In my line of work, the required dress code is basically “dress like an 60-year old man.” Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but a maxi dress and cardigan isn’t going to fly. It’s business attire all the way if I will be in court, which is at least several days per week. On non-court days, it’s business casual, but in an almost business kind of way.
Acquiring a maternity wardrobe without breaking the bank is challenging enough, but if you work in a world that requires full on business attire, it takes even more effort to makes sure the bump is appropriately covered. Here are some of my go-to pieces for working in a business to business-casual setting and some tips for how to achieve this without spending all your nursery budget to do it!
- Look at your local discount stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, Target, etc. to find pieces that are non-maternity but will work throughout your pregnancy. They also often have a small maternity section, where you can find some really cheap finds.
- Check out local maternity consignment stores or hit up ebay. Our area doesn’t have a great maternity consignment store, but I was able to get a few pieces on ebay for pennies on the dollar.
- Choose material that is stretchy. If you can avoid it, don’t buy dresses and shirts in any kind of cotton or non-stretch material, because (1) you are more likely to outgrow them and (2) they will look silly before you fully grow into them and when you are post-partum. Stretchier materials will adjust to fit you at all stages and you are much more likely to be able to get away with wearing them when you return to your pre-baby size.
- Think creatively about how to utilize pre-pregnancy clothes as long as possible. i.e. Use a shorter dress as a shirt.
1. Dress pants – I found it was cheaper to buy dress pants and jackets separately, rather than purchasing full maternity suits, which are outrageously expensive. I purchased two pairs of dress pants for work -a black pair from Gap and a gray pair from Target. I wanted to buy as few pieces that I couldn’t wear post-pregnancy as possible, so I chose the most basic pants I could find. I love, love, love the Gap pants. They are sold in number sizes, so it’s easier to get a great fit. I was in between two number sizes, but I went with the larger one. They have faithfully helped me feel comfy from early pregnancy bloat through now (currently measuring a little over 32 weeks). The Target pants are sized XS, S, M, L, etc. I bought in a size larger than I would normally wear, and the panel part is way too big and stretchy. Even now, I have to tug them up into place pretty often. If I weren’t expecting to have a much larger than normal bump by the end of this, I would be really disappointed in these. They are, however, less expensive than the Gap pair, so if you buy the Target dress pants, make sure you don’t buy a size up in an attempt to make sure they fit the whole time!
2. Shirts - Thanks to some of the longer or flowier styles of recent seasons, I’ve been able to utilize many of my pre-pregnancy shirts to go under jackets and cardigans. In the last two weeks, that number has dwindled drastically. I tend to look at places like Ross, TJ Maxx, and Target for non-pregnancy items that are slightly bigger/longer than I would normally wear. What I have bought in maternity shirts must comply with my rule of being made from super stretchy material, so they will fit and look normal post-partum.
3, 4. Dresses – This is my absolute favorite type of clothes for the office during pregnancy. I pair with a jacket for days when I’m in court or a cardigan or scarf for a more business-casual look. I bought three different dresses that were very conservative. They are generally more fitted and in neutral colors (grey, black, white, or some combination thereof). The neutral colors make me feel like they won’t be quite so memorable when I wear them every week, and it’s easier to accessorize with more items to keep me and those who see me each week from getting quite so bored.
5. Skirt - During early pregnancy, I could still wear many of my skirts that were a bit roomier before. Eventually, I bit the bullet and bought one black maternity pencil skirt. I found one at Motherhood Maternity and have had no problems with it. It fits nicely and stays in place. I don’t anticipate buying more skirts because I’ve found that a few dresses work great and feel more comfy.
6. Jackets – For most pregnancies, you could get away with wearing your pre-pregnancy suit jackets through the whole pregnancy. Until recently, I almost exclusively wore my non-maternity jackets by either buttoning only the top button or by wearing them open. Sadly, about two weeks ago, my belly finally outgrew my regular jackets and I can no longer button the top button. I can still wear them open, but I think in a few weeks it will look odd when my tummy is sticking way too far out of the jacket. Early on, I knew with twins, I would probably need to bite the bullet and get a couple of maternity suit jackets. This is not an easy feat. A Pea in the Pod is really the only place I found maternity suit jackets in a store to try on. I didn’t want to spend anymore than I had to, so thankfully I was able to find one gray and one black jacket on sale. I wear them over the dresses or paired with the pants and skirts.
7. Scarves and jewelry - God bless scarves and jewelry because they never stop fitting and they can do wonders to make an outfit seem brand new. No need to buy new ones, but if you do have a burning desire to spend some money on something that will still fit perfectly at the end of this ride, this is your bread and butter! After wearing the same three dresses every single week for months, there is nothing as refreshing as buying some new accessories and feeling like I have an almost new outfit.
8. Cardigans or sweaters - Most of my cardigans from pre-pregnancy work just fine, but I also scoured the maternity section at Ross. They seem to always have a plethora of maternity cardigans and sweaters. Aditionally, I’ve been able to score one or two great non-maternity cardigans at Target that I should be able to wear all through pregnancy and beyond. I would definitely recommend against buying maternity in this area, unless you find them at a discount store like Ross.
What kind of attire did you have to wear during pregnancy?