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Maternity Clothing 101

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Navigating the world of maternity clothing, can be especially daunting for the first time mom. Figuring out what clothes you need and when you need them can certainly be perplexing. Then factor in that you'll only be wearing the clothes for a limited time and the vast range of costs and, well, you get the picture. Here are a few guidelines for the newly pregnant fashionista.

Shop Your Closet

You may be surprised to find that some of your clothes will fit you up to the six month in your pregnancy. Set aside clothes that have an empire waist, are made or jersey or knit and any baby doll or maxi dresses. These will likely become your best friends over the next several months. Do note that your belly may stretch out a favorite sweater or jersey dress, so if it's a favorite, put it on hold for now.

Shop the Sale Racks

Until your bell really pops, likely somewhere around month four or five, chances are you can still fit into regular clothing, but you may need to go up a size. Shop sale racks at stores like Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic to find suitable clothing for less than what you would pay for maternity wear.

These are also great places to shop for bras. Your breast will likely grow the most in your first trimester and your third, so don't spend a lot of money on new bras in the weeks in between.

Consider a Bellaband

A Bellaband is a large nylon/spandex band that you can wear over your current favorite pair of non-maternity jeans to extend their life. It helps keep your pants up so you can wear them unbuttoned. A Bellaband will also come in handy when you start wearing maternity clothes that may be too big and post-baby as you start to lose weight and get back into your regular clothes.

A cheap fix that will buy you an extra week or two in non-maternity jeans is to hold your pants closed with an elastic looped through the button hole and button.

Place a Bid

eBay can be a treasure trove for maternity wear. Many women who are done having kids, sell their used maternity clothes at steep discounts-we're talking under $100 for up to 20 pieces of lightly used clothing (search: maternity lot). As with any eBay purchase, do your research. You'll want to find out the seller's height and pre-pregnancy size, in addition to closely investigating her photos and feedback from previous sales. Look for lots that have a color theme (green, blue) that works with the accessories you already have.

Invest in Basics

Spend the most on items you know you will get the most wear out of: basic black pants, a black fitted dress, maternity jeans a flattering cardigan. You'll also want to have plenty of maternity tanks. These tend to be extra long and extra soft so they make an ideal layering piece underneath tops and sweater.

Organize Your Closet

Eventually, you'll need to make room in your closet and dresser for your maternity clothing. It's always easier to have all your clothes in one place when you're deciding what to wear on any given day. Store your pre-baby clothes in a box in a closet after you've washed them and make sure they are neatly folded. You'll be back in them one of these days!

Don't Forgo Your Personal Style

At a time when it can feel that your body is not your own and unexpected things keep happening, it's more important than ever to keep elements of your own personal style. Love high heels? Then wear 'em. Hate ruffles? Then opt for sleeker, belly hugging silhouettes. And always take the time to keep up with your hair and makeup- these extra steps will help you continue to feel like yourself.

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