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.
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.
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.