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First Trimester Maternity Style: Creating A Capsule Wardrobe

If you’re a longtime reader, you may already know that I’m expecting a baby in June. I’ve been consciously trying to keep my pregnancy out of Prairie Style File, since it’s not something everyone is interested in or relates to.

But many of you are pregnant too, and you’ve been asking for tips on maternity style. Your wish is my command! I’ll be doing three maternity style posts, one for each trimester.

Here is the first one! If you’re pregnant, then enjoy and be sure to check back for the second and third trimester features in April and May. If you’re not, feel free to pass this on to a friend or join us back at the next post.

The easy fit of a sack dress conceals more than it reveals. Photo by Inhabitat via Flickr

Planning a Maternity Capsule Wardobe Congratulations on your pregnancy! Maybe you’re telling people or maybe you’re keeping it a secret for awhile. Either way, you’re probably dealing with all kinds of physical and emotional changes.

The good news is, keeping yourself clothed during this period doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a little planning, you can get more use out of the clothes you have, save money and time and still look like yourself when you’re pregnant.

Lean lines and forgiving cuts lengthen the silhouette and conceal first-trimester weight gain. Photo by via Flickr

I have no idea if any of the ladies pictured here (other than myself, of course) are pregnant — and that’s the point. Very few of the physical changes will show at first, so it’s smart to wear your pre-pregnancy wardrobe for as long as you can.

Aim to look to look long and lean. Your bump won’t be noticeable yet, so any additional weight gain (which could be anywhere between 0-5 pounds) will just look like regular old weight gain.

Step 1: Planning and Research * Pick a color scheme: Plan your pregnancy wardrobe like you’re packing for an extended trip. Your wardrobe should be mainly neutrals and a few pops of color.

Choose the dominant colors in your existing wardrobe if the pieces will work throughout your pregnancy (see below for tips on what to keep and what to pack away) and do a couple quick maternity searches (I loooove Topshop and Asos for trendy pieces and Motherhood Maternity and Old Navy for basics) to see what other colors and styles are on the horizon for this season. Then pick your favorites. You don’t have to buy right now, but you do have to plan.

Choosing a consistent color scheme integrates your existing wardrobe and your maternity clothes. Photo by Idhren via Flickr

* Plan to replace your favorite pieces with maternity versions: Pull out your favorites and make a list of what you’ll need to duplicate in maternity wear. Pants and high waisted skirts will need to be replaced first, but many other pieces can be worn for much longer.

* List what you’ll need to make a capsule wardrobe: Think of your capsule wardrobe as several uniforms — one or two for work and one or two for play. Physically write down the pieces you need and carry the list with you so you’re not tempted to purchase something you won’t wear.

Stick with what you know. Pregnancy is not the time to experiment with a new look, because you’re already getting an entirely new body. Trust me, that’s challenge enough. If your office is conservative, stick with the button down tops and tailored pants that worked before pregnancy. If you work at home and live in sundresses and sandals, there’s no need to give up that look just because you’re pregnant.

I’ve been pregnant all winter and one of my favorite seasonal looks is skinny jeans, boots and long tops — a look that also works with my new pregnancy proportions. In fact, I took this photo in my second trimester and the jeans are the only maternity items I’m wearing.

One of my maternity uniforms

Step 2: Wear items from your existing wardrobe: Try these! * A-Line dresses and tops * Sack dresses and tops * Wrap Dresses: you can easily adjust the waist size without anyone noticing * Empire waist dresses and tops

Wear an empire waist dress or create one by belting just above your natural waist. Just move the belt up as you get bigger. Photo by Logan Brumm Photogrpahy and Design via Flickr

* Blouson shirts, dresses and sweaters * Long tanks and T’s * Unbuttoned blazers and cardigans

The oversized cardigan  adds a layer of warmth and blocks the view of your stomach from the side — the first place people will look for signs of a bump. Photo by via Flickr

*Anything that shows off your now-extraordinary cleavage. * Pants, leggings and tights that fall at (or can be rolled down to) below your natural waist: The popularity of low-raise everything means that you can wear these items for much longer.

* Tops in heavier fabrics: they’ll hide almost anything.

Thick fabrics are master concealers — I’m actually about 21 weeks along in this picture, but I don’t think it shows.

Step 3: Engage in limited and strategic buying Scour the thrift stores and consignment shops for maternity clothes: I got a ton of Ts, tanks, skirts and even maternity jeans at thrift stores and a number of my regular readers swear by Clothes Mentor. Shopping resale gives you an opportunity to research and try on different sizes and brands without running all over town. If you see something you like at a thrift or consignment store, but it right away — $1.99 T-shirts stay on the rack for long.

Accept maternity clothes from friends and family only if they work with your capsule wardrobe: Before you accept anything, always ask yourself the following questions — Is it on my list? Is it in my color scheme? Does it actually fit? Would I wear it if I weren’t pregnant? This will help you avoid a million mistakes and ensure you actually wear what’s in your closet.

My sister is pregnant as well and we’ve been trading items back and forth. She sent me a wildly patterned dress and a short sleeved sweater that were a little too funky for her taste and I sent a couple pairs of jeans that are a little too sporty — and small! — for me.

* Now stop buying: Now that you’ve gotten some of your basic pieces for free or next to nothing, keep researching all you want, but stop buying until you start to show. You’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking for and how things will fit.

Step 4: Wear these items now, then pack them away: * Structured and body conscious dresses: Even if you’re not gaining weight or showing at all, the body you had just a few weeks ago is already a thing of the past. You will see changes in your bust well before they show up in your middle, so work that cleavage while you still have a little waist to pair it with.

Wear structured dresses now, before your bust measurements change. Photo courtesy of freakapotimus via Flickr

* Tight, high waisted pants: Fitted pants show off the bloat sooner. And if Kim Kardasian’s pregnancy has taught us anything, it’s that high-waisted anything can really distort a pregnant lady’s proportions. (Sorry Kim, but it’s true.) When I feel bored that I’m wearing a more subdued version of my usual look, it’s important to remember that going too tight, too high-waisted and trying too hard to pretend I’m not pregnant is even worse. * Shirts that hit at or above your natural waist: a midriff top is not the look to be going for if you’re feeling bloated for any reason, pregnant or otherwise.

Step 5: Use cheats to make your pre-pregnancy wardrobe last longer *Try the old rubber band trick: Once your pants start getting tight,  loop a rubber band around the button and through the button hold to get a few weeks extra weeks of wear out of them. Just make sure your tops are long enough to cover this awkward-looking solution.

Wear your jeans for longer with the rubber band trick. Photo by Inhabitat via Flickr Wear your pre-pregnancy jeans longer using this easy trick — just make sure your shirt is long enough to cover!

* Purchase a Belly Band: This is exception #1 to the no buying rule. If the rubber band trick leaves you feeling a little exposed, try a Belly Band. The BellaBand by Ingrid & Isabel is popular, but there are lots of other versions and they’re easy to make yourself. (Confession: I bought mine from a lady who makes them and sells them on Ebay!) I loved these because you can unbutton your pre-pregnancy pants without worrying about flashing anyone and the exposed edge of the band just looks like a tank top or T shirt. * Buy a new bra: This second exception to the no buying rule. Buy a new bra — or two — the second you feel the need. The right undergarments make your clothes fit better and they feel better too. I only gained a pound in my first trimester but managed to go up two cup sizes. And be prepared that you might need to buy another size up as your pregnancy progresses. 40 weeks is too long to be uncomfortable!

What tips helped you through your first trimester? How do you repurpose your pre-pregnancy or post-pregnancy clothes for this time?

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