I was surprised how early maternity clothing became a necessity for me! I was only about nine weeks pregnant by the time I started wearing only maternity jeans. To be fair, this did also come at month eight of the pandemic so… maybe it wasn’t all pregnancy based! Ha… but for real, I got really bloated from about week eight and my stretchiest jeans just became uncomfortable.
Thankfully, with the pandemic and all, I wasn’t leaving the house for much so generally lived in sweatpants until we had to go to the shops when I’d squeeze myself into my jeans. Once my maternity jeans arrived I was already used to the sweatpant daytime routine so stuck with it!
A friend gave me a bag of maternity clothes to rummage through and the advice that overalls/dungarees are the way to go in pregnancy. This was a great tip as I was finding it very frustrating how my maternity jeans didn’t seem to want to stay up on their own, and I was getting too big for the last hole on my belt.
I find clothes shopping frustrating as it is. I’m an awkward size where I’m generally at the top end of regular sizing and things often don’t fit well, but I’m too small for plus size. I’ve found shopping for jeans in Canada to be a trial not worth engaging in and stocked up on some new jeans when we went to England for Christmas in 2019. I’ve found my best option for jeans here has been Old Navy (which is somewhere between Primark and Matalan) – the quality and price is ok and kind of match one another – but I’m really trying my best to avoid fast fashion. However, when it comes to maternity jeans I don’t have the option to shop in the UK, and fast fashion seems to be the price point I’m interested in for clothing that I will use for less than a year…!
I don’t know if it’s the same in the UK but a lot of stores here don’t carry maternity clothing in their physical shops, so you have to shop online. Shopping with Old Navy was easy enough as I had a vague idea of what size to order, but they didn’t have any overalls, and sick of pulling up my jeans every two minutes, I was ready to take my friend’s advice. I haven’t shopped in H&M in about 4-5 years but I’d heard they have a good selection of maternity stuff. So I went to their website and found a really cute pair! I looked at the size chart and it seemed like the only size they had in stock was the size I needed, so I added them to my basket and eagerly awaited their arrival. Well. Trying them on was HILARIOUS! They were so big. I looked like Ronald McDonald. Or a scarecrow. Either way, it wasn’t the look I was going for! So they were sent back, and I now had a better idea of my size at H&M – the measurements were not accurate.
Soon enough Old Navy stocked some cute overalls, so I ordered those and have been living in them since they arrived. I wouldn’t usually be an overalls person, and to be honest I am getting a little sick of ONLY wearing them, but they are comfortable and definitely serve their purpose. I have accepted my fate that for the foreseeable future I am like a cartoon character who has their outfit and that’s all they’re ever seen in.
Having said that though, as a few warmer days have blessed us with their presence I’ve realised that I am going to need some summer alternatives. I have ordered an array of dresses and shorts, even a couple of pairs of short overalls, to try on and build a small summer-savvy maternity wardrobe. (H&M and Old Navy are getting a lot of sales and returns from me right now…!) Thankfully, my love of oversized tshirts and shirts pre-pregnancy is serving me well still with a growing bump!
I’m going to write separately about body image in pregnancy, but a cross-over that I will mention here is how I never realised how much my identity was tied to my clothing. Pretty much only wearing overalls for weeks on end suddenly left me feeling really down one day. I just missed wearing skinny jeans, a tshirt and my denim jacket – I never realised how much I relied on these staples to feel like myself. The more I’m looking and feeling pregnant, the more comfortable I am in my overalls – and more a part of me they are becoming – but each morning I do have to confront that part of myself as I dress myself for the day.
I have always liked clothes. I am not a huge fan of shopping or abiding by the latest trends, but I like clothes and I like fashion. I admire how people put themselves together and present themselves. I indulge in mentally assessing outfits of passers by in the street. I wanted to go into fashion journalism before I realised I wasn’t cut out for the environment it thrived in. As a result I used to flick through many fashion magazines and spend a fair amount of time in high street shops. So much so that I could sit and people watch and I would recognise where they’d bought their clothes from – not from labels or seeing them myself but from cuts, styles and fit.
As I’ve got older, my relationship with clothes has become more comfortable – knowing what I like, what suits me, and what makes me feel comfortable and confident. Usually that does consist of skinny jeans, a shirt and a denim jacket or hoody with trainers or ankle boots – nothing particularly standout or fancy, just practical and me. So this season of pregnancy and maternity clothing has knocked me because I can’t lean on my old favourites and the practicality element has become more important than ever. Even now, I am relieved that summer is around the corner meaning my Birkenstocks can come out and I no longer have to bend over to put on shoes…
I think many pregnant women must feel the same way. That their pregnancy becomes their identity to a degree, and it is particularly evident in clothing because it’s something that comes up every single day. You can’t shop in your favourite places, you can’t rely on your classic style choices – you have to renew yourself when you’re likely feeling less like yourself than ever before because of all the changes and hormones rushing through your body.
I guess a further daunting part of the clothing issue is knowing that even after the baby arrives you still have to accommodate your wardrobe around them, and that your body will be different, just leaves you with that uncertainty that you’ll ever fully get back to yourself… I guess it’s another opportunity to adapt to a new version of yourself, and embrace it in every way you can, just like how I am embracing the overalls right now! I’ll be interested to see how this one changes over time in physicality and in my mind!
I would also love to know your experiences with clothing – do you find clothes intrinsically linked to part of your being? Did your attitude to clothing change during pregnancy/becoming a parent? Tell me in the comments, or DM me on instagram. I’d love to chat about it!