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Babies, Families, Fashion, Life & Style

Ethical Maternity Clothes

ethical maternity wear

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A reader recently asked me about the options available for ethical maternity clothes, which I thought I’d address now while it’s still fresh in my mind!  And to be honest, five weeks in I’m still wearing some of my maternity clothes!

The short answer to ethical maternity clothes question is that in truth is I’m loathe to suggest buying new ethical maternity clothes, because you’ll wear the clothes for such a short duration that it’s not really worth the investment.  Instead I thought I’d share the approach I took in my own pregnancies:

Ethical Maternity Clothes – A Guide

ethical maternity clothes uk

Use What You’ve Got

The most ethical maternity clothes are the ones you already own.  From my existing non-maternity wardrobe I looked for:

  • Cardigans
  • Leggings and tights
  • Stretchy tops and jumpers
  • Stretchy dresses and empire line dresses.  A word on dresses – as your bump gets bigger and bigger your existing non-maternity dresses will get shorter and shorter on you so you might want to wear them as tunics with maternity jeans or leggings underneath.
  • Wrap dresses
  • Elastic waisted skirts
  • Shirts – wear unbuttoned over a stretchy vest or top
  • Oversized clothing

I put away anything I couldn’t wear – so for example, a lot of my dresses got put away.  I don’t have a big wardrobe (heck, I don’t even own a wardrobe – just one chest of drawers and a box under my bed), so I didn’t have a massive amount of clothes to choose from but the things I did have were surprisingly versatile!

As the months progress I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to get through your whole pregnancy just with what’s in your wardrobe already, but there a few other avenues to explore before having to resort to buying new maternity clothes!

eBay

ethical maternity clothes

My two Asos Maternity secondhand Bay finds – and me at 37 and 39 weeks pregnant first time around

My own wardrobe only offered me a very limited selection so first time around on eBay I searched for secondhand Asos maternity wear (one of the least frumpy maternity wear retailers I found) and found two beautiful secondhand maternity dresses that I wore and wore and wore for the whole duration of both of my pregnancies.  If you’re into the idea of wearing dresses (I know not everyone is) I found it quite an economical way of dressing whilst pregnant – you only need one item of clothing – whereas with trousers you need a top as well.  Both times I was heavily pregnant in winter so a cardigan out of my existing wardrobe helped keep me warm – the best thing with that is there’s no need for special maternity cardigans!

Other good things to look for on eBay are maternity jeans and trousers.  I’d have been lost without my maternity jeans!  I have some Topshop ones that I bought on eBay and I love them (still wearing them now!!).

While you’re on eBay keep an eye out for maternity bundles – where people are selling their maternity clothing in bulk packages.  You might get a whole new-to-you maternity wardrobe for not much money!

Charity Shops

non maternity maternity clothes

Maternity wear in charity shops is quite hard to find, but what I did find were regular clothes that worked well with a bump.  Skirts with elasticated waists (handy for wearing below your bump) (see my collection above); wrap dresses (surprisingly good at covering bumps); and oversized tops are all good finds that can then be worn post-birth too.

Two of the skirts above are second hand and the teal skirt with the owls is from People Tree*.  It’s still available – here*- and just £8!

DIY Options

Making a bump band is a great way of eking out the life of your non-maternity tops and bottoms with a band that covers the gap between your top and your trousers!  The good news is it’s not difficult to make – here’s an easy DIY from the girls at A Beautiful Mess.  If you really can’t sew you could always cut an old stretchy vest in half (horizontally across the middle) to make your band.

Buying New

If you really want to buy new then there are a couple of ethical maternity clothes shops, such as Tiffany Rose and Boob Design but I personally found them a bit out of my price range.  If you’re after something a bit more budget friendly then I’d suggest either Marks & Spencer Maternity Wear* and New Look Maternity Wear*.  Marks & Spencer are one of the more ethical retailers on the High St, as are New Look and also both more affordable.

When I was pregnant first time around the New Look maternity range seemed very young in style so I didn’t shop there, but I recently had a look and it looks a lot more grown-up than it was five years ago!  After you’re done with them either keep the clothes for future pregnancies, or pass on to friends or sell on eBay for maximum longevity.

Alternatively, you could buy items from my list at the top, such as elasticed waist skirts, shirts, etc, from any ethical retailer.

