A 9-Month Fashion Victim: Why Is It So Hard to Find Attractive Maternity Clothes?

Here’s the part where I back away a bit from my headline statement. Today’s maternity clothes are way, WAY better than the mu-mus and triangle tops of yesteryear.

Image by Lambert/Getty Images, via The Guardian

I have a few tops and a couple of dresses that are awfully flattering. Some of them came from Old Navy. The rest are from Motherhood Maternity (and are falling apart, but cute).

There are so many tips on there on stretching your budget by forgoing maternity clothes, wearing just your baggiest of tops, holding your jeans open with rubber bands, and the like — and please. I was in maternity clothes at 10 weeks. Wearing regular clothes is like the ninth circle of hell. Actually, wearing clothes AT ALL is like the ninth circle of hell. But if I have to do it, I want to wear something that doesn’t cut off my circulation and actually makes me look pretty and pregnant instead of “I’m hiding my fat” — or, worse, “I’m hiding a pregnancy.”

But this weekend, I stopped by Target for some conditioner and razors (I was going to a party, that’s the only reason I shaved my leg) and decided to try on some maternity dresses. Their Liz Lange line always looks so cute, and I figured that since so many of my maternity tops are now so short that they’re showing off the panels of my maternity jeans, it would make me feel better to have some attractive dresses I could just throw on and breathe in.

The problem is, Target’s maternity clothes suck.

They’re adorable and trendy on the hanger, but once you put them on, you’re reminded that maternity clothes, for the most part, are based on somebody else’s idea of what a pregnant woman wants (distraction from her disgusting body) versus what she actually wants (emphasis on and confidence of her beautiful, human-growing body).

For one, there seem to be three types of maternity necklines — the cowl neck, the crossover top, and the way-too-effing-deep-my-DDs-are-now-hanging-out neckline. For the most part, I get it. Lots of this stuff can be useful after popping out the baby, so a cowl neck makes for easier nursing while a crossover top is often part of a “nursing top” setup. But sometimes, it’s just like, “We’re going to put a bunch of extra fabric and detail up here so that nobody notices that OH MY GOD WOMAN YOUR BELLY IS HUMONGOUS WHO DO YOU HAVE IN THERE, DOM DELUISE??”

Totally cute, right? No. Most of what I tried on had these weird darts visible, like above on either side of the belly, or the pucker on the boobs. That’s not just how the dress is lying — that’s actual DETAIL. One dress I couldn’t find online had darts coming right up onto your rack and ending mid-boob — AS IN, BASICALLY NIPPLES. And the belted dresses were belted so high that half the belt found refuge under my ginormous bosom. Not hot. Also, Target’s craftsmanship is seriously lacking because anything with a zipper on the back ends in a pucker at the bottom, like I have a tail or a really huge hemorrhoid hanging out. So even if the dress was tolerable, I just couldn’t, because of the tail.

What’s with the top on this thing? No, really. Stop. This dress was so horrific. First I had to pour myself into it like frosting into a pastry bag (mmm, frosting), and then it clung to every single lump of fat and finally finished things off with an awkward and nonfunctional crossover top on steroids with a high, unflattering neckline and some cap sleeves that show off my side boob.

Again with the side-boob bearing sleeves, the disappearing belt, and the crossover shit. Side rant: Why can’t you put your clothes on an actual model? It’s so so hard to tell what this stuff looks like on a normal pregnant person (even though the models aren’t really pregnant, but whatever) when it’s just lying there in space with no context to the shape inside.

This top wasn’t at my Target, and if it was, I wouldn’t have tried it on. I just had to say: what the fuck? Is this like, “I’m pregnant, yes, but I want to distract you with pattern so that you don’t ask me if I’m having twins or comment that I look like I’m about to pop at 6 months”?

OK, and then there’s Asos. I have to be fair and say that a lot of their stuff looks cute. It’s way overpriced, and I’ve heard the sizing is weird and the clothes don’t actually look that great on, but there’s some decent stuff. But just browsing through their online gallery was, at times, baffling.

First, sorry, but she’s not pregnant. Right? I mean, whatever. But I’m guessing the statement here is, “I’m supposed to be like a tiger in the bedroom because of all the hormones, but instead I’m like a tiger in your face wanting to rip your head off because your spawn is inside of me and God I hate you right now.”

I don’t even… what? Stop.

From the “babies having babies” collection.

“I jest you not — I’m totally pregnant! And my body is still awesome enough to wear a skintight dress. Swear.”

Again, it’s like — look over here! No, here! No, down there! I’m not even a little pregnant, so stop touching my belly — DISTRACT WITH PATTERN.

And then there’s the fact that my favorite Old Navy maternity jeans have a NUDE full panel. Which is great for wearing lighter tops, I guess, because it blends into your skin. But when your shirts ride up — because, newsflash, Target’s maternity tops are not long enough to last you even halfway into your second trimester — it looks like I’m flashing belly.

All negativity aside, my favorite place to shop for maternity clothes is Old Navy. In stark contrast, the Motherhood Maternity stuff I bought a few months back has already started falling apart in the wash, and cost twice as much as the ON stuff I have. Plus, ON’s clothes are basic and simple, which is really all I want these days. Gap Maternity is another good bet.

But the worst part about the maternity fashion game is that there is basically never anything in the stores, and when you buy online, you have to return online — i.e., pay shipping. So at a time in your life when you’re most uncertain about how things fit and most prone to hating how you look in goddamn everything, you can’t even try on the clothes before you purchase them.

Solid. Thanks, fashion.

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2 thoughts on “A 9-Month Fashion Victim: Why Is It So Hard to Find Attractive Maternity Clothes?

  1. Stephanie says:

    Old Navy is a fav over here too, followed by Gap. I’ve purchased a few things from Dorothy Perkins that weren’t terrible, but again with the shipping/returning via mail. I had one success with ASOS, followed by a ton of non-flattering dresses that all had to be returned. With my last pregnancy I absolutely adored the Forever 21 maternity line – great fit, stylish and cheap (my overall requirements for clothes that I won’t even wear for half of a year). Unfortunately for me, and every other pregnant woman, they discontinued the line.

    • capellett says:

      I did hear about the mythically short-lived Forever 21 line. I think there was some contention over “promoting” pregnancy for young’uns. Ridiculous. Supposedly H&M has maternity clothes, but I could only find like 2 shirts online.

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