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READ or DON'T Read -- 2017 Mini Book Reviews, Part 1! Something for every reader!

What to READ and What NOT Read -- 2017 Book Reviews in Miniature, Part 1!  Big Magic, The Giver Quartet, Hallelujah Anyway, Hollow City, and More!

Read or Don't Read, Book Reviews in Miniature -- mini reading recommendations -- something for every reader! Big Magic, Hallelujah Anyway, Hollow City, The Giver, the Practice House, and more!  Memoir, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, YA, etc. via Devastate Boredom

Hello friends!  Why yes, it is ME in your inbox / on your computer screen!  At long last!  

Hmmmmm three exclamation points in a row... I'm pretty sleep-deprived.  But at least my 4 month old reason for sleep deprivation is awfully stinkin' cute!  She also has a magical ability to sense whenever I leave the room where she is napping.  I leave NOISELESSLY, I swear!  And the white noise machine is BLASTING!  Yet somehow she knows if I leave, and wakes up 15 minutes later like clockwork.  So for at least some of her naps lately, I end up staying in the room with her, reading or writing.  And sometimes sleeping too, but I'm honestly not a great napper (sound familiar?) so more often reading or writing.  So, I have a TON of books to review for you, and I'm not even counting the parenting / baby books I'll save for another post.  As always, I'll do my best to give you a pithy review-in-miniature, with a READ / DON'T Read verdict for each.  You can check out past reviews here as well!

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 Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Memoir, Self-Help
READ -- if you think of yourself as a creative person... or even a creative person wannabe!  

I would put Big Magic in the same category of book with Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott -- part memoir, honestly sharing the difficulties and inspirations of a creative lifestyle, and part instructional-guide, offering tips for living out your creative aspirations and not just daydreaming about them. (read my review of Bird by Bird here!)  

I WILL say that Big Magic freaked me out by suggesting that if you don't "listen" when the muse whispers a good idea to you, the idea will leave and find someone else who will appreciate it and act on it... what a horrible, time-pressure-filled idea! Don't leave me, Good Ideas!  I've just been so busy lately... babies are so distracting! 



The Giver by Lois Lawry 
Fantasy, YA Fiction

Most people know the story of The Giver, right?  If not from the book, than from the recent movie?  I'll just give a super brief summary for anybody who's not -- in a sterile, mechanical, dystopian future world, people live regimented, choice-less lives without knowledge of emotion, war, or love.  One person is chosen in each generation to bear the weight of these memories, while keeping the rest of the world completely unaware of what has been taken from them.  It's a wonderful book, and the movie is great too. 


Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Fantasy, YA Fiction
Read, if you enjoyed the first one.  
This is the second book in The Giver series, but seems entirely disconnected from the world of the first volume.  A young woman mourns the death of her mother, while fighting to maintain her place in her primitive, violent village (a stark contrast to the orderly, coldly modern setting of The Giver), which wants to expel her because her lame foot keeps her from being useful.  Her talent for dying colorful fabrics and sewing them into something magical is the key to not only her own destiny, but also to unlocking a happier future for the rest of her village as well. 


Messenger by Lois Lowry 
Fantasy, YA Fiction
READ if you don't mind a story so moving it makes you cry!  

Set in the world of Gathering Blue but with clearer connections to The Giver, Messenger is a powerful story of a young man searching for his purpose and risking everything for his friends.  It's beautiful.  I cried. 


Son by Lois Lowry
Fantasy, YA Fiction
Read, if you loved the other three. 

Son goes back to the world of The Giver as well as the moment in time when that book begins, showing us the path of the young birthmother who brought the infant Gabriel into the world.  Claire follows Jonas and baby Gabriel as they flee the city, setting off on a journey to reclaim the son who was taken from her.  This was my least favorite of the quartet, although it too has some beautifully moving moments.  There's a long meandering journey in it, and maybe I was a bit burnt out on that whole schtick, given I had just read Winter and Hollow City.  See below, and you'll understand. 😜 


Science Fiction, YA Fiction
Read, if you enjoy fairy-tales retold

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles (read my review of the first two here!) and in my opinion the best of the series.  I say that despite the heroine's constant blushing and clumsiness, which always gets old in a heroine.  It's like authors go, "aw man I forgot to give the heroine a flaw to make her human and lovable.  Ummmmm clumsiness?"  *rolls eyes*  But yea, Cress is a science-fiction retelling of Rapunzel, only instead of a princess kept prisoner in a tower by a witch, Cress is a hacker kept prisoner in a satellite by a mind-controling Lunar.  Very fun!

Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott 
Memoir, Essays, Christian Thought

Lamott's newest book is a perfect read for just this moment in time, mulling over recent cultural events and considering how to find joy even in the midst of pain and struggle.  I heard Anne Lamott speak in person discussing the material in the book, and she was AMAZING... funny and wise and full of grace.  However, while the book is all three of those things too, it also feels more disjointed than I remember her other books -- it often has a "stream of consciousness" vibe, and I remember her other writing as being more carefully organized and precise in its craft.  At times this "stream of consciousness" read like unpolished prose, which grated on me, but at other times it was enjoyable and almost like reading poetry.  However, even given the unevenness of Lamott's writing style in this one, it is still an uplifting read for anyone who has been oppressed or overwhelmed by events in our nation over the last couple of years. 


 The House on the Cliff by Charlotte Williams  
Suspense, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Read, if you don't have anything better available at the moment.

I accidentally read the sequel to this book first, a year or two ago.  I loved it (read my review of Black Tower here), so I kept requesting this one from the library and then forgetting about it.  Not kidding, I probably requested it at least 6 times... maybe more.  Oops!  The library staff probably just thought I was messing with them by the end, ha!  This one was enjoyable, but not quite as good as its sequel.  Black Tower was filled with all these sophisticated nuances -- references to modern art and the world of art dealers, references to theories of psychology -- and the plot felt pretty seamless.  House on the Cliff was more contrived, hinging on a number of unlikely and unprofessional decisions made by the main character.  Well-written, however, and a fun read. 


Winter by Marissa Meyer
Fantasy, YA Fiction
Don't read -- unless you LOVED the others in the series and the synopsis you're about to read doesn't manage to satisfy your craving to discover the characters' fates. 

This is book four in the Lunar Chronicles (read my review of the first two here!), and I had been looking forward to reading it for a while.  Tragically, however, it suffered from a very common YA literature "syndrome" that I call the "Holy Crap, What Should Happen Now?" Syndrome.  The title is taken, obviously, from what the author mutters compulsively, waking and dreaming, while trying to create an impossibly-exciting-climax for a multi-volume series, each book of which already had a plenty-exciting-climax in its own right.  You can see this phenomenon most clearly in the last book of the Hunger Games, but shades of it can even be seen in the final Harry Potter book, where the characters spend a good chunk of time wandering around, aimlessly camping, and tacitly postponing the inevitable final battle between Harry and Voldemort.  You can almost HEAR J.K. Rowlings muttering "holy crap, he is just a teenage boy, how is he supposed to defeat this guy?" while Harry, Hermione, and Ron build angsty fires and pitch insecure tents.  In the Hunger Games, it is the "How Does a Teenager Turn Into a Warrior / General / Leader?" conundrum that results in Katniss being a sort of figurehead leader who stages a whole elaborate march into the capital (I remember it as being chapters and chapters long, but maybe my recollection exaggerates), only to have it be a complete waste of time once they finally arrive.  Ugh. 

Which is all to say, there was a lot of "can I really do this?" angst and wandering around Luna trying to find people, items, and destinations, in Winter too. 

And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT because holy craaaaaaaaap this book was SO LONG.  I was reading it in ebook format so I didn't realize the length at first... but then it didn't end.  And it didn't end.  And it DID NOT END.  Finally I went and checked and it is 800+ pages long!!  Since I had enjoyed the series up until this point, I took the time to skim the last third of the book, doing a lot of involuntary eye-rolling the whole while, all for the sake of finding out what happened to my two favorite characters, Scarlet and Cres.  I recommend doing the same if you're similarly dedicated, but if you weren't really into the other books then just take a hard pass on this one.  They win.  Nobody super important dies.  That's basically all you need to know. 


Hollow City by Ransom Riggs 
Fantasy, YA Fiction
Don't read. *sniff sniff*  

If you read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and were looking forward to picking up Hollow City when you had a chance, you're going to be frowning at your screen right now.  I know, I know!  I too LOVED Miss Peregrine and her time-traveling, shape-shifting world, and the storyline woven around vintage found-photos (read my review here)!  But Hollow City was a huge let-down.  The first issue with this book was that the author was trying TOO HARD to add cool photos -- there were photos ever couple of pages in this one, rather than just periodically when it fit with the story -- and the weird encounters and plot twists he had to include to make that happen completely detracted from a coherent storyline.  Yes, the photos are cool, but they should support the plot, not create it. 

