The maternity wear industry is big business across the world. But as I’ve learned over the past few months of pregnancy, it can be a veritable minefield for new mums-to-be. From ill-fitting tops and massive sack dresses, to swathes of stretchy elastic and cheap synthetic fabrics, it seems like almost every women’s fashion retailer out there now offers a small range of ‘maternity’ options.
And yet it still remains almost impossible for my pregnant wife to find clothes that tick all the boxes, of being well-fitted and comfortable, while also looking good at the same time.
So I ask: What’s a pregnant girl to do?!
I’ve got to admit, before we got pregnant I was constantly exasperated about how long it took my wife to decide what to wear. But I naively thought that during pregnancy, all that would change.
Surely, with fewer clothing options available to fit over her growing form, she’d either just throw on something baggy or a bump hugging t-shirt and some leggings, and we’d be out the door in record time, right?
Wrong! My more simplistic man brain had overlooked the fact that she’d still want to look stylish during pregnancy, while (importantly) making sure everyone knew she was actually pregnant (and not just a bit thick around the middle).
As I understand it, being pregnant is a bit like putting on around three kilos of weight every month. Not literally I might add, but rather in terms of one’s growing circumference. Every month or two, your favourite clothes become more and more tight and uncomfortable, forcing you to buy a whole new set of much larger clothes, to avoid bursting out at the seams. As it turns out, this isn’t the cheapest of pastimes…
As guys, we have it so easy! If, like me, we’re a bit bulkier than what the high street deems ‘normal sized’, we can easily find affordable fashion that fits from online retailers, like Jacamo for example. If I urgently need some formal wear for a wedding or a branded polo shirt for the golf course, that properly fits my barrel chest, pregMANcy dad belly and broader than average shoulders (I’m an ex tight-head rugby prop…you get the picture), then they have me covered. And if it’s good enough for cricket legend Freddie Flintoff (the celebrity face of Jacamo), then it’s good enough for me!
But for pregnant women, it’s not so simple. While lots of high street brands offer a small selection of maternity clothes in their stores, they are by no means a priority product for them. As a result, and from my wife’s personal experience, so many maternity items they sell are not only expensive but are, on the whole, either ill-fitting, cheaply made or fail to keep up with what is actually ‘in fashion’ at any given moment.
Luckily my wife is a super seamstress, so with the help of her ever trusty sewing machine, she’s been able to tailor most of these items with new elastic or extra fabric to make do.
But with so many other things to organise before the baby’s arrival, who has the time, inclination or energy to go to such extreme lengths? Why should she have to fork out her hard earned cash on special maternity wear, only to spend hours redesigning it before it’s fit to actually wear?
The answer is, she shouldn’t! You shouldn’t. As we’ve come to realise, the high street is never going to be the place to find the best maternity wear during pregnancy. For that, you need to go to the experts who actually specialise in this niche product.
My wife’s absolute favourite specialist maternity retailer is Isabella Oliver. They’ve been making premium maternity wear for over 13 years now. But unlike so many other retailers (who only dip their toe into maternity wear), this is, in no way, a side-line product for them…it’s their business through and though.
As a result (and, after perusing their website over my wife’s shoulder), it’s immediately clear that Isabella Oliver know their product and what expectant mums want and need; delivering a balance of premium quality fabric with exceptional fit and clever, fashionable designs.
From breathable jersey fabrics to lightweight cotton and design features such as in built bras, adjustable waistbands and nursing appropriate pieces, they really get what maternity wear should be.
What’s more most items can even be incorporated into a post-baby wardrobe, thus making them a much more sound investment than, say, cheaper high street options that are only going to fit you for a month or two (if that!).
Plus, from my own manly perspective, there’s nothing sexier than a women who feels comfortable and confident in her own skin. And during pregnancy, investing in proper maternity wear is the best way to achieve that.
But guys, a word of advice before I go…
If your pregnant other half ever asks you the ticking time bomb of a question, “Does my bump look big in this?”, there’s only ever one answer that will do.
“It looks perfect.”
Just 4 weeks and 2 days left to go!
So has your pregnant other half, or you yourself, experienced the same issues with maternity wear as we did? What are your biggest pet peeves about maternity wear available from the high street today? As always, we’d love to hear what you think so please do share your stories with the Group via the comments section below!