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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
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:
- 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!