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Shopping for Stylish Maternity Clothes

There was a time when pregnant women were pretty much sequestered at home once they began to show. Today, women wear form-fitting clothing and proudly display their baby bumps. Expectant moms today have a wonderful variety of options when it comes to shopping for stylish maternity clothes.

Most women begin shopping for maternity clothing during the first trimester, although most find they don't actually need to wear maternity clothing until they begin to show - usually around the beginning of the second trimester. Loose clothing - such as skirts and pants with elastic waists - that's part of your current wardrobe may be comfortable during early pregnancy, and will help you ease back into your normal wardrobe after delivery. Some "forgiving" bottoms can also be paired with nursing tops after your baby arrives if you plan on breastfeeding.

When it comes time to shop for maternity clothing, you have a wealth of options to choose from: from upscale, exclusive boutiques like A Pea in the Pod to surprisingly attractive options at your local. You're pretty much limited only by your budget and your willingness to shop.

If you're lucky, you may need to go no further than a friend's closet. If you have a friend who has recently been pregnant and whose style you admire, ask about borrowing some of her maternity clothing. Most women are happy to lend maternity clothing, and you can make these borrowed outfits your own by choosing different accessories.

There are also a number of retail stores that sell maternity clothing, from boutiques that carry maternity items exclusively to stores that carry other types of clothing as well. To get a feel for what you like and what will work for you, try both types of stores. The chief difference, other than price, is that the maternity store will probably have a "tummy" you can borrow to get an idea of how clothing will look as your own belly grows. You should be aware, however, that your breasts, and probably your bottom as well, will also get larger, so take this into consideration while trying on clothing.

Be sure to spend some time shopping in consignment and thrift stores, especially in larger cities and affluent areas. You can often find beautiful clothing, sometimes brand new and with price tags still attached, at very reasonable prices.

Next up, a number of "traditional" retailers, like Old Navy and JCPenney, also offer maternity clothing that's worth checking out. The virtual consignment sale that is eBay also has some surprisingly lovely maternity clothing. If you want to buy clothing online, and most maternity stores and manufacturers have online websites, be sure to know your size, know the return policy, and choose your size according to the manufacturer's size chart.

One final aspect of maternity clothing that's really changed in recent years is lingerie and underwear. No longer are you stuck with institutional-looking undergarments. You can now buy very stylish maternity and nursing bras, featuring all the colors and details you'll find in everyday models. Even model Elle Macpherson has lent her name to a line of designer maternity and nursing bras.

As you can see, there's no reason that pregnancy has to mean giving up your love of fashion or sense of style. With a little experimentation, you'll find it easy to come up with a maternity look that's right for you.

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