There are a ton of things to think about during pregnancy: your health, the baby’s health, how much time you can afford to take off work, preparing your home for baby, etc. Lurking underneath these worries are fluctuating hormones and a changing body that can sometimes make you feel not so great about yourself. While your appearance may not be the most urgent thing on your list of worries, sometimes finding easy ways to look your best each day can provide that extra surge of confidence that makes the other things just that much easier to tackle.
Here are some of the most effective, simple changes I made to help myself feel more confident and put together during the past eight months:
1) Prepare a capsule maternity wardrobe
Your pregnancy will be made that much smoother if you can put a little time aside to create a capsule wardrobe that makes getting dressed every day effortless. Usually, a “capsule wardrobe” is comprised of 35 pieces (example: 7 pair of shoes, 7 tops, 7 bottoms, 7 dresses and 7 pieces of outerwear/coats). Ideally, most of the items should all be able to mix and match and you should love every piece, making getting dressed on an ordinary day the easiest, most thoughtless process possible, because, let’s face it, you have more important things to think about. It is even said that geniuses like to wear the same thing every day because it’s one less thing to focus on (ever noticed Mark Zuckerberg is always in that same grey tshirt?).
The further along I get in my pregnancy, the more I appreciate the capsule wardrobe. Not only do I feel more uncomfortable and bloated than ever, but I am tired, emotional and experiencing the lovely brain drain that comes with these hormonal fluctuations. Right now, I need to spend my final month being as productive as I can be before this new baby arrives rather than waste my time rifling through my closet every morning, only to feel dissatisfied with whatever ill-fitting, poorly thought out thing I managed to throw together.
In the first trimester, you may not have to change up your wardrobe so much. Months four and five are when your body really starts changing, so that’s a good time to start putting together a capsule wardrobe that will make your morning routine for the rest of your pregnancy easier.
Everyone’s body changes in a different way, and everyone had different preferences when it comes to what they look like, so my “problem areas” may not be yours, but here are examples of guidelines I created for my wardrobe in order to flatter my body in a way that I liked:
- I focused on comfortable dresses, versatile pants, extra-long tops and flattering coats. I was able to find most of what I needed online and for affordable prices. For a capsule wardrobe, it’s good to keep it classic, stay away from trends and stick to a color scheme you know looks good on you (I chose neutrals and jewel tones).
- I usually like to stick with shorter or clingy, below-the-knee dresses, since my legs stay (somewhat) thin during pregnancy and a floor length muumuu just makes me feel like I’m wearing a tent.
- I tend to put on weight in my upper arms, so I like a maternity dress (or any stretchy dress a few sizes larger than what I would usually wear) with a bit of a sleeve.
- My hips and thighs are another area I was insecure about, and I found that coats were a good way to disguise those parts. After noticing pregnant Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen often wearing light dusters over their dresses-I adopted the look myself. The coats covered my hip and thigh area, putting the attention back on my bump. A light trench coat can have the same effect.
- When it comes to pants, I give maternity jeans the thumbs down. Not only are they generally not as cute as regular jeans, but denim is constricting enough that they started to not fit during my last month. If anything could make me feel like I was putting on way too much weight, the fact that my MATERNITY JEANS no longer fit pretty much did it. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! I found that a black legging or a vinyl look maternity pant, capable of stretching with me, served me much better.
2) Stock up on stockings
My legs (a feature I don’t give much thought to usually) look like a damn mess when I am pregnant. Since pregnancy increases blood volume by 50 percent, pronounced veins show up out of nowhere. I also cut the spray tans while pregnant, which is what I usually rely on to help the skin on my legs look smooth and even. Since I no longer have a good tan to masquerade my bruises and veins, I stock up on tights and pantyhose for every time I wear a dress. Is there anything that sounds frumpier than the word pantyhose? Probably not, but they came in handy for me. Be sure to avoid anything labeled control top-I brought a pair home by mistake and regret it-the waist was so tight underneath my belly that it hurt! I make sure I have nude, sheer black and a variety of black patterned tights on hand so that I have something to go with any outfit and don’t have to give anymore thought to my preggo legs.
3) Travel light while you can
You will be burdened with a big, messy diaper bag soon enough. Enjoy your freedom and carry a small purse with you while you can. If you are one of those (like I was, before my first child) who constantly sport the big, bottomless, Mary Poppins bag, consider taking a break and find a small, chic daily handbag that you love. Trust me, you’ll get sick of the giant bag soon enough.
4) Alter your skincare routine
Pregnancy can cause some major changes in your skin, so be prepared to alter your skincare routine. Before I was pregnant, I was using all kinds of preventative, anti-aging products on my face. One of these products contained retinol, which is not considered safe for pregnancy, so I ditched that for the time being. All my other products were too drying on my newly dehydrated skin, so I switched to using La Mer under a simple SPF every day (some drugstore brands like Nivea and Curel make more affordable alternatives).
Since pregnancy hormones have caused some discoloration in my skin, I usually wear a light foundation, like L’Oreal True Match when I go out. After the baby is born, fade creams or laser treatments can make the discoloration go away.
If breakouts start to plague you, look for products with alternative ingredients to retinol, such as washes and creams containing tee tree oil, benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid.
5) Experiment with your makeup instead of your hair
One piece of advice I see a lot on pregnancy blogs is “try a radical new hairstyle!”
I don’t really understand this one. It seems to me that the moment you are dealing with crazy hormonal fluctuations and other changes in your body is probably not the best time to cut off all your hair or try a new color, particularly since these changes aren’t always that easy to reverse if you aren’t happy with them. If you want to change up your look, I recommend experimenting with makeup instead. Find some good makeup tutorials and master that one thing you always wished you got down but never did: how to camouflage your dark circles (you’ll need this after baby comes), how to draw the perfect cat eye liner or master that contouring trick you always wanted to pull off.
6) Don’t forget lingerie!
Even though I am, for the most part, the only one that sees it, there is something about having my lingerie game on point that makes me feel extra put together. This is no exception during pregnancy. The idea of “maternity underwear” can be kind of depressing, but there’s no need to wear granny panties that cover your entire bump and dowdy sports bras if you don’t want to.
During your first trimester, organize your lingerie drawers and throw out anything that makes you feel less than fabulous. Start stocking up on flattering bottoms that are stretchy enough to grow with you, because the last thing that’s going to feel good is your pre pregnancy g-string cutting into your skin when you are already uncomfortable and cranky. I like lace thongs with wide waistbands, because they are light and elastic enough to stretch with me, but the lace look is still sexy.
Depending on how much your breasts grow, you may need to stock up on larger bras, but there’s not really any need to switch from the type of bra you are already comfortable in. If you like underwire, you don’t have to switch to a frumpy sports bra just because you are pregnant.
Though there are some cute nursing bras out there, the selection isn’t that large and you probably won’t want to spend a ton of money on bras you will only use for a few months, keeping your purchases mostly nude and black helps create a maternity lingerie wardrobe with color matched sets always on hand.