Maternity Clothes Shopping & Wardrobe Favourites

I’ll be honest with you; I found maternity clothes shopping absolutely soul-destroying. Not, as you might suspect, due to some sense of panic about my changing body shape (I was actually quite happy to see my tummy expand and not have to worry about holding it in!!) - but because between sizing and style, I found nothing that felt like me! Order after online order, still I had nothing that fit. Many online stores advise you to order in your pre-pregnancy size but that varies hugely from store to store and, unlike my favourite go-to brands, I had no idea if they came up large or small. Given most maternity collections are online only, you’re forced into the Post Office returns cycle as there aren’t the stores to visit and try on!

It’s infuriating and those hormones on top don’t help. My husband found me in tears one weekend with half a leg in a pair of my old jeans and decided to take action. He took me to the only shop in our home town - Jojo Maman Bebe - and picked out clothes for me to try on. I left with a pair of black over-the-bump jeans and a dungaree dress. The jeans ended up being returned but it gave me the confidence to throw some money at some more online orders and get my maternity wardrobe fixed. Here are the best picks from my capsule maternity wardrobe that have helped boost my confidence and my go-to brands I’ll be recommending to friends.

My Go To Shops

My favourite for Demin... H&M
They have a great selection of maternity wear including jeans, dresses and gym-wear and all reasonably priced. The pieces feel relevant with today’s fashion and not stuck in some timewarp. Plus, as fast fashion goes, there are lots of styles to pick from. This is my no.1 brand for maternity denim and I have 3 or 4 pairs of jeans hanging in my wardrobe and worn on rotation!

My favourite for Jumpers...Seraphine
Probably a brand you won’t have heard of pre-pregnancy, they occupy a more premium-end of the high street. A few of my first purchases came from here and were jumpers (like this one) that helped disguise the Month 3 and Month 4 bloat whilst my pregnancy was still under wraps. It also seems they’re quite a favourite with celeb mums-to-be if you're fussed by that sort of thing. Worth checking out their skin-to-skin tops whilst you’re there...

My favourite for sleep bras...M&S
That early pregnancy boob burn is incredibly painful and so I very quickly had to order something to help keep the ladies contained. A short term fix were low-impact sports bras I already owned but as soon as these arrived, I was rotating these day and night. Super comfortable, stretchy and soft material - they're an absolute pregnancy staple for me. 

My favourite for sexy bras...Figleaves
A general theme to all this maternity shopping is that the feel-good factor is squashed below the practicality factor. But there will come a time you’re fed up of wearing bras that look like something either a 12 year old or 70 year old would wear. Enter lace. Enter Figleaves.

My favourite for dresses...Next
I had a massive haul of maternity dresses arrive that catered for work days, weekends and holidays (back when there was a prospect of a baby-moon!) I loved Next’s lifestyle model shoots which showed many of the dresses paired with Converse and a leather or denim jacket - that’s a look I could get onboard with! I kept 3 of their dresses and have been rotating them on our sunny Spring days during lockdown. (Though the one in these pictures is actually an H&M dress - whoops! Similar linked here

My Favourite Pieces

H&M Exercise Leggings
I flipping love athleisure clothing and wish I could find a job where it’s acceptable to wear that to the office. I know it’s easy to be spendy on brands such as Sweaty Betty and Lulu Lemon and yes, every influencer I see in an outfit I love is usually from one of those two brands. However, I have, thus far, refused to spend £75 on a pair of leggings when I can get some great waist-cinching, butt-shaping pairs from H&M for twenty quid! I probably have about five pairs of gym leggings that I love but from about Week 14 I really felt I was outgrowing them and the comfort level around the tummy was reaching 'discomfort'. I made a panic order of two plain black maternity gym leggings from H&M and kept the best ones. I’m even considering ordering a second pair as I’ve stepped up my exercise routine since lockdown.

H&M Black frayed jeans
Black jeans and a blazer has been my signature workwear uniform for some years so finding my well-worn pair starting to cut in at the waist became quickly in need of replacing. Around Week 10 I made my first purchase with a pair of under-the-bump Topshop jeans from the Oxford Street Maternity entrance on Regent St. That felt like a pregnancy bucket list moment in itself after years of walking past that window display. Only the Topshop pair refused to stay up and I soon became tired of the hike every four minutes to keep them from escaping down to my ankles. Trying to find a new staple black pair of jeans was like searching for a toilet roll at the start of lockdown. However, when I finally opened this pair up from an epic order of approximately ten pairs of jeans, I had my ah-haa moment and made these my new besties. 

Another Good Hack

Charity Shops
Before lockdown, I spent a Saturday afternoon with my mother trawling the nearby village's umpteen charity shops. It's a past-time I actually enjoy, more so for books than anything else. In fact, I generally ignore the clothing racks. However, with my maternity hat on, it's amazing what you can find and for a fraction of any online prices. I spent about £30 and managed to find some incredible buys, including a jumper, a couple of cardigans, a blazer, a shirt for work and a lightweight jacket. I was buzzing - not to mention the ability to try things on! (Obviously this was pre-lockdown... but just think of how much charity shops will be inundated with donations from everyone's lockdown clear-outs!) 

A Final Word

I am so happy with the pieces I invested in from maternity & nursing brands, high street mother-to-be collections and charity shops. I think the moral of the story is you'll need to do a bit of legwork in terms of research to find the brands that reflect your style and prepare for the back and forth to the Post Office with returns. I have to credit my wonderful friend, Emily, for giving me her brand recommendations from her pregnancy which led me straight to H&M's denim section amongst other things. Make sure you speak to your fellow expectant mothers or new mums for their recommendations. Whilst I know spending money on a maternity wardrobe can seem a little frivolous given the relative short time you'll be dressing bump, I don't think you can put a price on feeling confident in your appearance when pregnant. Plus, if you're planning any subsequent pregnancies, you'll have great foundations to re-open this capsule wardrobe second/third/fourth time around!

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