Monday, October 03, 2011

Tacky khakis

Okay, I know I’m not remotely original in saying what I’m about to, but: I hate maternity clothes.

I know, I know, everyone hates maternity clothes. The cheapo flammable material, the “panels” (really: tubes) of panty-hose-like nylon covering your belly, the ubiquitous empire waist—which only looks good on young girls and women with extremely subtle cleavage. What is there to like? And who wants to spend actual money on temporary clothing—especially temporary clothing that definitely makes you look fat?

I saved all my horrid maternity clothing from the last time around in a giant Rubbermaid bin in the attic, not at all sure until pretty recently that I’d ever have use for any of it again. For the majority of time since my daughter’s birth, I was about as interested in having another baby as I was in trying out for that reality TV show where people whack each other into pools of water with giant Nerf bats.

Then something shifted, and suddenly I was interested. I wanted another baby. I wanted my first baby to have a sibling. I wanted me and Dr. Husband and Baby #1 to be a full-fledged, two-on-two, kids-versus-adults family.

What I didn’t want was to have to wear my old maternity clothes ever again. After I peed on a stick and saw a faint second line emerge, I pulled the bin down from the attic and felt my heart sink. None of those clothes looked like me. I remembered one of my best friends, a stylish woman with an affinity for Banana Republic and Ann Taylor, six months pregnant and clad in khakis and a heather-grey t-shirt announcing to some other friends of mine whom she was meeting for the first time, “This isn’t how I dress! You have to believe me!” I giggled at the time, but I of course learned the hard way—the only way—the angst that forced her sartorial declaration. No one feels like themselves when squeezed into pants with a nylon panel. No one.

So I was only half dismayed (the financially pragmatic half—which really is more like a quarter) to realize that my last pregnancy occurred at the exact opposite times of the year and thus few of my old maternity clothes were season-appropriate. I attended four summer weddings—including my own—last time I was in my second trimester. This time it will be the blessed, layered dead of winter and I will have no use for black lacy empire-waist sleeveless numbers—save for New Year’s Eve, and having to remain sober, I’ll have no use for that, either.

I’m determined to wear clothes that are comfortable and as flattering as possible—even if that means buying two dresses and a few pairs of leggings and doing laundry every single day. (Perfect preparation for having a newborn!) I vaguely remember having the same determination last time—but a glance into my Rubbermaid bin proves my failure. I don’t dress in fluttery-sleeved blouses or tube-toppy floral dresses (WTF!?) or not-quite-long enough green knit karate pants. What the hell was I thinking? Who was that woman?

I do not want to spend money on a bunch more temporary clothing that I will hate in nine months (just six-and-a-half more to go!)—but I want even less to feel like the frumpy, unhappy, uber-unsexy lump I felt like last time. Because it was the clothing that made me feel that way, not being gigantic and nauseated and a million pounds and unable to shave anywhere important, right?

So I bought a few stretchy dresses and some cute, sweeping cardigans, and we’ll see how things go. I think they’ll look great when I’m undeniably showing—though at the moment it looks like I’m showing even though all that could be showing is all the cereal I’ve been eating to stave off the nausea (and bring on the gigantic).

“Oooh! So cute!” three different people declared yesterday pointing to my cereal belly. My husband can get away with this, but the babysitter and our drycleaner—who guessed I was already in my second trimester? Perhaps it’s time to invest in some cute broaches or something with which to clasp the sweepy cardigans closed over my poochy mid-section. For now, I’m opting for optical distraction—lots of stripes and dots. If I can’t please the eye, I’ll confuse it.

It’s no fun when people guess that you’re more pregnant than you actually are—about as fun, in fact, as being relegated to shop in the stuffy, overheated, unstaffed maternity section of the store, your arms brushing up against fabrics with all the softness and integrity and appeal of a plastic bag, your brain briefly unable to remember that it's all for a greater cause. And that it's all temporary. Except for the money you have to spend—that shit's gone for good.


  1. Funny - since I hate shopping for clothing, and since I've spent a hefty portion of the last 10 years pregnant, my maternity clothes are often newer and more stylish than my un-pregnant clothing. Opening up the Rubbermaid bin is like greeting old friends. Although the clothes I bought in my first pregnancy are out of style now, at least they were fashionable *when I bought them*, which is more than can be said of some of the things in my un-pregnant closet.

  2. Oh, you're making me miss the days when I used to get your hand-me-downs... You were my only source of Esprit...

  3. I was wearing an old maternity dress today at work (almost two years post partum) when I read this and I laughed. I loved my maternity clothes, and I still wear a few key pieces :). I am lazy (I know, big shocker), and have no time to shop, so maternity time was the last time I bought myself new clothes. I tended to go for the more clingy clothes, emphasizing my bump, which felt much much less frumpy then when I was wearing loose clothing. Get yourself to Target!!! They have cheap, stylish maternity clothes. I love their maternity leggings!

  4. I heard good things about Target maternitywwear last time I was pregnant, but apparently 2009 was a bad year for spandex. I will give it another try this time around! Thanks for the tip.

  5. Wait--Emily--you were pregnant at the exact same time as me... It must just have been the maternity selection at Seattle Targets that sucked!

  6. I know I'm weird but I love maternity clothes. Now I'm in my third trimester I've happily cleared all the non-maternity stuff out of the wardrobe, I just find things that are cut for the pregnant shape so much more flattering and comfortable. It doesn't sound like you have many good options over your way. :(

  7. Love all you contrarians! But surely none of you love the spandex stomach panels, right?!?!?

  8. I just stumbled across your blog and I love it.

  9. Love your blog but geeze, don't we ALL struggle with this? I certainly did. I hate shopping - the physical act of going out and doing it, anyway - so I have always done most of mine online. It's challenging but the good stuff is out there. I did best with my wardrobe by only buying a few pieces here and there though, and I still like them now even a year later to be honest.