Maternity Wardrobe Links and Tips

If you’re planning to grow human in your belly, here are some of the things I bought that were high-quality and reasonably priced. If you’re not, here is a comic strip that made me feel better about my brain.

Maternity Clothes I Recommend

Undies that don’t suck: 3-pack boy shorts from H&M, $15

Knit Faux Wrap Dress from Banana Republic Sexy and happens to work for nursing, so we’ll see if it lasts: $87

Grey Mama Treggings, on sale for $17

Red Batwing Sleeve Sweater that’s not technically maternity but big enough to push it, $27

Maternity Stretch Tanks, on sale $5-7

Two-pack maternity tights in grey and black, $17

This 2-Pack of Maternity Leggings are pretty thick. Some pilling after being worn near constantly for 7 months, but come on, $40

Maternity Wardrobe Tips

Buy maternity clothes from the get go, do not wait until you can’t get your regular jeans up around your thighs. They’re crazy comfortable, and clothes that stretch make you feel healthy and pregnant as your body grows instead of just feeling fat and bummed. Also, my first pregnancy I thought I could just buy bigger clothes, and my sister said, “Your body is going to get weird. You’ll have to get maternity stuff in the third trimester, so just be comfortable all along.” She was right.

• Go for the full-belly panel on your pants. Those low elastic waistbands look good, but the last trimester when they start feeling really tight just as you don’t want anything touching your body. Also, your shirt rides up to reveal your naked belly, which is very vulnerable and yucky. Finally, when the baby gets big enough to have an opinion, they will vote by kicking you hard until you buy new pants that don’t smush them. Sorry, baby.

• Neutrals are the most economical. I buy dark grey when I can and black when I can’t. Everything works together and doesn’t clash with pieces that still work from my normal-body wardrobe. I bought a couple accent pieces in red, but mostly rely on colorful accessories.

Don’t worry so much about whether you’ll be able to wear it after. With my first pregnancy, I obsessed over finding nursing/maternity clothes that looked passable as regular clothes. After I gave birth I was so sick of those clothes. They were mostly worn out — all stretched out and pilly — and people kept asking when I was due, probably because I was wearing maternity clothes? Yeah. So this time I bought very little, I’m wearing it into the ground, and tossing it or passing it on when I give birth. The exception is bras and nightgowns. Buy nursing versions so you can nurse right away.

Coats are an exception. Maternity coats are expensive, so I buy vintage and try to find something I’ll wear until I have time to reassemble my body. Search “cape coat” and “swing coat” on eBay for maternity coats that will transition into your regular wardrobe, like so: Grey Wool Cape Coat.

Maternity Wardrobe Starters for Warmer Climates

A quick list of maternity basics. This will vary by lifestyle and season, but it’s a great base that lets you purchase a few necessary pieces as you realize you need them.

• Knit dresses in neutral colors (2) – High-quality thick jersey that doesn’t thin out too much as it stretches, preferably with hemlines that fall below the knee. That hemline will pull up as your belly grows and lots of ladies get temporary cellulite down to the knee before they give birth.
• Maternity tights in neutrals that work with your dresses (2)
• Maternity leggings or sweats (2)
• Camis with shelf bras (2) – These will transition you to a new bra size, and the support will help you sleep.
• A sundress that works for nursing to be worn as a nightgown – Maternity sleepwear is stupid expensive and it’s usually not as good quality as just buying an Old Navy sundress or equivalent.
• T-Shirts (2 short sleeved, 2 long)
• Undies a size or two up (6 pairs)
• A Hoodie – H&M has lots of long ones right now that aren’t a million dollars. Maternity hoodies can be laughably pricey.
• A Sweater – Bonus if it’s a cardigan because you can wear it multiple ways.
• A coat or cloak
• A pair of flats

If you’ve been through this or are pregnant now, please add your tips and links to good deals in comments. Thanks, mamas.

16 thoughts on “Maternity Wardrobe Links and Tips

  1. Instead of buying a maternity coat, I’d recommend one of these coat extenders: It fits all standard zippers and has adapters for a bunch of other zippers. It’s made me extremely happy and comfortable to stay with my own coats this winter — especially considering I’m in Canada where there’s no getting around wearing a coat — and saved me a bundle (see Maggie’s note about the expense of coats above).


  2. If you need business attire for work, I found Loft maternity wear to be the best bet, price/quality/comfort/style wise. Do not buy maternity blazers–do you really want something that buttons across that tummy?! I wore my regular blazers to the end and just let the belly stick out–because it’s going to anyway.

    A month away from my due date, I bought maternity shorts. Seems like a waste, but I was SO HOT (due in June in DC), and skirts/dresses weren’t cutting it if I had to walk anywhere–I needed the support a band at the belly provided.

    Wait a bit to buy new flats–my ankles and feet swelled something fierce, and I need to get a bigger size.

    Old Navy has some fun colors–I bought a pair of red pants that I wore to death–they made me feel sexy and fun-loving which I needed at times during my pregnancy, and I also think pregnancy is a great chance to push your personal boundaries with clothes–you’re gonna be big no matter what, flaunt it with fun stuff.


