Creating the essential and sustainable maternity capsule wardrobe
Pregnancy only lasts 9 months, right? And 2020 has been mostly spent at home, 2021 might be no better. So why bother with a maternity wardrobe at all - a natural temptation could be to try to make do with some oversize t-shirts and pajama pants? Just don't go there. Please! For your mental health and sense of self, I urge you not to go down that route!
Being pregnant comes with a whole ton of changes, both emotionally and physically. Some women get lucky and sail through feeling great the whole time, but if you are enduring any of the normal effects like nausea, constipation, swollen feet and legs, skin eruptions, depression and mood swings, then you deserve to do whatever you can to help you feel better and make your pregnancy as bearable as possible. What you wear affects your mood and how you feel about yourself, so having at least the essential maternity basics can help you feel a bit better through the pregnancy rollercoaster.
The other thing is, the need for adapted clothing doesn’t stop when baby pops out. You’ve got, on average, up to 9 months post partum while your body and your life adjusts to new realities. So from that perspective, you are looking for some key wardrobe pieces that can see you through at least a year, that is 4 seasons worth of clothing! If you get it right, those pieces are pretty much guaranteed to be worn at least 30 times, so already you would be looking at an excellent cost per wear and a better justification of the environmental cost of those items.
On that note, it really is worth making sure the pieces you buy can cope with being washed and worn many many times, especially if you want to avoid looking like you are dressed in rags by the end.
A major issue I have with maternity wear (and fashion in general) is the lack of sustainable options. There is a definite gap in the market for stylish, sustainable and reasonably priced clothing, especially in the Maternity niche, but I will do my best here to pick out the items I think all future mamas need to see them through 4 trimesters and then some!
First off, it is a great idea to look for pieces designed for both pregnancy and breastfeeding – assuming that is your plan – and there are several brands that specialise in this, including Boob Design (from Sweden) and Milker (from Denmark), both of whom also focus on sustainable and ethical production practices. Several maternity designers are now much more sustainable, prioritising organic fabrics, using more sustainable textiles such as Bamboo or Lyocell, focusing on Oeko-Tex fabrics to avoid harmful chemicals. Some have also started incorporating recycled textiles into their ranges. If you are interested to know more, get in touch with me (it will also be the subject of a future blog post).
Secondly, don’t just buy your regular clothes in a larger size. They won’t fit right. Maternity clothes are cut differently – for example tops and dresses can be slightly longer or scalloped at the front to accommodate a full 9 month bump without rising up. There are some styles and shapes of non-maternity clothes you can get away with, which I will cover below. But generally, it is well worth investing in a few key pieces to get you through this pregnancy (and future ones!).
The 10 staple pieces I think you need for a good maternity capsule are the following:
1. Jumpsuits – stretchy, stylish, ideally designed for wearing after birth and adapted for feeding. The Mayfair jumpsuit from Legoe is brilliant for this. A super soft and stretchy viscose jersey, with side seam pockets, and a basic round neckline, it zips up the back, plus has zips on each side under the arms for breastfeeding. This jumpsuit can be styled in so many ways, and is great for all seasons, as you can layer up for cooler weather or wear as is. Here are a few different styling suggestions.
Layer it up for Autumn with a base-layer long sleeve tee, such as Boob Design's Classic version, and shop your wardrobe for a stylish blazer, chic flats and a fab handbag. Or glam it up with a sequined jacket, like the vintage one shown here from BonBonVintageParis.
2. Maternity Jeans – make sure they have some stretch, and ideally an adjustable waistband as well as the belly band, to cope with your hips and bum changing shape as well as accommodating your growing bump. An adjustable waistaband means you can continue to use them after pregnancy too.
A comfortable option to go for are pull-on Jeggings, like these ones made with repreve denim, from Pietro Brunelli. These will be coming soon to Aka+Pip!
