More than seven months into my second pregnancy, the increasingly persistent question every morning is: what to wear?
A slow fashion approach to pregnancy clothes is a challenge. A pregnant body changes fairly dramatically, but also relatively temporarily. It is easier than ever to make desperate last-minute purchases because you suddenly realise you have no trousers or tops – or whatever it may be – that actually fit. Slow, considered decisions don’t feel much use because in another few months your body will change again.
For me, honing in on a pregnancy capsule, has been a continual process of trying to balance the desire of building a thoughtful, long-lasting wardrobe while also celebrating this period of change. Change that feels both beautiful and awkward, completely natural and utterly strange.
I started loosely planning a Spring/Summer capsule with the aim of making it pregnancy friendly. I tidied away the pieces that would obviously not fit and made a list of things to make, like stretchy leggings and loose dresses.
Some basic planning has been useful. Yet, several things on my making list I never got round to making. And things I thought I would wear a lot have been left untouched. No worries, I have managed fine anyway.
Again, I am faced with the same lesson that I actually use less than I think I need.
5 questions for planning a pregnancy capsule:
- What items in your wardrobe will obviously not fit a growing tummy and that little extra pregnancy weight? Set these aside.
- What outfits can you now put together?
- Is there one or two key pieces you could add that would make it easier to create outfits from the clothes you already have? For instance, a pair of trousers with an elastic waistband to replace those tight fitting jeans or a pair of stretchy leggings to pair with tops and dresses.
- What clothes make you feel comfortable and nice?
- If you need new items, do you want to make or buy them? How much time and money will you have for that?
During my first pregnancy I bought two “mama” jeans and a top from a fast fashion store. However, none of them I really like. The black jeans feel too office-like, the grey jeans keep slipping down and the white top is only really useful those last two or three months when that pregnant tummy is really bulging. Both jeans have ripped and needed mending, by the way.
Garments specifically designed for a pregnant body will only be used a few months. Yet, for those few months they may feel absolutely essential. In this light they align particularly well with the fast fashion mentality: low prices and cute designs trump considered investments in quality pieces that will last.
I am certainly guilty here. So this time round I really wanted to avoid buying any more poor quality, cheap items that would only be worn for a relatively short period of time. And I have! But to be fair, I have also used these three pieces quite a bit.
6 steps for a slow fashion approach to pregnancy clothes:
- Minimise the number of pregnancy-specific items that won’t be useful in your wardrobe after the pregnancy
- Buy quality pregnancy clothes that you can later sell or give away, or re-use if you were to be pregnant again
- Buy pregnancy clothes second-hand
- Choose pregnancy clothes in fabric you like and can later re-purpose for other projects
- Refashion clothes you already own to make them pregnancy friendly. Take a look at the DIY maternity posts on the cotton + curls blog.
- Sew your own pregnancy clothes, for example with Megan Nielsen's maternity patterns
Versatility and longevity
How many pregnancy-specific items you need (or whether you need them at all) depends on how pregnancy friendly your ordinary clothes are. Stretchy, loose-fitting and comfortable pieces can carry you well through a pregnancy while also being useful later.
In the top row above are some of the pieces I have sewn this year with the intention of making them useful both while pregnant and afterwards.
- A simple boxy dress, pattern from Stoff & Stil in a cotton jersey I had in my stash.
- Leggings in organic jersey from Stoff & Stil, based on the Hudson pant pattern by True Bias tapered in for a snug fit. With the elastic waistband these are comfortable and stretchy enough to be worn low rise while pregnant and can be pulled further up later.
- A pair of woven Hudson pants from True Bias sewn in organic cotton from The Organic Textile Company. Again, with the comfortable elastic waistband. I made these two sizes larger than my usual size to accommodate for the non-stretch woven fabric, but I could definitely have gone up one more size for a more comfortable fit.
In the bottom row of images are my three most worn pregnancy friendly store-bought pieces.
- A tank dress which is an old fast fashion item from Cubus. The stretchy jersey fabric makes this a comfortable fit despite the growing bump.
- An organic cotton dress from Gudrun Sjødén. The loose fit over the tummy and hips makes this super comfortable and breezy to wear, while the semi fitted bust ensures I don't feel like a walking tent.
- An A-line jacket bought at a flee market for next to nothing. I can still zip this one up! And if I want a more tapered look later I can always pull in the draw strings at the waist.
For versatile pregnancy friendly clothes, look for:
- Skirts, trousers and shorts with an elastic waistband
- Loose-fitting tops and dresses to wear over leggings and tights
- Jersey tops and dresses that will stretch over a growing tummy
- Tops and dresses with an empire waistline
- Cardigans and shirts that can be worn open or half-buttoned
Some great sewing patterns for a pregnancy friendly wardrobe:
- Archer button up shirt by Grainline Studio
- Kalle shirt + shirt dress by Closet Case Patterns
- Ebony T-shirt & knit dress by Closet Case Patterns
- Renfrew top by Sewaholic, Lark tee by Grainline Studio or Nettie dress & bodysuit by Closet Case Patterns
- Mabel skirt by Colette Patterns
- Hudson pant by True Bias
- Virginia leggins by Megan Nielsen
- Ninni elastic waist culottes by Named Clothing