I am most definitely a child of the first generation of internet shopping. Or ‘e-commerce’ as I seem to remember it was coined back in the day.
ASOS? I was there when it launched as As Seen On Screen and retailed clothing and home items that allowed you to copy your fave Friends / pop star of the day. I ordered multiple cynical slogan hoodies on my mum’s credit card from Golddigga (after explaining the concept of buying something from a virtual shop and reassuring her that she wouldn’t become a victim of online fraud), before it became unfathomly chavvy. Sometime around the turn of the millennium, I seem to remember purchasing a witty Toby Mott slogan baseball top which took about a month to arrive. Zoe Ball and Sara Cox were wearing them at the time: it was worth the wait.
My point being, I have a deep love of online shopping and spend way more time scrolling through thumbnails; filtering search results to find exactly what I want and scouring the web for discount codes than I do walking around the actual shops. Obviously then, I was straight online as soon as I needed some maternity gear (who am I kidding? It wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant).
It’s a good job I am well acquainted with online shopping, because there doesn’t seem to be much on offer in the shops these days. Dorothy Perkins and Zara have completely stopped selling maternity wear. Top Shop do some fashion forward pieces, but only in the bigger stores. H&M do offer maternity gear in a lot of stores, but trying to yank the right size jeans out of an overstuffed rail of random grey/black/blue items is a worst experience than going to a jumble sale for me.
Once I’d had a preliminary look around my local high street I quickly retreated back to the computer screen. There are LOTS of options out there but with Google on my side, I wasn’t going to be phased. A couple of months on, and I’ve managed to get a few decent basics but have just about lost the enthusiasm of shopping for anything more fun and fashionable. Possibly good news for my maternity leave savings – but it makes getting dressed in the morning awfully dreary.
Loads of websites raved about ebay for bargain, lightly used maternity wear. Makes sense, so I was right on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big ebay fan generally – but from the maternity purchases I made, I think I’ve only actually worn one work dress regularly. A couple of pieces went back to the sellers as they were definitely not ‘very good condition’ – or hugely different to the size advertised. A couple of items I’ve just relisted, after finding that the fit was wrong. There may be great bargains out there, but I’m just not seeing them. There seems to be a lot of demand for maternity stuff on ebay, which means the prices are pretty high for a second hand items. Couple that with the difficulty of returning items once you’ve won the auction, and I’ve crossed ebay off my maternity clothing shopping list.
A quick run through the best I’ve found:
ASOS: Ah, ASOS, I knew you wouldn’t let me down. But you are a little hit and miss. I now order two sizes in anything that’s ASOS own brand, as the fit seems to differ on everything. These Ridley jeans were an early pregnancy sales purchase and have turned out to be a lifesaver. Although I actually dyed them black once I realised I needed a black pair of jeans but couldn’t find anything else as comfy (plus the same style black jeans are twice as expensive). The prices are quite reasonable – especially if you manage to get a discount code – and I’m a huge fan of their free deliveries and returns policy and fast returns – other online retailers have a lot to learn. I’ve only splashed out on jeans, tops and tights but am currently considering a couple of dresses to cover me for Christmas time weddings and other events. Prices are generally decent as long as you don’t order a dud item (some stuff is horrible quality). There are often discount codes emailed around or posted on Twitter/Facebook – and the sales are pretty regular and worth a look.
New Look: Good selection of basics for really decent prices. However, I’ve still only bought a vest top from New Look – and that was in store. I hear lots of good things about the maternity jeans, but I can never blimmin’ find the style that I want in the right size and colour. Sizing seems to be off here too – I ordered what I thought would be an 8-10 but pair of jeans, but they must have been at least a 14 fit. Stores are pretty fast at processing returns quickly – although you have to pay to return things by post – annoying! ASOS actually stock a limited range of New Look maternity items – so if you can find what you want there, it’s probably worth it for the free delivery and easy, free returns by post. For the price and decent quality though, I’ll probably return to New Look when I get bigger and am in need of more over the bump bottoms. There is currently a 25% off code around (think it expires today so hurry!) which makes it even better value… I think I might have even tempted myself.
Jojomamanbebe: Wouldn’t have considered this for maternity wear until I was looking at the delicious babygros and noticed that they stock adult clothing too. Some of the stock is a little ‘old’ (i.e. wrap dresses and bootleg trousers all the way) – but the support leggings I have are excellent quality and a revelation after sticking it out in standard fit leggings for so long. They also seem to stock a rare pair of straight leg work trousers, so I might crack and order those if getting dressed for work gets any more depressing over the next few weeks. Look around for discount codes to take a bit of money off, as prices are a bit higher than ASOS and New Look – I found a 10% code after a little searching.
One last internet shopping related note: CASHBACK! I’ve bored all friends and family – probably work colleagues – to death with this, but as you’re a new audience I feel I have to share the benefits of cash back sites. I use Topcashback as you don’t pay a fee to use it (others like Quidco are very popular but I think you do pay a usage fee). Just sign up, log in, and click through the cash back site to your chosen retailer. The three sites above are all on Topcashback and usually offer around 3-10% cash back. If you’re buying a few bits, it’s really worth it and you get whatever other discount codes are on offer deducted on top of the cash back. You just don’t get that amount of satisfaction from paying full price in a shop.
I think I’ve just about run out of steam on this mission and have finally come full circle, back to thinking about items that are non-maternity, but will work for the last few months of pregnancy and beyond. Like a true online shopping geek, I have a Pinterest board – let me know if you’d like to see a short post on what I’ve managed to find.
Have you had any good maternity wear bargains? Have you bought from any online stores – or actual real shops – that are doing a good job? More recommendations are very welcome – but I might just have to cut up my credit card first.