Diving into the world of pregnancy can bring an overwhelming world of things we “need” to buy, clothes included. The approach that we need a lot of new things in this season can bring unnecessary waste and spending, from maternity clothing to general baby paraphernalia. Yes we might need some new things but it’s usually less than we think, and in being intentionally minimal we can help our budgets and the environment massively.
The fashion industry is also one of the most destructive ones producing 10% of global carbon emissions and being the second largest consumer of the world’s water. Those are just two reasons I really care about changing the way we consume! In my opinion, much of it just isn’t needed so let’s dive into how to manage with a lot less new maternity clothing!
In short my advice is: Buy minimally, don’t be afraid to outfit repeat, shop your own closet first, bring variety with accessories, and when you do need to add items, rent or borrow if you can, then invest in multitasking staples choosing second hand first!
But let’s dive in to those a little bit more…
First, assess (and change) your mindset!
Pregnancy can feel like a fun moment to buy a whole new wardrobe! We want to celebrate, but whenever something seems fun or ‘needed’ I want to understand the true impact of that fun or perceived need and just slow down on diving in. Knowing the impact of the clothing industry in general I knew I really wanted to change my mindset on maternity clothing.
I had to ask, “What’s actually important to me in this phase of life?” Answer: Celebrating yes, but are there other ways apart from clothing? Yes. Then budgeting well, caring for the environment, and reducing consumption. And so my celebration of this pregnancy is buying LESS, not more. I can buy minimally and not be afraid to outfit repeat over and over!
Then shop your own closet first!
A changing body doesn’t mean you have to toss out everything you have! There may lots of clothes that will still fit or can be adapted for a growing bump.
Anything open at the front could still be great, skirts can be worn higher, pants can be worn with a band, dresses can go over the bump and be worn differently… so:
- Start by going through and working out what you can or could use as your body changes – either in the early stages or throughout and see how much you have.
- Then you can look at what items you’d need to create outfits from it. For the majority of my pregnancies I found that with a few staples like maternity jeans, multitasking neutral tops (black scoop necks for me) and a black maternity tank, I could use the majority of what I already owned.
- A belly band really helped me with this! I used it to cover jeans that coudln’t quite close, or under sweaters that were a bit too short, or to extend the bamboo scoop neck I lived in! Here’s one in the UK to look at: Belly Band via Jojo Maman Bebe HERE.
Use accessories + multitasking staples instead of more clothes
When you’re shopping for a just few months of wear, you want to buy as few pieces as possible but still don’t want to wear the same thing every day. (I mean, I also do that!) Accessories can really help here. Taking simple multitasking staples of maternity wear, but changing up the outfits with accessories, shoes and even bold lipstick (my faves are HERE)!
So as you are looking at investing, look for multitasking staples like neutrals that can be worn many ways and then use the shoes, scarves, jewellery, earrings, jackets you already own to make outfits from minimal pregnancy-only pieces.
Work out what you NEED for YOUR life
Everyone’s lifestyle is different. That’s going to be the biggest thing that affects how much you need to buy, along with how your body changes. If you’re in an office every day, you’re going to need a different wardrobe from if you work from home.
Think about what seasons you’re crossing through and when you want to invest for, this last pregnancy I worked with what I had for winter, and invested in some pieces for summer where I knew I’d have a larger bump – last time vice versa! Don’t jump ahead and buy things you think you might need, slow it doen and see how it plays out. Shop as you need items when you find you REALLY need them.
Think about what can go post partum too
As I’ve invested for a few summer pieces this time (read: a pair of Ebay shorts!), I’ve also looked as what could go post partum. It will likely take months to be able to use your normal wardrobe again and so you want to feel comfortable in your clothes in that post partum season too with items you can use for breastfeeding if that’s your plan. For that I choose items with neck access or ones that lift easily rather than purpose built “nursing” items with a flap under than chest – I just don’t like the look of those! So I’m looking for that as I’m shopping maternity wear too so it can cross over.
This really goes for bras too – if you find you need a new size – you could think about making it a nursing bra even during pregnancy so it can double up for post partum if you plan to breastfeed.
Top tip: Nordstrom (and other places) will turn any bra into a maternity bra for a fee! This is what I did for my first nursing bras. My second time around I mostly used a good non maternity PACT sports bra.
Renting and borrowing before buying!
If you’re looking for an item for one event like a wedding, consider borrowing or renting an item instead of buying. In the US Rent the Runway has maternity options for renting items and in the UK Isabel Oliver does too – and there are other options too.
Also consider lending out any maternity items you acquire if you don’t want to sell or donate them after pregnancy! A friend lent me a number of pieces when I want pregnant with Roey and then I handed them back – it was a great way to extend my wardrobe without paying more or acquiring new items.
Buying used maternity and non maternity
Once I’ve figured out what I still need and experienced the need for it (i.e. not jumping ahead too much), I start by looking for second hand maternity pieces, and non maternity pieces that can work for me.
Ebay used items are my go to and where most of the few maternity items I’ve bought have come from for me. There is so much out there in the “used” maternity category because the clothes just aren’t worn for that long. Then I also look in charity shops – which aren’t usually as good for maternity, but I’ve found so many great pieces that have worked for me in maternity season. Both sizing up, and from finding items that work around a bump is the way to go in charity shops and I’ve found some great pieces.
brands I love for new and used maternity wear:
And lastly, if and when I’m finally at buying, and buying new I’m looking for the same things I always look for in clothing – the lowest impact on planet and people that fits my budget. Here are some I love for maternity items!
- Boody (US/UK/EU/Aus) – Quality eco friendly and well Meade bamboo staples. I’ve worn this scoop neck top for years and multiple pregnancies. It’s also a great one for breastfeeding. Their body suit was also a staple for summer breastfeeding!
- Boob : EU + UK shipping, workwide with potential duty charges. A full range of ethical maternity wear from bras to staples to workwear.
- Jojo maman bebe (UK + ireland) B corp with a full range of kids, baby and maternity items. This is where my running leggings came from and also a brand I look for on ebay.
- Girlfriend leggings (US) – Worn below the bump, I didn’t need maternity leggings for workouts but for running an over the bump pair can be a great addition. These are made from recycled plastic bottles
- Wear PACT (worldwide shipping) Fairtrade and organic cotton basics and bedding with a small maternity range.
- Isabel Oliver (UK + US) A B Corp with purchase and rental options for full range of maternity wear. Get 15% off with this link
There are many more brands out there so look where you are. In the same way as when I’m shopping for non maternity clothing, I’m always looking at the environmental and human impact of whatever clothing I’m buying as I search for companies.