Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shrinking My Wardrobe While Growing a Baby

Okay, so here's a post I've been meaning to write for a few months now (oops) as some people have asked about my maternity wardrobe.  I had this grandiose idea that I would get some great pictures while I was pregnant (courtesy of my aspiring photographer/ children) to illustrate the post, you know, like those lovely fashion blogs.  But for better or worse, this is not a fashion blog. After we were done with our marathon school days trying to finish off the year, we were zooming out the door.  And if was wearing something after noon that I had put on that morning, there was about a 98% chance I had spilled something on it.  Pregnancy problems.

Finally, I started taking some pictures myself... And for that I do apologize.  I tried the mirror selfies (same awkward pose)

and setting the timer on my phone camera.

You guys.  It's hard to do this.  It got to where I was just being silly and laughing at myself, but still,  I think that my fear of how bad I am at pictures stopped me from posting for a long time.  In light of facing my fears, though, I've resigned myself to the fact now: This isn't one of those blogs with a dozen gorgeous pics of each outfit. This is just me.


So I'm (mostly) using photos I had from the moments I have pictures that were just taken while I was pregnant. *sigh again*

BUT, maybe it's best that I'm doing this post now, since it's been a year since I got pregnant, and I'm more or less back to where I was size-wise pre-pregnancy.  I can give you the full 360-degree report of what worked and what didn't.

As discussed before, I've been pursuing a minimalist mindset lifestyle, getting rid of excess to enjoy more of what I truly love.  And this applies to my wardrobe, too.  After we moved here to Hawaii (when we lived in a small house with a tiny closet whose doors didn't work right) I started experimenting with The Daily Connoisseur's  Ten-Item Wardrobe.   Then I found the No-Brainer Wardrobe and Un-fancy and Project 333.  (I also like In Honor of Design's term "conscious closet".) By last summer, I was figuring out a smaller, "capsule" wardrobe that worked for me.

And then... I got pregnant again.  Just as I was getting my smaller wardrobe groove, I had to figure it out again.  But can I just say?  Pregnancy is a great time to try a reduced wardrobe, since the bigger your tummy gets with le bebe, the less you can wear.  And then you can discover just what clothes make you happy without the unnecessary.  You might well be surprised by what you learn. 

For me, my maternity wardrobe can be summed with just a few words: non-maternity for the win.  I did have a few maternity pieces, but the items I purchased and enjoyed the most during my pregnancy were mostly non-maternity, and clothes I already had.  

Here's the way I see it.  Even if you have maternity clothes that you can wear the whole nine months, that's such a short time.  But for me, maternity clothes don't generally look right until about halfway through.  And I'm a cheapskate.  I don't want to spend money for something I know is extremely temporary.  I would rather buy something that works well for the big belly months, but I'll still be able to enjoy it beyond that time.

The maternity clothes I already had were mostly for winter births, since my last three babies have been born October through January in pretty cold places.  So I bought a few maternity items: three tank tops, two t-shirts, and a pair of jeans. I can tell you that none of them were my favorite.  I wore my jeans during the "winter" months here, but they stopped fitting in February.  And by that I mean they were straight-up painful.  The t's didn't fit right for a long time, and the tanks made me itch and were not covering my belly by the time I gave birth. 

BUT! There were a few items I bought that aren't maternity, per se, but were absolutely great: an oversized white t-shirt, an elastic-waist maxi skirt, and a pair of drawstring shorts.  So you see what I mean?  Non-maternity for the win.

There was some negotiating my clothing in the beginning of my pregnancy as I got bigger and realized things weren't working so well.  But here's the details of my "maternity" wardrobe, or what I had when I was noticeably pregnant:

Four tank tops. (Photographed in all their wrinkled glory)

The only one I would buy again would be the Old Navy one I had from my pregnancy with Wyatt, the dark gray all the way on the right.  They changed the fit and fabric just enough in the new ones that I wasn't happy at all.

Two "tamis", one black and one gray.  I had these layering pieces from before I was pregnant.  Normally, I wouldn't wear them by themselves, and I had them stored because you don't layer here unless you are trying to roast yourself.  But they were long enough, soft enough, and stretchy enough to be some of the only tops that worked to the very end.

