Monday, June 14, 2010


It finally got warm enough to wear this little minidress without something over it... well, at least it did in San Francisco. By the time I arrived at work in South San Francisco however, I discovered this was really the wrong outfit for the windy, foggy day. What I wouldn't give to work in the same city I live in; it would make getting dressed so much simpler.

Today I'm calling on you to help me answer a fashion question, because frankly I'm a bit stumped. The question comes from a reader who quit her corporate job and donated all her summer office clothes to charity, only to later find herself back in an office environment, 2 months pregnant, with summer rapidly approaching. She now needs advice on building a new summer wardrobe for someone who:

- works in a fairly relaxed office environment
- has a budget of about $500 - $800
- needs a little extra room to grow

This question stumps me for several reasons, the foremost being that I've never been pregnant and therefore haven't a clue when it comes to what one might wear over a growing baby bump. But also, the mild climate in San Francisco means that my summer wardrobe doesn't need to vary that drastically from my winter one (as evidenced by the failure of this overly-summery outfit). What I've come up with so far is:

- Check out E.'s pregnancy posts on Academichic; that lady had amazing style throughout her entire term, and she employed a lot of great basics that shouldn't break anyone's budget.

- Look for stretchy jersey items that are not specifically maternity clothes; that way they can be worn during the pregnancy but also afterwards as well.

- Definitely try shopping in thrift stores, since most maternity clothes should be very lightly worn. That said, most clothes I've seen that are specifically designed for maternity wear are profoundly ugly, so even at thrift stores I think I'd branch out and shop in all the sections.

- Um, that's it. Like I said, I'm stumped. Stumped, I tell you!

OK readers, it's your turn. I feel certain you'll be able to put this lovely lady on the right path to affordable, summery clothes that will grow with her and be office-friendly. She also mentioned that she's about my size, so she wouldn't require any specialized sizing other than accommodating the baby. Let's hear it!

Today's outfit:
Dress: thrifted
Scarf: shop in San Luis Obispo
Pants: La Redoute
Shoes: gift from Jess


WendyB said...

Got no pregnancy advice but I do always advise people to hold onto their "office" clothes. You never know!

Kacie said...

Skirts! Skirts with sort of elastic waists or drawstrings. They will fit for several months.

Since this is her first baby, she may not need full-on maternity clothes for several months, but she could be at that awkward "in between" phase.

Wear cardigans and jackets open.

Make good use of shoes, jewelry and bags since they fit no matter your size :)

Don't buy all your clothing at once. Get some to get you through the awkward in-between phase, and then get some starter maternity clothes, and then save some of your budget for your third trimester when you keep on growing.

Enjoy your pregnancy and baby!

Anonymous said...

The best thing I ever bought when I was pregnant was a 'Baby Belt' - not sure if you have them in the US (more than likely you do!) but here in Australia they are a handy item. Basically it is just a piece of thick flat elastic, with a button sewn on one end and a button hole sewn on the other. When you start to fill out your pants or skirts (it's mainly for clothes with a front zipper) just put the button through your pants button hole and the normal button through the belt's button hole and whala! Your pants stay on and you don't ned to buy new ones. As long as you have a fairly long empire line top or similar over the whole thing, nobody is any the wiser. If they don't sell them in the US, it is so easy to get a dressmaker/tailor to make one.
Wrap around dress in a stretch jersey are always good, actually, anything in a stretch jersey is good! Gives you room to move and bounces back when the baby is born.

Suzanne S. said...

I had good luck using a Bella Band when I was pregnant. I had two, one black and one white, it is a stretchy band of jersey fabric that lets you wear regular pants and skirts until you get really big.

Anonymous said...

Seconding (is that a word?) what Kacie suggests concerning skirts and ELASTIC, "mobile" waistbands. Almost 30 years since I've been pregnant when it seemed everything was one style: "tented over the bump." Today, there are more natural options, including knits that "embrace" the changing body.

Early in pregnancy, I was able to wear skirts with waistbands AT the waist. Later as my pregnancy term progressed, I slid the elasticized waist below the baby bump. I would also encourage a liberal use of color using sheer, light-weight scarves and jewelry. Nothing has to break bank. Thrift-store finds can add a lot of character to basic pieces punctuated by colorful, comfortable shoes :-)

She can make good use of leggings (long or capri-style) to accompany pretty and ample-sized tops, lots of long necklaces, pendants and cute flats for comfort. Visit thrift stores for inexpensive separates and unique accessories. Ads on "Free-Cycle" and "Craigslist" may turn up inexpensive or no-cost items. She could also ask friends/family to search their attics/closet for possible maternity wear they no longer need. My cutest maternity outfits were cobbled from the "hand-me-downs" of friends. Wearing fun jewelry and hair accessories always gave me a lift.

I hope she has fun with all this as she awaits her precious little bundle!

:-) Jean

Anonymous said...