Another problem was that this book also suffered from the "Oh Crap, What Do I Do Now?" Syndrome described above, and LITERALLY the whole book is a journey spent trying to figure out what to do next.  So hilariously obnoxious!  In a world filled with amazing books, this one is just not worth your time.


The Practice House by Laura McNeal
Historial Fiction, Romance?
Don't read, unless aimless novels really float your boat.   

The Practice House hooked me in initially with a clear, engaging writing style and authentic period details.  It tells the story of a young Scottish girl who goes to teach school in Minnesota during the Great Depression and falls in love with the father of the family in whose home she stays.  I liked pretty much all of the characters, including the Scottish girl and the father, but I did NOT like the Scottish girl and the father together.  Their love story felt awkward and forced -- a dumb misunderstanding / contrivance brings them together, and when the story develops in a tragic direction it felt exasperating and overly-dramatic rather than emotionally compelling.  From the moment the two of them "hook up" the story starts to falter, meandering and losing purpose, and from there until the last page I kept going, "wait, what's the point here?"  

I think the title is symptomatic of the author's own confusion about what's going on in this novel, because it too does not seem to have a point... "the Practice House" is the building in which one of the secondary characters works, basically teaching Home Economics, during the last 80 or so pages of the book.  The building is not even described in detail or particularly interesting, and if the phrase is meant as a metaphor I have no idea what it is supposed to evoke.  Overall, this was a disappointing novel despite strong writing and historical research. 


At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales by L.M. Montgomery
YA Fiction, Short Stories, Romance
Don't Read, since there are lots of better collections by this author!

This is a book that has sat on my shelf for the past fifteen years *coughBookHoardercough*, so at one point or another I obviously really enjoyed it.  And I still do love L.M. Montgomery!  But as I read this short story collection again a couple of months ago, I kept noticing squirm-worthy little lines here and there, about how a girl didn't have to be clever if she was pretty... or how it was a man's job "to think," and a woman's job to be "petted and taken care of."  There were even one or two instances of classism and racism towards the servants and the indigenous Canadians in a couple of the stories.  I had to keep reminding myself that these were Lucy Maud's "bread and butter" writings -- stories written and sold to magazines to pay the rent and therefore written with those audiences (and editors) in mind -- but still.  Disappointing, and definitely not her best work.  Read Blue Castle or one of the Anne books instead, or even one of her other story collections... I have Among the Shadows and Across the Miles also sitting on my shelves and I don't think they include stories with these kind of problems.  Although now I will have to go re-read them to check... stay tuned and I'll report back.
Adding this to my library list! - Read or Don't Read, Book Reviews in Miniature -- mini reading recommendations, Big Magic, Hallelujah Anyway, Hollow City, The Giver, the Practice House, and more!  Memoir, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, YA, etc. via Devastate Boredom
Has anybody read anything good lately to recommend to me??  I am TEARING through books, as I said above... I basically just stopped this post here because it has been so long since I've posted at all.  I already have 5 more books to review next time!  So... stay posted for another book post soon.  😃

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Maternity Wardrobe Style Hack -- Wear Your Regular Jeans Longer While Pregnant!

Maternity Wardrobe Style Hack -- Wear Your Regular Jeans Longer While Pregnant!

Pregnant? Delay buying maternity pants and wear your regular pants longer with this easy life hack!  Preggo style advice and tips, via Devastate Boredom

This will be a pretty brief post because... if you are able to see the photo above, you already know what I'm about to say. 😝

I promised a few days ago in my Ultimate Maternity Capsule Wardrobe post to share about a nifty little hack I used to keep wearing my regular pants for a pretty long while into my pregnancy.  I used this hack for long enough that when I went to the birthing center for check-ups, the midwives would laugh at me for not having bought maternity pants yet.  But they were the only ones who knew!  Nobody else had a clue.  (And the cows said "moo."  All those rhyming board books I'm reading to Baby L are clearly rubbing off on me, LOL)

Here are the pants-expansion hack instructions:  

1 -- Take a regular, simple hair band and loop it around your pants button.  

2 -- Stick the free end of the band through the button-hole.  

3 -- Loop that free end of the band back onto the button.  It will stretch to accommodate the space necessary / available.