Maternity Bras

The only thing I haven’t skimped on is maternity/nursing bras.  A girl needs all the support she can get!  Lorna Drew sell ethical maternity/nursing bras or on the High St you can’t really beat the Marks & Spencer maternity/nursing bras*.  I bought these ones* and can recommend them.

Maternity Clothes You Don’t Need To Buy

I’ve always thought the maternity clothes market tries to sell you things you don’t really need.  I found that I didn’t need maternity specific leggings, tights, knickers, and pyjamas/sleepwear.

The good news is you don’t need too many clothes – depending on how often you do laundry then maybe about five days worth of clothing (so you don’t get completely sick of wearing the exact same things over and over again).  A word of warning for the first time mums-to-be: you may need to keep wearing your maternity clothes after you’ve had your baby for a little bit, as post-birth it can take a little while for your body to go back to some kind of normal.  So I can promise you, whatever you buy you will be sick of it by the time you go back to wearing normal clothes!

Ethical Nursing Clothes

While I’m here, a note on nursing.  If you’re planning on breastfeeding some people say you should stock up on specific nursing tops.  The thing is, breastfeeding is a totally normal activity and does not need a brand new wardrobe or a specialist wardrobe, ethical or otherwise.  I own precisely zero specifically designed nursing tops.  Instead I find the best approach for nursing discretely in public is to wear a vest under whatever I’m wearing.  When my daughter needs feeding I reach down and unhook my nursing bra, and then pull the vest down just enough and the outer top up just enough.  It takes practice (just like breastfeeding takes practice) but once you’re used to you can feed really discretely without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Do you have any ethical maternity clothes tips?  Advice on retailers that you’ve found?  Nursing tips?  Do share in the comments below!

Fashion, Life & Style

Your Ethical Style: Lyndsey Haskell

secondhand wardrobe

For today’s Your Ethical Style post, Lyndsey Haskell of online shop What You Sow is sharing her tips and inspirations for putting together an ethical wardrobe.  Long term Moral Fibres readers will be familiar with Lyndsey – she’s the crafting genius behind the popular reusable cotton wool pad tutorial that was featured early on in the life of the blog!

Take it away Lyndsey!

Jackie Magazine t-shirt

Hi Lyndsey, can you share with us three facts about you?

1) I am the owner of What You Sow, an online shop selling gifts for gardeners.  We’re based at the ONCA centre for Arts and Ecology in central Brighton.

2) I live at The Garden House, a gardening school and magical place in Brighton where people can come to learn about horticulture.  It’s so beautiful and I am the world’s luckiest lodger to be able to stay there.  I learn something new about plants every single day and living there really helps with my Instagram feed!

3) As well as running What You Sow I work as a photographer for charities, taking pictures of the fantastic things they do and the people they work with.

Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?

When I talk about ethical clothing I mostly mean second-hand.  In Brighton we have so many charity and vintage shops, there are some fab car boots sales and everyone is into clothes swapping.  My top four places to source clothes are:

1) Emmaus Brighton, a homeless charity and second-hand superstore – they curate a very reasonably priced vintage section and regularly do bonkers sales where, for example, all pairs of shoes are £1, even posh branded ones.  I bought my favourite shoulder bag there for 50p two years ago and use it almost every day.  You can find branches of Emmaus all over the country.

2) Race Hill car boot – a bustling car boot on top of the hill in Brighton which doesn’t really get started until 10.30am every Sunday (so perfect if you like a lie in).  You can find all sorts of clothing at proper car boot prices.  I’ve picked up so many pretty scarves for 50p over the years and towards the end people will sell you clothes for 10 or 20p and give you free things as they don’t want to take stuff home!  Great for jumpers too.  I love jumpers.

3) Jumble Trails – We have had lots of Jumble Trails recently where a whole street or area will sell second-hand goods from outside their houses.  Have a look to see if there is a Jumble Trail in your area.

4) Clothes swaps – get a bunch of your girlfriends together, dump all your pre-loved clothes in a pile and have a rummage.  You will all leave with some lovely stuff and it will be fun when you next meet up and you’re all dressed as each other.  I did one with a group of girls from work a few months ago and we all turned up the following Monday wearing each other’s clothes, completely unplanned, we just all really loved the new things we had!

secondhand wardrobe

What’s the last ethical item that you bought?

I recently took a trip to Glasgow, a city jam-packed with charity shops and vintage boutiques.  I found the most beautiful vintage red dress in the Vintage Guru sale for a fiver which I have been wearing almost non-stop since.  It fits perfectly and the colour really suits me.  Such a lucky find.

