Monday, April 7, 2008

Ah, the indignity . . . some notes on maternity clothes.

I'll concede that maternity clothes are likely far more stylish and flattering than they were ten and especially twenty years ago. They are also easier to find. Target has maternity clothes. So does Kohls. Most malls have a Motherhood or Mimi Maternity store. Some GAP stores and Old Navy stores have maternity sections as well. If you are pregnant and have unlimited resources, you could even shop at boutiques and/or online to find designer maternity jeans from brands like Seven and the like (no, I have not done this). Depending on your time, resources, and motivation, you can get yourself looking, if not hot, at least presentable.

I think when carrying the bub, I was so happy and excited to be pregnant that I was willing to wear maternity clothes that I would never have considered donning had a comparable version been available in regular-person clothes. I also broke one of my cardinal rules and wore flood pants more often than I should have, simply because I didn't take the time and/or spend the money to secure maternity pants long enough for my 5'10" self. This time around, though equally happy to be pregnant, I have put the kibosh on floods and scoured the Gap (online and in stores) for tall pants with moderate success. For a while all was good. But now, though these pants have not shrunk, none of my maternity pants--in all the various panel styles, except maybe the fold over ones, of which I do not have any talls--have become extremely uncomfortable. I think I am doing better weight-wise this pregnancy than with the bub so it's not the case that I am just too big. It's more like Bub 2.0 is lower or something; basically all the maternity pants are digging into my lower abdomen something fierce right at the point where the panel meets the fabric of the pants. If I wear a pair of maternity pants for more than, say, two hours, I worry that I am cutting off the baby's circulation.

For a special event, I will don my maternity jeans or khakis (gives you an indication of how "special" the events are on my social calendar, NTB). Day to day though, my solution has been to start wearing the same three pairs of pants on a rotation. One is a pair of gray GAP sweatpants from 2004 that I can push below the big belly. The second is a pair of black Old Navy yoga pants (non-maternity) that happens to fit. (I tried to buy another pair of these same pants, but after checking five Old Navy stores in Ohio and Illinois, could not find them. Their tag labeled them as "new" yoga pants, whereas most stores seem to carry the "old" yoga pants which are too short and which show every line of my underwear--even in size XL). The third pair of pants is a a pair of Old Navy maternity yoga pants ordered online last week. As you can imagine, this wardrobe rotation system requires a certain vigilance with regard to laundry (especially considering some of the other, ahem, "challenges" of pregnancy). Not surprisingly, I woke up on Friday morning with no clean and comfortable pants to wear. So, I went to the bin on my landing where I store my old maternity clothes (the bub was due in January, Bub 2.0 is due in July--a lot of my maternity stuff is seasonally off for my girth). I hoped I might surprise myself by finding a forgotten pair of long and comfortable bottoms. What did I find? A "little" something I call "Big Teal."

Big Teal (it's actually aqua not teal, but that hardly improves anything) is a GAP maternity sweatsuit that I wore the hell out of last time around. It is comfortable. The pants are of generous length. The hoodie zips up and is quilted, NTB. I even have a coordinating long-sleeved t-shirt to wear beneath it. By a certain point in my pregnancy with the bub, I was wearing Big Teal every time it was clean (every two or three days--I had more time to devote to laundry pre-bub). I have a distinct memory of going out to dinner with two friends about a month before the bub was due and donning Big Teal. I'm a confused by that decision now--we were at a bar for dinner, not Wendy's: did I have nothing more appropriate? Because I did not lose all forty-five of the pounds I gained with the bub right away, I admit I also donned Big Teal for a couple (or maybe even four) months post partum (not to worry, I barely left the house). Anyway, Big Teal served me well, and I have a lot of affection and gratitude for Big Teal. But when I packed it away in a box labeled "maternity/fat clothes" sometime in the Spring of 2006, I kind of said to myself that I wouldn't be revisiting it next time I was pregnant. Big Teal had worn out its welcome.

