Maternity Clothes. AKA a nightmare shopping experience.

I promised/threatened a post about maternity clothes shopping. And voila! Here we are. I take no responsibility for the boredom you experience while reading this. You can leave the page aaaany time you want. 

Dear clothes shops, 

I love you, I really do. I’ve spent many an hour, and many many fine English pounds (and other currencies) within your walls over the past twenty-or-so years. I’ve even worked for you, tidying clothes rails and manning fitting rooms and folding little sweaters around pieces of tissue paper just so someone can come and pull them apart moments later. Once, I chased a shoplifter down the road in a (foolish) attempt to retrieve some of your beloved merchandise that had been callously stolen from you. 

And how do you repay me? You abandon me as soon as I have the audacity to create another little person who will one day buy your wares and probably sweep your floors. 

I’m not asking a lot here, really I’m not. I just want to be able to go to a shop I like, a shop where I’d normally part with my hard-earned cash, and be able to buy something vaguely flattering to cover my expanding waistline. 

Can I do that? Nope. Most of the shops I’d usually hit up (I buy 90% of my work clothes from Banana Republic, Reiss – via ebay, I’m not a millionaire, and French Connection) don’t deign to consider dressing women of the up-duffed variety. The shops that do – Next (I even went to Next! At least one of my readers knows how I feel about Next. Clue: it’s not positive), Gap – either don’t ‘do’ the line in-store AT ALL, or stock it in only one shop in the UK, miles from where I live. And I live in LONDON. How do people in smaller towns or cities have a hope in heck of finding anything? 

H&M and Topshop do stock maternity, but I was faced in both instances with one small display in an otherwise enormous store, where everything left was a UK size 6 or 18. I thought I was safe going to Westfield…this is an appropriate time for a ROFL. I was told that everything is online or, as the girl I asked in Next helpfully advised, I should just buy normal clothes but in four sizes larger than my usual size. Yeah, like that’s going to work. 

Sure, New Look does maternity. But…no. I love New Look for cheap vest tops for holidays, and I spent many lots of £20 there as a student on impossibly high heels for going to clubs (I think that’s what they’re called…it’s been a while). But polished put-together business attire is not NL’s forte.

In the end I sought refuge in Mamas and Papas, the only place that seemed to cater for the burgeoning belly, and snapped up two pairs of jeans while the assistant helpfully told me that soon, they too will be moving to the ‘online only’ experience. 

Not cool, guys. Sizing already differs so much from shop to shop that buying online when sans bebe doesn’t guarantee an item will fit. Add to that the unpredictability of what your preggo body’s going to look like, or which bits are going to expand and shrink, and I might as well spin a dice or consult a rune-caster to determine what size to order. 

I just want to try stuff on. Is that really too much to ask? 

So I went online, to the maternity only shop Seraphine. They only do maternity, so I was overwhelmed by the choice – so many styles! So many colours! I was in heaven. However, I was also overwhelmed by the prices. I wanted everything, but when I put what I thought comprised a moderate maternity wardrobe into the online basket and hit ‘checkout’, I was faced with a total of over £700. Nope and nope. I pared it back to a £200 spend, knowing out of the four dresses and one top that bought me, I’d have to return half because it would look awful. I was right. 

So now I have to pack it up, schlep to the Post Office (every knackered, fat woman’s dream) and post it back. And hope any alternative sizes I order don’t have the same end point. 

So, clothes shops, I’m asking you – no, begging you to please consider stocking some maternity lines in store. Please, for me and all the other fatty preggos out there. We’re unhappy and we’re self-conscious about these bodies we don’t recognise anymore and we’re hormonal. Superhormonal. Do you really want that sort of mega meltdown on your premises? Thought not. 

Love Beth 

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