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The perfect pregnancy wardrobe

Hannah Nicholas
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Pregnant woman
It goes without saying that as your belly grows, you'll need to adjust your wardrobe. You may get away with wearing stretchy clothes you already own or going up a dress size for part of the pregnancy but borrowing or purchasing maternity clothes will probably become essential. But there's no need to spend a fortune, a few mix and match pieces will suffice. Here are some hints, and top places to shop, to get you started.

Wardrobe tips

Maintain your personal style
There's no need to hide your body behind huge sized men's shirts and t-shirts. Be proud of your bump and dress in the latest maternity fashions. With what's on offer these days, it's possible to continue dressing in your own personal style, you just need to understand how to flatter your changing shape and choose styles that support this.

Wardrobe extenders

  • Belly Belt
    The Belly Belt (www.fertilemind.com.au) is an easy and inexpensive way (it costs around $35) to transform your jeans, trousers and skirts into maternity clothes. Each kit contains three different sized belts and three fabric panels that cover the gap where you pregnant belly sits. Some women find this belt more helpful in the early stages of pregnancy, for others it's great till the very end.

  • Belly slides or bands
    Belly bands are a must-have in any maternity wardrobe and will help bridge the gap between shorter tops and your pants or skirts. Lots of maternity boutiques stock them or if you're creative, make some of your own.

Maternity bras
A well-fitted, comfortable bra is very important during pregnancy. It's a good idea to look at getting into a maternity bra after about week 20. Go for a breathable fabric like cotton that is easy to wash and look after (the last thing you want is a bra that needs to be handwashed once the baby comes along).

When purchasing a maternity bra, make sure you:

  • Go to a department store or specialist lingerie shop and be measured and fitted properly.
  • Try fastening and unfastening the cups of the bra. You'll need to do this one handed once you start breastfeeding.
  • Look for one with plenty of room for growth and wide shoulder straps for extra support.

Popular bras on the market include Loveable's Maternity Bra (around $39.95 and great for wearing under t-shirts and tight-fitting tops) and Elle Macpherson's Maternelle Maternity Bra (around $54.95).

Shoes
Lots of pregnant women experience swollen feet and some even go up a shoe size temporarily, so don't go spending heaps on footwear. Avoid wearing high heels as they aggravate backache and will not help tired, puffy feet and ankles. Low-heeled comfortable shoes are best. Look for ones with a non-slip sole as your balance can go out the window during pregnancy.

Summer wardrobe
Go for comfortable and cool pieces in lightweight, breathable fabrics. Check out sarongs and kaftans and if you're going to be swimming a lot, consider maternity swimwear.

Winter wardrobe
While tracksuit pants are fine for around the house, you can't exactly wear them out to dinner or a lunch date. Consider investing in a pair of maternity jeans for casual wear. Look for long, stretchy tops and singlets to create layers and extra warmth. Pashminas, wrap tops and ponchos are great for growing bellies.

Working wardrobe
Purchase a few maternity basics that will see you through. Consider investing in a black wrap dress, maternity pants or skirt and mix and match these with a variety of tops and accessories in different colours. Maternity hosiery is available for those used to wearing pantyhose.

Choosing sizes
Every pregnant woman has a different body shape but as a general rule, the size of maternity clothing is usually the same as non-maternity — so if you were a size 12 before you got pregnant, look for maternity clothes labeled size 12. To get an idea of how big you might get and whether the clothes will see you through, visit a maternity store which has a pregnancy pillow (a fake pregnancy belly) you can try on with the outfits.

Fabrics
Go for light, breathable fabrics even if it's winter. During pregnancy your body temperature rises and you may be subject to itchiness due to stretching skin. Nylon and other non-breathable synthetics will only aggravate. If it's cold, go for layers which can be removed.

Accessories
Colourful earrings, a chunky necklace or any other fashionable accessory is just the thing for brightening up an outfit or for changing the look and feel of your limited wardrobe.

After the birth
Most women still have a "tummy" for a while after the birth, so don't throw out your maternity clothes as soon as you leave hospital. Stretchy clothes including your maternity pieces will be comfortable at this time and will see you through till you can begin to wear your pre-pregnancy wardrobe again.

Where to shop

Popular brands
There's a huge array of trendy maternity labels on the market. Here are some popular choices:

  • Pea in a Podwww.peainapod.com.au — make great maternity basics as well as changing seasonable ranges. Available across the country (see website for stockists).

  • Sacha Drakewww.sachadrake.com.au — famous for the 6 Way Dress, a brilliant little black maternity dress which can be worn six different ways and is suitable for both casual and dressy occasions.

  • Queen Beewww.queenbee.com.au — sells GAP maternity wear exclusively in Australia as well as other stylish brands including hip t-shirts with logos such as "What's Kickin".

  • Belly Basicswww.bellybasicsaustralia.com — purchase online or at boutiques across Australia, great pieces for all occasions.

  • Ripewww.ripe.com.au — offers a wide range of maternity styles for all seasons and body shapes — and great pieces for the office.

  • Fillyboowww.fillyboo.com.au — perfect for those style-conscious mummies-to-be. This online boutique stocks maternity wear imported from a number of hip US maternity labels.
    Hit the stores
    Don't think you have to wear maternity labels only, if it fits, wear it. Sometimes you can simply go up a dress size or two or look for a stretchy fabric that will give as your belly grows.

    Web shopping
    There are loads of fantastic maternity clothing websites. Spend some time online and see what you can discover.


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