This hack will provide you with extra space in your pants while keeping them securely on your backside... with the one caveat that will you need to wear a long-enough shirt so that the waist-band and zipper region of your pants stay covered.  Tunic-length tops are perfect for this.

This hack is also recommended for Thanksgiving Day, and those "my jeans CLEARLY shrunk in the dryer" moments that happen to all of us.

That's all!  

If you'd like a slightly more high-tech take on this, that will likely last even longer into your pregnancy, check out these belly bands on Amazon.  

Pregnant? Delay buying maternity pants and wear your regular pants longer with this easy life hack!  Preggo style advice and Capsule Wardrobe tips! via Devastate Boredom

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How My Husband Rocked Our New Van Purchase - A No-Regrets Guide to Buying a Car from Mr. Boredom Devastator

How My Husband Rocked Our New Van Purchase - A Car Buying Guide from Mr. Boredom Devastator

Sponsored post

Tips and tricks for buying a new or used car, utilizing a car aggregator search engine like cars.com.  A guide for how to decide what car is best for you, research safety, plan for financing, and get a great deal, with no regrets! via Devastate Boredom

When Cars.com asked me to write a sponsored post for them, it was perfect timing because my husband and I had just recently purchased a new-to-us van in preparation for becoming parents a few months ago.  I looped my husband in on the task of writing this post, since he is, in all modesty, a bit of a genius in the realm of car research-and-search.  So, say hi to my husband, Andrew (aka, Mr. Boredom Devastator), as he shares with you his fine-tuned system for locating and purchasing the best possible car for you!

*Andrew waves*  Hello Devastate Boredom readers! When Sarah and I began considering buying a new car, the first and perhaps most important determination was how much we were willing to spend monthly on the new vehicle. There are a few components to the true all-in cost of a new or "New To You" car. First, there is the direct cost of the car, which is the monthly payment. Second, there are the ancillary costs of the car such as insurance, gas mileage, likely maintenance, and any registration fees your county or state may have. Considering both together allows us to budget appropriately and not be surprised by any unexpected expenses.  It is important to start by saying that, as a rule, Sarah and I do not buy new cars.  It tends to be a poor economic value to purchase a brand-new car, given the intense asset depreciation that occurs in the first few years of a car's lifespan. For our vehicle-search this time around, we decided to set an initial price point of $10,000 for the purchase of a used vehicle. 

Once we had determined a monthly budget, we pondered and discussed the requirements of the new vehicle, given our needs. In this latest case, we were expecting the birth of our first child which meant we would have 2 adults, 1 child, and two 75 lb dogs needing to be reliably and easily transported for the near future. Right away we know we will not be getting any two-door convertibles, much to my chagrin. As such, we filtered our search to vehicles that seated at least 7 people. Realistically, that meant third-row SUVs and minivans. Now, one of Sarah's requests is always that her vehicles have as tight a turning radius as possible. A quick google search to check for that information eliminated a number of third-row SUVs from our search, majority of minivans had a better turning radius than third-row SUVs, which further helped to guide our search.  

Note from Sarah:  If you are just beginning to explore your options in terms of what features are important to you in a new vehicle, it might be helpful to check out Cars.com's Videos and Reviews page.  You can explore video comparisons such as "Best Three-Row SUVs of 2016," "Best Compact Sedans of 2017," etc, that can be incredibly helpful in giving you a more visual understanding of the differences between types and models of vehicles.  If you're not sure what you want out of your next vehicle, this is where you should start!  If the video reviews don't happen to include the particular make / model you were looking for, Cars.com also has a side-by-side comparison feature as well, offering you an easy way to view and compare stats on everything from MPG to seating, pricing, reviews, and more.

After you have decided on what type of car and what type of features you wish to prioritize, the next step is to determine what utility will be left in a used vehicle, particularly one purchased at a lower price-point. What does "utility" mean in real life? To us it means getting the best price-to-use or value in a vehicle. Put simply, it will be the vehicle with the lowest possible miles, at or below our set price point. Now, it can be very easy to be lured in by the siren song of seat warmers and features galore, or by that rear entertainment system that you've always wanted. But, at the most fundamental level, you don't actually need those things... what you really NEED is for your car to run well. You NEED a reliable vehicle that will run without issue and last for the time frame that you have determined for this vehicle purchase. In our case, we wanted a car that would likely last us at least five years, if not more. So, as you can tell, we weren't asking a lot!  (#sarcasm)  We simply wanted a used minivan or 3rd row SUV, for $10,000 or less, that was going to last us at least 5 years. 

