September 12, 2012

Designer Maternity Brands Reviewed: Part 1 (More of Me Maternity)

The most frustrating thing about dedicating one's ancillary budget toward maternity clothing is that you know its use-value is temporary. My typical rationale of evaluating the "cost-per-wear" really goes out the window if the period of time during which I can wear something is constrained by biology. But knowledge of the impracticality of an "investment" pregnancy wardrobe doesn't mean I don't want to look like myself just as being pregnant doesn't mean I've stopped caring about clothes.

I've tried to make a lot of non-pregnancy clothes work with mixed results. Sadly, my favorite tent dresses that I had hoped would still fit became too short once a belly was "Winnie-the-Poohing" everything upwards. But jersey knits have been fantastic. Do I think I can command a classroom wearing cotton t-shirt maxi dresses from the Gap? Not really. And definitely not for an entire semester. So in my final days of summer break, I began cobbling together a "pregnant professor" wardrobe to ease my anxieties about being in front of a bunch of post-adolescents with a visible bump. So far, things have gone well. I didn't anticipate how much more easily I would feel out of breath while lecturing and moving around. But I think I look the part of prof through my occasional huffs and puffs.

Recently, Amazon has been running decent clearance sales on some fancy maternity clothes that seem campus-friendly. I also happened to have a 20% off clothing coupon (given when you opt in to receive their clothing emails), so with free Prime shipping and free returns the risk of ordering some new duds seemed low. I picked some clothes from a variety of unfamiliar but supposedly reputable maternity designers. I will be going through each brand in separate posts over the next few days and hope it isn't too much drudgery for the non-pregnant crowd. I put the first review of the above dress under a cut for that reason.

The one really good thing about maternity clothes being a temporary necessity is that A LOT of people sell off what they bought on ebay or in consignment stores once they are done with pregnancy. So there are deals to be found if you are willing to search the secondhand marketplace in addition to sale stalking.

A caveat*: of course everyone "carries" differently so my suggestions regarding the periods of time during pregnancy when these garments will be useful will vary depending on your own belly. I am currently in the beginning of my third trimester of pregnancy. The dresses I am keeping are ones that I believe will fit me through parts of the third trimester and into postpartum (nursing) times.

(See photo at the top of the entry)

1. More of Me Maternity printed faux wrap dress; Made in the US (cool!); rayon and spandex (ugh!)
For a dress that retails for $150 (marked down to $50 on Amazon, $40 after coupon), you'd think a lady could get some natural fibers! Sadly, synthetics dominate the market for maternity clothes. Even some of the expensive ones. I'm not sure why this is the case. It could be because of their machine-wash friendliness, their inherent stretchiness, or because the transition prepares previously discerning textile fans to brace themselves for the future impracticality of being a new mom with a wardrobe dominated by dry-clean-only silks, wools, cashmere, etc. Whatever the reason, I have decided to shelve my previous (and really, only occasional) fabric snobbery and embrace the poly blend.

Above, I am wearing a size large and I find it to run a little small in the bust but otherwise very true to size and comfortable. It is stretchy and soft. The finish of the fabric is an unshiny matte. It's print is unique and fun. I could see this working for a baby shower or a dinner date as well as the classroom (with a camisole to cover cleavage). I do have it pinned in the photos to minimize cleavage and might put a stitch into the bodice to keep things closed more permanently. But that is just my personal preference. It is a faux wrap so you don't have to fear any Marilyn Monroe (but ya know, pregnant) moments from strong gusts.

You can see the faux wrapness on the left. On the right is another dress I'll be reviewing in this series.

Other than bloggers' maternity series and reviews, I've also had a lot of luck looking at maternity boutiques. Tomorrow I'll be talking about BellaBlu Maternity which has a great selection of brands. I also found this helpful brand guidance chart on an Australian maternity retailer's site called Queen Bee.


Phlegm55 said...


sookie said...

How did you find these great dresses?! I spent my whole pregnancy in four Old Navy dresses (sigh). BTW, I think rayon gets a bad rap... it's not exactly a synthetic fiber like polyester. It's actually produced from naturally occurring polymers (wood cellulose); though it does have to be heavily processed, it is considered somewhere between a natural and a synthetic because of its natural origins, and also has many properties we associate with fibers like cotton and silk. I'm not a fabric specialist but researched it once out of curiosity. :)

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Don't get me wrong... Old Navy, Gap, and Target offer plenty of decent options. I just noticed that their full prices aren't that far off from clearance or secondhand "designer" maternity brands. It's sort of my same attitude with straight sized clothing... If I can get a cool, unique See by ChloƩ dress for the same price on ebay as a full price dress from J. Crew, why not seek out the piece that is a little off the beaten path? You're totally right about synthetics. I admit that I was spoiled when the price of silks was lower than it has been of late. And I don't know a lot about the newer blends but they feel and breathe much better than I expected! Thanks so much for reading!


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