Saturday, September 23, 2017

Maternity Style Hacks

When I got pregnant, I had three main goals with respect to my maternity wardrobe. First, I wanted to avoid wearing boring, generic maternity wear as much as I possibly could. Second, I wanted to wear my prepregnancy wardrobe for as long as I could, because I really like my current clothes. Finally, as much as humanly possible, I wanted to buy things that would work as well after my pregnancy as they did during. At eight months and change into this pregnancy thing, I'm pretty happy with how I'd done so far, so today I'm sharing some of the top maternity style hacks that have gotten me this far.

1-4 Months

I'll be honest with you: I spent the first trimester either sick with worry or sick with the literal flu, so I actually ended up losing weight in the second and third months. (As you can guess, this freaked me out, because I'm a known worrywart.)

However, I did experience one of the more common symptoms of early pregnancy: extremely sore breasts. So when I wasn't lying in bed trying to get over the various bugs I caught in the first few months and actually had to get dressed, comfort was my first concern. And because my bust measurements changed well before I had a legitimate baby bump, many of my tighter dresses stopped zipping over the bust altogether toward the end of the first trimester.

It was also the dead of winter, so I needed to stay warm. Challenge accepted!

I had three main solutions in the first trimester and early second trimester. First, I wore the everloving heck out of my comfy, stretchier woven swing dresses, like my Collectif Dolores wiggle, my Collectif Delphine swing, and my Hell Bunny Sonia dress. These were comfortable, allowed me to layer petticoat(s) underneath as needed to combat the freezing cold, and easy to style when I was overwhelmed by the effort of getting out of bed.

Collectif dolores bloom delphine swing Hell Bunny Sonia

Second, I wore plenty of jersey dresses, including some of my favorite wiggle dresses and Effie's Heart numbers. As counterintuitive as it may sound to wear something as clingy as a wiggle when you're pregnant and haven't told anyone, a stretchy wiggle is one of the most comfy things you can wear (no waistband, no problem!), and it's easy to layer a long cardigan over it if you need extra warmth or coverage.

Finally, I started wearing separates a lot more than I ever did before, because you can wear a stretchy top with a cute novelty-print skirt and feel like your normal self without engaging in accidental chest-binding.

pregnancy style hacks

4-6 Months

Once the second trimester began, I had two goals: stay comfortable, and keep my pregnancy under wraps at work until my boss returned from his travels and I had an opportunity to give him the news in person. I started getting a baby bump around eighteen weeks or so, which meant that swing skirts were my best friend. Thankfully, it stays cold in Chicago until mid-May, which meant I could use my petticoats for extra bump camouflage up until my boss came back when I was 20 weeks pregnant!

While I was super excited to finally have a baby bump, it meant that a few of the dresses I'd relied on were no longer a viable option, since the waistband was too tight. I had two solutions for this: first, I ended up wearing even more separates. Rather than wearing my skirts at my natural waist, I simply hiked them up above the bump, to the smallest part of my rapidly-disappearing waist.

My second lifehack, without which I would not have survived this far, is quite simple: elastic panels! I did not sufficiently recognize the glory that is the stretchy back panel until I hit 20 weeks and realized that I couldn't comfortably zip most of my non-stretch dresses past my waist any longer.

Fortunately, it's easy to find stylish pinup/vintage-style dresses and skirts with elastic shirring panels in the back, and at a range of prices to boot! My beloved Modcloth gingham skirt was in heavy rotation from 20-34ish weeks, as were both of my Pinup Girl circle skirts. And once I realized that elastic shirring in a dress will ensure that you can wear it as your bust and waist measurements change, I basically stopped buying dresses that didn't have it.

collectif fairy doll tiki sundress
I wore this Collectif dress so much this summer that it deserves a photo all by itself.

Here are a few of my favorite elastic-panel dress styles:

Left to right: Trashy Diva Lena, Trixie, and L'amour.

6-7 Months

To get through the end of the second trimester and the start of the third, when your waist threatens to disappear entirely and belts start to disappear into the shrinking space between your bust and your bump, I've got two words for you: dresses as skirts!

This handy little trick let me wear my Bernie Dexter dresses again, even though they haven't fit as dresses since the end of the first trimester!

And since this stage of my pregnancy coincided with the dead of summer, I found myself digging out my favorite Effie's Heart sundresses. Bonus: the high-low hem effect created by my baby bump made me more on-trend than usual!

Finally, in the sixth month, I picked up a few secondhand dresses a size larger than my usual, and then wore them with the waistband hiked up above my bump. After all, it's a bit much to expect that I'd go the full nine months without any new pretties, isn't it? I especially liked getting these secondhand because you can typically request actual flat garment measurements when buying clothes through an online swap group, so you can be sure they'll fit. (Also, secondhand dresses cost less, which means more money for all the stuff you'll need for baby!)

