Please welcome guestposter S. Bear Bergman, author of Butch is a Noun and recent parent to son Stanley. S. Bear also wrote a post for Offbeat Bride called “Wedding suits for butches, transmasculine beings, and other festive gender-benders” a couple years back. -Ariel
Can we talk about pregnant butch girls and maternity clothing? My partner of 10 years and I are expecting our first child in November. I am a little softer (and I hate to even say it, “girlier”) on the inside than I am outwardly.
I am starting to show, and my clothes are of course not fitting as well as they used to. I need to go shopping for maternity clothes, but am concerned about the very feminine options that I have seen thus far. -Deena
Congratulations! I hope your entire pregnancy is smooth and unremarkable in all ways (our midwives taught us that an utterly boring pregnancy is the best thing to wish someone). I really, really feel you on the maternity-clothes issue. The flowers, the bows, the level of twee-ness… well, it’s not really a butch’s dream wardrobe, is it? But fear not, there are some options. Depending to some degree on your work situation and generally what you have to be dressed for between now and November, you ought to be just fine.
I assume you’ve already figured out that there’s no requirement to wear a pregnancy-styled top, and that you can just buy bigger shirts and wear those. The only shirt-related advice I have is that a) a clean button-down dress shirt over a pregnant belly is dress-appropriate for nearly any event known to humanity and b) now is the time to ask friends who wear larger sizes if, come October, you can borrow a couple of t-shirts and a hoodie.
Now, let’s talk about other options…
The Bella Band
Now, let’s talk about The Bella Band. This magic thingum is worn over your hips, across your unbuttoned/unzipped pants, to hold them in place. In general, it’ll buy you a couple months more in your pre-pregnancy pants. Using it requires an untucked shirt/sweater/tunic so that the band doesn’t show, but this thing is great both as you grow out of your pants and as you grow back into them.
Note that there are roughly one zillion imitations of the Bella band, and in my opinion many of them are simply not as good — whatever they’re made of just doesn’t have the right hug-the-body factor. I assume this must be down to the Lycra content, and if you know more about Lycra than I do, perhaps you can find the right fabric and run up a few of your own. Regardless, these things come in plain, lace-free black and white.
If you’re a DIY/crafty sort, or if you have DIY/crafty friends, you might like to buy a couple pairs of painters’ overalls and ask them to trick them out for you.
Overalls are primo masculine pregnancy wear. Depending on your shape, you can probably just buy big overalls, cuff up or hem the bottoms, and call it good. Overalls can also be hemmed up to a shorts length or a capri length if that’s your style. Check in with your local dry-cleaners — most will do hemming for $10 per pair or so. For weekends and casual jobs, overalls are great and very comfortable for a pregnant body, since they help give the belly some support toward the end. If you’re a DIY/crafty sort, or if you have DIY/crafty friends, you might like to buy a couple pairs of painters’ overalls and ask them to trick them out for you. They can be dyed amusing colors, embroidered, bedazzled, customized with patches, or whatever appeals to you.
Chefwear, bless them, sells many, many perfectly good looking pants in a huge variety of colours and patterns, each and every one of which has an entirely elastic waist. You can choose from anything from plain black to flying, flaming jalapenos. There are also plenty of stops in-between for solid, pinstripe, and herringbone patterns that will be fine for work situations, and are comfortable all day. You can either choose to wear them below the belly or up over it — depending on what might be comfortable for you. These are relatively reasonable in price, so you may like to pick up a variety. The only drawback here (besides the big Chefwear label, which can be easily removed with a seamripper if you prefer) is that these pants always look a little baggy/relaxed. Makes them hard to dress up enough for anything fancy. (Psst… you can also find chef’s pants on Amazon!)
Don’t laugh. The nice people at Plainly Dressed will sell you traditional Amish-styled men’s broadfall pants, made to measure, in high-quality cotton twill that will take a crease beautifully, or microfiber for days when you just need a pair of trousers that look dressier. Buy them with a pair of their suspenders, and you’ll be surprised at how comfortable they are to wear even all knocked up. They do take a while to arrive — sometimes as much as six weeks — so be prudent in ordering early. These are a great trouser with buttons up both sides, cut modestly (aka: big) and made incredibly well, individually and by hand.
The full-cut shirts they sell, though not exactly broad in color array, are also great for pregnancy — and you can get them in linen! Lovely, cool linen for your overheated pregnant self. Just saying. Something to keep in mind is that Plainly Dressed have done extensive work for theater, film, civil-war reenactors, and so on.They do not expect that you will be Amish or Mennonite to wear their clothes, which is why I chose to include them. You may be able to find less-expensive versions of some of these things online, if you are willing to say they’re for someone Amish or Mennonite, which I was not.
Certainly, there are “business” maternity clothes (which is the code for things that do not look frilly or like overgrown toddler clothes) and you can sometimes find nice looking things secondhand online by searching business or executive along with maternity. But in the world of clothing that will feel, fit, and look as much like men’s clothes as possible while still having room for a pregnant belly, there’s what I’ve found. It’s not much, but it has so far been enough to get a number of butches, trans guys, genderqueerfellas, and similarly gendered peeps through pregnancies, so I’m hoping it helps for you! If you have to go to a formal event, write back, and we can talk about Utilikilts.