And it got more complicated from there!  Even though I just said that the most important thing to our decision-making was the utility or economic utility in our vehicle, that's not completely true. In actuality, the most important aspect to our choice of car was the safety of our family.  From the beginning, we prioritized investigating and understanding the safety associated with the vehicles we were considering.

Now, how on Earth did we do that? Aren't all cars safe?  You'd like to think so, wouldn't you... in the past, Once Upon a Time, cars were rated using a star system where 5 Stars was the best crash rating possible. Then the IIHS (the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) came along and changed how cars are rated. Instead of assigning Stars, they now assign ratings with good being green, acceptable as yellow, marginal as orange, and poor as red. I highly suggest checking any car that you are considering buying with the IIHS, to see to what extent it has been tested and how it scored especially in relation to its peers. 

It is important to note that the IIHS does not compare across classes of vehicle. So, a subcompact car and a minivan might both have good crash ratings, but each one of those crash ratings are considered within the class itself and are not considered across the broader spectrum. This is a vitally important distinction when one is trying to consider and understand the safety of family vehicles. Also, when considering safety it is important to understand that in an ideal world every test would come back good -- but that does not always happen. We should try to consider the most likely safety scenarios we will need in the event of a collision or crash, and work from from that point. 

Adding in the factor of safety at our given price point, there were only two minivans which met our safety requirements. Those were the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. Sadly (for our purposes), they are also the two most popular minivans in America and have the highest residual value, which can make getting a good deal more difficult especially in competitive used marketplaces.  I won't lie and say that the 2015 Sedona with perfect crash ratings selling for approximately $15,000 to $16000 in our area was not a huge temptation. It was. But, we stuck to our plan.  We wanted a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna under $10,000 for our next vehicle.  

Cue the searching!  Automobile aggregator search engines like cars.com were a valuable resource to ensure we were familiar with the entire inventory of used vehicles being sold in our vicinity, that met our price and model / safety criteria.  Don't underestimate the power of "advanced search" options and a little patience! The advanced options on Cars.com allow you to tailor your search by dozens of criteria, from fuel type to seller type to interior color, and on from there.  You can even use the features search bar on the left of the page (shown below) to tweak your selections further while you browse, and you can save your search criteria or specific cars to be notified of price drops, new additions, etc.  Save yourself a little leg-work, and take advantage of these kind of features!

Tips and tricks for buying a new or used car, utilizing a car aggregator search engine like cars.com.  A guide for how to decide what car is best for you, research safety, plan for financing, and get a great deal, with no regrets! via Devastate Boredom

Since we were not in any rush to buy a vehicle we could take our time and wait until we found exactly what we wanted.  For a while, it seemed like every Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna in our price range was going to have a 120K+ miles or be 15+ years old, neither of which was appealing to us.  And even when the perfect vehicle did appear, we took about 10 days to think and discuss it before we went to see it. Risky choice on our part! However, when we did go to see it, we knew we were very likely going to buy it that same day and had already secured financing options prior to arrival. I highly suggest having your financing in order before arriving at car dealership, to avoid finding yourself locked into a higher-than-necessary interest rate.  This will avoid any unpleasant budget surprises when the price of the car is suddenly augmented by a high interest rate.  If you need a little extra help with this, a good place to start is to check out the Car Finance Calculator on cars.com. 

So, to review, what is the best way to approach buying a new car? 

First, define your needs. 

Second, define your budget. 

Third, research to understand the safety and utility implications of your potential vehicles. 

Fourth, take your time and and maximize the search options on a site like Cars.com to locate actual vehicles available within your safety and price range preference.

And, once you find your dream car, I suggest that you move faster than we did and and secure the vehicle that you have been working so hard find, with purchase.

Note from Sarah:  We are LOVING our van!  I know it isn't exactly a cool ride (does just using the phrase "cool ride" make me less cool by default??) but it is SO roomy. We stuffed two mattresses from Ikea in there without batting an eye! And alllll the boxes from baby's sweet shower gifts with no problems at all!  Not impressed yet?  Get this...  We just took our first road trip with Baby L. AND we brought our two dogs along. AND two of our friends. AND their dog.  Yep, I'm telling you that we fit four adults, a carseat and baby, three dogs, baby equipment, two dog beds, two dog crates, and baggage for a weekend away, all into our lovely roomy van.  And I don't think anybody even felt crowded!  The dogs did get a little snuggly (pic below!), but it was entirely by choice... there was a whole empty seat next to me and baby in the back where our dog Jayne sat for a good bit of the way.  😜

FFor us, all of Andrew's hard work researching, crunching numbers, and evaluating options has already paid off in spades.  I hope this overview of his process is helpful to anyone else looking to purchase a car in the near future!

