A Bun in the Oven and a Mother in Court

maternity suitsWe were out and about at a party Saturday night when a friend announced her good news: she’s pregnant! The problem, she confided to us, was her wardrobe — she’s in court three days a week and has no idea how to survive her pregnancy without buying several new suits every few months. This is a bit outside our field of expertise (we have yet to shop maternity) but we promised to look into it. Readers, please comment in — where can professional clothes be found for the mom-to-be?

We began our search at Old Navy; we remembered a friend raving about their maternity department a few years ago. Given that our friend is normally a St. John’s sort of woman, this was news. While Old Navy was flush with nice pants (see Real Waist Stretch Twill Pants – Roof Tile, on sale for $25), there was nothing court-appropriate.

Next stop: Target, where the Liz Lange for Target Maternity collection seems to have just sold out of a lot of amazing, darling suits for $25ish per piece. Drat. Still, some seriously cute dresses for the office, such as this well-reviewed Sleeveless Ponte Dress — Ebony (for $25).

Isabella Oliver suit Next we tried Google searches. Through there, we found Isabella Oliver — “designer” maternity wear — who in fact does have maternity suits. But there, the prices are way higher — $268 for a jacket. Furthermore, maybe it’s just the crazed look on the model’s face, but perhaps a woman already flush with hormones should avoid anything but simple, basic outfits.
For some reason, we resisted the actual specialty maternity shops until after we’d exhausted our thoughts of discount suppliers. But we started finding real pay dirt with these stores. First up: A Pea in the Pod.  Here, the selection is great, but the prices are higher — for the working mom-to-be on a budget, we recommend checking eBay for pieces you want, as well as consignment shops and Craig’s List. (One friend of ours paid $50 for a trunk of maternity clothes from Craig’s List — without knowing a single piece that was in the trunk — and it lasted her through her entire pregnancy!) But deals can be had, such as this classic black blazer at Pea in the Pod — once $128, it’s now $49. Button Front Maternity Jacket maternity suits 2
maternity suits 3 We hit more paydirt at another specialty shop: Motherhood Maternity.  This would probably be our first stop, were we pregnant — the prices are definitely suitable to clothes you won’t be wearing for more than a few months.  We liked this stretch fabric maternity jacket, on sale for $15 (from $35.) (Note: We’re not entirely sure WHY, but the same jacket seems to be $15 at Destination Maternity, also.  Are the companies linked?)(Note 2:  Note that the gray stitch detail maternity jacket, at the top, is also from Motherhood Maternity and is also $15.)
Of course, you can always just give up and try to face your sartorial conundrum with humor, such as these shirts from Cafe Press’s broad selection ($25-$35ish):



Check out some more professional maternity options, below…

Comments

  1. I think Lane Bryant has a maternity line.

  2. Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, along with the other companies on that website, are owned by the same company, and Destination Maternity is their online website. Motherhood is the less expensive version, but you should watch out – some of the stuff is REALLY polyester and low quality, but a lot of it can be really cute and functional.

  3. cdn lawyerista :

    When I was pregnant with my first, I bought a skirt, jacket and pants from Motherhood in basic black, plus a jackets or two from consignment shops, and then borrowed a couple of suits (ask around, people are generous). That got me though. The Motherhood suit has been worn by many other moms to be. I recommend their stuff, it is pretty reasonable. In Canada there is also Thyme maternity, not sure if you have that in Canada. They may have something too. There is also stuff on eBay (obvs).

  4. C – Destination Maternity (and destinationmaternity.com) is the umbrella for three companies: Motherhood Maternity, Mimi Maternity and a Pea in the Pod. There are Destination Maternity stores and there are individual stores for each brand. The Destination Maternity stores, if you are lucky enough to have one by you, are great, because you can shop all three brands at once.
    FYI – I am an attorney in a smaller firm and don’t have to wear suits everyday. If I did have to wear a suit everyday, I would definitely go to ebay and Pea in the Pod. Motherhood Maternity, while a good value, can look cheap. Mimi is also good – they have great black dress pants I am wearing right now (which have lasted me since month 5 and I am starting my 9th month). Japanese Weekend is also great. Target, in store, has a very limited selection.

