Courtesy of De Elizabeth Gleason

The Style Hack That Saved My Maternity Wardrobe

I’ll be honest: when I found out that I was pregnant last December, buying new clothes was one of the first things I thought about. That’s not to say that I didn’t think about other important things, like scheduling doctor’s appointments or eating right, but I knew that my closet was due for an overhaul, and that overhaul ended up happening a lot sooner than I thought it would.

As a petite woman with an affinity for skinny jeans, high-waisted skirts, and bodycon dresses, I knew that it wouldn't be long before I needed to go shopping because there was no way I was going to fit into my favorite styles in my current size. Sure enough, while I didn’t start showing until around 12 weeks, many of my clothes started feeling super uncomfortable a lot sooner., because I was so bloated. So I set out on a trip to the mall, ready to add trendy maternity items to my wardrobe.

But upon setting foot in my mall’s maternity store, I was surprised by how expensive everything was, especially the blouses, tank tops, and T-shirts. While I don’t necessarily consider myself the most frugal shopper in the world, I struggled with the idea of paying what seemed like a lot of money for something that I might only wear for a few months. I’m all about making investments in my closet, and $70 maternity shirts certainly did not seem like an investment. I can rationalize spending more money on a dress or a pair of jeans, but a casual top? No, thanks. And to make matters worse, it’s not like the clothing I was browsing was particularly fancy or special; in fact, they resembled a lot of things I already owned.

That's when I realized: I didn't have to buy maternity shirts. I already had plenty of items that would work, right in my closet. And while I was standing there in the maternity store, it occurred to me that instead of dropping some serious cash on those stretchy Spandex t-shirts, I might be able to wear my favorite shirts all spring and summer long — they’d just fit a little differently, that’s all. I ended up leaving the mall that day without purchasing any tops at all; instead, I went right home and dug my favorite baggy tank tops out my summer wardrobe.

Courtesy of De Elizabeth Gleason

Over the past few years, I've collected a lot of trendy loose-fitting tank tops — you know, the ones that are meant to be worn over a cute bandeau bra, because they contain arm holes the size of melons. Some of them sport logos across the torso, while others have witty quotes (or ~deep~ thoughts).

Those shirts have been my go-to every year when the weather turned warm. I’ve worn them over leggings, or tucked into denim shorts. Unless I was going somewhere fancy, chances are, if it was between the months of May and September, I’d be rocking one of those tops. They’re incredibly roomy and comfortable, so I figured, why not transition these to my pregnancy wardrobe?

Courtesy of De Elizabeth

While I bought most of these tops a while ago, there are a ton of similar tops on the market. Forever 21 sells this adorable ombré tank for $12.90, as well as this retro Lynyrd Skynyrd muscle tee for $17.90. (I guess shirts with '70s rock band logos are a thing now.) If you want the world to know you're a "Road Trip Warrior," you can rock this tank from Target for $12.99, and, if you've got a little more cash to spare, Urban Outfitters is selling a muscle tank that doubles as a hoodie for $49. At this point in my pregnancy I can still wear my old sizes comfortably in these types of shirts, but if you want a little extra room, going up a size definitely can't hurt.

Active Ombre Muscle Tee, $13, Forever 21; Lynyrd Skynyrd Muscle Tee, $18, Forever 21; Road Trip Warrior Graphic Tank, $13, Target; Silence + Noise Sleeveless Muscle Sweatshirt, $49, Urban Outfitters

Courtesy of De Elizabeth

Even though my belly is rapidly growing, every single one of my baggy racerback tank tops still fits comfortably. They even look good over the Medela nursing bra ($18.99, Target) I had purchased a few weeks earlier. While it's admittedly more visible underneath a tank top than a bandeau is, it provided coverage and support and still looked pretty stylish when paired with my favorite tops. A total win-win.

With that, I made a decision then and there that I wouldn’t purchase any “casual” or “comfy” maternity shirts, not when I could wear my faves throughout the upcoming warmer months of the year. As of now, I’m nearing the end of my second trimester and still wearing those same shirts. And I’ll be damned if I don’t wear them right up until delivery.

Medela Nursing Bra, $19, Target

Courtesy of De Elizabeth

Of course, I will admit that my solution wouldn’t work for everyone. I have a career that allows me to work remotely, so no one cares if I spend an entire Monday wearing leggings and a baggy tank top that reads “Mermaid Swim Team.” But if you do have to go into an office, you could easily pair one of these tops with skinny maternity pants (like these skinny jeans from Kohl's), toss on a blazer and a statement necklace, and call it a day. And if you're looking to avoid buying any maternity bottoms altogether, you can dig out your old spandex pencil skirt and pair it with flats.

That said, this particular type of clothing also comes in handy for lazy weekends, evenings at home, summer days at the beach, or hitting the gym. So if you’re wrestling with the mind-boggling price tags at maternity stores, you might want to consider what you already have at home. Or what might be tucked away in Forever21 or Target for a fraction of the price. For me, it’s been a life (and money) saver.

Maternity Oh Baby by Motherhood Secret Fit Belly Skinny Jeans, $23, Kohl's; Pencil Skirt, $13, H&M