We explain how to find stylish yet cheap maternity clothes so you can look and feel gorgeous without blowing your budget!
Pregnancy is one of the few times in your life when you have an excuse to go out and shop for a brand new wardrobe (after all if you don't fit into any of your old clothes, what choice do you have?) Then again, what with buying things for baby and trying to save for when you start maternity leave, it's also likely to be the time when you're least able to afford it.
However, before you start panicking that you're going to have to spend the next 9 months dressed as if you're on your way to the gym (put those baggy t-shirts back in the drawer!) we'll show you how you can dress stylishly for less until your bundle of joy arrives.
1. Look at what you already have
Fashion has been remarkably kind to Mums-to-be over the last couple of years with tunic and empire lined tops being absolute must-haves. Chances are you have a few longer, floaty or wrap style tops in your wardrobe that, with the help of a little tactical layering to cover any gaping (long cotton vest tops were made for this job), you should be able to get some mileage out of and save yourself a few pounds.
What's more, there's no need to banish your favourite jeans to the back of the wardrobe as soon as they start becoming a little tight around the middle. Belly bands are a godsend and can be used to easily extend the waistband of your trousers or skirts saving you from the unavoidable (and expensive) leap to maternity trousers for a while longer.
2. Beg, steal & borrow
Well, maybe that's going a little far but if you have friends or family who are further on in their pregnancy than you or already have children it's well worth asking whether they have any maternity clothes that they could lend you for the next 9 months or so. Why not host a clothes swapping party and invite all the Mums you know - it'll be a giggle and you might be able to kit yourself out with a new wardrobe (or at least a few maternity pieces) for nothing.
3. Figure out your essentials
If you've exhausted the 'freebie' channel of maternity clothes and are still left wanting it's time to hit the shops. However, before you run around the high street like you're on supermarket sweep it's a good idea to sit down and work out what your 'must haves' are for getting you through the remainder of your pregnancy. This way, when you do go shopping you'll come back with practical maternity clothing that will make you feel good and not overstretch your wallet.
While in an ideal world you might be able to live with a capsule wardrobe with 1 pair of trousers, a dress and a 'go with anything' cardigan, in reality this isn't likely to work. Having said that, 'investing' in comfortable, well cut separates that will adapt to your changing shape through your pregnancy and beyond is a good idea as these can then form the basis of your maternity wardrobe and be dressed up with cheaper tops and accessories. For the most flexibility and more importantly comfort go for cotton or stretchy jersey material in dark colours and items that can be dressed up as well as down are a good idea (cue wide leg black trousers, bootcut jeans and a cute wrap dress).
4. Shop for seconds
NCT Nearly New sales
are an invaluable resource for expectant parents, you'll not only be able to pick up some baby bargains but should also be able to find yourself some maternity clothes too. Going second hand is a great way to stock up on stylish clothes at a fraction of the price you'd buy them brand new. What's more, unlike online seconds auctions, face to face sales give you the opportunity to check the quality and fit of an item before you buy; not to mention giving you the chance to meet other parents in your area.
5. Hit the sales
Sale shopping gives you the perfect opportunity to stock up on reduced price maternity clothes for later on in your pregnancy, simultaneously saving you pennies and the hassle of navigating the shops when you can no longer see your toes. Obviously when doing this you're going to be estimating on size and while most stores that stock maternity clothes simply suggest that you go with your pre-pregnancy size it is generally better to go bigger than smaller. If you're familiar with the store work on the basis of how they usually cut clothes. Do they tend to be generous around the waist (a must for maternity clothes) or do they make clothes for those with narrow hips? If you're not familiar ask a sales assistant for advice, they should be able to give you an idea of how most customers find the fit of the clothes. Finally, as is always the rule with sale shopping, only buy something that you think you'll actually enjoy wearing, it's not a bargain if you can't bring yourself to wear it when it eventually does fit.
6. Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise
We all need to treat ourselves to something frivolous and impractically gorgeous now and again especially when we're not feeling at our best (as is so often the case when you're expecting). However, when you get the urge to splash out rather than rushing to the shops and finding something beautiful to wear it's a much better idea to treat yourself to a must have handbag, statement belt (that will fit under your bump) or special piece of jewellery. In the long run these are much more 'economical' buys as they'll still be a fantastic pick me up towards the end of your pregnancy and beyond when a cute top or pretty skirt may no longer fit.
What's more, when you're on a bump focused budget great accessories are essential for dressing up or down an outfit and can be used to give the impression that you have a huge and varied wardrobe even when you're just working the basics.
Do you have any tips for saving on maternity wear? Why not share your experiences and questions with others on the AskBaby forums.