On… a pregnancy uniform

Mazel! You’re pregnant. Now, what are you going to wear?

One of the worst things about being pregnant – after the throwing up, the insomnia, and for me last time I was pregnant, the crippling fucking anxiety – is the fashion. Someone lovely messaged me recently saying ‘I’m four months pregnant WHAT DO I WEAR’. I was like, oh, I feel you sister.

I detest (detested? Should I use past tense, given my pregnancy days are over? No, let’s use present tense, more fun) 98% of maternity clothes. I hate tight things across my belly. I hate leggings. I hate stretchy wrap dresses that strangle my giant preggers boobs. I hate cheap tops that say ‘BUN IN THE OVEN’ or ‘BABY ON BOARD!’ I hate them all.

But you have to wear something. You can’t just walk around naked the whole time… though actually I do (did?), quite a lot, just around the apartment. Fun fact: being very pregnant and naked looks exactly like the Venus of Willendorf. To prove it, here I am, at about eight and a half months pregnant with my third baby. Not naked, but just about, and wearing an expression that truly shows what it feels like to be THAT pregnant in late summer. What a lovely big bump Arthur was. Lucky old me. I wish I hadn’t been so worried and sick all the time, I would have enjoyed it far more.

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Where was I? Yes. You have to wear something. You don’t want to feel bad about how you look – pregnancy is hard enough without that. So, over the years, I slowly figured out a pregnant uniform. A knocked-up capsule wardrobe, if you’re feeling 90s about it. Something that isn’t an investment, that won’t put you in a bad mood, something that might actually make you feel – whisper it – chic.

So here is my totally un-expert guide to getting dressed when you’re knocked up.

First, some broad rules: no lace, no frills, no ruffles, no prints. Don’t wear animal print; you’ll look like the animal itself, or gingham; you’ll look like a picnic blanket, or florals; you’ll look like a sofa from the early 1980s. (At least, I do. Being tall with a big bump means I dominate the landscape quite enough without extra help.) Keep it simple. I try to stick to black, white, grey and blue, with pops of color.

And now, let’s go shopping. I have never been impressed by the pregnancy-specific designers – places like Pea In A Pod are lame. Seraphine and Isabelle Olivier are just too twee. Hatch is absolutely lovely but do I want to spend hundreds on clothes I’ll barely wear? Negatory. So it’s cheap fashion all the way, but different places are good for different things. (I always hand them on to other people when I’m done, to minimize the ‘destroying the planet with disposable fashion’ aspect.)

Let’s start with ASOS Maternity. Like everything from ASOS, the maternity line is 90% garbage, 10% genius. I bought this ASOS DESIGN Maternity Stripe Top in Baby Loop Back, liked it so much I bought another so I’d have one even when the first was in the wash, and loved them both so much that when the baby was out and I lost the baby weight, I bought a fresh one two sizes smaller. (Have I mentioned that I’m a little obsessive about things? Well, I am.) It’s the perfect thickness, the shoulders and arms hang just right. These tanks are pretty good to wear to bed or under jackets and blazers or for that one pregnancy yoga class you might go to like one time. If you’re pregs in cooler weather, stock up on plain long-sleeved t-shirts like this. Oh and how can I forget: Jeans shorts. I wore them everywhere. Goddamn, I still love my ASOS preggers jeans shorts. Sometimes you just need a forgiving tummy band.

Old Navy makes a lot of fairly mediocre preggers basics, but every now and again you’ll find something pretty good, like this t-shirt. The problem with pregs t-shirts is that the neck is often weird. I’m actually not sure I would have loved this one – the arm might be a little short, the combination of a tight shoulder plus giant tits and a belly that just won’t quit is… a LOT. But for wearing around the house or under a blazer, win. I also like wearing pregnancy button-down shirts like this one from the Gap - in fact, I still wear a pale blue one, I just really like the color and shoulders. I don’t hate this one, either.

Zara is your place for blazers. A good blazer (or two, or three, depending on your work/social life) and a good denim jacket will see you through the pregnancy. You might be able to wear your normal blazers or jackets undone – I can’t; I just get too damn big. My arms and back can’t fit in them. I’m not kidding. So I just buy something simple with rolled sleeves, not too boxy in the next size up. I also got a couple of plain long-sleeved Zara cotton midi dresses that I wore to death – something like this is perfectThis is good, too.

