A girl loves any excuse to shop, right? And pregnancy is one of those times in life that gives you a guilt-free excuse to hunt down a new wardrobe, correct?
Yeah, you would think so. But not me. I have only found shopping for maternity clothes to be an entirely frustrating experience. Thoughts like, "Will I really need this?" or "Is this really a good deal?" would run rampant through my mind and chase me clear out of the store.
To avoid this predicament as long as I could and spending money on things I wasn't quite convinced of yet, I decided that I would wear my pre-pregnancy clothes as long as I possibly could. Still, I found that some clothes morphed to accommodate a growing baby bump more than others. Last summer I had purchased a few form-fitting tees by Caslon from Nordstrom that have ruching on the side that have easily doubled as maternity tees. The flowy shape of my Bobi pocket tee has also easily translated into maternity, as have 3/4 Length Sleeve Shirting Blouses from Splendid. The Piko Tunic Top has been a Godsend for a multitude of occasions, as have a few looser-fitting tops from James Perse. Plus, the various flowy jersey dresses from Splendid and the Gap have been great to slip on as the weather has been warming up. As for pants, Splendid's French Terry Trouser Pants and my tailored jersey shorts by Monrow have managed to hang on to be quite useful.
Yet a woman who is carrying around an ever-growing watermelon in her belly cannot live on pre-pregnancy clothes alone. Yes, I had to give in on a few items, as I was fast becoming a moose who had nothing to wear. Pregnancy jeans were a convenient alternative, and for me were an absolute must by the time I had reached 30 weeks. While some find it rational to splurge on designer jeans for this brief window of maternity, I found that a few pairs from A Pea in the Pod's in-house brand that have worked just fine for the time being and look great. I also took advantage of a good deal that Motherhood Maternity had on 3/4 sleeve shirts. And to my surprise, I discovered that Michael Stars, a favorite pre-pregnancy line, made maternity tops and dresses! The top I purchased was a little pricey, but it had great quality to it and by not having any tell-tale "ruching" on the side, I know that it will be something that I will wear far beyond the time I give birth.
As you can probably tell by my review on these maternity items, I have to say I have not been very impressed all around by their general quality, even the ones that I did purchase. All in all, the same quality that I could expect to find for a similarly priced, non-maternity item was not at all matched by its maternity counterparts. Thinking back to my Econ 101 days here, but perhaps its the more inelastic demand that these brands have with maternity shoppers that enables them to decrease the quality and value of what it is their producing while maintaining the retail price. Because what other options would pregnant shoppers have, I would argue, but to purchase whatever they find fits and is comfortable regardless of its low quality and slightly elevated price? Seems to me that these brands have realized that expecting shoppers are going to be buying their clothes regardless, so they're able to cut corners where they can to increase the profit margins. I mean yeah, I get it. If the baby I'm currently expecting is the only child I have then I will have only worn these clothes for a few months tops, versus the lifespan of a few years that is expected of the rest of my usual apparel. You can blame my Scorpio birth sign here for this if you'd like, however for someone like me to is so attuned to issues like this, I find it very insulting quite frankly. And I still have to go shopping for nursing bras. Great. I can only imagine what I'm going to find there.
The maternity lines that I will hold exempt from these accusations are those with the likes of Michael Stars. For example, the Michael Stars line uses their same trademark fabric and construction in their maternity items as they do in their regular styles, and instead have just altered the shape and hemlines to accommodate those expecting. Now that is more like it. Plus, the chances are higher that the items from the maternity will be able to streamline back into your normal wardrobe post-baby, and therefore keeps me on the hook, wanting to return to purchase more items that will not only cover me in my "time of need" but also keep me in fashion as a new mommy.
Now, this is by no means a referendum on all maternity lines, as there are a good many that I've never tried. Some not for the lack of trying. I keep hearing all these wonderful things about Old Navy's maternity items as I have about those from the Gap and J Crew. But I never can seem to find any of their stores that stock their maternity lines (sorry, I'm not much of an online shopper; I gotta try on!) But from me to you, this is what I've experienced as a first-time expectant mom. And at 8+ months along, I think you might find it hard to argue anything different with me.
My advice: Hit your favorite non-maternity stores first and see what fits and what you feel that you will be comfortable "growing" into over the next few months, then fill the "holes" with maternity-specific items. Who knows? You may find a few items that fast become your favorite post-pregnancy thing to wear as well!