I’m M. of An Epic Battle in High Heels, where I mostly blog about trying to professionalize my later stage of PhD wardrobe while slaying demons (i.e. my dissertation, applications, and other such projects). Congrats, S. and family!

This guest post is not going to make any sense if I don’t begin with what seems like an incredibly personal admission for the Internets: A while ago my husband I tried for a few–actually, more than a few–months to conceive and didn’t. Don’t worry. This is not going to be a sad post. We’re okay with it.

When we were in the midst of trying, a number of fashion bloggers on my blog roll, including S., announced their pregnancies and began writing about elasticized maternity trousers and strategies for dressing the gestating body in academic and office situations. Thinking I would soon be dealing with the same issues, I paid close attention. This had an effect on me that I didn’t expect: I reassessed my wardrobe’s pregnancy friendliness and had a hard time of purging my wardrobe of things that had to go but could be incorporated into a maternity wardrobe. I’m also in the late stages of a PhD program and need to work on professionalizing my wardrobe more, but I didn’t want to purchase a pair of dark trouser jeans and a fitted blazer on my limited budget if I could only wear them for another month or so and then would have to buy maternity pants soon after. Furthermore, I had no idea what my body would be like a year later. This put me into a state of wardrobe limbo and it was on my mind a lot when I was blogging at the now suspended Fashionable Academics, but in general women don’t announce “I’m trying to get pregnant and that’s why I’m still holding on to this awful shirt that already makes me look pregnant!”

It feels less strange to talk about it in hindsight, however, so if you’ll indulge me, I will now narrate what was going on in my head while dressing myself last year and trying to conceive. This may be especially interesting to former readers of Fashionable Academics who will have some of my repeat offenses explained:

MVP Red Dress

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I had always wished that I had purchased a Small instead of a Medium for a better fit, but my thoughts towards this dress (which I love) changed the day that S. of Academichic and Simply Bike wrote about how a skirt of hers in a size too big was good maternity wear in the second trimester.  I began to value this dress for its potential flexibility with an expanding belly.

Wardrobe Purge 

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Before “use it or lose it” became a thing to do on fashion blogs, I decided to shame myself into getting rid of pieces that I either didn’t wear, hated wearing, or needed never to wear again.  I’m so glad I got rid of these because I can only imagine what my 5 feet nothing stature would have looked like while in an in-between stage of showing during pregnancy.  But I hesitated to get rid of these because of the roomy shirts and elastic waist skirt.

December – March Limbo

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When I didn’t have a meeting and wasn’t teaching, which was after December of last year, I stopped varying the bottom half of my body as much as I used to because I needed some new pieces, but didn’t want to invest in any because they might be wearable soon after. My solution was a frequent bottom-half uniform:  black jersey knit skirt, black leggings, and black boots (mostly wellies). These would be paired with some sort of sweater/cardi combination.  I figured this was fine, since it was probably how I would soon be dressing out of necessity anyway.

The Discoball Skirt

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This skirt marked the end of limbo dressing. I had eyed this skirt for a few weeks, but had been saving a GAP giftcard for maternity jeans.  When another month passed without a positive pregnancy test, I bought it. It also marked a shift in my thinking on trying to conceive–I kept taking vitamins and limiting my caffeine intake, but I decided that the state of limbo needed to stop.  And seriously, it’s not that much more sustainable than 5 months anyway.  Until it actually happened, I needed to dress for the present and look presentable and professional instead of looking like I was constantly leaving dance class.  And the present also allowed for some frivolity.

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  • http://biblioMOMia.blogspot.com BiblioMOMia

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.  I’m about to enter this strange limbo world, and I’ve been wondering the effect it would have on my closet.  That being said, when I had The Pup (who was a total surprise), I rarely wore anything maternity, and my closet had plenty of stuff for me to keep wearing.  But who knows this time around, especially since we have the weird “trying” phase to get through too.

    However, I think you’re exactly right.  Even in our closets, we need to live for the present.  And that means getting rid of poorly fitting stuff (or at least taking it out of rotation), even if we think we’ll wear those things further down the line.  A great reminder.

    • http://narrowlytailored.blogspot.com S. of Narrowly Tailored

      I’m so glad you ladies connected on this, and looking forward to hearing more from both of you on this topic in the future (for a number of reasons!). As I told M. when she and I talked about her writing this, I had my own really strange approach to dressing while trying to get pregnant (and “approach” is perhaps a strong word that conveys a much more organized set of thoughts than I had). I was going through a major process of clearing out my closet of things I didn’t wear and that didn’t work for me, and I hadn’t quite “refilled” my closet with newer pieces that worked well for my in-school-during-the-year-and-working-in-an-office-all-summer self after I quit my job and went back to school in 2009. As a result, I had a (and I say this bearing in mind that it’s all *really* relative) fairly small collection of things that worked really well for my non-pregnant self — and that because of my particular proportions, included a lot of mid-rise and high-waisted things. I was also, for a variety of mostly stupid reasons, convinced it would take us ages to conceive (hah! oh, that’s funny…), and was determined not to “leave before I left,” and so did all kinds of exaggeratedly “look how many of my chickens I’m not counting” things like registering to run a half marathon in May (which I didn’t end up doing) and donating a large box of slightly-too-big items to Goodwill the day before I found out I was pregnant. Other than thinking it’s kind of funny, I’m not sure how I feel about this: on the one hand, I’m glad for a number of psychological reasons that I approached the process this way, but it wasn’t the most practical thing I’ve ever done and definitely resulted in my needing maternity items earlier and spending more money on debatably pregnancy specific clothes than I would have liked. I think M.’s more balanced approach would have made more sense, and it’s the one I’m trying to take regarding dressing my post-partum self — but the temptation towards “aspirational” dressing and acquiring can be overwhelming!

  • rainee

    Confession time: I am in the exact same boat.I put on a wee bit of weight recently and have always been an apple. I even ordered a bunch of early-trimester (the ones with hidden elastic) from Old Navy recently.