Finding clothes that flatter can be enough of a challenge, even without the complications of a changing body.
Fortunately, it’s possible to look good and assemble lasting looks by choosing pieces that transition with you through pregnancy or other changes. Stephanie Ray, who co-owns the St. Joseph boutique Mommy Towne with her daughter, Amanda Gentry, notes that loose-fitting styles like maxi dresses and tunics are popular and practical options.
“They’re very flowing and adjust to your body during that transitional time,” she says. “Women find they can wear them throughout their pregnancies and even afterward.”
Pants with stretchy panels also allow the wearer to grow without immediately outgrowing them. These panels come not only on a variety of clothing — from casual wear like capris and jeans to more formal pieces like business suits — but also in a variety of forms. A woman who doesn’t need a panel that covers her entire abdomen, for example, might opt for pants that offer some extra stretch only on the sides.
Tops and dresses with empire waists also accommodate an expanding waistline, which makes them a favorite for Katie Norton of Wathena, Kansas, during the later months of pregnancy. And now near the end of her third, she has plenty of experience curating a wardrobe that works across the spectrum of change.
“I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth,” she laughs.
Norton adds that she also swears by pieces that are flattering and functional in the months after pregnancy and can remain in her wardrobe long-term. Among these are button-downs as well as shirts with deep-V or scoop necklines.
“You can wear a camisole underneath for modesty, but they still provide easy access while you’re nursing,” she says.
Along the same lines, Ray notes that nursing bras are a hit among her customers. Mommy Towne carries several styles by Cake Lingerie that are intended to provide extra support throughout and following pregnancy, as well as ease in breastfeeding postpartum.
Another piece that transitions from pregnancy to the postpartum period is shapewear for the belly, Ray says. Mommy Towne sells a brand called Belly Bandit that helps reduce strain and stretch marks during pregnancy, then helps accelerate healing afterward.
Of course, if your wardrobe needs a major overhaul, the investment in clothes and accessories can add up. But it may be possible to offset some of this expense by selling pieces to secondhand stores when you’re finished with them.
Mommy Towne will buy back used clothing items whether they were purchased there or elsewhere — which Ray hopes will help women look and feel their best throughout whatever transition they’re experiencing.
“If you outgrow it, if the season changes, come give us the old and you can get something new,” she says. “Regardless of size, women are beautiful and deserve to feel that way.”