I’ve started to hit that irksome in-between stage where my old clothes no longer fit. If I had simply gained weight outside of pregnancy I would be at the “muffin-top” stage. But since the uterus doesn’t really “muffin-top,” tummy winds up feeling pressured and uncomfortable. It’s like if you were in perfect shape trying to fit into a size four, but your hips make you a six. Or if you’re Michelle Pfeiffer trying to fit into your cat-woman costume.
So I purged my closet of all that didn’t fit, tossing it into storage, and set off to find some fresh pieces that didn’t leave me with the pregnancy weepies missing my slinky red dress.
Now let’s get one thing straight. I am not a retail shopper. I’m also not a super-coupon-er. When I started paying for my own clothes I decided I didn’t want to pay full price for cheap goods. I’ll shell out the dough for a very well made piece that I can tell will hold up over time, but I buy the bulk of my clothes at Salvation Army or Goodwill. I can and have bought an entire shopping cart full of clothes for me and my husband for only $70. I like paying between $2 and $8 per piece.
Maternity shopping really knocked me off-kilter. Both Salvation Army and Goodwill produced a single rack or half rack, and both had maternity mixed with plus size, making shopping rather frustrating. I was able to get two tops, a pair of pants, and a pair of shorts between the two stores. Not my usual haul.
I slowly came to the realization that I’d need to brave the retail stores for maternity clothes. I didn’t like the idea of paying full price for what I’d wear just nine months (okay, okay at least 12 months) a few times in my life. So I resolved to browse the clearance racks. I like clearance racks. Clearance is mostly cheap.
Nay nay. Not only did I find no clearance racks in most stores, half the “cheaper” stores I went to didn’t even carry maternity clothes. At all. I was pretty shocked. So I decided to compile this list for anyone looking to buy maternity clothes. This list may vary for your area, so when in doubt call the store in question before you waste the gas going there. (I know for a fact that some Macy’s do carry maternity clothes and likewise many H&Ms do not).
No Maternity Department In Store
- Walmart. I was really really surprised that walmart had nothin’ but nursing bras.
- TJ Maxx
- NY & Co. I don’t normally shop there, but I saw a tip online that they carry versatile empire waist clothing. They don’t. Save your time and disappointment.
- Charlotte Russe. Also checked due to an online tip. Nada.
- Most mall-based retail boutiques
Carries a Small Selection of Maternity
- Old Navy. It was so comically small, I took a picture. (half rack)
- Gap (one rack)
- Salvation Army (1/2 rack, mostly jeans)
- Goodwill (1 rack, mostly jeans and mixed with plus size)
Carries Maternity at High Cost
Okay, not super-high cost at all these stores, but pieces costing $20 each add up quick when you’re trying to refill your wardrobe.
- JC Penney
- A Pea in the Pod
- Babies R Us
Carries Decent Selection for Reasonable Prices
- H&M. Surprisingly, this trendy euro-store had a decent selection and not terrible prices. Averaging $10-$15.
- Burlington Coat Factory was my salvation. They had about six racks packed with cheap cheap cheap maternity shirts, pants, shorts, and dresses. Most of my maternity wardrobe came from there, costing about $6-$7 a piece.
- Motherhood’s clearance section. I know I listed them in high cost, but their clearance is a reasonable markdown. I bought a sturdy pair of pants and a few shirts for around $40 total. More than I like to spend, but I was so desperate for well-fitting pants by this time, I was willing to pay a little more.
- Babies R Us clearance. I got a pair of velvety pants there for $15 where the regular price was $60. I wasn’t planning on buying maternity there (I didn’t even expect them to carry maternity), but it was a great bargin and I grabbed them at the beginning stages of my pants problems.
The Motherhood and Pea in the Pod store both carry mostly quality clothes. They have a few shabbier things and plenty of gimmick items (like those shrinky-hips things and a million stretch mark creams). Due to the quality of the clothes I hesitate to call them “overpriced” since you’ll probably wear them for some time post-partum. If you’re a bargain hunter like me and squeamish about spending that kind of money don’t be afraid to let someone come shopping with you and foot a small bill. Moms and close family members love lavishing gifts on first time moms especially, and if you’re at baby number x, I’m sure someone is still willing to buy you a new shirt or swimsuit or a quality nursing bra. If you’ve had your eye on something (I needed a swim suit that wouldn’t make me feel like a whale), just ask for that one thing and buy your other wardrobe items elsewhere.
As frustrating as I found selection, the thing that really yanked my chain was style. A lot of the styles I found in these small-selection maternity sections ended up looking as though they were marketed towards middle aged women. The cuts suggested a lack of confidence in flaunting figure and plenty of the styles looked just plain frumpy. Where were the cute sundresses for the moms-to-be who still wanted to flaunt their style? I found most of the more flattering pieces at Burlington. H&M was also a great resource for fashion and practicality. I can’t really put my finger on one store in particular which had poor style because that vein seems to run through a portion of all the stores’ inventories.
The last big problem I had (particularly at Salvation Army and Goodwill) is that plus size clothes were often mixed with maternity clothes in stores that carried both. Plus size pants are especially a culprit here because they fit totally different than maternity pants. The sizing is never easy to figure out. It’s possible to find clothes in plus size cuts that flatter your new found bump better than maternity clothes, but a plus size shirt that fits your plumping bump and bosoms might be sloping down your still narrow shoulders.
I did a lot of research regarding maternity shopping before and during my search for a new wardrobe and found many online sources unreliable, leaving me frustrated, almost to tears. I hope this helps at least one person with maternity shopping.
I’ll leave you with Jean-Luc.