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Ultimate Maternity Capsule Wardrobe "How to" Guide, with Preggo Style Tips and Sample Mix-and-Match Wardrobes!

The Ultimate Maternity Capsule Wardrobe "How to" Guide, with Preggo Style Tips and Sample Mix-and-Match Wardrobes!

So much graat info here! - Curious how to make a Capsule Wardrobe for pregnancy?  Here is the ultimate Maternity minimalist closet guide, with easy fashion tips, pictures, and inspiration.. Simple, effortless, confident preggo style! Pregnant Project 333 ideas too! via Devastate Boredom

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Devastate Boredom through your clicks if you decide to shop!

Hello friends!  I'm typing frantically to get as much done as possible while the baby is napping... forgive any typos or unusually sloppy writing!!  Also, quick note, this post might not seem very relevant to you right now... if it seems like it might be helpful in the future, be sure to pin it so you don't forget about it! It would also be super nice if you shared this info with any friends who might find it more useful at the moment! 😊  Please and thank you... you're the best!

Knowing me and my passion for Capsule Wardrobes, you probably already guessed that I created a maternity Capsule during my pregnancy.  I'll be honest, it wasn't perfect, but I learned a lot about preggo style in the process!  This post will encompass a few different things -- the details of what my "hacked" Capsule looked like and how I went about putting it together, tips on general pregnancy fashion and how to make a fully mix-and-mach wardrobe, and a sample "ideal" maternity Capsule Wardrobe to get your creative juices flowing.  

So first off, let me tell you about MY maternity Capsule Wardrobe!  If you've read my book (NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT TOO, eeeeeeek!!) or been following me for a while, you might know that my highlight colors for my "regular" Capsule Wardrobe are red, blue and turquoise, with a family of neutrals consisting of white, black, and grey.  I had this idea that I would make my maternity Capsule around other colors (just for the sake of variety) and so started shopping with vague thoughts of yellow or pink or purple... only to have my maternity Capsule end up mostly black, red, and grey despite myself, haha!  In my attempt to "change things up" I even bought a pair of tan maternity corduroy pants... but I wore them a grand total of ZERO times.  I tried them on twice, but they just weren't me.  All of which I took as further proof that humans don't really crave much novelty... we're drawn to our "favorites" consistently over and over again!  So build a closet strategically around those and call it a (happy, confident) day!  There's my Capsule Wardrobe philosophy in a nutshell lol.  

How to Create a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe the easy "hacked" way:

Step one -- raid your existing closet.  You're looking for loose-fit tops and/or items with some stretch.  Low-rise pants can work for a while just regularly, and when you start to outgrow them you can use this nifty hairband trick to extend their lifespans a little longer into your pregnancy.  Stretchy jersey skirts or dresses also work nicely for pregnancy wear.  I wore mine the whole pregnancy without having to replace them with actual "maternity" dresses / skirts.  Same for open / swingy cardigans, the kind without buttons... your regular ones will work fine through your whole pregnancy.  

Step two -- fill in gaps with strategic Capsule purchases.  Consider that you will be pregnant for basically three seasons.  Lucky you if those seasons are spring / summer / fall because you can pretty much just buy warm-weather items and layer up for chilly days... I was pregnant fall / winter / spring so I had a less flexible Capsule.  

The Contents of My "Hacked" Maternity Capsule Wardrobe:

  • two heavy maternity sweaters, 1 black polka dot and 1 grey
  • four lightweight long sleeve tops, 2 red and 2 grey (1 of the grey was a "swingy" top from my regular closet)
  • one short-sleeve black maternity t-shirt
  • one short-sleeve black maternity t-shirt dress
  • one pair of maternity jeans
  • one pair of black and white patterned maternity capris
  • one pair of red stretchy skinny pants, from my regular closet
  • one pair of black stretchy skinny pants, from my regular closet
  • one jersey layering dress, grey and white striped, from my regular closet
  • two jersey skirts, 1 knee-length red and 1 black maxi, from my regular closet
  • one open / swingy cream cardigan, from my regular closet
  • one open grey sweater vest, from my regular closet
Ignoring the fact that some of the items pictured have short sleeves when they should have long, the image below represents what that gave me to work with. 

