When I was six months pregnant, I remember coming out of the dressing room of a popular maternity clothes store wearing a denim mini-skirt and a big baby doll top, and my mother exclaimed, "Oh, no. Take that off. You can't wear that, especially not to work!" At the time I was working as a college professor, and wouldn't have worn a denim mini-skirt prior to being pregnant. What made me think I could wear one then?
Like the license to eat what we want when pregnant, women at this stage of their life often feel we can wear anything marketed as maternity clothes. However, not all maternity clothes are appropriate for the workplace. In fact, the challenge for pregnant women is to maintain a fashionable style without going broke purchasing a new high-end maternity wardrobe.
Keep these smart shopping tips in mind when choosing maternity clothes for work:
Find Ways to Keep Wearing Your Clothes
Leaving the top button undone of your jeans or pants is fine when you use an elastic band or safety pin to hold them up. You can also invest in a Bella Band, which is an elastic band that can be worn throughout your pregnancy to help keep your pants from sagging down (great invention and a huge money saver).
Buy Clothes That Will Grow With Your Body
In the first few months of pregnancy you have no idea how your weight gain will progress throughout the coming nine months.
Therefore, buying maternity clothes at the outset isn't wise. Instead, buy skirts and pants with elastic waistbands that will give you the longest wearing time.
You will, however, wake up one day ready to put on your stretchy black pants, and they simply won't fit. Many pregnant women will try to get more wear out of these items, but you need to know when to put that pair of pants in the box for use during your next pregnancy.
Invest in Wardrobe Staples
With many high-end designers making their own lines of maternity wear, it's tempting to buy trendy maternity clothes, especially for work. However, any smart fashionista will tell you try to resist this temptation, and stick with stocking your pregnancy closet with wardrobe staples.
Buy black, gray and/or brown pants, then use accessories and different tops to vary your daily attire. If your job calls for business attire, buy a basic dress that can be worn to work, as well as out to dinner. Invest in one suit jacket. Basic, non-trendy clothing also will come in handy if you plan to get pregnant again in the future.
Maternity clothes can become very expensive -- especially because you won't be wearing some of these items for more than three months. Therefore, don't invest your entire maternity clothes budget in one designer suit. With so many maternity clothing designers today, you can price shop and still get decent apparel. In fact, many discount retailers, like Target, carry maternity clothes or Zulily.
Buy As You Go
Because your size can change drastically from one day to the next when you're pregnant, buy maternity clothes as you need them. Buying in advance, especially when there is a change of season coming up, isn't wise because you may jump up a size, and never get to wear some items.
(For this reason, always check a retailer's return policy for unworn maternity clothing).
Borrow from Friends or Buy Used
If you're one of those people who can't fathom going nine month with such a limited wardrobe, it pays to announce to friends, friends of friends, and colleagues that you're in the market for maternity clothing. Many women have maternity clothes boxed in their attic that can prove to be great maternity clothes finds for you that can help you vary your wardrobe. You can also find gently worn maternity clothes on Craigslist, Facebook Yard Sale pages or your local mommy listservs.
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory