Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ten maternity must-haves

Your climate and lifestyle will largely determine your maternity clothing needs, but the following pieces are essential. Thanks to companies like Belly Basics, you don't have to buy all of these items separately — instead you can pick up a "pregnancy survival kit" with several separates in one handy box.
1. A twin set: You feel warmer during pregnancy, so layering is key. Choose a sleeveless shell and long-sleeved cardigan so you can peel off a layer while looking pulled together and chic. You can also drape the cardigan over your shoulders for another look.

2. A wrap sweater: These tunic-length knit tops wrap around with an adjustable tie that you can fasten tighter early in pregnancy and looser as your belly grows. The soft lines and slim-fitting bodice create a flattering silhouette.

3. A classic T-shirt: From shorts to skirts, a classic tee goes with everything. Choose the style you prefer (i.e., crew or V-neck) but make sure there's a bit of stretch in the material so it'll grow with you.

4. A knit tunic top: While fitted across the shoulders and arms, a tunic provides plenty of room where women need it — across the middle, to accommodate growing bellies, and in the length, to cover expanding hips and bottoms.

5. Black stretch pants: They go with everything and can be worn from your first weeks of pregnancy through your postpartum months.

6. A slim-fitting skirt: These are more flattering than a full skirt. The length you choose will depend on your height: If you're shorter, opt for a knee-length hemline. If you're taller, experiment with a little more length — try a mid-calf line.

7. A men's-style button-down shirt: Borrow one of your husband's for a casual look, or choose a tailored maternity style (narrow through the top and shoulders with plenty of room for your growing belly) for a more polished feel.

8. A black dress: Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean this timeless and classic fashion staple is off-limits. It'll take you anywhere, from a dinner date with your mate to an evening out with friends.

9. Comfy undergarments: You'll need a couple of new bras to accommodate your larger-than-usual breasts. Don't be embarrassed to let a lingerie saleswoman help you get the proper fit. It's important that your breasts get the support they need and that you're comfortable. As for underwear, loose is key. If you wear briefs, you may prefer over-the-belly maternity underwear. Or buy your favorite thongs or bikinis a size or two larger and let the waistband rest under your tummy.

10. A few cool accessories: You can really punch up an outfit with a colorful scarf, chunky necklace, funky shoes, or hip handbag. An added bonus: If you splurge on accessories, at least you know you'll be able to wear them after the birth.