An open letter to maternity clothes buyers
Sick and tired of ugly and ill-fitting maternity clothing? So is this mom.
Clothing (Shutterstock)

Dear buyers,

It is wonderful that you have little maternity sections tucked away in the dark corners near the only plus-sized rail of clothing, even if it is only in your largest stores. Thank you for that. However, there are a few teeny-tiny problems with the clothing you provide.

Yes, many mothers enjoy wearing leggings and large T-shirts, tracksuit pants and large tops around the house, but, not sure if this has been brought to your attention yet or not, many pregnant women leave the house while pregnant. We visit the shops, work in offices, see clients and do other things that non-pregnant people do. This causes us to attempt to buy clothing for these functions.

Going maternity clothes shopping presents some difficulties. The good stuff is in the designer stores, with prices so high that even those in professional level jobs can’t afford more than one or two pieces, so off we march to our usual clothing stores. On eventually locating a store employee, we’re told "sorry, only the Canal Walk/Gateway/Sandton City branch stocks maternity clothes". (Don’t people in other places get pregnant?) 

We find a day when we can arrange an evening babysitter for the toddler (an overtired, hungry little mite who doesn't want to be at the shops is not a fun way to shop) we drive completely out of our way, pay the over priced parking and visit the large shop in the very large shopping centre we’d rather avoid with our cankles, heartburn, and tired aching body. We locate the closest toilets in case of emergency shopping vomit. Eventually we find the maternity section and select a few items. We immediately wonder "am I just a strange shape, or was this never fitted onto pregnant human beings?" The clothes seem to come in two types – shapeless sack type and tight on the tummy loose everywhere else type.  Occasionally we find something pretty and which can actually fit a pregnant woman. We buy one of those in every colour.  

Then there is the pants issue. A few years ago you were still able to buy trousers with elastic in the sides and buttons that you moved along to adjust them. Not only were you able to wear the pants all through pregnancy and afterwards, but they stayed up. Let’s face it, the rib trim top that most trousers have now looks better, but, what fits you in month four fails to go over your hips in month 7, and what fits in month 8 won’t fit in month 9, and six weeks after baby is born everything just slips right off again. Buyers, we know that you’re just trying to get us to buy new clothes each month during pregnancy and as we lose weight afterwards, but you know what might work better? Having nicer clothes that actually fit people which they buy more of, rather than buying four items in total because everything fits so badly.

Here are some more helpful tips:

• Flattering mirrors in the changing rooms – we might buy more if the clothes look good on us, rather than if the mirror installer was on loan from the house of mirrors at the fun fair for the day.  

• Soft lighting, we don’t want to be confronted with our cellulite and pimples so blatantly, we’re hormonal wrecks remember?  
• Fashion. Yes, we know that in the 1950's women wore dungarees and tunics while pregnant.  Times have changed a bit. We’re happy to buy faddish pieces and not just classics with our maternity clothes – we know they’re short wear items, you can include some items that fit with current fashion trends. If the classics are adjustable, we might come back for the seasonal pieces.  

• Also, June, July and August are winter. We buy clothes for now, not for next year, so filling the shops with summer clothes in mid-winter does not help the pregnant woman wanting clothes to fit right now.

Yours faithfully,

A concerned mother

Have you had any luck clothes shopping while pregnant?

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