Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maternity Style: Starting Out

I recently received a question from a reader!  This is very exciting, since I usually have to make up questions and pretend they are from readers in order to facilitate a blog post.

Jessica wrote:

I'm a newly pregnant (10 weeks-ish) gal who works in a very professional setting (suits most days) and I'm panicking about what to wear in these early months of pregnancy.  I don't know if you have any good ideas for outfits or somewhat inexpensive pieces that could help me in these first few months... or even later.  I figure I can wear a lot of my jackets open, but my current style is to wear fitted/belted tops, so I'm worried nothing will work.  Any ideas would be so much appreciated...

So...here goes nothing.


First, of all, congratulations!  Second of all, I feel your pain, early pregnancy is an awkward and confusing time for fashion, much like the early 90's (not really 80's neon, but not yet grunge).  When you are newly pregnant, you feel more pregnant than you look.  You don't want to spend a ton of money on new clothes for a baby bump that's not really there, but your regular clothes are starting to get tight in all the wrong places.  For work, this was doubly tricky since button downs were the first item of clothing that I outgrew, owing in part to the extra pound or two parked in my bra from the moment of conception.  Here's a trick though: it's worth investing in a few items to extend your pre-pregnancy wardrobe and carry you through the rest of the baby making process in style.  So, here are my recommendations:

The first order of business is to get a Bellaband.  This stretchy tube was an absolute godsend to me for the first half of my pregnancy.  It allows you to continue to wear your pre-pregnancy pants while your belly grows.  I wore mine nonstop until week 24 or so, when it finally became necessary to switch to full time maternity pants.  It will also increase your top wardrobe because it adds an extra couple of inches underneath your shirts.  It will look like you layered a long tank top under your regular shirt.

Here are two outfit ideas for pants you may already own with the Bellaband.  

Maternity Style: Starting Out

I would comb through your closet and pull out any thin and stretchy knits that you think you can comfortably wear at work.  I love the look of a knit under a suit jacket as opposed to a button down and the stretch will carry you through the next few weeks.  Also, I would recommend investing in a thin belt.  I like metallic, but get down with your gestating self and go for a color too.  The key here is to create a waist as your natural waist disappears as you get more and more pregnant, so belt it a little higher than normal, just under your ribs.

The second outfit involves a looser fitting blouse that swings away at the bottom.  If you have something like this already, awesome.  If not, it's worth the investment because you wear it after you have the baby (the dreaded fourth trimester) or tucked into a skirt.  I think it looks really cute with a cigarette pant and a fun printed shoe, plus a colored statement necklace.  Necklaces become your best friends during pregnancy since they draw the eye up to your kick ass cleavage.

Maternity Style: Starting Out 2

After the Bellaband, I recommend that you to invest in a black pencil skirt.  I had two, one higher waisted and one that stayed low under the bump, and I loved both.  They were perfect for early pregnancy in particular because they were just kind of stretchy, which allowed me to wear them high waisted and tuck in shirts, then pretend I had just eaten a lot at lunch (the Chipotle burrito-baby effect).  Or, I would wear an untucked blouse layered over the skirt and belt over the blouse.  I was able to continue to wear them throughout the pregnancy with longer maternity tops and after Reese was born.  Since you are going to be whittling down your wardrobe to basic colors, fun shoes are a must.  

The other item of clothing you should make your bestie is a sheath dress.  I was surprised to find that many of my dresses had a little stretch in them already and made the transition to full on maternity pretty easily, as would this LOFT dress.  After the sixth or seventh month, I found that regular dresses would pull up in the front, which is kind of weird looking...which is also why I don't like the asymmetric look that is dying a slow death this summer.  

If you are willing to invest, I cannot recommend More of Me enough.  This sheath looks fabulous and would last you your whole pregnancy. I think that a cute bump under a dress is a nice look when carefully balanced with a fun scarf or, again, the statement necklace.  What's also nice about this look is that you have a lot going on on top, so you can balance it by wearing flats...which you will want to do sooner than you think.

