Maternity clothing has long been known for the basics - the black V-neck, the shapeless dress that covers for months.
But what about during the holiday season, when one needs a party dress? Or what if one simply doesn't want to sacrifice style for a changing body?
That's the Catch-22 of maternity clothes. Women need them but often don't want to spend a fortune. And just because they're temporary, shoppers might not want to sacrifice personal style for a season.
Happily, many companies want to help. Maternity clothes are no longer all about the stretchy black staples. Jeans can be distressed; maternity pants come in colors that pop.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
We polled moms for their favorite spots. Many mentioned shopping lines like Jessica Simpson's at Destination Maternity; others bought a size up or shopped at secondhand shops - or their sister's closet. Places like Old Navy and Gap also have affordable options.
Hatch offers activewear; shops like Nordstrom have a dedicated maternity section with trendy items - and after baby, can convert any bra into a nursing bra. A Pea in the Pod offers different hemlines to switch up angles.
We asked a range of stores to send us their best-selling items, so we could take a look. Stripes and basics are still shoppers' favorites, and with good reason - a basic can be matched with a lot, from work to weekend. For those who do want some new pieces, many maternity outfitters are offering chic options.
They're also offering new ways to shop. For instance, Stitch Fix expanded into maternity in 2015 and sends boxes of options for expanding bellies. A spokeswoman promises it adjusts inventory to be just right for each trimester and for postpartum. A stylist sending us samples promised "desk-to-dinner" looks in our box, which included skinny jeans and a polka dot top.
Similarly, Le Tote sends boxes for maternity starting at, $49 per month, with recommended pieces that members can swap or purchase. The company's origins are even pregnancy-related: When co-founder Rakesh Tondon's wife was pregnant in 2012, she started sharing clothing with friends, helping inspire the idea.
Storq offers a $250 package deal, Basic Bundle - four pieces (dress, skirt, leggings, tank) to get you through nine months. The emphasis is on what isn't there - no tiny belts or bows.
With all these options, make sure to consider sizing. Specialists at Isabella Oliver advise customers to order a pre-pregnancy size. Its clothes are designed to grow with you; one size should last throughout an entire pregnancy.
And go bold. Many items have strong colors and patterns. Embrace this as a time to try something new - after all, if you don't like that pattern, you can shelve it in a few months. Leota's maternity line boasts colorful prints, like a multicolor wrap dress with waves of watercolor-type shades. Of course, the bigger the pattern, the harder it is to casually re-wear it (which is why those staples are rightfully so tempting!).
Finally, consider whether bras are built into tanks or strapless styles. And ponder your own style - do you want to show off the stomach? Some shops have ruching, wrapping and draping to cradle the belly. Others prioritize blending the belly in.
(c)2016 Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.