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As you may or may not know I RARELY write about fashion or style on the blog. I do, however, share lots of pictures of myself and my outfits on Instagram and I’m always surprised at the response, which is overwhelmingly to ask me where I got stuff from.

This is not to brag about my excellent styling skills (which aren’t excellent….) but to explain why I’m writing a post about fashion when I rarely have before.

Because questions mean people need to know, amiright?

My Ethical Style Journey

My ethical style journey is similar to many, perhaps. I’ve never liked shopping, but was a shopaholic as a teen, naturally, and presumed cheap, fast fashion was the only way.

Fast forward to uni and I’d honed my style, in that I knew what suited my shape (pretty much) and liked what I liked. And that was NEVER anything ‘on trend’. At the time I thought this was a hindrance on my part, and that not having fun with fashion would come back to haunt me when I was 80 and couldn’t do that anymore.

Which is total bullshit because a) I can do what I want at whatever age, including aged 80. And b) there’s absolutely no reason why ‘having fun with fashion’ should mean wearing trends we’ve been sold as part of a cynical capitalist ploy to make us think we need more, for less, all the time.

So, as it goes, I am eternally grateful for my inner fashion scrooge.

Quitting fast fashion

Despite the fact I’ve always been a keen budgeter and anti-shopper, I didn’t quit fast fashion until about four years ago. And even then, I didn’t do it very well.

In a previous life I was a retail planner (merchandiser), and for ten years I worked in retail head offices making as much margin as possible while maximising sales and minimising costs. In real terms, this means making money for big retailers by screwing over everyone aside from the board (the consumer and the supply chain.)

So I know a thing or two about retail.

This knowledge is what turned me off the high street, not an intricate understanding of the human and environmental costs.

But either way, quit it I did and as my zero waste curiosity piqued so did my sustainability interest. And that led me into a big black hole of research, books, and, of course, the MUST watch documentary The True Cost.

Where am I at with my sustainable fashion ethos now? Well, I wear what I have first and foremost and have started to really dig deep on mending, altering and styling (not my forte, but fun!)

I choose to thrift/charity shop anything I need (for me, and for Anaïs) and lastly I buy the most ethical I can afford.

I have a lovely list of brands I turn to and I haven’t bought more than a handful of things based purely on the fact buying new is last on my list, so stuff I do buy is few and far between.

So that’s me, and my ethos. Which you didn’t come here for but this is what you’ve got and informs/explains how I’ve gone about building a sustainable maternity wardrobe; not the easiest task to do!

My Sustainable Maternity Style

First off, I want to acknowledge my privilege; I am a standard-size 8-10, average height and live somewhere where I have the option of a LOT of charity/thrift shops.

It’s easier for me to find stuff basically. I have more choice so my rules mightn’t translate into your perfect wardrobe but I hope it’ll help inspire you a bit.

I REALLY recommend seeking out Aja Barber who is a sustainable fashion expert and can talk to plus-sized fashion too; what she doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing. You can find her on Instagram but the good stuff is on her Patreon.

If you’re still with me, here’s how I built my maternity wardrobe.

It’s such a long period of time to think about in one go, I tried not to stress too much about seasonal things and instead opted for items I could wear all year round and layer. 

I also bought little and often, so I didn’t feel burdened with a heap of stuff I then needed to sell or make work. 

Buying second-hand

The first things I picked up were maternity jeans and I was lucky enough to find them in one of my local charity shops.

I frequent them regularly so it was a case of luck, thin privilege and commitment to the cause! 

I got two pairs of jeans; both under bump. One in an autumnal mustard (my pregnancy would span from February to October) and one in blue denim (these were in a tall so I had to alter them, which was easy enough.

I then got a three pack of plain black, stretchy vest tops from Vinted which I knew would be fab for layering and a few maternity bras too (some might find this gross but I don’t care…..it all gets washed, ya know?) 

Sustainable maternity brands

Because the bulk of my pregnancy fell in HOT, sweaty summer I wanted a breastfeeding friendly, cotton/jersey jumpsuit so I bought two. One maternity and one non. 

Beyond Nine make beautiful maternity wear designed to last you beyond the nine months. So it’s all breastfeeding friendly too. I opted for this one, although in hindsight it wasn’t my favourite piece as it doesn’t really suit me as even the small size is HUGE on me at nine months pregnant. 

The next thing I knew I’d need was at least one pair of over bump maternity leggings. The H&M pairs you might pick up en masse are super crappy quality and I guarantee by the end of your pregnancy they’ll be worn ragged. 

So I found a pair of Jojo Maman Bebe (not sustainable, buy second hand) leggings on eBay which is excellent for honing in on specifics (set a saved search so you don’t have to think about it/get tempted to browse!)

ps – Isabella Oliver and Seraphine are both great brands in terms of fit and quality but they aren’t truly sustainable so do what I did and find preloved pieces on eBay/Vinted/Depop instead. 

Non-maternity wear that works

The jumpsuit I LOVED the most was my OmBaby which can also be breastfeeding friendly if I switch it around as it has a lovely low v-back. It isn’t maternity but because of the relaxed fit worked perfectly for me. 

If you simply want a few vest tops, or under bump leggings you could totally just size up non maternity wear. 

I don’t wear a heap of tight stuff anyway, opting for relaxed fits so almost all of my t-shirts and jumpers still work for me which is a huge bonus. 

As your pregnancy progresses you’ll undoubtedly want slip on shoes so bear that in mind. I had some old Birkenstocks and a black pair of slip on trainers too. 

The errors

Like I said, the Beyond Nine jumpsuit isn’t my favourite and I’ll certainly sell it afterwards. But it’ll be helpful in the days after birth (especially if I have another c-section) as it’s loose, breathable and breastfeeding friendly.

I couldn’t afford any ethical activewear so after sticking it out with my pre-preggo stuff I caved at 36 weeks and bought some bamboo Seraphine yoga pants. They were the most ‘ethical’ of the fast fashion brands I could find but still……not truly sustainable. 

I also panic bought a yellow summer top from eBay but only wore it once so I sold it again (same price, yay!)

Not keeping my maternity-wear from pregnancy one was probably the biggest error and I had to rebuy bits I knew I had first time around. VERY frustrating! 

If you’d like a big old maternity style cheat sheet, please do download mine right HERE! 

L x