The last note I'll give you is on jackets.  In the beginning, you will probably be able to wear your regular suit jackets and blazers unbuttoned.  However, as you progress, your back and rib cage will likely expand to accommodate the baby (joy!) and the jackets will get tight.  I firmly believe that pregnant women are allowed to be a little more casual than the average professional and I think that a cardigan can stand in nicely for a jacket.  If you feel that a jacket is absolutely necessary, I recommend buying a real maternity jacket like the one above from Olian.  Again, you might not need it for a while, but the number of times you'll wear it will make it worth the cost.

For shopping, I recommend ASOS and Topshop for fun and interesting maternity clothes you might not find elsewhere.  ASOS is inexpensive and offers free shipping/returns and Topshop has lots of maternity versions of their regular clothes.  After that, I would stake out some of the better maternity boutiques online, like Rosie Pope, Figure 8 Maternity and Belly Dance for sales and investment pieces.

Again, investing in a few key items  and some new accessories early on can extend your current wardrobe as you ease into pregnancy.  I think it makes you less likely to go crazy later when absolutely nothing fits and end buying a whole new wardrobe.  Hope that helps!

Anyone else with any tips?  Favorite maternity pieces? Questions for me?  I'm on a roll!


  1. Style constantly evolves and maternity clothing is no different. Being pregnant is a time of celebration and a new experience for first time mothers, so there is lots to be learned and one of those lessons is to get the right pregnancy clothes from the start.

  2. I'm 34 weeks and experienced a very similar conundrum -- i.e., I used to wear tucked in/belted blouses with pencil skirt suits every day and then my waist went kablooey -- so I have a lot to add to this conversation...

    The bottom line is that you *will* (whether you admit it to yourself now or rush to a maternity store one random weeknight in a few months to drop a solid $300-400) need to invest in a few key pieces. So my suggestion is to breakdown early, invest, and get as much wear out of them as possible.

    In early pregnancy, maternity clothes are not all that necessary. I personally hated the belly band but found that many of my high waisted skirts (that fit over my buldge) and blousier tops/longer knit shells worked well. Instead of tucking in the tops (as I normally would), I left them untucked and added a cardigan and a statement necklace (PS statement necklaces are about to become your best friend). The belting suggestion is also a good one for the first few months. If I had a client meeting, I added a blazer or jacket. This looked surprising put together and worked until half-way through month five.

    As soon as I hit 22 weeks, the high waisted skirts stop fitting and knew I had to cave and buy maternity clothes. It is at this point that I can’t recommend enough just biting the bullet and purchasing all of the essentials and I completely agree with caphill barbie's suggestions.
    **as an aside: as you grow, you will wear the same few pieces over and over and over again. Spare your regular clothes and substitute in some work horses. Take it from me, you don’t want to ruin your favorite silk blouse that miraculously still fits because you wear it every week**

    The essentials for a working preggo are...
    _Bottoms_ a black pencil skirt, a pair of slacks (in black, grey, or navy), and a pair of cropped black dress pants.
    _Tops_ a black shell, a colorful print blouse a white button up, and white and black camis.
    _Dresses_ Oh how you will love dresses. I purchased a black sheath and three faux wrap styles(two maternity and one not maternity but with exceptional give).

    Then get creative my friend. I've found that statement jewelry adds a surprising amount of polish. I've also relied heavily on my already established collections of jackets and shoes (you will have some that you grow out of but many that still fit) to add some style. Finally, on those days I just can't stand my vastly reduced wardrobe, I wear a big/chunky necklace and all black. This always makes me feel put together.

    Two final notes:
    1) Set up an ebay alert for ASOS maternity. I've continually added pieces (a bright top here, a more casual dress there) along the way and purchased them for next to nothing.
    2) Buy workout clothes. A pair of black cropped pants (which you can also wear as leggings) and a couple of tops should do the trick. If you have these clothes you will be much more likely to hit the gym/get outside and you will, resultantly, have an easier and healthier pregnancy.

    Phew! Sorry for the brain dump but these are all things I *really* wish I would have known 24 weeks ago...


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