So much graat info here! - Curious how to make a Capsule Wardrobe for pregnancy?  Here is the ultimate Maternity minimalist closet guide, with easy fashion tips, pictures, and inspiration.. Simple, effortless, confident preggo style! Pregnant Project 333 ideas too! via Devastate Boredom

That's 7 tops, 8 bases, and 2 layering piece, making 17 items that combine into 60+ different outfit options for a standard fall / spring day.  I had fewer options on an extra cold or hot day, but since I was trying to really limit my expenditures I didn't mind dealing with a less effective version of a Capsule for a few months.  

Notice that I had extensive color overlap in my bases and tops... black, grey, and red in both.  As I explain in my book, Secrets of the Capsule Wardrobe, this is NOT ideal!  Mixing and matching with my maternity closet was not nearly as effortless as I usually like, and I ended up having to do a rushed load of laundry or borrow a t-shirt from my husband a few times as a result.  Thankfully he has a nice collection of superhero tees so my inner-nerd didn't mind terribly, but still, the point of having a Capsule Wardrobe is to have maximum outfit options with as little hassle as possible.  As I mentioned above, my situation was due to the fact that I hacked this wardrobe by raiding my existing closet for most of my bases, so I just dealt with the inconvenience to avoid further purchases.  The sample wardrobe below is an ideal, no-color-overlap example, with a lot more flexibility as a result. 

Ideas for an Effortless Mix-and-Match Pregnancy Capsule Wardrobe:

So much graat info here! - Curious how to make a Capsule Wardrobe for pregnancy?  Here is the ultimate Maternity minimalist closet guide, with easy fashion tips, pictures, and inspiration.. Simple, effortless, confident preggo style! Pregnant Project 333 ideas too! via Devastate Boredom

By carefully segmenting color choices by category (layering / tops / bases) you provide for maximum (mindless) mix-and-matching.  The only place the colors overlap in this sample wardrobe is the white layering pieces and the white shorts... but I figured that was safe because you're less likely to need a sweater on a day hot enough to wear shorts.  If you layering up even when you're wearing shorts, you would just sub the white shorts with another color.

Ready for the grand total of possible outfits here??  7 bases + 14 tops + 3 layering pieces = 250+ possible combinations.  Twenty-four pieces of clothing, combining into two hundred and fifty different outfits, spanning three seasons!  Ultimate flexibility, while completely preventing any "what to wear??" dilemmas from overtaxing your poor pregnancy-occupied brain.  You have much better things to think about!  Names, for example, and that baby registry!  (check out my thoughts on baby registries and minimalist parenting here... ooooh mama! *shakes head*)

Other Tips for General Preggo Style and How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe:

As I always say, BALANCE YOUR BASES!  I don't have time to go into what that means here, but if you aren't familiar with the idea from my previous posts then consider checking out my book, where I explain not only that, but also my theories behind color choice, how to find your personal style, the importance of a variety of clothing "silhouettes," and more.

Look for maternity tops that double as discreet nursing tops too.  If you're deliberate about this, you can get a head start building your nursing Capsule Wardrobe while you are still pregnant!  Go you!  A number of the tops in the sample wardrobe above are nursing tops... can you tell which ones?  

Be aware of horizontal stripes.  At first I typed "Beware of horizontal stripes" but that is too strong a recommendation because I firmly believe you should wear what you like with no rules!  But I'll just share my personal experience that towards end of my pregnancy, I wore a horizontal striped shirt to an event.  I later looked at photos of that event, and felt like I could have picked a more flattering top. 😜  When you're dealing with that many changes in your body over that short a length of time, and you have that many hormones bouncing around and making you crazier than usual, emphasizing the body-changes with horizontal stripes might not be a strategic choice psychologically.  However, this might also be my own personal insecurities talking, so take this paragraph with a grain of salt and decide for yourself.

