7 Tips to Better Maternity Shopping for Clothes, Secondhand Style

maternity clothes

It’s that scary nightmare moment for pregnant women: the day the jeans no longer button up. But maternity shopping for clothes doesn’t have to be a step towards mom jeans.

Okay, the truth is, gaining pregnancy weight is not a nightmare. Well, not entirely. But it’s not exactly thrilling to look at a closet full of clothes you might never fit into again. I’ve heard stories. My midwife told me I can expect to see a half-size increase in my shoes, possibly permanently. These are expenses they don’t exactly tell you to calculate into the cost of raising a child.

Before I can even fantasize about new heels, or a new pair of (ahem) skinny jeans, I have several more months of making a bowling ball jutting out from my midsection look fashionable. In the dead of summer. Shorts? With these swollen ankles and incredibly cruel thighs?

And, of course, I’m trying to keep my pregnancy as eco-friendly as possible. My baby’s daddy is convinced I already own enough clothing to keep myself and our daughter well-styled for decades. “She’ll grow into it,” he says.

But, the truth is, despite my stockpile of clothing, few things actually fit over my belly. As a stay-at-home writer and editor, I have it pretty easy. My 5-mile daily walk or visit to the midwife hardly warrant expensive outfits. Still though, I can’t possibly wear my oversized AC/DC concert shirt everywhere, can I?

So, off I went to make the rounds at local thrift stores for my official maternity shopping. Here’s what I learned:

1. Avoid maternity shops: Even the secondhand ones. They’re generally overpriced, and they want to sell you items like those lovely jeans with the stretchy waistband that you’ll never ever wear after you’re done being pregnant. Some maternity shop salespeople can also make you feel a bit insecure about the way your body is holding the baby and distributing weight. Insecure women tend to overshop. You’ve got other things to worry about.

2. Buy secondhand: Even if you’re not normally a secondhand shopper, whether or not you’re going to ever wear an item again after your belly shrinks back and your thighs stop playing cruel games, you don’t have to spend a ton on new items. Shopping secondhand can take more time to find suitable items (they rarely organize by size), but hey, at the very least, all that walking from rack to rack and trying clothes on counts as exercise, I’m pretty sure. Besides, you’ll need that money later, trust me.

3. Look for multi-function items: Once the baby’s born, you’re a mom. That does not mean you have to dive into a minivan and buy those high-waisted mom jeans. But you might want to reconsider skirt length and heel height, just a tad. Some maternity suitable items can be worn long after the baby has come and gone. Think flowy dresses and skirts, stylish but loose tops. Can a baggy dress for now take on a new look with a belt later? Probably.

4. Buy for the entire pregnancy: You probably have to start maternity shopping by the beginning of your second trimester, when you’re still barely showing. Look for items that you can wear for the entire pregnancy, rather than just for a few more weeks. Loose fitting shirts and yoga-type pants with stretching waistbands are your friend.

5. Less is more: Even if you work in an office and have to dress professionally, it’s perfectly acceptable if your pregnancy wardrobe is significantly less varied than your normal wardrobe. Pick solid colors and simple patterns that aren’t too memorable, so when you do wear them frequently, it will be less noticeable.

6. Accessorize: Just because belts are now out of the question doesn’t mean you can’t dress up an outfit with a scarf or a piece of jewelry. Those little touches can make an outfit feel more fun and give you several ways to wear something.

7. Don’t try to hide: Early on you may look like you’ve just gained a bit of weight, and of course, the tendency is to hide that. If I’ve learned anything during my pregnancy it’s that as terrifying as this all is, I can do this—from the birth to the day she leaves home. Confidence is an ally in parenting, and that means starting by flaunting that belly, no matter how big or small—those cruel thighs, too.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Inhabitat

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.