Repreve is an innovative project to recycle plastic bottles into a range of fabrics, learn more here
3. Dresses – while for summer you can often get away with a maxi dress or loose fitting style, this doesn’t suit everyone and can end up looking like an enormous tent! If that is your case, invest in at least one lovely dress you feel great in. My personal favourite is the Plisse dress by Monamoon. It's innovative waterfall plisse fabric means it exapnds and contracts to a range of body shapes while always looking amazing. Even without a bump, you can wear loose or pop a thin belt around the waist, no one would ever know it is a maternity piece.
Best of all, you can scrunch it up in your holiday bag when travelling, and it comes out ready to wear!
For winter, again if you have the right shape, a non-maternity stretch jumper dress might do the trick, though these are also available in a maternity cut. Otherwise, my top picks for winter day-wear dresses are here.
Alba faux leather and punto dress by Attesa maternity, coming soon to Aka+Pip's winter collection
Glynn dress by Pietro Brunelli, available to rent here
4. Skirts – an elasticated waist pleated skirt, even non-maternity, will go a long way. Just note that non-maternity ones will sit high at the front if you want to wear over the bump, while these ones are designed with the bump in mind, giving a subtle dip at the front to minimise it riding high when worn over the bump.
Imma Skirt by Pietro Brunelli - available soon on Aka+Pip
5. Leggings – totally essential and you may live in them, so invest in some hard wearing quality ones that give support to your tired legs and back – Boob’s Once On Never Off ones are great, and American brand GLOW is also supposed to be incredible.
7. Outerwear: A chunky maternity cardigan is a must have – even though your bump gives you a form of personal central heating, there are still many days when you want to cosy up with knitwear that will actually cover your bump. I love this Sasha drape front cardigan from Attesa, as it can be worn in a number of ways thanks to an innovative magnet clasp concealed in the shoulder.
Also the belted knit "Marisa" jacket is fabulous, since it can be closed over your bump, or belted each side to show off your bump in chic style too. Both of these will be available very soon to rent in our winter collection.
8. A maternity sweater or sweatshirt is also a key piece for layering and keeping your bump snug in style.
9. A pair of super comfortable but chic pants such as a wide-leg linen or light-weight wool trousers, or a dressy version of cargo pants are the final must-have. You can continue to wear these post pregnancy if, like with the jeans, you opt for ones with an adjustable waistband and if they have an over-the bump band, consider tucking this down under the trousers so you can wear more fitted tops once your bump has gone. These faux leather ones from Attesa, or the ultra chic Paris Wide Leg pant from Monamoon exclusive to Aka+Pip members) are great options.
Fre Faux Leather pants from Attesa, available soon in our winter collection!
10. Underwear: you will most likely need to change bra sizes a couple of times through pregnancy and afterwards, so don’t buy too much up front.
In terms of non-maternity staples, these are the great things you can happily shop your wardrobe for, or treat yourself to something in your usual size and wear for as long as you want:
- a shirt can be worn in a number of ways: as a jacket, knotted over the bump, loose with leggings, tucked in to jeans or skirt… this is one item you can probably get away with shopping your wardrobe for, or buying a size bigger (and the oversized shirt is on-trend right now).
- A blazer or jacket – invest in a high-quality timeless cut and you could wear it for at least 15 years!
- Cardigans – very now: cropped, maxi, chunky, sleek, these are perfect for layering up and creating new looks.
- Winter coat – although having a maternity winter coat is essential if you live in a cold climate, for many of us, it is more of a luxury, so it can definitely be an option to layer your go-to coat with some clever wrap/scarf work to see you through. This is also an item you can consider renting just for the months you need it, rather than purchasing.
It is also possible to get away with only buying your most intimate items – leggings, camis, underwear, and rent the rest of your maternity wardrobe with Aka+Pip. This gives you the benefit of greater freedom to choose just the items you like and want to wear, when you want to wear them! You would not be committing to any investment pieces, no risk of “buyer’s remorse”, no need to find space in your wardrobe to store them long term. You would not get sick and tired of wearing the same things over and over. Someone else takes care of the cleaning each month, and it is more sustainable. Take a look at our rental packages to see if there is an option that is right for you: Aka+Pip Rental Packages