Maternity without poverty

By Mir
July 13, 2006

In spite of the hard gestating Gen is apparently engaged in, she took time out of her busy schedule to admire me. We like her.

WOW, what a great web site, I get on and check it out at least once a day, thanks. I would certainly have to agree with many other question writers that you sure are pretty.

I have what seems to be a simple question. Where so I find well made, nice looking (funky even), maternity clothes that don’t cost a fortune?

I know this is not something you regularly shop for, but you seem to be so in the know.

Thanks for the advise, keep up the fantastic work.

Why thank you, Gen. Not only am I sometimes “in the know,” sometimes I… carry children. In my uterus! Necessitating… maternity clothing! How lucky is that?

The first thing I need to tell you is that however fat and uncomfortable you are feeling now, you will only get fatter and more uncomfortable as time goes on. This means two important things:

1) You don’t want clothing you feel frumpy in, because you will feel plenty frumpy already. So do treat yourself to some pieces that make you feel pretty.

2) The corollary to number 1 is that you also don’t want fashion that’s uncomfortable, because having an entire human wedged in your pelvis is really going to be uncomfortable enough.

At first glance these two things might seem contradictory, but they’re really not. Just keep them in mind as you shop.

So. Where to shop without breaking the bank? You can find maternity clothes a billion places, nowadays. Gone are the days when you had to hit Motherhood for something that might look like it was made this century, and the maternity section at Sears was a last—but necessary—resort. You can buy cheap and you can buy pricey and you can buy everything inbetween.

Of course, my preference is always for expensive things found cheap. Did you know that there’s a outlet section of 70% off maternity clothes at Amazon? There is! (Although Amazon is being difficult and not letting me link directly to it. Bah. Click that link, then scroll down to “Narrow by Sale & Clearance” in the left sidebar and choose 70% off or more.) They seem to have a fair amount of Mimi Maternity choices in there, which is a store that I always sort of liked but couldn’t afford, back when I was pregnant. Lots of good (and cheap!) stuff to be found in there.

I also recall writing an impassioned letter to Lands’ End during my first pregnancy, begging them to sell maternity clothing, to which they politely replied, “Wow! Thanks for your interest! But, um, no!” But I am totally taking credit for the fact that they saw the light a few years later and started carrying maternity wear. Now, Lands’ End is probably not going to be your source for “funky.” But when the Apocalypse comes to pass, all that is going to be left on the rubble of Earth are cockroaches and Lands’ End cotton knits. If you want something that’s comfortable and high-quality, definitely check them out. And you always want to check the online overstocks, specifically the maternity overstocks. Stock changes often, so you have to be fairly vigilant about checking them out.

Looking for some items that start out fairly affordable, and also go on sale? I like the Liz Lange stuff at Target, and you can shop the clearance both in the store and online. I also think Old Navy has some cute stuff, and they have pretty good online clearance, as well.

Also keep in mind your options for finding things pre-owned. It’s yard sale season; there are consignment and thrift stores; there’s eBay. Even if you’re one of those peope who wouldn’t ordinarily buy used clothes, we’re talking about something you’re going to be wearing for less than half a year. You can economize a little. And then totally spend the money you saved on something really cute for the nursery.

Keep in mind: If you know women who’ve had kids already, you may know someone who is just dying to pass down her maternity clothing and reclaim that spare closet. You never know. If someone offers you their maternity clothing, take it. I don’t care how ugly you think it is. TAKE. IT. You never know what you might be able to make into something wearable, in a pinch, or what circus tent that you scoffed at in month 4 might turn out to be the only thing that fits you in month 10. (Yes, 10. Didn’t you know? Sorry to break it to you.) Free is free. Be gracious, and just hang on to it. If you really can’t use it, don’t worry—you can pass it on to the next person.

Lastly: I firmly believe that everyone needs some maternity clothes during pregnancy, but you can “cheat” with a fair number of non-maternity items, as well. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for larger casual clothing on clearance. Not only will you score some baragains, that way, but you’ll have some items that work both for early pregnancy and then again for those early post-partum days when you are too small for maternity clothes but way too big for your normal clothes.

Best wishes for a happy, uneventful, fashionable and frugal pregnancy! (I have first dibs on sniffing the baby’s head, by the way.)


  1. NOW Motherhood carries cute and fashionable stuff…it USED to be Mu’sMu’s and tents but now they have cute stuff for a good price…there are also Motherhood outlets in some outlet malls. And believe it or not JC Penney has CUTE maternity clothes…cute trendy tops & dresses & capris…i got a lot of stuff frmo there.

    Also agree on target and the Liz Lange line.

    If you have TJMaxx or Ross, they too have a maternity section…I found a REAL (not the cheap version sold at target)liz lange skirt (normal price $100) at Ross on their maternity section…but you have to look.