  5. Anonymous :

    Babystyle also has some good maternity work-wear. I found a suit there last year, but haven’t looked recently.
    Anne Taylor Loft is another place to look.

  6. Ann Taylor has a maternity line online – while there are some “trial “stores carrying their maternity line – difficult to find.

  7. You have to be very creative and work on hybrid outfits. Gap has comfortable maternity clothes that are relatively well made. I found that the destination maternity stuff ran small, was sized strangely (a pair of work pants at pea in the pod that were $150 came in SML….) poorly made and itchy.

    I wore a lot of black, black skirts, tights, pants dresses etc and then topped that with a more colorful and distracting cardigan or jacket from jcrew. Do not try and cover up a pregnant stomach it’s like trying to hide a hickey. Just wear distracting accessories.

    The worst part is that your body changes and changes and changes so you’re really spending all of your free time shopping, the pants that fit at 20 weeks will probably cause pain at 30.

  8. Anonymous :

    Unfortunately Ann Taylor Loft seems to have discontinued their maternity line.

  9. I’m over 8 months pregnant and have a big trial next week, so I definitely understand the concern. I bought a dark gray pantsuit from A Pea in the Pod when I was three months pregnant and have been wearing it constantly ever since. It is actually flattering and very professional looking despite my increasingly larger and larger girth. It cost more than I wanted to spend but since it was the only suit I bought, it has been well worth it – I just mix up the shirts I wear underneath the suit and run it to the dry cleaners frequently.

    A co-worker purchased several items from Isabella Oliver, reasoning that higher prices = better clothes. Not true! The fit was awkward and unflattering and we were both disappointed. She also tried Japanese Weekend and found some fantastic deals, with clothes that looked great.

  10. Anonymous :

    You can also find a great (a relative term) pair of black and/or grey slacks, a couple of maternity button front shirts and then wear your regular blazers or suit jackets unbuttoned. And during the earlier months, some of the current swing style jackets will even button.

  11. Anonymous :

    Check out a belly band http://www.ingridandisabel.com/bellaband.html. I wore my regular suit pants with dark belly bands until month 7. You can also wear your regular suit jackets, open, with a maternity button down, for the entire pregnancy. A great find for me was babystyle.com, which has a terrific maternity section with well-priced maternity work attire – particularly in their online outlet.

    • I second the babystyle recommendation! They even have some pants in petite – while my stomach grew, my inseam did not… Consignment shops that carry maternity are also a good source for better-quality clothes, or recently-pregnant friends. No one wears out their maternity clothes, and they are often happy to share (and get rid of them).

      • I know this is an old post but check out suitsyourbelly.com
        Finally a business suit you can wear throughout your entire pregnancy and look and feel good about

  12. I got great maternity wear from jcpenney.com. Don’t forget to check the outlet section. I got a jacket and dress shirts for a few dollars apiece (needed them for interviews). Pretty nice quality. Old Navy was my other go to, but avoid the cheap t-shirts.

  13. I just did this a few months ago. Ann Taylor does decent maternity suits as well, and I got a great deal a standard black one. Thankfully, I didn’t have to spend much time in court, though I did have to do my bar interview and get sworn in. I agree with Motherhood often looking cheap. A lot of their suit pants fit really funny: like a suit bought in the Juniors’ department. A much better move is getting stuff from Mimi Maternity or Pea in the Pod on sale. But, fair warning: all three (Motherhood, Pea in the Pod and Mimi) have terrible return policies: 10 days for regular priced stuff, and all sales final, no returns or exchanges on anything on sale.

