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.