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How to Dress for Style and Comfort While Pregnant 

click to enlarge "Crop" top and skirt, body-conscious dress and jeans held up by a belly band
  • "Crop" top and skirt, body-conscious dress and jeans held up by a belly band

As a young professional, my go-to outfit usually involved high-waisted pants and heels. Both those items quickly became impossible and impractical when I became pregnant. Shopping for a new maternity wardrobe sounded fun, but the style and price of the maternity brands I found online dampened my enthusiasm.

Between fluctuating hormones, my rapidly changing body and the fact that I was about to become someone's mother, I was already having days when I didn't quite feel like myself. So I decided to do what felt natural to me and thrift my maternity wardrobe.

The process involved a lot of trial and error, but I was determined to be able to dress myself in a way that made me feel comfortable and confident as I stepped into motherhood. In the hopes that the lessons I learned might help another mama marry her personal style to her new body, here are the tips and tricks that helped me along the way.

Buy a belly band: A belly band is meant to extend the life of your pre-pregnancy pants by allowing you to wear them unbuttoned and unzipped. The band is similar to those sewn into maternity jeans. It fits over your belly and holds up your pants while smoothing out the closures. But don't forget about the band when you move on to maternity pants! I continued to use mine to hold up some of my less reliable maternity jeans and to tone down my protruding belly button under tighter clothing. You can even use them postpartum to mitigate the belly looseness some people feel after giving birth. At first, I didn't love the idea of buying something I could only use for a couple of months, but finding ways to use it throughout and even after my pregnancy made it worth it.

Make "crop" tops: Don't pack away your pre-pregnancy tops just yet! I continued to wear my favorite tops throughout pregnancy by knotting them just above my baby bump. I'd wear these "crop" tops with a skirt or over a dress. I also ended up wearing a lot of my pre-pregnancy button-ups as lightweight outerwear or tucked into a skirt, with only the top few buttons fastened. It was comforting to be able to wear some of my familiar clothing while I was pregnant, and it allowed me to style my plain dresses in a new way.

Buy non-maternity items: Do not limit yourself to the often sad, sparse maternity rack when so much more is available. There will probably be a few pieces you'll absolutely need to have maternity versions of; for me, those were jeans and a pair of slacks. Otherwise, don't restrict yourself. Non-maternity dresses and skirts are probably easiest to drape over your baby bump. I favored body-conscious, empire-waist and flowy dresses, but really anything with enough stretch or bagginess will do. By the time my baby was born, my closet was made up of probably only 10 percent maternity clothing. My only word of caution in wearing non-maternity clothing while you're pregnant is to avoid potentially stretching out anything you might want to wear after giving birth.

Look for secondhand options: By far my most valuable resource for maternity clothes (and advice!) was other moms. If someone offers you hand-me-downs, take them. The pieces I ended up loving the most were items that had served my friends well and still had a lot of life in them. If hand-me-downs aren't an option, shopping secondhand allows you to try things out without spending a ton of money. For the price of one brand-new pair of maternity jeans, you may be able to buy and try a few different brands secondhand.

Here are a few local spots to look for — or donate — secondhand maternity clothing.

  • Boho Baby, Williston: I previously recommended them for children's clothes, but they also have a maternity section that is similarly curated and cute! It's fairly small, but worth checking out. You'll probably end up walking away with baby clothes, too!
  • Dirt Chic, Burlington: Dirt Chic is another consignment shop with a designated maternity section. It carries a large variety of styles and brands at different price points.
  • Karen's Kloset, Essex Junction: Karen's Kloset claims it has "the largest maternity selection in Vermont," and I believe it! There's enough maternity clothing there to fill a small room, which is a definite upgrade from the single racks I'm used to.

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