Be aware of the "oven effect."  As you are baking that adorable little bun, you will experience what I like to call the "oven effect."  Even if you are normally the kind of person who carries a sweater wherever you go, you might find yourself a great deal warmer now that you're pregnant.  The "heavy sweaters" I noted in my list were actually only about medium weight, and one of them only had half-sleeves.  I also purchased a maternity coat, and I think I only wore it maybe three times and I don't think I ever actually zipped it up.  Now granted, I live in the South so I'm sure that was a factor, but you are less likely to need a lot of heavy winter clothing while you are pregnant.  Consider waiting on those purchases until it's actually cold, and you can see whether you will actually need them.

Maternity clothing that fits you at the beginning of your pregnancy might not fit you at the end.  I personally liked the fitted maternity tops with rouched sides, showing off my bump and avoiding the tent look, but even though I stayed pretty trim during my pregnancy that style (in that original size) was way too tight by the end.  So be aware that you might out-grow your maternity tops if you buy a bunch of these type at the beginning of your pregnancy.  That is OK!  Your baby needs nutrients, and gaining weight is part of a healthy pregnancy!  Just plan ahead for that, and either consider incorporating some "swing" tops with a looser fit into your Capsule from the beginning OR know you might end up doing some shopping later in your pregnancy as well.  Either option works.

Consider secondhand options!  Do you have friends around your size who were recently preggo?  Ask if they would mind you borrowing some of their old maternity stuff!  I bought a good bit of my pregnancy Capsule Wardrobe at a local consignment shop called One Hott Mamma (Charlotte ladies, be sure to check them out!) and there are lots of great online consignment shops like Thred-Up (use my link for $10 off!) and Swap.com (use my link for 20% off!) that also carry maternity. Secondhand options will not only save you money but are also good for our planet and help eliminate waste.  Rack up that preggo karma yo!

Remember that maternity clothes websites are there to SELL YOU CLOTHES.  Lately I've seen a number of people selling lots of maternity clothing on ebay, yardsale groups etc, and in this case that word "lots" works both ways.  Some people buy a LOT of preggo clothes!  We're talking 6 pairs of shorts, 7 pairs of jeans, 20 tops... LOTS.  While it is completely your business if you have the funds and the inclination to stuff your closet with items that you'll only be wearing for about 7 months, I think ladies also end up buying more than they mean to simply because they aren't directed in their shopping, and store advertising is persuasive.  Like I mentioned earlier, a maternity store will do their best to sell you an open / swing cardigan that is identical to the one you probably already have in your closet, only this one has "maternity" on the label.  Don't fall for it!  Take a moment to envision your priorities for your pregnancy and then limit your shopping to what fulfills those goals.  Heck, Motherhood Maternity sells SLIPPERS.  There is absolutely no need for pregnancy-specific-slippers, but enough people go "oh sure, I'll get that too" that it makes sense for the site to stock them.  So, as I always say, think about curating a beautiful collection of clothing that expresses you (glowing, gorgeous, growing-a-tiny-human you, at the moment!) and don't get tricked into a bunch of randomness that doesn't qualify.

Building an effortless, confident Capsule Wardrobe for pregnancy is really more or less the same process as building one for non-preggo life (with the addition of the bowling ball under your shirt and that perpetual queasy feeling), so if you could still use more guidance and ideas be sure to check out my book, Secrets of the Capsule Wardrobe: How to Find Your Personal Style and Build a Happy, Confident Closet!  Did I mention its now available in PRINT?? 😍 Even better, click to find out how you can read the ebook version out for free by using a trial (or your existing subscription) to Kindle Unlimited... frugal bonus points!  

*Whew*!  I hope all that was helpful.  All I have left to say is, congratulations!!  Enjoy your pregnancy -- if not the morning sickness and expanding waistline, then the knowledge that you are doing something miraculous and beautiful, even as you sit on the couch with your swollen feet propped up, eating pasta for the ninth day in a row because it's all you can keep down. 😬  Hopefully this guide can help you simplify your closet into something that helps you feel confident and attractive, even on those days that you're pretty sure you're green and not glowing... and I promise, the discomforts are temporary!  Plus, that tiny, squirmy, noisy bundle of joy you get in exchange is so worth it. 😀  *hugs*

Curious how to make a Capsule Wardrobe for pregnancy?  Here is the ultimate Maternity minimalist closet guide, with easy fashion tips, pictures, and inspiration.. Simple, effortless, confident preggo style! Pregnant Project 333 ideas too! via Devastate BoredomIntrigued by the idea of a confident, easy Capsule Wardrobe??  Sign up for my "Make Your Closet Amazing" newsletter for periodic sale alerts and style suggestions!

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