and support because you’ll need it.
Once you have what you need, I’ll tell you what to do with it.
To be continued…