CCEP: Canvas, Collect, Enhance, Pass On

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to pregnancy, but one thing is certain: your belly’s only getting bigger, and a lot of the clothes you wear now will probably stop fitting over the next nine months. But that doesn’t mean you need to buy a whole new wardrobe! Here’s our gem of a closet curation strategy, so you don’t have to start with an empty rack.

And because every brilliant idea deserves an acronym,
here’s ours: CCE or Canvass, Collect, Enhance (...then of course, Pass-On). 

Step One: Start By Canvassing

The first step is canvassing, and it’s actually pretty fun. Set aside some time and take a good look at your closet and the pieces you wear the most. While it’s true that your number one jeans probably aren’t long for this pregnancy life, you likely have a number of items that are, even though they’re not deemed “maternity” clothes. You just need to look at them with your new mama-to-be eyes, and see which items can make room for a little growth.

Here are a few items that make especially good transition pieces:

Maxi dress: The empire waist of most maxis make this type of dress especially reliable for easing into your pregnancy style.

Loose or boxy button-down: These beauties are great for getting dressed early in pregnancy (and you’ll rely on them again, when you’ve got a baby to breastfeed!). Any button-down that’s on the loose or boxy side can probably be worn untucked until you just can’t button it any more.

Sack dress: You probably rock a sack dress when you’re going out for a big meal, right? Which is what makes it absolutely perfect for dressing a brand-new bump, especially if you want to keep it under wraps for a while.

Drapey tee/knit: Tees that aren’t tight or knits that have some stretch to them will be some reliable go-to’s as your belly starts to grow.  

Aline dress: Cute, comfy, and usually with just enough room for a belly that’s popped.

Loose jumpsuits: A one-piece makes dressing for the day so easy, which is exactly what you want during pregnancy. A loose or flowy jumpsuit fits this bill to a tee, and depending on the cut, you might be able to wear it right through to the end!

See? You probably have more maternity options than you thought, and now you know exactly what you need. But you still don’t have to hit “add to cart” yet. The next steps in CCEP are just as important, so click here to read about them!

Step Two: Collect From Other Mamas

Now that you’ve canvassed your closet and figured out which of your items will work with your growing belly, it’s time for the next step in the CCE plan: Collect. Because here’s the thing about maternity clothes—you don’t need them forever! Mamas are always unloading items, most of which are in excellent condition, it’s simply the nature of products made for pregnancy (and babies, tbh). Even mamas who plan on having another kid pass pieces along, because they’ll surely come back around and who wants to store them in the meantime?

So tap the mamas in your life to see what you can borrow, which will leave you a bigger budget for the fun stuff (like your dream baby shower dress) and the regular use items (like a nursing bra and your everyday activewear). 

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What to ask for?

There are a few key items that nearly every new mama will have worn during her pregnancy that she probably doesn’t have a need for anymore. Maternity jeans and work pants don’t have much of a closet shelf life after the fourth trimester, so see if anyone has a pair or two to give away. Certain tops and T-shirts are also pretty pregnancy specific, so see if you can collect a few of those too. Once you ask for one item though, be prepared to be offered others!

Who to ask?

Start with your friends who have recently had babies. They’ll be the ones most likely to still have these items on hand. But don’t stop there. Tap any family members too (a sister-in-law, a second cousin, a young aunt perhaps?). From there you can hit up any co-workers who’ve returned from maternity leave, and guess what? Even strangers will be happy to hand over their pregnancy clothes, sometimes you just have to ask. 

How to ask?

When it comes to friends and family, you might not even have to ask—mamas might just offer! But of course you can ask via text, email, or just the old-fashioned way, in person. The magic of the internet is great for putting your requests out there. Join a mom group or two on Facebook and post there, or simply use Instagram and Twitter, and don’t be surprised by unexpected responses, the sisterhood of motherhood is powerful! 

Step Three: Enhance (Then Pass On)

You might be an expert at canvassing and collecting (good job! And more on CCE here), but you’ve still probably got a few needs in your maternity wardrobe. Here’s where the enhance part comes in. Take a look at what you have, what you “found” (thanks friends!), and make a note of additional items you can get to fill in any holes for the nine months of pregnancy (and those first few months afterward).


We’ve got some suggestions, depending on the size of your belly, and the needs that go along with it. But here’s a sampling to get you started.

Bellaband®: If you buy only one maternity-related thing, it should probably be a Bellaband®. Here’s why.

Babymoon pieces: With all the items you already have and then collected, it leaves a little flexibility for getting a babymoon piece or two that will make your last couple’s-only vacay even more cute and comfortable.

Baby shower look: Your baby shower is the one day where it’s extra important to feel like your best self, wearing your best possible outfit, so you don’t have to worry about tugging or pulling or feeling self-conscious and you can instead focus on soaking up all the love and support for you and your coming babe.

Work wear: Even if you’ve got a couple of work-friendly pieces on hand, considering how much time you spend at work, you’ll probably need a couple more. We got you. 

Activewear: With the sweating you do during prenatal yoga, and the regularity with which you’ll need a nice pair of leggings, adding some activewear (especially with the support of our Crossover Panel) is a good move.   

Nursing: With leakage, and spit up, and diaper disasters, you can truly never have enough nursing bras, tanks, and camis. Adding one or two will save you some laundry days.

Step Four: Pass-On

The Very last step, after you are done with all of your maternity clothes: Pass-On. Consider it the “pay it forward” part, where you can thank the mamas who gave you items, by giving yours to the next pregnant friend in your social circle (once you’re done with them, of course!). This works especially well when it comes to Ingrid & Isabel pieces—these are quality items made to last for probably a lot longer than you’ll want to wear them (and we’re taking the postpartum period into account as well). So hang on to your items, and pass them on to a mama-to-be! What goes around comes around, in the best possible way.

Ingrid & Isabel was born when its founder, Ingrid, was newly pregnant with her daughter Isabel and could no longer button her pre-pregnancy bottoms. She fashioned the first prototype of the Bellaband and spent three years perfecting the design before it hit shelves in 2003. To this day, every piece we make, we design with, on, and for moms. Shop our full line of maternity wear.