Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Dress to Impress – My Bump Essentials for Comfort and Style

At the start of my pregnancy I declared that I would not be splurging on expensive, short-term maternity clothes. I planned to get maximum mileage out of my regular wardrobe, and thanks to A-line shirts and dresses and my drawer of sweat pants aka jogging bottoms, I have.

But as I’m now learning at the outset of my third trimester, non-maternity clothes only go, or stretch, so far. Some of my dresses no longer zip up at the side or are pulled so taught across my belly that they’re riding up at the front and back and look a little too escort-like for my tastes. My swimming tankini stopped being practical when my bump protruded from the bottom and boobs spilled over the top. Many of my longer, looser shirts started looking tighter and exposed the line of the belly band beneath holding my jeans in place. In short, it wasn’t pretty, or comfortable.

I have no problem headlining a basketball bump at my front day in and day out but I want to do it with some style, comfort and grace. I’m no fashion guru – I like what I like and what fits my shape and frequently see my clothes come in and out of “style” – but I know when I am confident and comfortable in what I’m wearing I feel much better.

So what’s a girl to do when she doesn’t want to break the bank but simultaneously avoid the mad whirlwind panic that is getting dressed each morning when nothing seems to fit anymore?

Don’t lose faith in your non-maternity wardrobe – take time to try on your clothes and make a mental note of the larger pieces that still fit your bump.

Borrow maternity clothes off a post-pregnant friend of a similar size and shape to you – a green and cost saving route.

Expand your wardrobe, but buy smart. Who cares if you need to wear the same 5 outfits each week?– if you choose versatile items that compliment your bump shape, they'll actually fit you and you can wear them like superstar and in varied combinations!  

I’m in no way omniscient in this area, but here are my top 11 maternity must-haves, all of which are available in high street to designer ranges depending on your budget.  It's taken me some time to sift through the maternity clothes mire to arrive at this list and hope it saves you some time and hassle if you're bump calls for a maternity wardrobe:
  • Belly Band: These bands will prolong the life of your jeans and work trousers and save you buying an arsenal of bump jeans etc. I used mine from around 20 weeks onwards. Yes, they can be slightly fiddly and you may need to fold them over but they’ll save you money and they hold up your pants. I bought a couple of Baby Be Mine Belly Bands off Amazon but Topshop also sells them for a fiver.
  • Bump Jeans: I invested in one pair of over the bump jeans from Mothercare so I don’t always have to mess around with my belly band. They weren’t overly pricey and there is no chance that they might slip down. The only drawback to them is that the elastic at the top of the band sometimes digs into my stomach, a problem I only see being exacerbated as bump grows. Folding the top elastic part over once minimizes the “rub.”
  • Bump Black Trousers: I just got one pair of these in the USA. My belly bands still work but I found a soft, stretchy, lightweight and relatively inexpensive pair that looks stylish and is just really comfortable and effortless, particularly with bump on the rise!
  • Sweat pants (jogging bottoms) or loose PJ bottoms: Anything with tight elastic at the top won’t suit but soft, stretchy, cotton numbers already in your closet are free and work like a charm. They fit over bump without leaving too much of an indentation on your stomach and you don’t get the feeling you’re stretching them out because they were already loose and stretchy pre-pregnancy anyway. 
  • Black Maternity Leggings: I’m still wearing a lot of my old tights but they recently started to feel like a bump corset. I just picked up black, opaque maternity leggings that ease over my bump and can be worn with a dress or long top without looking too skimpy. And unlike skinny jeans I don’t have to make any effort to tuck them into my boots.
  • A Maternity Bra that Fits (or a few): I’ve heard that boobs only get bigger when breastfeeding so it’s best not to splurge on bras too soon in pregnancy. Then again, bra spillage just isn’t on! Until now I managed to get by with some of my larger pre-pregnancy bras (but only about 3 still fit) and a couple of maternity bras from Mothercare. Last week in the USA I also picked up a Pea in the Pod nursing bra that I can wear now and hopefully to nurse when baby arrives, giving bigger bang for the buck! Mama E also suggested Bravissimo, whose lingerie is really pretty!
  • A Cute Dress: Look for a dress, maternity or non-maternity that can be "dressed up" for work or an evening out or "down" for daily use. To me dresses equal feminine style and comfort all around but watch out for cuts that are too loose and bag-like or that have funny seams at the middle. I picked up an A-line £15 dress in the Brick Lane Market that works and have my eye on pieces like this from Jo Jo Maman Bebe and New Look.
  • Long Sweater or Cardigan that covers your bump: My mom just bought me two of these (thank you mom) and they are amazing! I will now retire my hot "short cardigan with long shirt hanging out the back" look; these maternity sweaters are better fitting, warmer and much more flattering. They can be layered with almost anything and I've already worn both a few times and only got them last week.  There are tons going on Ebay - don't overlook the power of recycled mat-wear!
  • Night gown: I tend to be a shorts and tank top or PJs kind of girl but my regular bed-wear is no longer fitting plus my bump feels like an inbuilt radiator. I just got a cute red night dress that is also an easy access nursing gown for when the little lady arrives.  It’s cooler and more comfortable through the night and also great to pad around the house in! It wasn't the cheapest on the market but I plan to get a lot of use out of it now and with baby.
  • Long top (or two): You have many a store, online auction, cut and style to choose from but look for a couple of pieces that go with your jeans, your black pants and your leggings and can be layered with your long cardigan. Don’t overlook long, loose or A-line tops that you might already have but if they stop fitting, a small but smart investment in a maternity top can go a long way.
  • Maternity Swimsuit: Only helpful if you’re going to actually swim, but since I do I now can without looking scary a la a swimsuit from Vertbaudet. (If you sign up to their mailing list you'll be inundated with coupons but I got £10 off this purchase so they're worth sifting through).
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