Five t-shirts.  I think you can see all of them somewhere on this post, except the white oversized tee. The only ones I would definitely buy again would be this white, non-maternity one from Modcloth and this black one from Gap.  The oatmeal one I'm wearing here

was itchy, and it didn't look right till month six.  But, on the flip side, it fit until the day I delivered (photo was taken in front of the hospital) and covered everything which is really saying a lot, especially considering that Annalee wasn't small! The black one from Gap is the only one I wore postpartum, though.

Two pairs of shorts.  Neither pair was maternity, but both had stretchy drawstring waists. The brown ones were from at least four years ago, I think from when I was pregnant with Wyatt, and the other pair I bought this spring, right about the time my jeans retired.

This picture is one I snapped before going to bed the night before I had Annalee because I just had a feeling...

The jeans I mentioned above.  No pictures, but I think they were these (from Old Navy).  I can't even find what I did with them once they started cutting off circulation to my lower half. Which is too bad because I'd planned to make them my "Thanksgiving pants."

Three skirts.  Two had a roll waist -- one black knee-length (see hospital picture and photo at the top of the post) and one gray maxi, and also the navy blue version of this maxi, the one skirt I bought while pregnant.  None of these were maternity, and the roll-waist skirts were from Gap before I was pregnant.  You can find similar ones all over the place.

Eight knit dresses.  Two were these real maternity dresses that my friend gave me.

 I wore the print maxi at least once a week,

but the red one I just wore a few times because it felt a little more dressy to me.  

This friend also gave me these non maternity "Fit and Flare" dresses from Lands End that I wore all the time.

I took the blue one to the hospital as my going-home outfit. (you can find similar here)

 They were so comfortable and easy to care for.  I wore them a lot postpartum, because I could easily breastfeed in them, but now they are just a bit too big on me again.  (sad face)

This floral dress is from Target four years ago.

 I should probably count it as maternity because I only wear it when pregnant or just after giving birth (it's easy to nurse in and flows over the tummy area), but it wasn't sold as such. (similar here)

Then I had these three Gilli dresses from Modcloth from before I was pregnant.

Love. Them.  You do have to hand wash this fabric, so they aren't the easiest to care for, but then again hand washing isn't so bad. Plus they are made in America, which is something I look for whenever possible.  I only wore the navy one a few times pregnant, I guess because it feels dressier, but I did wear it on Mothers' Day, which was just a couple weeks before I gave birth.  I've worn it since as well.  This picture was taken when Annalee was two-and-a-half weeks old.

 And I haven't been able to wear the green one since giving birth because I can't breastfeed in it, but I'm keeping it because I know I will wear it again!  (exact dresses here and here. I don't think the black one is available at the moment, but you can buy similar ones from many different places.)

I wouldn't normally talk about workout gear and swimsuits when discussing a reduced wardrobe, but I do wish I had bought some maternity (or just larger/ longer) exercise tops.  I work out at least five days a week.  I didn't have a problem with the shorts and pants because of the elastic waists, but the tops just didn't fit.  I ended up wearing an old and very unattractive, unused t-shirt of Matt's whenever I worked out outside

the house.  It was hotter, too, than a sports shirt.  Inside, I just wore a sports bra.  

I have a maternity swimsuit top, (regular non-maternity bottoms worked fine) but again, that only worked till about 7 months.  Here I am at 27 weeks.

 I still wore it, but my belly totally poked out the bottom of it by the end.  What worked better?  You guessed it.  This non-maternity swimsuit with adjustable cinching at the sides from Gap (I think from four years ago).  It fit great at 25 weeks...

...and was still going strong at 38 weeks.  I don't have a picture, but I wore it to the pool the day before I gave birth.  A bikini would have worked too, but I didn't have one and couldn't find one I liked before I had the baby.

This list, minus the swim and workout gear, totals twenty-six items for about five months.  Honestly, it seems like plenty.  But of those, only the dresses, the skirts, and a few shirts worked as well as I wanted them to.  (The shorts worked; I just don't love wearing them.)  If anything, being pregnant so soon after starting a reduced wardrobe experiment made me realize I could keep my wardrobe smaller.  It opened my eyes to what I actually need and truly enjoy, versus what I've filled my closet with until now.  

So what do you think?  If you have been or currently are pregnant, what are the clothing items you couldn't live without?  

But the real question is, pregnant or not, are you ready to give a smaller wardrobe a try?