Although one would definitely not accuse me of being a clotheshorse, there's no question that I would need to expand my wardrobe once I was pregnant, and I definitely wanted to keep things vegan. So how did I do that and not break the bank? Let's be honest - these are clothes that, at best, you can wear for six months of your pregnancy (assuming you're showing right when your second trimester starts) and maybe three months after you give birth, so you're not exactly looking for timeless wardrobe pieces that you can wear for years on end; why make a major investment?
The good news is that you can take advantage of a maternity band to get some additional wear on your regular clothes, which will obviously same some cash. A maternity band lets you wear your regular clothes because you can leave your pants unzipped and/or unbuttoned, and then you put the band on the top of the your pants (but under your tops) to hold up your pants. I personally use the BeBand, which is readily available at Target. I will admit - I have a love-hate relationship with maternity bands. I find that it sometimes rolls up and makes my pants drop, which is annoying. I do love the relief that it gave me in my first trimester when I wasn't ready for maternity clothes, though - plus I still use it to wear some of my pre-pregnancy pants that were one size larger than my usual size, even into my third trimester. This has saved me - at least so far - from buying maternity jeans and suits - two items that can be prohibitively expensive in their maternity versions, and I love the money that it has saved me.
On the whole, though, most women are ready to move into maternity clothes and off maternity bands by the time the second trimester hits. So where should you go shopping?
Off the bat, great news - because pregnant ladies need stretchy things, I found that the majority of clothes I wanted were accidentally vegan! Definitely check labels, as always, but it was reassuring that even manufacturers that will lean on items like wool and silk understand the needs of the pregnant lady and went straight for the manmade stretchy stuff. Plus, these kinds of clothes - including items I would consider work-appropriate - almost always end up being machine washable: perfect the pregnant lady who is trying to save some cash (and should probably be a little wary of being around dry cleaning materials anyway...especially if she has a sensitive sniffer). I would also recommend items that you can wear to work and at home as well - because why buy twice?
Now where was I able to procure these items? There's no question that my favorite places to go shopping are Old Navy and Gap Maternity. Old Navy is already inexpensive, and Gap Maternity always offers sales and discounts; plus, their shipping and return policies are great (free shipping for $50 and free returns). Plus, since these are items from the fine folks at Gap, you can rest assured their items are cute. For example, look at this adorable dress from Old Navy:
I've been living in this dress pretty much since I was 14 weeks pregnant. It looks really clean and put together, goes well with maternity tights, and can be worn anywhere - seriously, I wear it to work, nicer restaurants, or to parties.
There's no question that dresses make pregnant life easier, but since I live in Chicago, and the weather decided to conspire this winter to make sure I am growing the toughest baby alive by making the temperatures dip to -40 on more than one occasion, you can't always get away with dresses. These pants from Gap have been a lifesaver; they look clean, classic, and are super comfy:
Also be sure to check websites like Zulily for great deals on awesome brands like Japanese Weekend and Nom, which have kept my belly fashionable both under suits and for more casual weekend affairs but at a fraction of the price.
As for shoes, I admit dressing up feet can be a little tougher - but it doesn't have to be! First, don't overthink it; as you get farther down the line, you will realize that flats are your best friend. Seriously. Even if I'm going to court, I wear flats until I get to the courtroom, then change into chunkier heels (which I have found offer more support to my bump now that my center of gravity is off), then immediately change back out. My favorite flats have been this pair from Rocket Dog; I live in them:
They are so comfy and cute, I just can't take them off! Granted, they aren't the best if it's raining or wet out, but the majority of the time, they get me through just fine.
But where to find such cute shoes in a vegan variety? My favorite is always Zappos. First, their customer service is unrivaled. They seriously just sent me a new pair of boots after my old pair fell apart...even though I bought those boots two years ago. Second, if you're not sure about size, returns are a snap! Third, they make searching for vegan shoes super easy. Although they have an option to select "vegan," I rarely use it. You can also find vegan shoes by narrowing your search to "man-made items," "synthetic," "faux leather," and other non-animal categories. By doing that search, I ended up with an earlier version of these comfy shoes that I have been able to wear into pregnancy and are courtroom appropriate:
Just remember to check that ALL of the components of the shoe are vegan; fortunately, Zappos (as well as some other websites) do a good job of listing out all ingredients in a shoe.
Finally, some general maternity shopping tips that have helped me minimize my purchases and maximize what I own:
- As I hinted above, if you happen to own pre-pregnancy pants that are one size up from your normal size, hang onto them. With a BeBand, you can probably make those pants go pretty far into your pregnancy.
- In theory, it seems like everyone recommends that you buy maternity clothes in your pre-pregnancy size. I have found that to be a little misleading. I have had much better luck buying maternity clothes one size up. This has allowed me to wear things into my third trimester that I would have easily outgrown in my second trimester if I stuck with my pre-pregnancy size.
- With regard to Tip #2, if you buy something that is a little big, just throw a normal tank top or camisole underneath it to cover up any gaps. So far I haven't bought any new tanks because, for my current purposes, my pre-pregnancy tanks cover up what needs to be covered. It probably won't cover your belly, but who cares? You will be wearing something over the tank that covers your belly, so no one will see.
Good luck - and happy shopping!