Uniqlo also KILLS it with the preggers-friendly dresses. Like a cotton shirt dress, a-line, with pockets for snacks. GENIUS. I’d get the pale blue and the stripe. (Damn, I wish these had been available this time last year.) Uniqlo is also making t-shirt dresses this year, and I have a feeling they might be rather marvelous, assuming they don’t become too short with the bump. (Bumps make dresses four to eight inches shorter, depending on how big your bump is. As you can see from the photo above, my bumps get BIG.) Veh nice for early to mid-pregnancy, anyway.

Also from Uniqlo: I’d buy a couple of these skinny-comfy sweatpants to wear under the bump when you just can’t fucking handle jeans rn. Order two sizes up from your normal size. You can wear them to a restaurant with high-top converses and a preggers tank and a sharp blazer and lipstick and look tres cool. (I think so, anyway. Then again, maybe I’m just the kind of dick who wears sweatpants to restaurants.)

For bras, I like the girls to be holstered front and center. I go from a 34B to a 36E when I’m pregnant – yup I’m totally serious. Nork city. This Chantelle Parisian bra is my favorite. (And Seamless Bravado nursing bra is the only one I’ll ever love, plus these for nighttime. And these are must-haves.)

For shoes, I like Clarks. This brand is famously ergonomic and comfortable and dorky, but once in a while, they’ll come out with a great sandal. I wear mine with socks sometimes because I’m CRAY. And solid boots. You need extra support for your feet when you’re pregs because you’re carrying around all that bump plus the extra weight, so if you still cringe at the idea of Clarks, you might want to slip these into your Converse or flats.

Urgh, jeans. I must have had 30 pairs of pregnancy jeans over the years. I inherited jeans from friends. I bought my own. They mostly suck tbqh. The best posh pregs jeans are Paige. (You can also usually find them on sale, btw. Check out Nordstrom Rack and Gilt.) Hot tip: for the first four months, just wear non-pregs jeans from Zara or whatever (you might be able to wear your normal favorite jeans, I have to buy a size or two up right away because I get knocked up and gain ten pounds before I roll off the bed) and fasten them with a hairband looped between the button thingy and the belt notch thingy. Like so. Oh, and Zara sometimes makes trousers with elastic waists that actually look good under a bump. I inherited a pair of Zara pinstripe flannel pants in XL from a friend and wore them a LOT. These are similar.

If you’re very pregnant in winter, you’ll need a coat. Borrow/steal your husband or brother’s coat if you can, or get a cheap superwarm one from Uniqlo in the biggest size. I also had a Hatch coat that I wore a LOT in my last pregnancy, and I loved it, but it was a hand-me-down. I’m not sure I’d spend $$$ on something I wouldn’t wear longer than a few months… Maybe I would, if I had a normal job and had to go into the office every day, or go to meetings. There is a certain freedom that comes with being a writer at home. I could literally write in the nude, eating chocolate-covered cashew nuts from a small bowl resting on my bare belly, and no one would know. And sometimes I did.

Cardigans are your winter pregs BFF. Get the waterfall-y ones and throw them around yourself dramatically. Bonus: great for a little privacy when nursing in public later on, if you are forced to nurse in a place where idiots are staring at your boobs. These look good, too. This is a great cosy hoodie – and it has lovely breastfeeding zips for after the bebe arrives! (Size UP at least twice. I had to return and get XXL.)

Lastly, lipstick. I wear bright lipstick when I’m pregnant, because it cheers me up every time I put it on, and because once the baby arrives, I can’t wear any lipstick at all for a while because I’m kissing him all the time. (I mean truly. I was basically frenching Arthur.) My favorite red lipstick right now is a delightfully inexpensive one from Milani called Best Red. I also love NARS Starwoman and Laura Mercier Rouge Muse.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. In my first pregnancy with Errol I was so freaked out by my changing body, and so weirdly self-conscious about it, all my pregnancy fashion memories are negative. With Arthur, I just tried to look relatively put-together, keep the food stains to a minimum and tell myself I was strong and clever and that everything would be fine. Time would pass, I would have my baby in my arms, I would be back in my normal clothes. And it came true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “On… a pregnancy uniform

  1. Jenn

    THANK YOU for the real talk. THIS is how to approach maternity dressing and, as a first time pregnant lady, you hit all my fears / concerns / struggles spot on – which a welcome sense of humor.

    Reply
  2. Priscilla

    So I am 7 months pregnant with my third baby and am completely over maternity clothing- I hate it all. BUT I read this and ordered the Uniqlo shirtdress in navy pinstripe. It arrived today and it is perfection. Chic, comfy, cool. With Converse chasing the kids and strappy sandals on the weekend. Great for nursing in a couple months! Thank you!

    Reply

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