  3. If you live in a warmer climate, hold off on coats and heavy sweaters. When you have a built-in heater growing in your belly, you tend to run warmer anyway. I bought a super cute light-weight coat during my first pregnancy and I think I wore it once.

    Also, I didn’t spend a ton on most of my clothes since I was just going to wear them for a few months, but investing in some quality basics and some good, comfortable underwear was really helpful. I went up multiple bra sizes in a relatively short period of time, and comfy sleep bras were a revelation. Camis didn’t have quite enough support for me, but that will vary from person to person.

    I ended up hating all my low-waist pregnancy pants. I was just having to hike them up all the time once I got to third trimester. Full belly band worked so much better.

    For work, I wore a lot more dresses when I was pregnant than I do usually. They were comfy and gave me a quick and easy way to look polished and professional without a lot of thought.


  4. Maxidresses, maxidresses, maxidresses were my friend when I was pregnant. As a non-pregnant person, maxidresses made me look stumpy and weird, but with that big belly in there, maxidresses just made me look wonderfully, gloriously pregnant. And they were so loose and cool and comfy! I bought several when I was 5 or 6 months along (wish I’d bought them sooner because they streeeetch as much as you need them to) and wore them into the ground, switching up my look with different cardigans and accessories. Pretty sure most were from Old Navy or American Apparel and the nice thing was that they worked well for a little bit post-baby too, when I didn’t have the brainpower to do much more than throw on something loose and comfy that wasn’t going to make me cry because it didn’t fit. I even wore a maxidress home from the hospital. Bonus: lots of mine had straps with little buttons fastening them to the top of the dress that made them easy for nursing too.


  5. One thing that I swore by in my first pregnancy (and will be using again this time around) is the Blanqi bodystyler: It has great back & belly support and I always felt less blobby & more secure when I wore it. Was totally worth the cost. I think Asos has great, affordable maternity stuff, especially denim. I wore my last pair of maternity jeans from there into the ground, probably longer than I should have (like 4-5 months post-partum!)


  6. What worked best for me was to buy the same things I wore non-maternity in maternity versions, so long sleeve black t-shirts and black tabletops, and a fun skirt, etc. I felt like myself bc I was wearing my usual clothes, only resized for my growing belly. Also I did a better job of this second time around than first, when I went for some different style stuff and then felt doubly-weird.

    Also yay Maggie! Congrats!


  7. Periodically check out what they have at GoodWill, where I found most of my best maternity stuff for $2-10 in excellent shape from good-quality labels. Completely agree with Erin on later-stage shoe buying for swollen feet — I found luck with ballet flats from Payless.


  8. Haha this post me me chuckle, thinking about a little incident I had last December! I don’t have kids and am not pregnant, but when I was out shopping with my sister I stumbled on a sweater in a clearance wrack I really loved. It had slits all down both sides! How funky, I thought! So I went ahead and bought it along with a bunch of other stuff and when we get home and model for our mom, lo and behold, she explains that this is a nursing top! there was even a sticker on the inside proving it. We all had a good laugh but I stand by my purchase. It looks great and its super comfy: I’m keeping it, and I’m wearing it!

    …might even come in handy someday in its original function 😉


  9. I really liked demi-panel pants. Of course, I was due in July and I didn’t wear pants much past 30 weeks if I could help it (DC summers=stifling humidity!). The two pairs of shorts I had were both demi panel. One was comfy right up until the very end, the other got tight for sure and I stopped wearing them.

    My one piece of advice for women who need work clothes is to splurge on a nice maternity wrap dress. I LOVED the one I had, I borrowed it from a friend and I felt bad I wore it so much because it wasn’t mine. But next time, I will buy one of my own for sure. It helped me feel dressed up but was SO comfortable. Also, with 3/4 sleeves I could wear it all winter with a cardigan, and then through the spring.


  10. Two things:
    Consignment. Ask around – some consignment places have the high end maternity stuff. In Minneapolis, it’s NuLook over by Broder’s. I got a special event outfit and a couple of work suits this way for pennies on the dollar.
    Borrow. If you’re in a career that requires work wear, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues about borrowing/sharing/trading/handing down. At both offices where I worked, the higher end maternity clothes made the rounds until they were worn out – and it was a fun bonding experience to help out your pregnant colleague when you weren’t using those clothes.


  11. Excellent advice, I made the mistake of trying to stay in my original clothes and when I finally made the switch I felt so much better. Just having t-shirts and tanks that cover the belly felt amazing. Congratulations again on the baby.


  12. Pea in a Pod has the BEST sales on their clearance – like, buy one, get one free. I wore their stuff for work or dressing up, and while I had to go one size up from my normal size, it was really nice quality and comfortable.

    I always liked GAP and Old Navy maternity clothes. I also highly recommend the consignment store option, because in my experience, you can find a lot of stuff with the tags still on it for really cheap!


  13. I put together a collection of Polyvore maternity outfits here:

    For the winter in California, I recommend lots of cheap maternity tank tops from Old Navy or Gap — they are great for layering under other things.

    I also get the most compliments (and look the least sack-like) when I wear a wrap dress:
    (The pretty plum-ish birch beer color is on sale for $20 right now!)


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