Is there anything second-hand or ethical that you are lusting over at the moment?

I always have a list in my head of things I am keeping an eye out for.  Currently on the list is a denim t-shirt dress, smart black dungarees and a floppy black hat.  Also, clogs!

Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?

Enjoy the process.  Take time out to browse charity shops rather than trying to find things in a rush.  Take a friend and make an afternoon of it: that’s how you find the gems.  At a car boot, those huge piles of clothes you see can often feel daunting but you should always dive right in.  You’ll find some beauts.

tan vintage handbag

Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?

I don’t really buy much new ethical clothing as I find it so expensive.  This weighs on my conscience a bit as I would love to support fair trade fashion retailers like my favourite FAIR in Brighton, who often stock amazing stripey things from People Tree.  But the clothes are so pricey I rarely buy anything there.  I bought some fantastic bamboo Monkee Genes Jeans a year or so ago in a sale, and would love to buy more from them but I’d never be able to afford them normally.

Where do you get your style inspiration from?

I am lucky to have some very stylish besties who inspire the way I dress.  Amy of Super + Super is always upcycling and embellishing items and Claire of She’s Called Claire is a style and travel blogger, who always looks amazing and often lets me borrow her clothes.  Pinterest is a great way of collecting style ideas and I lose myself in the Sunday Times Style magazine every weekend which always gives me ideas of how to wear things.

red vintage dress

What is your best second-hand or ethical find ever?

A few years ago, artist Jil Shipley made some drawings for What You Sow in the style of the illustrations she drew for Jackie Magazine in the 70s.  The pictures were of girls with flowers in their hair and it was the first time Jil had drawn girls in that style since she finished working on the magazine.

I wanted to have the illustrations printed onto t-shirts but after searching high and low I couldn’t find an ethical source.  In bringing an entirely new object into the world, it was really important to me that this item would not harm the planet or the people producing it in any way.  Luckily through a shared connection with the Moral Fibres blog I eventually came across an environmentally-friendly t-shirt designer in the form of Anna from Lost Shapes.

Anna prints her fabulous designs onto a range of organic, fairly-traded clothing and even the inks she uses are non-toxic and suitable for vegans.  Anna was happy to work together to create the t-shirts and provided plenty of guidance and expertise to make sure everything was perfect.

The t-shirts are launching in November (for a sneak peak see the top photo!) and I’m incredibly proud of them and glad to have found such an ethical business to produce them.  I wear mine all the time and was recently really thrilled to find out that Jil does too!

What would be your ultimate thrifted find?

My ultimate thrifted find is always the next one.  I get such a buzz when I find something beautiful in a charity shop – it has a history, you’re saving it from landfill, you’re helping support a charity to do good things.  You can’t get that feeling on the high street.

Sashiko visible mending

Finally Lyndsey, can you share with us your top three style tricks/DIYs?

1. A fun low-carbon way of accessorising is to pick flowers from the garden and wear them in your hair.  It will make you feel happy all day. Choose flowers with woody stems (roses are perfect) and pick bold colours to pep up any outfit.

2. Be a creative mender.  A couple of years ago, blogger Helen of trees and what not offered on Twitter to fix items of clothing using the traditional Japanese technique of Sashiko, known as visible mending (see the above photo).  I took the opportunity to send her a skirt to fix.  She did a wonderful job on it and the stitches she used are so pretty.  Be proud and show off your visible mending, it will open a conversation about the throwaway nature of clothes and it will get people thinking.  My favourite summer sandals are held together by bakers twine and they are completely fine to wear.  I’m so glad I didn’t have to throw them away.  I actually hardly throw anything away and sometimes when I’ll do a slightly shoddy piece of mending Amy will look impressed and say “ooh, visible mending” and suddenly my messy darning will become a feature.

3. If you’ve bought an unusual vintage dress and you’re not sure what to wear it with, try ankle boots.

Thanks for taking part Lyndsey!  You can visit Lyndsey’s shop, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  New to Moral Fibres?  You can also check out the other Your Ethical Style posts!

Do you want to share your ethical style with Moral Fibres readers?  Whatever your age, sex, size, style, budget or location I’d love to feature you to show that ethical fashion is for everyone!  Get in touch via moralfibres@gmail.com to take part in Your Ethical Style!  There are no barriers to taking part – you don’t have to be a blogger to be featured!