By Martha Janick
Coming up with a new wardrobe that will work with your changing shape can be daunting. Add to that finding clothes that are comfortable for your growing belly and appropriate for your lifestyle, and it can be a big challenge. If you live in a rural area you likely don’t have access to a brick-and-mortar store where you can try on and purchase maternity wear, which can add to the difficulty of finding clothes that fit. Here are 6 ways to curate a perfect eco-friendly and minimalist wardrobe.
1. Comb Through Your Own Closet
The best place to start is to look through your own closet. Not having to purchase any new items is the most environmentally-friendly of all! Especially in the early days, a lot of your clothes might work to get you through a few weeks or even months. Put those flowy tops, stretchy leggings, and loose dresses and skirts to the front of the closet. Button down shirts and cardigans are great as well and can be worn open as the baby bump grows. Fitted pants are usually the first to go, but some people find using a belly band can make them last a bit longer. Box up clothes as they no longer fit and tuck them away, so you have a uncluttered view of the options each day.
2. Check with Friends
When I became pregnant with my first baby I didn’t have anyone I knew locally who had a baby. A college friend offered to send me her maternity clothes and they’ve since gone back and forth between us four times! If you can, offer to store the clothes or send them back when you are finished. I find people are much more likely to loan out items when there’s a plan to get them back.
3. Raid Your Partner’s Closet
Chances are there will be times where you don’t need to dress up during your pregnancy. So for those times that you’re lounging around the house, you can raid your partner’s closet for some over-sized t-shirts, baggy pants, button downs and cozy sweatshirts. I’m not ashamed to admit I even borrowed my husband’s boxers in the 3rd trimester as I suffered through the heat of summer and I plan to do the same with baby #2! Maybe they have a sweater or winter jacket that you can use to layer up in the cold months.
4. Check Out Used Items
There are so many online sites to buy secondhand clothing. Ebay, Poshmark and ThredUP are a few that I have looked at specifically. Secondhand maternity clothing is usually in great shape, because it hasn’t been worn very long. If you know you have a fancy event to go to with your bump, check out the used sites as formal maternity dresses are usually in great condition at great prices. Children’s consignment stores often have a maternity section as well, and offer the benefit of being able to try the clothes on in-person.
5. Purchase Some New Items
You might need to purchase a few staples to round out your wardrobe. When considering new items, try to stick to things that will be useful during pregnancy and the postpartum time. My go-to new items are maternity leggings, bras, and tank tops, as these items are usually pretty tired after going through one momma, especially a nursing one. When buying new I like to try to buy from ethical brands, which can be a challenge to find for regular clothing let alone maternity wear. It may seem silly to spend a lot of money on maternity wear, but if you are planning on having more than one child it really is worth it. I bought some fast fashion items for my first baby and they are a bit tired looking and pilled and the styles are kind of weird now. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Some ethical maternity brands I support are Storq, which is committed to ethical manufacturing in the US and China and has a clothes recycling program, and Boob Design which is a great company that has a transparent manufacturing process and textile sourcing process that they share on their website. They use organic cotton and recycled materials to make 97% of their clothing.
6. Keep It Simple
It’s okay to have just a few outfits in rotation, this isn’t forever, just nine(ish) months. Use jewelry, scarves and other accessories to switch it up. A small wardrobe will work for most seasons. So, what do you really need? That will vary, depending on your lifestyle. I’m a stay at home mom, but I’ve also worked in a business casual workplace, and as a handyman while pregnant. The following are some items that I used for each lifestyle setting, but depending on your access to a washing machine and the types of fabrics you choose, your must-haves could vary. So here is a list you can start with and build upon:
Tops - 2 long sleeve shirts, 3 longer or maternity tank tops, 3 t-shirts
You can stick with maternity specific styles such as ones that have the ruching on the side or use regular tops that are just a bit longer.
Bottoms - 1 pair of maternity jeans, 2 pairs of leggings
Maternity leggings are amazing and can work after baby arrives too. There’s a reason the stereotypical mom uniform includes leggings. They are comfortable and can be dressed up or used as loungewear. You may want to include a pair of shorts or skirt for summer.
Layering items - Button downs, cardigans, blazers
I found these items to typically be things I used from my existing closet as the maternity specific styles didn’t really appeal to me. Another option is to purchase quality used items online in a larger size than you normally wear to help get you through this period.
Dresses - 2-3 dresses and/or skirts
Maxi dresses are a favorite, because they look great and knits work well for an expanding belly. Also check out wrap dressings or dresses that button down in the front if you are planning on breastfeeding.
Undergarments - 1-2 bras and comfy undies
Bras for your changing bust and expanding rib cage. This will continue to change postpartum, so I suggest just get something that works for the now.
If you work in an office setting you may want to add in some blouses or dress pants with a maternity panel to the list. I found overalls to be great for pregnancy while working at a manual labor job. A maternity bathing suit might fit into your wardrobe. It feels great to be weightless in water to take the stress off your joints!
Above all, be sure you feel comfortable and good about your clothing. It can be kind of unsettling watching your body go through such an enormous change. Be gentle with yourself and dress so that you feel the most confident and comfortable that you can!
Martha Janick lives in Maine with her husband, son Percy, and baby #2 due this summer. She is currently a stay at home mom, and she is "doing [her] best to be a radical change maker by living a low waste lifestyle." You can see what she's up to on Instagram @livinglightlymaine