This is me at 40 weeks and nothing I am wearing is maternity. The cropped cardi is just a regular one. I wore those a lot once my belly was bigger and regular ones looked funny. The tank was a plus sized one that I wore before becoming pregnant because it had a higher neck line. The skirt was one that was once a dress. I wore this outfit through my entire pregnancy along with several other pieces, like elastic waisted skirts, from my own closet. This won't work for everyone (especially if your wardrobe is full of more tailored pieces) but I had a pretty "flowy style", as my friends would say, to begin with!
2. Buy some inexpensive transition pieces.
I bought this green shirt from Wal-mart for about $10 pretty early on in my pregnancy and was able to wear it for quite a while. Skirts and tops in the next size up will help get you through those early days when your normal stuff starts to look and feel too snug. I have found that, in the beginning, anything that feels tight on my belly at all just brings the nasuea on, so looser fitting stuff is a must. The good news is that you may be able to wear some of these pieces after you give birth until you can get back into your old clothes.
3. Borrow clothes if possible.
I was given the opportunity to borrow many of my maternity clothes. I wore the above skirt at least twice a week and the striped shirt I wore pretty often for lounging around. These clothes were mine to use but had to go back once the baby was born. Right now, my best friend, who is several months ahead of me, has a few of my maternity pieces that I'm not ready for yet. It's a great way for everyone to get more wear out of their maternity stuff.
4. Shop secondhand.
This option takes a little time but can really save you some money. At Goodwill, I have found maternity tops and walking shorts, and even an Old Navy maternity jean skirt! You can't beat the prices there at around $4 each, but you have to take the time to look through the racks as they often don't have a designated maternity section. Alternatively, Craigslist almost always has listings where you can buy a "lot" of several pieces for one set price, usually all in the same or similar sizes. I have a friend who bought one of these lots, picked out what she liked, and plans to resell the rest. This option also takes times as you have to browse the listings and typically drive to wherever the seller wants to meet. I like to filter the findings so that only posts with images come up in my search. It's much easier to make a decision about pursuing an item if you can see it first.
5. Skip the boutiques and shop discount stores.
I never could bring myself to drop $50 on a maternity dress. I just couldn't do it. Instead, I have found maternity clothes at places like Target, Ross, and Bealls Outlet. This time around I am very excited that Old Navy has brought back their maternity line (Praise the Lord!) and I even found a maternity section on the Wal-mart website. Also, check out the plus sections of discount stores for tank tops and undershirts.
6. Don't buy the investment stuff too early.
I'm talking about bras and any nice maternity stuff that you might want to splurge on. Most women move up a bra size early on, but that's usually not the best time to buy nursing bras. I bought a few bras to get me by but waited to get the nicer ones until I was a little more settled into the nursing routine. Then my friend, an experienced breast feeder, help me realized something that revolutionized my thinking on this subject: you don't actually need nursing bras! After I had the hang of nursing I tried it in my regular bras and it was no problem. Typically, nursing bras aren't very supportive so getting back into my normal ones made a big difference for me! This time around I might just get a few new sleep nursing bras as they are helpful when you're trying to feed your baby while half asleep. Also, many women like to buy something special to wear for their maternity pictures or their baby shower. I didn't buy the above shirt for either of those occasions but I loved it so much that I ended up wearing it for both! I would wait until pretty close to those occasions to buy something, however, so that you can ensure a good fit.
7. Don't be surprised if you don't want to even look at your maternity clothes after you baby is born.
My daughter was a week old when we had her newborn pictures taken and by then, I already did not want to have anything to do with the clothes I had just spent the several months in, especially if the label said "maternity"! To me, a lot of the clothes that are out now that double as both maternity and nursing wear are tempting, but I know myself better than to buy them because I know I won't want to wear them once the baby comes. I was able to get back into a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes pretty quickly (I lost all of the 25 lbs that I had gained in 2 weeks), but things did not fit the same! This is when some of those non-maternity transition pieces from early on might come in handy again.
I hope these tips will help you as you start to build your wardrobe. Every Mama (and pregnancy) is different and what is important to me may not matter to you and vice versa. With that in mind, I would love to hear your thoughts and additions in the comments!