Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Maternity wear: you thought you felt bloated and unattractive before...

So now that I'm officially at the halfway mark in this pregnancy, my clothing needs have ramped up substantially, much like the size of my hind end.

What I've discovered is that department stores hang signs that say "Maternity" and "Women's World" in lieu of posting their real thoughts overhead: "Since you're fat or pregnant, you probably don't care how you look. Wear this."

These departments are always right next to each other, as if having an expanding uterus and being plus size are basically the same thing. Then, the selection in both departments mainly consists of dresses and tops that look like:

A. a confetti machine vomited onto stretch polyester

B. Jackson Pollack made some cash on the side before he died by taking his paint splatter technique and branching out into women's wear

C. there's a hot new Amish clothing designer on the scene. Motto: black and white are the new black.

As proof, I offer the following shots taken at a local mall recently.

Did someone order a clown car? No? How about a tunic to remind you of what a psychedelic acid trip might look like if acid were totally not on the list of verboten pregnancy drugs?
I mean honestly, can you depress me even more? And if you go to the chi-chi maternity boutiques, you find more tailored and trendy clothing, but it's also at highway robbery prices. Like "long sleeve cotton t-shirt - $58." WTH?! It's COTTON. It's a T-SHIRT. With a slightly longer hem to accomodate the bump. This stuff isn't hand loomed by virgins in an authentic monestary in the hills of France. It's mass produced in some sweatshop-ish manufacturing facility by underpaid, overworked people with few employment options and no health insurance. So they are certainly not getting their cut of the $58.

There are even maternity jeans by the same people who make the trendy super dark or skinny leg or distressed denim that all the A-list celebs are wearing. And just like those jeans, the price tag is $150+. For jeans. With a stretch panel. Again: it's COTTON. With some LYCRA. For criminey's sake, on a cost per wear basis, that's not even remotely logical.

As you turn away with yet another pair of black stretchy pants, the sales people try to upsell you and say, "Oh, you should totally get the jeans. It's all in the cut and how it's tailored. It totally lifts and accentuates your rear." Um, I'm a Black woman and I'm pregnant: if I get any more rear lifting and accentuating, I'll be able to reach over my right shoulder and get lip balm out of my back pocket.

So what should I happen upon today but relatively affordable maternity clothes in styles that are appropriately scaled up versions of the items on the regular racks. Where? The Gap, that paragon of clothing standardization. So it's not a massive selection or remotely chic and the paparazzi won't mistake you for some chickie from the O.C., but there was no wildly printed top in sight: a huge plus in my book. So I bought a simple summer frock and actually felt kinda pretty when I went to dinner with J. Can't tell you how much that means when the expanding waistline keeps you from crossing your legs and tying your own shoes may soon become a memory.

Also on the bright side, I've still had no morning sickness, my doc says I'm gaining weight at an appropriate pace, I feel great, and most importantly, I don't work in a garment factory. Things could always be worse, right?