Fresh (maternity) duds

I’ve never been trendy or fashionable or fashion-forward, per say, but I’m trying not to look a frightful mess during this pregnancy.

That’s been somewhat challenging given how little maternity clothing I own . . . and how little I want to invest in it. After losing almost 40 lbs. in 2013-14, I had to replace nearly everything in my wardrobe — which hurt in the pocketbook and the psyche.

It might sound ridiculous, but imagine if all of your favorite pants, tops and dresses no longer fit. Or like everything vanished overnight. Even though I wanted to get healthier, of course, I never considered the fact that my favorite Levi’s — a pair I’ve lovingly worn since college — would no longer be wearable, and I’d have to drop $40 a pop trying to find a replacement in my new size. (And I still haven’t. The angst.)

I’ve been fighting with my wardrobe for years. Before Weight Watchers, I struggled to find clothing that made me feel confident. I hated the way everything hugged and spent most of my time pulling at my clothing. Post-Weight Watchers, I felt great getting dressed . . . when I actually had something to get dressed in. I started searching for cute, affordable clothing to replace nearly everything I owned. And I was making good progress!

Then I got pregnant.

Maternity wear is an entirely different animal. In the beginning, I purchased basic short-sleeved tops and camisoles to wear under open-front, non-maternity sweaters. I bought stretchy black slacks for work from Old Navy and have two pairs of maternity jeans I like from Sears. Christmas brought some new tops from my parents, sister and husband, but until this weekend? Well, I basically rotated the same half-dozen tops for work and have been wearing one of two sweaters after-hours.

The thing is, I’m trying to be frugal. Though I want to feel good, of course, it’s hard to justify dropping hundreds of dollars on clothing I won’t be wearing come summer. My pregnancy has been a back-and-forth between wanting to invest in nice duds that will make me feel confident and trying to save money in general . . . so. I’ve sought basics I can pair all kinds of ways and tried getting creative with my wardrobe — but there’s only so much you can do without shelling out more dough.

Which is why I nearly burst with happiness on Sunday. My brother-in-law’s cousin kindly told my sister about baby gear she is ready to offload now that her youngest is two, and — as an aside — mentioned she had some maternity wear she’d be happy to pass along.

Friends, she came through big time. I’m talking 25 tops in various styles and colors for work and weekends, most from Old Navy or Motherhood Maternity — the two stores I’ve been visiting regularly. I honestly could have wept.

I’m wearing one of the new (red!) tops today and honestly feel like a million bucks. I didn’t realize how drab my clothing had gotten, too: all grays and blacks. Very monochromatic. I love those tones, but as we inch closer to spring? I want to branch out a little. Maybe bring in some purple and mint green, you know? Something uplifting.

I think the lesson here is to put things out into the universe, be patient and be gracious. When you least expect it, someone might show up with a trash bag full of fresh duds and expect nothing in return.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to inspect my haul. I just like petting them.

If you’re like me and on the hunt for maternity wear, I’ve had good luck with the tops from Kohl’s (the Oh Baby by Motherhood line) and Motherhood Maternity. Sears is the only department store that actually carries maternity wear in-store, and I love the maternity jeans my husband found there!

I browse Zulily’s maternity section pretty faithfully, but I haven’t always loved what I’ve ordered . . . mostly because it’s too short. If you keep in mind that their “tunics” can’t actually be worn with just leggings, making them tops, they have cute items! And they’re not all solid colors. Why are maternity tops all in solid colors?! Is there something offensive about a pregnant lady in a print?