Sunday, May 29, 2011

Maternity clothes shopping: jackpots and pitfalls

Maternity clothes. Who would have thought that they would merit an entire post all to themselves. But given the amount of energy (and money) I have spent on them so far in the few weeks I have been wearing them- I figured it was worth a post.

Here's the deal- I have a love-hate relationship with them.

I love them for their elastic waistbands, and because anything even remotely restrictive around my mid-section is uncomfortable.

But that is about it.

There has been so much (so far) that I have disliked about them (mainly talking pants here).

Some of this utter disdain has been that I am not much of a clothes shopper to begin with. AND being tall and not slender I have a hard time finding clothes that fit. So I've liked routine- I have a couple of stores -some online, some brick & mortar, that I know what sizes I wear, I like their styles, they carry long lengths, and I stick with that. I also don't like spending much money on clothes. And I have little confidence in my fashion sense. Put all that together, and shopping for clothes pre-pregnancy was not my cup of tea.

Insert growing, changing mid-section that is trying to become a belly. Add in that I wanted to hide growing bulge earlier in the pregnancy from co-workers (which turned out to be unnecessary as they were clueless as it turned out). And the shocking fact that the body expands in unsuspecting places where I can guarantee there is no baby growing. And finding the right fit has been hard. frustrating. and many a hair has been pulled out. and a few tears shed. (blame the hormones.)

But this weekend, I feel like I hit the jackpot of maternity clothes-

First the Pitfalls I've found so far:
Cheap clothes- As brand names have never mattered to me, early on, my penny pincher side of me, ordered several pairs of pants from a cheap online department store (that carried pants in long lengths). And I haven't been happy in them- I feel frumpy all the time. They feel awkward on me. And they have not washed well AT all the few times I have washed them. I finally out of desperation ordered more expensive pants AND I stumbled across some more expensive brands at a consignment store (more on this later). And the fit and quality is SO much better. I actually feel like my regular quasi-put together self, rather than the frumpy mess I have felt like so far this pregnancy. So, I've decided that in the case of making this pregnancy lady happy, a few expensive pants are a small price to pay. (Note, by expensive I mean $60-70 a pair. That is what I consider "expensive")

Buying clothes in advance- I was forewarned of this, that buying clothes in advance, prior to when you need them can be problematic as they may not fit the same when you get around to wearing them. And this has been true for me. It is so hard to judge how much "breathing room" to leave when buying clothes and how this will fit several weeks from now. It just feels like the body is reconfiguring itself. (Sigh...) So as much as possible, I am buying as I need it.

Cost- I hadn't anticipated what I would be spending on maternity wardrobe. Even though I think I have been a very good budget shopper and kept to the essentials, it has been a bit surprising the amount spent. (not to mention the amount of TIME spend shopping- online, in the stores, trying on, returning clothes, etc.) Bras, underwear, layering tank tops, dress clothes, casual clothes. It doesn't help the checkbook that I have to dress professionally or quasi-professionally at work 5 days a week and that this pregnancy straddles three seasons. Ouch.

But I've also hit the Jackpot in a few ways:

Ordering a lot at a time online- Given I have only been able to find the length of inseam that I need online, I've resorted to ordering a lot of clothes in many different sizes and styles all at once. Shipping is free, and then I return what I don't like/want to the store or by mail and only usually keep 1-2 items. The small cost of shipping or time spent has been worth it to me- especially given that I can't just walk into a store and buy pants that are long enough.

Consignment stores- As much as I love a good deal, I've never been a huge fan of thrift or consignment stores, only because again, I'm hard to fit. Hard enough in a real store with lots of options in lots of sizes, let alone in a consignment store when you get what you get. But out of desperation I checked out a store this weekend that I heard had maternity. And I lucked out. It is as if a women my size, my height, my build, walked in with her entire wardrobe to be consigned (and I think that actually happened). There was no other long inseams, except in my size. I found pants after pants after pants in exactly my size (and some with breathing room, just in case). Everything was under $10 each. So I came home with capris, jeans, and dress pants in a variety of colors (mostly brand names). And a few cheap pretty much brand new tops. Score!

Transition shirts- While I have worn one or two maternity tops a couple of times, it isn't really because I NEED them yet. More so, I wear them when I want to look prego. Something about the empire waists screams "this women is pregnant." And occasionally I have felt like showing it off. But mostly, I still like a little bit of discreetness. So I have been wearing a handful of tops I have purchased in the last month that I call my "transition tops." They give my more room and typically have more length to them then my regular shirts did, but aren't specially maternity. We'll see how fast I grow, but I bet I will get quite a bit more time out of these shirts.

Again, who knows what will grow and how fast in the coming months, but I think I have enough of the essentials in my wardrobe(except for maybe one more bra) to be done shopping for quite some time. We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. I also ordered things in advance and on sale, thinking that was so brilliant. HA! I wish someone had warned me ahead of time.

    The only store I've had any kind of luck with is Mother.hood Maternity or Pea in the P.od. However, I'm on the shorter side so I can see that if you're taller, things would be difficult.

    The elastic though is pretty cool. :)