Buying for the bump
I'd like to think that one day I will be in a place where I'll be able to spend a little extra on maternity clothes. But as a young couple just starting out, I've had to get creative in dressing my growing bump (and shape) over the 9 month pregnant period. Here's what I've learned:
Invest upfront in one good bra. There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting bra, am I right ladies? Depending on how you gain weight, this may not be an issue for you. But for some ladies, those chests just expand and there's nothing we can do about it. With my first pregnancy, I measured myself, went out on my own and tried on different styles, but ultimately left in tears every time. I never found something that fit well and made me feel good, which set me up to feel sub par no matter what outfit I had on. With this pregnancy, the very first thing I did was go to Victoria Secret, got measured, and asked about styles and fits. I went home, found a promo code, and bought a good bra on sale for around $50. Yes, it was a little pricey. But it was the best decision I made, and I haven't regretted it for a second. (If you're going to invest in a little nicer of a bra, be sure to take good care of it - seldom wash, use lingerie bags, wash on delicate, etc.)
Find the good sales and search for promo codes. Old Navy's maternity selection is reasonably priced, so their sales tend to be good deals. Google maternity clothing and look for sales. Asos sometimes has great sales on maternity clothing. PinkBlush Maternity has flash sales every so often. I've found to have better luck with Kohl's online than in-store. Find a promo code and you're golden.
Buy the basics overtime. Neutral colors, layering tanks and tees, dark wash jeans. They are your friends. You're able to intermix your pieces making for many outfits from a limited selection. Buy a couple basics as you grow so 1) you're not dropping a lot of money at once and 2) properly buying for each trimester.
Don't be afraid of consignment shops. I found a local baby consignment shop that had a maternity section. I found a high-end pair of flare jeans and a couple tops for 15 bucks. Yes, please! Consignment shops are especially great for women who are working and finding themselves needing to buy a work wardrobe to accommodate their bump.
Forever21 is your friend. Forever has Tees, and tanks, maxi dresses, and over-sized sweaters that are all decently priced. I found a tee that would look good if I got a size or 2 bigger and bought a couple in black and grey for no more than 10 bucks (each). They've lasted me well and I can wear them post-pregnancy.
Look into renting. Did you you know you could rent higher end maternity clothes? I sure didn't until I saw a spot on Good Morning America. (Thanks, Ginger!) This is a great option for women who are planning to work throughout the nine months and need to have a variety of pieces. It's the perfect option for finding a dress for a holiday event or your baby shower. Or you simply want to get a couple pieces that make you feel good without breaking the bank.
Get creative with your husband's wardrobe (Great for first months of pregnancy and postpartum months). I took an old pair of my husband's jeans, cut off the bottoms, gave 'em a cuff, and claimed "boyfriend jeans." I've also worn tees of his getting away with the over-sized look. He's been generous and patient with me.
Towards the end, opt for accessories. When you're nearing the end, there isn't much left to do. Not only are you dealing with the weight gain and big bump, but you could be puffy or swollen only adding to the discomfort. On top of that, you don't want to spend any more money on maternity clothes because you're "almost there." This is also when the wardrobe can feel exhausted, so if you're feeling like you need to spruce it up, get a scarf or watch or bold necklace or even a lipstick. You'll freshen up your look for a limited cost and you'll be able to use it after you have your little one.
I've dressed a bump as a full-time employee and as a stay-at-home mom. It's without question easier to buy for and dress the growing shape while at home. There are some days when I opt for the sweats with no regrets. But it is possible to keep personal style and stay (relatively) comfortable without spending a great deal of money. Planning, researching, and buying over time is the recipe for success.