But there I was this past Friday with no clean and comfortable pants to wear. So, I hesitated and then pulled on Big Teal. After all, if not chic and sophisticated for the urban pregnant lady, Big Teal is comfortable. Given that Friday started out super gray and dismal, I tried to imagine that dressed in Big Teal, I was lighting up the world around me, spreading cheer, beckoning spring (you all can thank me and Big Teal for the sunshine over the weekend). Perhaps from the over-wear last time around, Big Teal had stretched a bit. As I herded the bub into the park district for our Friday morning class, I caught a glance of myself in the building's window and realized that the pants had slipped, revealing my big white belly. I gave them a hoist, afraid a Vanity Fair photographer was nearby and eager to photograph me in all my pregnant glory. No worries there. I made it through the day with Big Teal, but, though physically comfortable, I wasn't feeling cool or cute. Not at all.

I'm wearing the Old Navy regular yoga pants as I write. The maternity yoga pants will be worn tomorrow. The gray pants, my third choice, are on deck for Wednesday. If the weather turns, I have some maternity capris that I know are comfortable (four pair, NTB). If not, I will likely be in Big Teal again on Thursday. Ah, the indignity. But I will survive. NTB.

This pose is called "teal steel" or "aqua steel" if you want to get technical.

What about you, any "favorite" maternity outfits you want to brag about? After all, this post only scratches the surface of the maternity wear conversation.


Maggie said...

At 38 weeks, I no longer fit into many of the pants that I had originally purchased for maternity. I find that my most confortable pants are a pair of non-maternity cotton guachos from The Limited. Instead of folding the fabric down, I pull it over my belly! I actually just bought a cotton skirt at Old Navy that wears way under the belly and is super stretchy so no pressure.

If possible, I would have mu-mu's (sp?)of several designs and colors and wear them various days of the week... Trendy? Well, I'll call it a tent dress, I've seen Angelina wearing one recently.

Thanks for the advice on my blog - I am already planning what to setup for record on the DVR.

Actchy said...

"I tried to imagine that dressed in Big Teal, I was lighting up the world around me..."

MEP, you were, no doubt, lighting up Southport. No doubt. I smiled in recognition upon opening NTB this morning and seeing you in Big Teal. And I would like to say, for the record, that as one of the friends who dined with you and Big Teal prior to the Bubby's arrival, you looked fabulous. And not at all like you should've been relegated to a Wendy's.

Anonymous said...

BIG TEAL IS BACK IN CIRCULATION!!!!! And you swore it would never happen. I can't believe you're bragging about the coordinating t-shirt and leaving out the coordinating teal Roos...

Anonymous said...

As a short-legged maternity-clothes wearer who grows tired of shortening her pants, I've decided you've given me perspective. If you want, I can save my extra material and patchwork some hems for you.

And as for those belly bands, I've done impressive surgerical cuts to help with comfort. Have you tried that yet?

Sara G.

LAP said...

You got my name in the Christmas grab bag two years in a row and because I raved on about the comfort of the sweatsuit (non-maternity) you purchased for me in year one, you hooked me up with a second in year two. Fortunately, you realized that not just anyone can pull off Big Teal, so you got me a gray ensemble and a black one...I have enjoyed both immensely. So soft, comfy, dare I even say sporty. They started out as my "travel clothes"...super comfortable for long car rides or plane trips. Then, they became excellent maternity pieces through the first half of my pregnancies. I know deep down that these two get-ups should be retired, but I can't bring myself to get rid of them even though they've been around for about 5 years now. So, I say, long live Big Teal as well.

Steph said...

I think you're lookin' good!

I had a coworker who came to work one day and cried - literally cried - b/c all the clothes she had (she was in the last stages of pregnancy - #2 - and trying not to buy anything new) had BOWS on them. Yes, bows - like in clown bows. We had an emergency trip Target that lunch hour. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that the LONG pants from GAP have been disappointing to me also. I much prefer a pair of yoga pants or work out pants. I know that the Mom's at preschool think I own nothing else but I just don't care. I think "BIG TEAL" is awesome."

cake said...

i laughed so hard reading this post, i cried. i mean tears rolling down my face. i am still crying. and i am not sure if it's about recognizing myself, and the favorites i latched onto in my pregnancy (and continued to wear beyond, wondering who could tell it was maternity), or if pregnancy is just a beautiful, comical and crazy time to reflect back on, or if you are simply a very skilled writer. i suspect it's the latter. thank you.

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