Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Maternity Clothes, Then and Now

By Christina VanGinkel

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, the very first thing I did was go out and buy myself maternity clothes. You know the pants with the stretch panel in front big enough to house three pregnant women, let alone one small person not even into her second trimester. Along with several pairs of these, I also bought matching shirts with cute sayings like 'baby on board', and 'eating for two' with an arrow graphic pointing down.

Today, while maternity clothes still exist in numerous shapes and forms, oftentimes women continue to wear regular clothes with slight modifications. My daughter for example only owned a few items of traditional maternity clothes. She did not work outside of the house, so no elaborate wardrobe was required, yet she always looked stylish when dressed for the day. At five feet five and approximately ninety-nine pounds when she is not pregnant, a friend of mine asked me how in the world she found clothes to fit her when she was pregnant if she did not purchase much maternity wear.

She had a closet full of hip hugging fashions to start, which traditionally hang low below the belly. Before she was in her final stages of pregnancy and needed the support, she usually went bare bellied below her tops. Again, many of her tops were free flowing. Snug on top, with a wide bottom, most not only fit her until she was at her largest towards the end of her pregnancy, they also worked well to conceal her belly. For her baby shower she wanted an outfit that was both comfortable and stylish. She was six weeks away from delivering, and did browse the maternity racks to start, but ended up purchasing a pair of Capri's is a size that was larger than her regular size, but not much, and in a style that was tapered so they did not look large on her elsewhere. The waist was not technically a hip hugger, but it was low enough, and in a fabric that was soft and givable, that she simply buttoned them below her belly. She matched these with a sleeveless top that buttoned down the front, again is a style that was tapered across the top. The armholes were a bit big, but nothing that was so large she was uncomfortable wearing, and from below the chest down, the top was free flowing, made to be cool and airy in the heat of the summer, and perfect for flowing over her pregnant belly.

For around the house, she lived the majority of her pregnancy is soft waistband shorts or pajama bottoms made of cotton with a drawstring waist and available in enough different fabrics that she never felt like she was still in her pajamas from the night before. T-shirts of various colors mostly robbed from my closet or her husbands rounded out her day-to-day clothes. While this is not an acceptable choice for every pregnant woman, it worked for her. She could not justify spending a large amount of money on a wardrobe when she would only wear it for a few months. She made do with what she had, along with a few sensible additions.

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