By Irene Feeney
It’s been a few years now since I’ve been pregnant with both of my children. But if there is one thing I took from that stage of my life, purely from an aesthetic and practical point of view, it is that trendy and fashionable maternity clothes – do not exist! If they do, they are hard to come by and extremely expensive. I didn’t want to spend tonnes of cash on ‘temporary’ clothes I would wear six to seven months on average, I wanted a wardrobe during those periods of my life that would see me through practically whilst maintaining my fashionable-self. Too much to ask? Well, it seems so for many brands that highlight a maternity section in their collections…albeit a dowdy, shapeless one consisting of leggings, unflattering maxi-dresses and stripy tops!
Of course, I fully appreciate that styles are designed to accommodate a growing body, large chest and postpartum shapes for breastfeeding and there are brands out there meticulously trying to make maternity clothes less ‘mumsy’. But finding clothes to wear at a time in your life when you possibly may not feel ultra-confident in your body and ultimately uncomfortable proves quite difficult and overwhelming. Fashion and style changes constantly (it’s hard to keep up with at times) plus with so many requirements for a pregnant woman’s body to contend with, you can often look at maternity clothes and think they look frumpy.
If you haven’t garnered already my true feelings about maternity clothes. Here’s what really frustrates me. Apart from the fact that retailers tapping into the maternity clothes market consisting of a floral-festooned, polyester-laden wasteland – they seem to position their collections in a very stereotypical fashion. Maternity departments should be attracting millennial mums right now, one of the most coveted demographic groups in trendy outfit choices to suit all walks of life but instead…they majority of the collections out there consist of juvenile-looking baby-doll frocks, floral ensembles that look like they’ve come from your grandmothers ‘good’ sitting room and my worst – slogan t-shirts with messages such as ‘Milk Machine’, “Baby Mama’, ‘Baby not Cake’ and ‘I Humped Now I’m Bumped.’
An interesting revelation when I was researching this article was the fact that many retailers do not carry their maternity collections physically in-store. Instead they are restricted to e-commerce instead. If there is one time that you really need to try on outfits, it’s when your bust and waistline measurements are constantly expanding and changing by the week.
In saying all of this, I would like to add my own tips on how to navigate through this very disappointing and unfashionable area that is modern-day maternity clothing.
Size Up: I got to a stage with both of my pregnancies where I was equally frustrated and surprised at the lack of choice of fashionable maternity clothes that I just sized up in tops and dresses. This worked until the last month or so but it got me through those ever-growing months and I figured…my dress size would remain the same after the birth for a while so those items would most certainly be still worn.
Try finding at least one pair of maternity jeans: If there is one piece of maternity clothing I would say is essential, it is a good-fitting and comfortable pair of jeans. I remember finding a pair in Zara (that one time they went through a phase of maternity clothes but never to be seen again) and they were literally THE best pair of jeans I ever owned. I wore them with so much, they looked great, they were comfortable, I felt good in them and I since passed them down to a friend.
Underwear: Invest in good quality maternity underwear. If you’re wearing the correct underwear, you instantly feel and look better. You’re lifted in the correct areas and supported. In the UAE, stores such as TKD Lingerie and Marks & Spencer have excellent fitting services to ensure you find the ideal maternity underwear to suit your needs. Also essential items when it comes to breast-feeding.
Leggings: I know we can’t get through a discussion about maternity clothing without mentioning the ‘L’ word. Whilst I did want to burn EVERY pair of leggings I owned after I gave birth, they saw me through the days where I didn’t feel I had anything to wear, the days where I just wanted to be comfy and the days chaffing was a major issue.
Accessories: To counter-balance the lack of trendy and stylish clothes, I do remember treating myself to fashionable and cool footwear options. I figured, my shoe-size is still the same despite my growing body; lets make those feet feel like they are back in the fashion game. Shoes and accessories are a clever way to ensure you are still feeling like your fashionable-self plus – items that you will continue to wear after you’ve given birth.
Final tip and plays emphasis on the feel-good factor when the lack of trendy wardrobe essentials are just not there – don a red lip or a bright nail-polish colour, wear your favourite perfume or get your hair done – something which makes you feel good as pregnancy is tough and sometimes you need a touch of glam to brighten up your day.