How to Save Big on Maternity Wear
No one expects a pregnant woman to look 100 percent fashionable 100 percent of the time (thank goodness, because it's not going to happen). But buying maternity clothes on the cheap is not the same as sentencing yourself to buying ill-fitting and frumpy-looking hand-me-downs. Getting a little creative, knowing which clothes to buy cheap and which require a sound investment, and inventorying what pieces you already own that can last through the length of your pregnancy can go a long way toward creating a cute maternity wardrobe.
It may seem a little counter-intuitive to plan what you will need before you know how big you are actually going to get, but a little planning definitely goes a long way. The first thing you need to consider is during which season you will be at your biggest. Remember that unless this is your second or third pregnancy, you probably won't start needing maternity clothes until you are about 17 to 20 weeks along. Does the last half of your pregnancy fall during the summer season? You will definitely want to invest in anything that will help you stay cool during what is sure to be a very hot summer for you.
The second issue to consider is what your daily needs will be. Do you need a lot of work-appropriate clothes? Or will you need more casual clothes? Decide now, as best you can, what those needs are so you can plan your future shopping goals.
The first place to look for cheap maternity clothes is your own closet. Look for any knit or jersey tops, which will have the extra stretch needed for your expanding belly. Remember, a shirt doesn't have to actually say maternity for it to work. Yoga pants work great for casual maternity wear, and they'll keep you comfortable post-pregnancy too. Jackets and blazers are also great to keep around; they will still look great on you even when they're not buttoned.
Products like the Belly Band (an elastic band that hooks to unbuttoned pants) allow you to convert your clothes into maternity wear. Investing in (or borrowing) these kinds of products can often help save money.
Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops
These are great starting points for finding what you need for only a little amount of money. This is especially true for work-appropriate maternity fashions. Suit pants and maternity blouses will cost you a very pretty penny if you buy new, but buying from a thrift store can get you everything you need for a third of the cost—if you can find it. About Nine Months inside Belly Image offers resale maternity clothing.
Friends and Family
Chances are most women you know that have already seen their pregnancies come and go will be more than willing to unload some of their maternity clothes on you. "I had a tote passed between my sisters-in-law and friends." says Cyndi, a local mom from Raymore. "We just added whatever we needed and kept passing it around." So get on the phone, Facebook and e-mail to all the moms you know. You will probably have more maternity clothes than you know what to do with.
Beyond just Facebook and Craigslist, more and more sites specifically geared toward finding gently-used maternity clothes are cropping up on the Internet. You can also check forums at baby sites; many have a thread filled with moms passing around maternity clothes.
Make Your Own
If you have the skill (or want to learn the skill), sewing your own maternity clothes can be a great cost saver. Skirts and dresses can be easy, quick and versatile.
You also can buy maternity panels to sew into your existing jeans or slacks. This can be a great way to get great looking maternity pants, but the downfall is that once you turn those jeans into maternity clothes, there is no turning them back.
Sales and Coupons
Always be on the lookout for sales in whatever stores you frequent. Sales, combined with coupons, can give you thrift store prices on brand new clothing. Never doubt the power of a good coupon or a clearance rack.
There are going to be some articles of clothing you will want to buy new or invest some money in (especially if you plan to have more children). Look for the basics like tanks and tees and items that can be dressed up with jewelry and heels but also look great in casual settings. Above all, have fun with your maternity clothes. How often do you get to toss out your old wardrobe for a little while and fill it with something completely different?
What Not to Buy
- Jackets/Coats – No need to lay down money on these. What you already own will still fit as long as you do not button them.
- Workout Clothes – Remember, anything made of jersey or lycra is going to stretch, whether it's labeled maternity or not.
- Underwear – Believe it or not, there is underwear labeled as maternity underwear out there. Don't waste money on this. If you need to buy bigger, then do so, by all means, but don't spend the extra money on the designation. This is not to say you might not need new bras. Your breasts will get larger, and you will need larger bras to accommodate. Try buying sports bras for during and after pregnancy. They help give the support you need and stretch while your body changes.
Kerry Chafin is a freelance writer and mom of three based in Independence. She is also the guide to About.com's Mom Recommends and is still unloading her leftover maternity clothes to newly pregnant friends and family.