Making the most of your maternity wardrobe

One thing you quickly realise when pregnant is that the simple act of getting dressed each day gets harder and harder as your body changes shape. In the early days, you can get away with your pre-pregnancy style and carry on wearing your regular clothes, maybe with a baggy top and a button undone. But after about 12weeks, that quickly becomes uncomfortable, as well as less feasible if you gain weight anywhere other than on the bump.

Trying to ‘make do’ and avoid pregnancy clothing can rapidly suck the joy out of getting dressed. Blogger LilyPebbles.co.uk shared her dilemma during pregnancy “Getting dressed felt just like a way of avoiding being naked”, and “Floating through pregnancy wearing old, oversized clothes was a) not going to make me feel great b) be quite tricky with my job.” Dressing well through your pregnancy is not just about vanity, or being instagrammable. And it’s not just about ‘avoiding being naked’. How you dress affects how you feel, it can boost your confidence, help you to feel relaxed and happy and good about yourself and your pregnancy. And it absolutely influences how other people perceive you, whether you like it or not. So even though you only have 6 months or so of time where you really need a well-adapted wardrobe, it is worth the effort to change over your wardrobe to one that is designed for your new shape.

Buying maternity clothes quickly gets expensive and, with more of it pushed online and less opportunity to try before you buy, it becomes a bit of a lottery with fit and styling, and the whole hassle of returning the items that don’t work. So here are my top recommendations for dressing well without spending crazy amounts of money, time and effort.

  • Invest in the essentials. Buy yourself really good underwear: my skin was super sensitive during pregnancy, so I couldn’t stand underwired bras, and could only wear cotton. This meant finding well-constructed, comfortable bras that were also designed for breastfeeding. One brand that I think has great looking, reasonably priced bras is cachecoeurlingerie.com (note this is personal opinion – I don’t get any benefit from mentioning this brand!), and they do a range in organic cotton. 
  • Do buy some super comfortable maternity jeans that adjust to your size, maternity leggings, and a couple of tops that are adapted for breastfeeding and that look fab with or without a bump. You will spend a lot of time wearing these, so it is worth ensuring that a) you love them and b) they have the quality to withstand constant washing.
  • You can reduce the boredom with your wardrobe by swapping with friends, assuming you share sizes and seasons for your pregnancies! In my experience, this was great for 1 or 2 items to extend my wardrobe (and theirs!). The main thing we struggled with was that so much of our pregnancy clothing was already so heavily worn, most of it was too tired and ragged to share.
  • Second hand sales can be a great source as well – though often this is limited to more ‘special occasion’ items that suffer less wear and tear.

Something that often comes as a nasty surprise is that you need clothing that works for you after the baby arrives too. It takes time for your body to go back to it’s pre-pregnancy shape (some say, “9 months on, 9 months” off for the weight changes), and it can be a real shock to realise that you may still be wearing your maternity clothes for another few months. Honestly, by the time the baby comes out, you are generally fed up with the same old pieces you have been wearing throughout pregnancy and can’t wait to bin it all. But fitting straight back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe is not an option for most people, and the first few months of early parenthood can be a depressing state of over-stretched leggings and baggy t-shirts. When you are grappling with the exhaustion and identity crisis of being a new parent, the last thing you need is your lack of something to wear dragging you down as well.

A brilliant solution to access great looking clothing with fantastic quality that is new or lightly-worn, is to rent it. Renting has so many benefits:

  • you can access the latest styles and best designs for a fraction of the cost of buying
  • during pregnancy, you benefit from clothes that are specifically adapted to pregnancy and breastfeeding, and are guaranteed to be comfortable and fit well
  • post-pregnancy, you can access gorgeous styles that help you feel good, guilt-free and without buying for your temporary ‘in between’ size
  • renting gives you the opportunity to experiment more with styles at low risk
  • the clothes are guaranteed a life after you have worn them, reducing the environmental impact.you don’t clutter your wardrobe with clothes you will only wear a few times
  • the clothes are guaranteed a life after you have worn them, reducing the environmental impact.

The number of clothing rental offers is growing rapidly, especially for luxury or special occasion clothing, such as Panoply in France, Hire Street and Hurr Collective in UK, and of course the biggest one of all, Rent the Runway in the US, which also provides great looks for everyday wear too. Maternity rental options are – like much maternity clothing – less well represented. This is one of the many reasons we launched Rocket&PiP. We want to bring fabulously designed, well crafted maternity clothing into the lives of all style-conscious pregnant women across Europe in an accessible and sustainable way.