Babies are expensive! However, one thing that many people overlook is the large cost of clothing while you are in the maternity stages. I can say from experience that this can cost a pretty penny, and can easily derail any budget since you don’t really know which body shape you will be depending on how you carry, and clothes rarely fit longer than 3-4 months if you are lucky. It is not uncommon to wear an outfit once and by the time it comes back through the laundry be too small.
After two children, and a number of nieces and nephews I have come across a variety of tips to curb the costs of your maternity clothes, so you can save for the important things like diapers, and baby Juicy Couture track suits.
Shop Ahead – Like any other store out there, end of season sales can be a place where you find the best deals. The same is true for maternity stores. Even when you are in the early stages of your pregnancy you can still peruse shops to find deals on items that you can use when you are larger. For example, a cute maternity wrap dress or sweater has a lot of room for variations in body size and shape, and buying them ahead of time can save you tons. Tip: Be sure to check the return policy. You will likely not be able to return your items for cash if they don’t work out, but see if they will exchange unworn merchandise, just in case your instincts are wrong.
Beg, Borrow, and Steal – Okay, so maybe not steal, but do try to find others who have had babies and see if you can borrow their maternity gear. Even if the person is not the same type of style as you, you may be fortunate to get some basics or items for hanging out around the house. Also, do not overlook friends without babies that wear a larger size. Pants or tops that are just a size or two higher then your normal can be extremely helpful in the beginning stages and post pregnancy.
Don’t Act Your Age – One of the biggest resources I have found for maternity clothes are those little teenybopper stores in the mall that cater to the teenager crowd. These places tend to sell things made of light stretchy fabrics (ie. jersey), and are a lot more trendy then the traditional maternity store uniform. I usually buy items a size bigger than normal (afterall these stores are catering to a much younger crowd), and can find many items that are stretchy, longer (ie. tunic style), or with an empire or baby doll waistline. These items are perfect for forming to the new belly without looking like a tent. These are also great places to get empire waisted sundresses. The best part about these stores, however, is because their target consumer is under the age of majority, prices are extremely low. I found many tops between 5-10 dollars that I wore for my entire pregnancy and beyond. The other great thing is because you didn’t pay much (and let’s face it the clothing quality is not great) you can throw out the items after your pregnancy without guilt, but since they are not designed as maternity gear you can also wear them until they wear out.
Wear Mini Dresses – This is probably not what you would expect for your pregnancy look, but wearing a shorter dress can come in quite handy. The trick is to wear it as a shirt. A short little sundress over leggings, jeans, or a cute skirt looks adorable and gives you a lot of room for your belly without being too tight. Plus, when you recover your figure post baby, you can wear these in their original intended form.
Walk Like a Man – A good place for budget friendly finds is in your man’s wardrobe. Taking a man’s dress shirt (depending on their size of course), and pairing it with a cute sweater over top, or rolling up the sleeves and pairing it with jeans on the weekend can be adorable. Also, for days when you are not planning to leave the house, his sweats, t-shirts, and sweaters can be great resources. Note: My suggestion to dress out of your man’s closet does not give you license to wear his old Metallica concert tee out of the house, nor anything that makes you look overly frumpy. Remember, pregnant or not, when you wear things that are too big for you they actually make you look bigger instead of hiding your size.
Layer it Up – This is a great option to postpone purchases and utilize items you already own. If you work in an office, put your nice dress shirt (buttoned only as far as you can) underneath a maternity (or long tunic style) sweater. This gives the classic cuffs and collar look, without requiring the purchase of costly maternity dress shirts. You can also wear longer shirts under your existing pre pregnancy sweaters and t-shirts allowing for better coverage and a nice pop of color. This also works well to hide your less than perfect post baby belly until you get things back in their place. If you need a more formal look, pair a cute less than business top with a blazer you already own and just leave it unbuttoned. Instant class without the cash!
Back to Basics – Sticking with a relatively neutral palette and solid colors will help to maximize your wardrobe as the combination options are easier. To save money on these items, pick up maternity basics at discount stores, such as Wal-mart, Target, or other similar places. You may not be overly excited about the fashions they offer, but a plain black sweater or tee will be just fine from these places and a fraction of the maternity store price. Besides, some of these stores are getting better and you may be surprised and what you can find.
Go Tubing – The best tool I have found for maternity dressing is tube tops. If you have ever heard of the Bella Band, you would use them in the same sort of way. If you haven’t, basically you would wear the tube top around your midsection covering the top of your pants (creating a clean line), and peeking out under your shirt to extend the life of your existing wardrobe (see Layer it Up – above). Tube tops are cheap and can be found in a variety of colors almost anywhere (try the teenybopper stores mentioned above).
After the Fact – You can also save money by unloading your maternity clothes after they have served their purpose. There are plenty of consignment stores out there (also a good place to save money in the first place) that will take gently used maternity clothes. Other options are local classifieds, eBay, Kijiji, or Craig’s List as a lot of clothing.
Nothing should stop you from being able to look your best if you are willing to put in the work. Saving money on this process is just a perk. Happy pregnancy!