Yoga/exercise/travel knit pants (full length or capris) - will stretch but look fine for work with a longer top. Or low-rise jeans with a longer top. Camisoles with a peasant style top, tunic or jacket & scarf. I didn't actually graduate to real maternity clothes until almost 6 months - wrap skirts & dresses with a generous overlap worked well, especially in knits.

I love that orange scarf!

Emily Kennedy said...

Hey! I'm in my 3rd month, and I am going through a similar struggle. For now my only refuge has been the maternity sections at Target and Kohls. Look, it's not that cute of stuff, but alot of it works. Also I am living in these foldover waistband skirts from Old Navy. I'm only going with cotton or rayon, mostly jersey. Stuff must breathe in this condition. actually has really inexpensive stuff. Again: not the height of style, but doable for basics that can be dressed up with accessories.

Emily Kennedy said...

Oh, also, for morning sickness, I HIGHLY recommend Sea-Bands. I got mine at CVS. You wear them on your wrists, so they'll be visible in the summer, but only one person even asked about mine.

Anonymous said...

Try shortening some of those long, flowy 90s boho-style dresses that can be picked up for a few dollars at any thrift store. Also, there are plenty of empire style dresses and tops around that should get a first-timer 2/3 of the way home. Drawstring and "yoga" bottoms, yes. Please, please wear comfortable, supportive shoes. I know I sound like an old lady, but your back and legs will thank you.

Sheila said...

This is really cute with the short pants. Love the polka dots.

Yeah, no advice here...sorry!

NotABlogger said...

Spend good money on a couple of core pieces (for me it was a pair of amazing black slacks and an all-occasions dress) and fill the rest in with less expensive finds. I didn't see anyone mention borrowing clothes. Mamas love to share their maternity clothes since we all know the frustration of maternity shopping. Also, put off the real maternity buying until the last minute. It's pretty hard to believe the shape you will end up being and off the rack clothes I thought would last the full term didn't even come close in the end. Last thing - treat yourself to a great pair of comfy, stylish shoes. Feet don't stay the same size (width, mainly) and have to carry a much heavier load, so take care of them and they will take care of you!

EvaNadine said...

i dont know how many of these will be office-appropriate, but Adored Austin just posted a roundup of her favorite expectant bloggers.
maybe these will be of some help to your reader:

of course, E from academichic was the first person i thought of. she looked so chic with her baby bump!

EvaNadine said...

oh, also, check out your local Freecycle boards. you never know what you will be able to find on there!

Anonymous said...

Not pregnant, but it seems like cardigans would be a good choice, since you can leave them unbuttoned (or button them creatively) throughout the pregnancy, then continue to wear them afterwards.

Linda said...

You could buy a couple elastic waist skirts and leggings for the summer. Loose babydoll tops or peasant blouses are all the rage and will give you plenty of room for the summer. If you are only 2 months pregnant you can probably hold off until the fall to buy maternity clothes. While I was pregnant, I wore black knit maternity skirts with tights and had 7 or 8 different maternity tops that I rotated. You could buy a couple cardigans and easily be set for under $500. I bought from Motherhood Maternity and Target. I actually got several things from a Pea in the Pod’s sale rack in the back. Anything else in the store is outrageous.
I also got a couple cute dresses from Ebay for next to nothing (you will have to search through a lot of scariness!). I also got maternity wardrobes from friends.

Brande said...

Love that minidress! The orange scarf with it is genius.

I'd love to offer a few tips for a fellow reader but I've never been pregnant OR worked in an office. =P

Mystère said...

Check out (I think that's right). She has some awesome pregnancy fashion tips. I think you'd have to scroll back a bit, but she has really good advice.

Raquelita said...

I've got nothing on maternity clothing.

I love the idea of wearing a dress of cropped pants, though.

Anonymous said...

I've seen "Pregnancy survival kits" online, which involve a box that contains clothing basics: a dress, a top, a skirt, and a pair of pants, all in the same jersey fabric (choice of kit colours are black, bleu, or brown).

I guess you just build from that, and accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

And those belly band are very practical: I bought two of them from Etsy for a friend and she really loved them.

Courtney said...

What time of year will your friend be in her 3rd trimester? I have never been pregnant, but several of my friends complained about being too hot most of the time in their 3rd trimester. It might be a good idea to look for items with fabric that breathes and tops that look professional without needing a jacket (if you work in an office where a jacket is not mandatory.)

One of my friends found a lot of professional blouses that worked for her at JcPenney.

Anonymous said...

The 1st time I was pregnant, I would visit thrift stores once every couple of months. I looked for gently used items 1 size up, or perused the (not always the most attractive) maternity section.

The 2nd time, I realized that spending a little more off the bat was a good idea. I bought one good pair of maternity jeans, 2 tops and a dress at a local baby/maternity store. From there, I expanded my wardrobe as I expanded and grew out of my clothes. H&M had maternity in some stores, Old Navy has good basics, and consignment stores with baby/maternity clothes had a few finds.