Just the term “buying maternity clothes” is enough to make the frugal-minded among us cringe. Yet, having gone through this once already, and being in the middle of it again now, I know the importance of being comfortable and confident during this short time. The very last thing I want to be doing is pulling down a too-small top, pulling up my still-too-big pants, and cringing every time I look down because I’m swathed in a color I don’t like. This sort of thing does tend to happen as the misshapen boxes of hand-me-down maternity clothes make the rounds among friends and family, and get picked over, and eventually spit-up on. This time I put a bit of research into the process, hoping to make it not only affordable for mommas-to-be, but also as enjoyable as possible. It’s a lot easier to feel good when you’re looking good, and vice versa.
Below you’ll find my steps to frugal clothes shopping for pregnant ladies:
1 | Shop your closet
For the first trimester, and much of the second, you just might be able to clothe yourself without buying anything! I know this sounds crazy, but a lot of people have too many clothes bunched into too small a space to really be able to see and analyze what will work. So treat your closet like a store that has too much inventory. Grab a couple of big plastic storage tubs and keep them in or near your closet. As you start to outgrow things, or as they become uncomfortable, toss them in a tub for storage. It will be much easier to see what you have left. Plus when you open them in a year, it will be like a shopping spree all over again. The first pass you do, when you probably feel big and bloated but really aren’t, is a great time to get rid of, or store anything that rides, pinches or pulls. Then as you come across:
button-downs and blazers that you can wear open
and otherwise forgiving items...
Group those together at the front of your closet, and/or in one drawer. Consider this the start of your pregnancy capsule wardrobe.
I know I was making fun of hand-me-downs, but they really are the best. Ask any friends or family members you have with young kids if they would be so kind as to donate to the cause. You may not wear everything they hand over, but now that you have a base wardrobe to work with, you can snag anything that matches.
4 | Look locally online
Look for local parent groups and listserves on Yahoo Groups, Facebook Garage Sale Groups (Look under “Find New Groups > Local Groups” and learn more about Facebook Garage Sale Groups with The Penny Hoarder), and Meetup, and post that you’re seeking used maternity clothes. You can also check the giveaway and sale sections for Craigslist near you. Keep an eye on local churches as well, especially those that also offer daycare, as they tend to hold regular group yard sales and swap meets for area families.
5 | Thrift with a purpose
There’s nothing more fun than scouring your favorite thrift store for a certain piece of furniture or the perfect mirror. Now you can set your sites on maternity jeans or pants, as well as some sweet oversized shirts. I scored a cool cocoon-shaped black 80s sweater that I wore nonstop through my last pregnancy. You can also check eBay by searching for your favorite maternity brands, as well as for “maternity lot” which is where people sell groups of their clothes, usually at a good deal, like $5 or less per item. ThredUp is a great consignment site with a separate maternity section, as well.
6 | Expand your retail boundaries
Consider checking some stores you don’t normally turn to for clothes. I got an awesome maternity dress at WalMart for $14. Don’t forget to try Macy’s, and Old Navy. It’s worth it to drop into your closest retail store for Old Navy as well, especially if it’s between seasons. Store’s discount clearance items to get rid of old stock. I got a $20 maternity top there for $1.99.
7 | Shop for the future
Immediately after baby you’ll be returning to items you turned to around months four and five, so keep this in mind. Anything you find that’s flowy, and not overtly “maternity” will serve you well. You can also look for things like maternity tanks that are also nursing tanks. Same goes for bras. That way you can buy them once and use them both before and after baby.
8 | Resist the urge to stock up
I know this might sound crazy, but the truth is, you don’t need as many items of clothing as you may think, and it is really hard to predict in month one or three what will be comfortable in month eight. Try to let those gaps in your original capsule wardrobe appear organically, and then revisit this list just when it’s time to buy. With today’s shipping speeds, you’re unlikely to be completely out of clothes for long.