Why Does Maternity Fashion Suck?

Posted January 10th, 2012 by Rebekah in Fashion

Have you ever made a grave fashion error and only realized it well after that fact? That’s what happened to me recently. My error? Having a second child with a due date six months different than my first. How is this a fashion disaster? All my maternity clothes are the wrong season.

Since I don’t have any great desire to walk around in the tent-like last-moments-of-pregnancy clothes I bought right before giving birth to my son in the winter of 2008 or freeze in the early pregnancy togs I’d donned the preceding summer, I took myself out to shop for some cute new clothes. I have happy memories of shopping for maternity clothes four years ago. It seems like there were plenty of different places to pick up belly-friendly gear, all of them bricks and mortar so I could try them on. The clothes at the time were cute, inexpensive, versatile, and seasonally appropriate.

So what changed?

Making the rounds of maternity retailers this time out, I found that, not only are there fewer maternity stores and less maternity stock in department stores, but the clothes are ugly. No, not ugly. Fugly. The clothes are fugly, impractical, and overpriced.

I think the root of the problem is the disappearance of Mimi Maternity. Mimi was the midprice store in the Motherhood-Mimi-Pea-in-a-Pod triumverate, which are all owned by the same corporate maternity overlord. Motherhood sold t-shirts and jeans, Mimi sold trendy work stuff with a higher price tag and Pea-in-a-Pod sold laughably overpriced high-fashion clothing for people who think pregnancy is fancy. But Mimi is no more and Motherhood has stepped up to the trendy maternity plate. Gone are the basics I so loved in my first pregnancy, replaced instead with bump-accommodating versions of regular clothes, complete with every on-trend element found in boutique wear. And the other low- to mid-price maternity lines have followed Motherhood’s suit and have turned out clothes that are more Kardashian than Claire Dunphy.

I’m not a Kardashian. I’m a Claire. A pregnant Claire. A pregnant stay-at-home-mom to a 4 year old who has no earthly use for clothing with sequins. Or sheer fabrics. Or eye-popping patterns. I need jeans. Simple sweaters. Maybe some sundresses once it gets warmer.

But it’s not warmer. It was 15 degrees the day I left the house to shop last week. So why did I see these in the store?

Sleeveless tops? Fabric so gauzy that you can see light through it when you hold it up to examine it? How is that appropriate on a sales rack in winter? And how many washes will it stand before it falls apart? C’mon.

And let’s talk about embellishments.

Rosettes are fine and Au Currant. Ditto asymmetry. But both? Criss-crossing a pregnant belly? Joan Rivers would not approve and neither do I.

Then there’s the question of patterned fabric. I have to assume from these examples that there are a significant percentage of pregnant women out there who wish to resemble a circus tent. By the way, the second photo is of PANTS.

And do we even need to discuss this slinky red top and booty shorts? I didn’t think so.

Pants are no better since they’re patterned on the slim-cut styles that everyone is wearing now. The maternity jeans at Target actually boast a straight cut through the hip and thigh. Um, hello? These are for PREGNANT LADIES! If there are pregnant women who are straight in the hip or thigh, I’ve never met them. I, myself, resemble a Russian nesting doll during pregnancy. There is not a straight line anywhere on my body.

I’m combating state-of-fug in maternity fashion by combing consignment shops for older styles and wearing cheap-o sweaters in size extra-large that I purchased on sale. Here’s hoping that spring brings sanity back to designers so I’m not relegated to actual muu-muus.

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7 Responses to “Why Does Maternity Fashion Suck?”

  1. Victoria Mason

    I lived off Target when pregnant but I see your point. My last pregnancy, my third, and unexpected, I had to buy all new clothes. I was never pregnant in summer and had given everything away. I found a gold mine online at Old Navy. The stores rarely sell the stuff but it is cheap in price and not as bad. I stuck to basics. One pair of jeans, one pair of khakis, one pair of black pants. Lots of sold shirts, solid dresses. Check there and sometimes GapMaternity online as well. The online sales are good.

  2. becca

    Luckily my maternity clothing is in the same season as my previous pregnancy (we’re due about the same time!), but I bought 80% of my maternity wear from consignment stores. And from March – May I wore only dresses (by that point, I couldn’t have cared less about how tent-like I looked).
    But I agree…all maternity wear is fugly.

  3. amy

    I wish I lived near you..then I can go shopping with you. Try Old Navy, Target, Gap, on line try Japanese weekend, ASOS, Gap and Old Navy. I also found some stuff on etsy. Good Luck and try to pick thru the fugly cuz there is alot out there.

  4. MB

    Seriously! I have had *some* luck with Gap and LOFT, and just bought a couple of nice (but very reasonably priced) work pieces from Seraphine (online). The stuff that isn’t too ugly to consider wearing only seems to come in black (or other colors I wouldn’t consider, like most of Gap’s palette). Good luck!

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