    And YES, Old navy is good too…not all of the stores carry it but online always does.


  2. I was all about consignment when I was pregnant. A kids’ consignment shop I found also had – surprise to me – a great maternity section, so you might try kids’ stores.

  3. I’ll second JC Penney. I found a surprising amount of cute things there, and if you can find it on clearance, it’s even better.

  4. Finally, something I am qualified to comment on! Lane Bryant and Avenue both have very good clearance racks and the clothes are pretty cute. True, they are “plus” size, but tunics, t shirts and some blouses work pretty well, not to mention the sleepwear, which you will need, trust me. Pants pretty much need to be maternity after the belly pops, but try to find the type that have a band of stretch, instead of a “tummy panel.” They are much more comfortable.

    Also, perhaps under the too much information category: Spring for maternity panties. They are big and grannie-ish, but sooooo comfy.

    Finally, do not burn your maternity clothes after you are finished with them. Do a yellow pages search of consignment stores in your area and sell them. It is worth it and the whole bonfire thing isn’t as satisfying as you might think. Not that I would know. A-hem.

  5. Motherhood has changed a lot. My kids are only 23 months apart and they went way downhill between the two. When I was pregnant with my second, I needed more maternity clothes because I was now living in a state that has winter. I recall commenting to the woman in the store that all of the clothes look like something an unwed teenage mother would want. Some of their basics were ok (jeans, t-shirts, granny panties) but a lot of it was too hip for me!

    I love the quality of Lands End – a few staples from there are worth the money. Same for Gap, if you catch some on sale.

  6. Two notes from my maternity days….
    1. on the pants, try on a few different kinds, what works for your friends may not be comfy for you. In fact, I was known for going to the expensive shops to try on styles and then buying elsewhere. While I found the stretch band worked in earlier parts, I couldn’t keep them up as well as the tummy panel pants as I got huge. (they just slide down my oversized belly.
    2. Trust me, what you think you will never grow into in month 5 (afterall you only have 5 more to go, right?) will be too small in month 8. The last two weeks of my pregnancy, I could literally wear a pair of jeans (gap, on sale, with the tummy panel) and a pair of overalls (motherhood outlet) and the various tees that I could squeeze over my body. So, while we all love to be stylish, I strongly suggest you pick up a pair of overalls — or anything that just hangs from your shoulders.

    Enjoy the shopping — and fighting people off from rubbing the belly 😉

  7. for adorable, funky CHEAP maternity gear, head to h&m – a european clothing company. they have some really cute stuff — but beware. their sizes run small, so its great if you’re on the small to medium size, not so great if you’re not.

    and they have really cute baby clothes to browse as well…

  8. Ahhhh, another good one. Thanks, Melissa! We don’t have that in my neck of the woods, so I completely forgot about them.

  9. I’m all about the consignment shops, and borrowing from the larger sized clothing. Two of my three pregnancies were in summer, and I prefered dresses b/c they were light and comfortable. For dresses, I went the route of getting some oversized but normal clothing. For example, I normally wear a size 8, but I fit into a size 16 sundress pregnant.

    I also borrow from my husband. His t-shirts fit great, and I like the look of wearing his dress shirts with jeans!

    Another piece of advice – invest in a really nice pair of slip on sandals – birkenstocks or something of the like with good support. You’re feet will thank you!

  10. While not all Old Navy and Gap stores have actual maternity sections, customers often opt to return their online purchases in-store. I found a pair of maternity jeans at ON for about $20 (instead of, what…$50 or something outrageous). Just look in the discount areas of Old Navy, and ask in the kids’ side of Gap stores.

    I’ve found that with the kind of styles that are popular right now, many non-maternity shirts are working for me. I’ve bought several on-sale tanks and tees at Target and JC Penney that have lasted me all the way through (I’m about 8 months and they’re still roomy). Look for those shirts that are nice and long, with the tighter band at the bottom. That way you don’t get the tent look. I hate the tent look!

    Oh, and if you are anywhere the least bit hot during the summer, splurge for a pair (or five) of Liz Lange gauchos from Target. I’m living in mine now. Waistbands are totally not an option anymore – I’m carrying sooo low.

  11. Buyer beware…Motherhood’s return policy stinks. They only give store credit and I think you only have 2 weeks to exchange or return for credit (the same policy applies to their outlets), regardless of the reason. I’ve also found that their cotton t-shirts shrink if you put them in the clothes dryer…incredibly annoying if you forget to hang them to dry.

    I am very lucky to have a friend who is about my size and having children. We each bought a few things and then we passed them back and forth. This is especially nice for things like bathing suits and dresses that you might only need to wear a few times.

  12. There are also great maternity deals on eBay – I got some Japanese Weekend outfits for WAY less than they are sold for at regular stores. I would search my size every day or two just to see what items were ending soon and then snatch ’em up.

Bargain Hunt





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