By Milena Joy
Whether you’re expecting your first or fifth child, building a maternity wardrobe can be a challenge. Many people struggle with dressing the body they’ve known for years, much less one that changes over several months in unusual proportions and unusual places.
Fortunately, many of the guidelines you should already be following for your current wardrobe apply to building your maternity wardrobe.
1. Maintain Your Look
Remember your style before you were pregnant? Was it bohemian, trendy, elegant or sporty? Your maternity style should follow your preferred fashion style. Gone are the days of baggy overalls and tent-like muumuus. Many of the designers you wear now create maternity lines too, everything from H&M to 7 For All Mankind.
This is not the time to lose your identity. Patterns, colors or fabrics that you don’t want in your regular wardrobe shouldn’t be in your maternity wardrobe either.
2. Keep It 90 Percent Classic
Most of what you buy for your maternity wardrobe should be of a more classic, timeless style. The other 10-15 percent can be trendy. Invest in more classic pieces and you’ll be able to use more of your clothes from pregnancy to pregnancy and swap pieces in and out to create more outfits. Choose classic pieces in neutral colors like black, brown, tan and gray to make them easier to mix and match.
3. Expect a Great Fit
If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t look good. It also probably isn’t comfortable to wear. Each piece in your maternity wardrobe – from shirts to shoes, whether new or borrowed – should fit you well. Buy according to your pre-pregnancy size; maternity clothes are typically built with stretch in the areas where you’ll need it most.
4. Buy as You Grow
However excited or anxious you may be about buying a new wardrobe for your pregnancy, resist the urge to buy it all right now. It’s hard to predict how much you’ll grow, and where; better to buy clothes as you need them. For the first 4-5 months, you may be able to get by with pieces in your current wardrobe. Any baby doll or loose fitting tops will easily compliment your small baby bump. You can even stay in your favorite jeans longer by adding a special pregnancy band (a Bella Band, for example; www.ingridandisabel.com).
5. Invest in Great Jeans
Baby or not, having great jeans that fit you well will go a long way. You wear jeans over and over anyway. If you have a great pair of maternity jeans, you can do the same. Choose at least one pair in a solid dark denim without details like fading or pocket accents. These jeans will have a clean, sophisticated feel to them, making them perfect for both casual and dressier occasions. Leggings and other casual pants are also great options, but they will be less versatile than your jeans.
6. Don’t Forget the LBD
A LBD (Little Black Dress) is a staple in every wardrobe, so look for one in maternity wear. It will be your go-to dress for almost any occasion while you’re pregnant. Give the dress a different feel each time you wear it by changing out the accessories. For the office, the LBD can be topped with a jacket or cardigan.
Dresses in general can be a great part of your maternity wardrobe. They’re less constricting on the waist than pants, and they make getting dressed easy because you already have the whole outfit. A wrap or baby doll style dress will best compliment your body.
7. Accessorize for Style
Accessories add a distinct style to seemingly basic pieces and they’re a great investment; you can wear them beyond your pregnancy. Add a bib necklace with colorful gems, beads and sequins to a plain long-sleeve black T-shirt, and you have an eye-catching outfit. Use pieces you already have in your wardrobe or purchase a few new ones to change up your maternity looks. You can easily borrow accessories from friends, too.
8. Don’t Forget Bras and Panties
A great outfit always starts with good undergarments. You’ll want to make sure you have the right amount of support, as this is when your breasts will be the heaviest. Get a professional bra fitting, and purchase a nursing bra late into your pregnancy. Maternity panties are also essential for comfort. Choose either a higher waistband that sits over the stomach or one that fits comfortably under the stomach.
Milena Joy is an image consultant, motivational speaker and author. Visit her website at www.milenaconsulting.com. Updated August 2012