Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Maternity garb, Part II: realities

To discuss maternity clothes is to discuss bodies. There's no one situation of The Pregnant Lady (or to expand further, and open up another whole set of questions: The Pregnant Person). Every thought you've ever had about your body — including relating to the pregnancy itself — is going to enter into the feelings that impact the day-to-day question of how to get dressed. I come from this topic from a specific place, as does everyone. Consider this not so much a privilege disclaimer as an everyone's-different reminder. What's been easy for me may have been difficult for others and vice versa. With that, moving on...

The challenges:

 -There’s an assumption behind maternity fashion advice one finds online: that you want to look pregnant rather than fat. On the one hand I get it – I am a woman living in our society! On the other, if you’re a woman who shows from approximately day one, you maybe don’t want to announce to every single person you interact with. So the first step is giving up the notion that you’re looking for something that’s somehow both slimming (or as it’s euphemized, in this age that gestures at body-positivity, flattering) and pregnancy-obscuring. Ultimately you may want some clothes from both categories. But ultimately-ultimately, at least in summer, at least if you're as short as I am, nothing's going to be ambiguous.

 -Also tricky: the conventionality of maternity clothing. Or maybe just the limited options, which assume a universally-shared female end goal of looking like the “after” on an episode of “What Not To Wear.” Or there are shirts that announce, with Pinterest-era graphics, the situation (with "mama" or baby-inside or whatever). If you're someone who values dressing like yourself, whatever that means to you, you kind of have to avoid maternity clothes, but sizing-wise, this may not be possible. 

-Oh yeah, and the big one: $$$. At just the moment in life when saving money starts to seem particularly important, it becomes necessary to buy all these new clothes for yourself. And not just any clothes, but ones a) that will only fleetingly fit, and b) that cost a ton because they can. (Forgive me for being a peasant, but $150 strikes me as steep for a plain t-shirt.) Avoiding the bleak-for-different-reasons paths of getting ripped off and wearing absolutely any potato sack involves a bit of thought.

Practically speaking, what works:

 -Oversize t-shirt dresses. Helpful in that I already owned some. Muji probably has the best (I have the Breton-striped, short- and long-sleeved), made of sturdy but chic material, and with pockets. Uniqlo Marimekko had one (also with pockets) but I think that’s done now. Regular Uniqlo (along with Gap) seems as if it would have this, but not so much. H&M is the place to go if you're willing to forgo pockets but just get $10 t-shirt dresses. And if you’re short, you have the option of actual long t-shirts, or so I tell myself. (I realize that in a pale-blue shirt-thingy I recently bought at Kotn, it looks like I’m going out without pants on, but I can live with this.) Giving up entirely on the idea of a waistline helps. Think enormous t-shirt, not merely jersey-material (but likely too fitted) dress.

 -Hideous but loose shorts. I bought some at H&M in very much the spirit of, this'll do, but when it’s very hot out and I need to take my dog out in something with pockets, they do the trick. They don’t have the maternity band (they’re not maternity shorts), which means they work when it’s a million degrees out. Why hideous? Among other reasons, because they’re not actually cut to be worn low-slung, so when I wear them it looks like I haven’t pulled my shorts up correctly. Oh well.

-Lululemon Align cropped leggings. New York Magazine was right, what can I say? I went two sizes up, and they fit where other leggings do not. Something to do with the waistband material. The seams are a bit itchier than one might ask of leggings that, with tax, approach the shame-on-me $100 mark, and the pocket situation is minimal (a tiny one hidden in the waistband), but... I haven’t found better? Very Tribeca Whole Foods Mom, even if she'd go for one of the more obscure and still pricier brands. (Did I mention I'm embarrassed I bought these leggings, even though I've worn them a ton, because doubtless somewhere out there are much cheaper ones that would have been fine?)

-Actual maternity bottoms from the mall. I’m just not a dresses-every-day person. It’s not what I generally feel like wearing, and it’s not even practical from a summer-laundry perspective. (I’m not buying a laundry cycle’s worth of t-shirt dresses, and if 85 degrees feels like 150 for me, I’m not keen to re-wear these a bunch of times before washing.) And the leggings-or-terrible-shorts thing was getting old. The prospect of buying clothing this fit-specific online didn’t appeal, so I (braved the unspecified threat to popular sites that day in downtown Toronto and) went to Thyme Maternity and got some regular shorts and jeans, both with the (too warm but what can be done) stretchy band, which together came to about $100. They're both... fine, I think — needed a shorter length in the jeans, so will see once those arrive. Both seem an improvement over the one such item I had already bought – Uniqlo maternity pants, I think the one style they sell, which were an acceptable $40 CAD but went from too big to too small, skipping the bit where they're meant to fit.

 -Random clothes you have around and can still squeeze into. I’m thanking my past self for not getting rid of enormous sleep t-shirts or very washed-out regular ones, but am also able to get into my usual t-shirts, even if they look very odd at this point. I even found a sleeveless, cowl-neck black dress from the Uniqlo Inès de la Fressange range circa 2014 that wasn't fabulous as a regular dress but that may now be my only correctly-fitting garment.

-The pregnancy-book advice to 'just wear your partner's clothes!' I was very skeptical at first in my case, what with the height difference, and was picturing going around in jeans a foot too long. But this approach may be what means I don't need to order maternity t-shirts. A task I'd been dreading, not least because wherever you get them, they'll cost three times that of an equivalent regular t-shirt. And what are you then supposed to do with those side-ruched, stretch-material t-shirts afterwards?

And now, what seems like it would work but does not:

 -Empire waist dresses. I know this is the look that says ‘pregnancy’ but this is, again, because the style gives the illusion of a larger midsection, and not because it’s actually comfortable when pregnant. The waist won’t fall where it needs to, and or will go from fitting right one day to near-bursting the next. I got an absolutely stunning navy prairie-ish dress at Durumi, a Korean boutique on Queen West – $35 down from $129! – that would be perfect for Park Slope Writer Mom. Empire-ish waist, button-up torso. Pockets. It fit perfectly for a week or so, but if I try again it will almost certainly rip.

 -The jeans you find when Googling “maternity jeans,” or stocked in the posh maternity boutiques where you can go to buy bras but not under any circumstances look around at the clothes. These jeans are $300 (in Canada, at least) and even if they’re good (which, judging by how they looked on a Tribeca Whole Foods Mom I saw in the Toronto obgyn waiting room, they very well might be), they can’t be that amazing, because they're still jeans with a strange stretchy inset, and that will only fit correctly for a few minutes. If I were ever to spend $300 on jeans (unlikely), I’d want at least the prospect of decent cost-per-wear, which this situation pretty much rules out.

1 comment:

Lovemere said...

Excellent information on your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us. Amazing insight you have on this, it's nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists.
maternity wear dresses online