One of the downsides—or upsides, depending on your perspective—of pregnancy is that it requires a brand new wardrobe. The average woman spends $1200 on maternity and nursing clothes. This seems like a lot for clothing you’ll wear just a month or two before you have to go up another size. If you hunt around for tips on saving money on maternity clothes, the two big ones you’ll see again and again are 1. Borrow maternity clothes from friends, and 2. Wear your husband’s clothes. The great thing about these tips is that they not only save you a bundle of cash—they’re also eco-friendly alternatives to shelling out over a grand on barely-worn garments.

I suppose it’s possible to follow tips #1 and 2, above, and spend next to nothing on your eco-friendly maternity clothes. Unfortunately, they did not work for me. The problem with tip #1 is that you need to have at least one friend who has been pregnant before who is willing to donate her clothes to you. I did not have such a friend. And even if I did, how could I guarantee that she would be the same size as I am, be pregnant during the same season as I was, and have the same taste in high fashion that I do?

I actually did try tip #2. At about seven months pregnant, I went to the dentist wearing one of my husband’s sweaters. The dental hygienist laughed when she saw me. “When I was pregnant I used to walk around in my husband’s clothes all the time, too!” she said. I decided cross-dressing pregnant woman was not the look I was going for—even at the dentist’s office.

So what are the other options for an eco-friendly maternity wardrobe? A quick Google search revealed an entry on Treehugger discussing just that. They recommended checking out Roundbelly, Blue Canoe, and Under the Nile for eco-friendly fashions. A reader vouched for Jessica Scott Ltd. as well. Of course, I wanted to be eco-friendly without spending a lot of money. In other words, my budget was far lower than the $1200 national average. I ended up finding some great deals on maternity wear at thrift stores and consignment shops. I found this ensemble for just one dollar at my local consignment shop:


The best part about this outfit is that it is all one piece. Normally you have to buy a shirt and pants. I also enjoy the pastel/floral look, which I believe is very slimming and classic. Where did I wear this lovely one-dollar jumpsuit? To a Halloween party, of course! I went as “Pregnant ‘80s Lady,” and it was quite a hit. To get my dollar’s worth, I later used this as a full-body smock while painting the baby’s nursery. It conveniently fit over my real clothes. Seriously, though, I did find some good stuff at resale shops. I bought this chiffon (or something) dress for $5.99 at Goodwill and wore it to my cousin’s black tie wedding in San Francisco:

Formal maternity gown

In this photo I am not showing yet, at 16 weeks. I was five months pregnant at the wedding, and the dress still worked out, even though it wasn’t technically a maternity dress.

If tips #1 and 2 don’t work for you, either, and you don’t want to spring for brand new eco-fashions, and you’re having trouble cobbling a wardrobe together at thrift stores, I have just one more idea: Buy clothes on an as-need basis. This is what I wish I’d known before going crazy ordering maternity clothes in my first trimester. I bought several cute items I never wore because they never fit! You just don’t know how you’re going to expand. I ended up spending most of my pregnancy in a pair of non-maternity jeans I had in my closet, and one of my best maternity shirts wasn’t a maternity top at all, but a terry cloth swimsuit cover-up that I can now use (as an actually swim-suit cover-up) for years to come.

Hmmm. After reviewing my suggestions (wear your husband’s sweater to the dentist, don a floral jumpsuit for a party, spend $5.99 for a black tie wedding, and appear in public wearing terry cloth), I am beginning to think I may not be qualified to dispense sartorial advice.