  14. When I was pregnant I got clothes from Gap (their maternity is better quality then their regular clothes), Mimi Maternity, Motherhood, and a few things from Pea in the Pod. Ann Taylor Loft now has maternity too. I didn’t really care for the fit at Old Navy, quality was mediocre, and nothing was dressy. My suit came from Mimi, but Pea in the Pod and ATL have good options too. Motherhood quality is hit or miss, but I got some good (cheap) shirts for under my suit and for business casual.

    Babystyle looks nice but I haven’t bought from there. http://www.duematernity.com is nice too.

  15. Ebay. Ebay. Ebay.

  16. Unfortunately AT Loft discontinued their maternity line, and Babystyle has gone out of business (that’s a huge loss). I could never find a thing in Motherhood when I was pregnant – their clothes are even cheaper looking than Old Navy. Maternity clothes are gross in general. ;-)

  17. I was fortunate to not have to buy a maternity suit during my pregnancy. I work in biglaw – not NY – and was PG during the summer, so I was able to get away with a more casual style than I was used to. I held out on buying a suit, but then never needed to. If I had to buy, I would have gone to Pea in the Pod. I liked Motherhood Maternity because the clothes were cheaper, but some things just looked cheap. It was hit or miss. Mimi Maternity was good, but don’t buy their line “same size as you were before you were PG.” Bull Sh!t! Most women I know who get pregnant actuall have an a$$. Anyway, Mimi had nice things, but maternity shirts for more than I pay at Brooks Brothers? No thanks.

  18. Beware of unreasonable return policies! Many of these stores will not accept any returns, even a day later. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    Also, I had a terrible time with everything looking way too low. During pregnancy, my chest got huge, and every V-necked top made me look like a prostitute.

    JC Penney was surprisingly awesome for basics and tent dresses. I ended up dry cleaning a bunch of the things I got, though, so the cheap fabric wouldn’t fade. Also, size 2XL stuff — especially tops — from Marshalls and Ross were pretty useful as maternity wear, though now I wouldn’t be caught dead in them.

  19. Anonymous :

    JCPenney. (store & catalog) I normally wouldn’t shop there for clothes, but I found most the stores too casual for my law firm dress code. appropriate items.

  20. Lisa Jacobs :

    I bought some cool things from Picchu Maternity. The fit and quality is better than Isabella Oliver although the clothes I had from them were second hand bought on Ebay so may have washed badly or may not been looked after. The Picchu things were great although a little pricey. They washed nicely and kept their shape and colour.
    Pea in the Pod do great pants and jeans.

  21. empirecookie :

    Not an issue in canada – lawyers wear robes in court so all you need are some expanding black pants or skirts – no problem!

  22. Anonymous :

    I recently found a great maternity suit at picklesandicecream.com – priced reasonably (under $250 for a jacket and skirt) and fit better than anything I had tried. They have great business casual stuff as well.

  23. So…not sure where you all practice, but in CA, dresses are appropriate court attire. Dresses are really the best way to go for maternity wear…Much more flattering. Suits are generally made to be well-tailored and body-skimming, hence the difficulty in finding suits which can take you through such a body-changing experience. DRESSES. Much better.

  24. I agree with the comment about wearing your own jacket and leaving it unbuttoned. I did this paired with nice black pants from Liz Lange Maternity. When those didn’t fit towards I wore Ann Taylor Loft black dress and sweater and dressed down a bit. I was lucky since I did administrative law hearings. Dresses are a good call towards the end!

  25. Anonymous 1 & 2: Can you get away with not buttoning your jacket in court? I’ve seen lawyers called out by judges for appearing an unbuttoned jacket.

    • If you’re really pregnant I have a feeling you get a little bit of leeway; I am a surgeon and was down to cycling three pairs of maternity pants in my three day a week clinic and a variety of relatively casual maternity tops. With a white coat on top, nobody said a word. In retrospect I would have probably burst into tears or bit their head off, depending on the moment, so it was wise on their part!!

    • I don’t think any judge is going to chastise an obviously pregnant woman about this. Would definitely be possible to get scolded before you are obviously showing, though, depending on county/judge.

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