I also recommend Lindy Bop if you're looking to scratch that new-dress itch with something you can wear during pregnancy without breaking the bank. I've found that their swing dresses often have a less extreme waist-to-bust ratio than many other retro-repro brands, which is quite useful when your waist has all but vanished. In addition, their Corinna dress is super cute and has elastic smocking at the back, and they periodically offer amazing sales that let you scoop up a few dresses that you won't feel bad about reselling or donating after pregnancy.

7-8 Months

Sometime around 33 weeks into this pregnancy, I realized that waistbands and I needed to part ways for a few months. Fortunately, I got my hands on an amazing vintage dress right around that tipping point. It's the perfect combination for late pregnancy: a full-ish skirt joined to a princess-seamed bodice with a smocked back.

Around this point, I also surrendered to the inevitable and started throwing some bona fide maternity clothes into the mix. Given how uncomfortable late pregnancy is, and how much your belly grows near the end, it's just not worth it to suffer through an eight-hour day at your desk just so you can look cute.

But to combat boredom, I mixed it up on the weekends, wearing my larger, stretchier dresses or converting dresses that no longer zipped to skirts and wearing them over maternity tops or wiggles. And in keeping with my preferred aesthetic, I've stayed away from trapeze- or maxi-style maternity dresses in favor of bodycon/wiggle dresses and one or two shift dresses.

This dress is the only thing I've bought at Macy's in at least five years.

Oddly, my maternity dresses are the closest thing to business casual that I've worn in years.  The prints are more subdued and I'm not quite sure what to make of them. For the most part, I've solved this problem by sticking to my usual glittery brooches, novelty purses, and the odd hair flower here and there.

8+ Months

This has been a brave new world for me. As of the beginning of Week 37, I've shifted to wearing my maternity wardrobe to work nearly exclusively, saving my other style hacks (dresses as skirts, dresses in the next size up, and super-stretchy jersey swing dresses) for the weekends. It's become enough of a struggle to reach my feet that I've also given in and started wearing flip flops or my new ugly slides to work.

Believe it or not, my Vixen wiggle dress somehow still fits, and thankfully, it's gotten cooler here just in time for me to comfortably wear it to work!

My Vixen wiggle in November 2016 and September 2017. MAGIC.

All told, I have seven actual maternity dresses, all of which are jersey or stretchy knits. I've bought more than seven dresses over the course of this pregnancy, but when buying non-maternity wear, I've tried to pick things that will work during pregnancy and be nursing-friendly, so I can get more use of them after the baby is born.

When shopping for maternity wear, comfort and price have been my top priorities. I got four dresses from Old Navy, two from ASOS, and one from Macy's, and didn't spend very much on any of them. I've also picked up some maternity and nursing tank tops from Old Navy, and have really made the most of those Super Cash offers they periodically do to get a bunch of stuff on the cheap.

Actual maternity wear, feat. pants. (Sort of).

Finally, I nabbed a few pairs of leggings, sweaters, and long-sleeved tees from Destination Maternity way back in March, when all of their fall and winter stuff was on clearance. If, like me, you aren't a huge fan of casual separates, I think shopping for late pregnancy half a year ahead is a good way to minimize spending on stuff you need but don't really want. Just be aware: if you typically wear exclusively retro-reproduction and true vintage, it's a good idea to run to a maternity store to try things on and get a sense of your size in contemporary clothing. 

So there you have it: my top tips to making it (almost) all the way through your pregnancy without giving up your favorite vintage-style threads! If you have tips of your own for navigating maternity style without too much maternity-wear, I'd love to hear about them, so drop me a line in the comments and let me know how you coped!

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  1. Hi, I love your outfits and have been amazed at how you have adapted them throughout your pregnancy. Your last picture with the Vixen Wiggle.

  2. Girl I am praising you! You are slaying you’re pregnancy outfits!

    Jessica |

  3. I love how you managed to stick to your personal style through your pregnancy! I hope I can do the same when it comes to it :)


  4. These outfits look great on you! Love your style!

    Ciara |

  5. You are the queen of creative fashion. Really, I would've given up as soon as the bump appeared.

    x Envy

  6. You look amazing! Love how colourful all your outfits are! Xx

  7. Wow, you absolutely rocked all these gorgeous dresses and skirts throughout your pregnancy! I've always loved leopard print, I think it's so flattering and you just proved it in spades with how amazing you look in your Vixen Wiggle dress, both pre- and during pregnancy. You look fantastic! xx

    Lisa |

  8. You are such an inspiration to me, even though it's way too early for me to even think about babies I'd like to follow your footsteps in being creative with what I wear and not resorting to mundane pregnancy clothes. You go girl!

    Lizzie Bee // Hello Lizzie Bee

  9. Emily, you look bloody gorgeous in everything - pregnant or not! You have such a vibrant fashion sense and I absolutely love it <3 xx

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  11. I really appreciate you for this informational post. These maternity style hacks are really useful and enjoyable for all new moms to be. You are looking beautiful in your all maternity wear dresses.

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