When I first got pregnant, obviously a lot went through my mind — like, the standard stuff about raising a child that doesn't become a serial killer and if the nursery theme was going to be Pinterest-worthy. But as the first few weeks went on, I kept looking at my closet in dismay, wanting to wear nothing and finding nothing cute in the crappy selection of maternity options that existed around me. I asked a few fashion-forward friends about maternity clothing, and the first question was always, "Well, do you want to look cute?" because honestly, many of the maternity clothing options out there are, well, matronly.
However, I'm 36 weeks now and after my initial concerns about wearing clothes that fit, and after I got a few staple pieces like maternity jeans and leggings — well, I really shouldn't have worried so much because I spent most of my pregnancy in regular ol' people clothes. Obviously, it really depends on your style, but once I figured out that jersey knit was my new best friend and that mini dresses weren't going to work unless I wanted to wear pants underneath, the options opened up to me. I found a lot of pieces that helped me through my pregnancy but that I will honestly still wear afterwards!
I will also preface this all by saying that I'm not a ~small~ pregnant person. Pre-pregnancy, I was a size 10-12 with a 36D cup. Though I'm not in the plus-size range (though I do look over there on occasion), I am definitely at the end of the size ranges in stores, and pregnancy brought me to the brink. I got by on a lot of trial and error through Amazon shopping and reading really heavily on reviews. Also, I learned to look at labels for what fabric things were made of, to make sure they were stretchy (polyester and I are good friends now, sadly). Also — even though I'm a short person (5'4"), I had to look for longer lengths on dresses in the summer months (in the fall, leggings and maternity pantyhose got me through), as that bump will steal those last few inches from you without batting an eye.
I am by no means a fashion blogger, but I thought the blogosphere was sorely lacking on this subject when I was trying desperately not to buy an entirely new wardrobe of maternity clothing, so I thought I'd share my wisdom. Feel free to share your own tips, tricks and favorite pieces of clothing that saved your pregnancy in the comments!
- Cardigans, ponchos and blazers
- Good for: any trimester (depending on the season!)
- These are pretty straightforward, but they're great to bring diversity to your wardrobe, especially if you buy maternity basics and want to dress them up. Or, if you're in one of those in-between stages, cardigans are great for covering your bump when you're not ready to show it off just yet.
- Favorite item: I've been wearing this buffalo plaid poncho a lot lately!
- Swing dresses and tops
- Good for: any trimester
- I'm totally in love with this cut of dress and have worn it through most of my pregnancy. Though it's not great for showing off your bump, I've been a fan especially in my early pregnancy when I was in one of those in-between, "Is she fat or is she pregnant?" stages. I'm in my third now and am still wearing swing dresses — if they're short, I wear them with leggings. You can put your hand on the bottom of your bump to show it off, or walk with it loose to go unnoticed. Swing cuts get bonus points because they're loose, so they're ~not hot~ and won't stick to you in those sweltering summer months.
- Favorite item: I love the simple, cheap H&M dress I bought last season, but I also bought this polka dot maternity dress from ASOS's maternity section – and I can wear it postpartum, too! I also bought a white polka dot version that's just a top.
- Good for: any trimester
- Kimonos are a staple in my wardrobe on any given day, and they've been especially fun throughout my pregnancy as a way to dress up clothing that I have to wear every week, due to not much fitting at any given time! I wear them over dresses or with pants and a tank top. They're great for whem I'm working and also great in your early pregnancy to cover up your questionable-and-not-yet-cute bump.
- Favorite item: I especially love this floral one from Amazon, which I wore all over our trip to Greece.
- Bodycon dresses and skirts
- Good for: Second and third trimesters
- I waited forever to look good in a bodycon and around my fifth month, I was finally able to rock it with a perfectly round bump (with the help of shapewear — let's be real). Bodycon is fun, no matter the length, but my favorite is a maxi dress or skirt with a shirt over the top tied in a knot — it adds a little diversity to your wardrobe (essential in these trying times!) and adds a little more coverage if you're not one to let your engorged boobs show off.
- Maxi dresses and skirts
- Good for: Any trimester
- I'm a consistent lover of maxi dresses, and they've proven to be an essential part of my maternity wardrobe. Plus, Amazon is crawling with lots of good ones — I never should've downloaded their app. The only issue you might run into, especially if you're taller, is the length gets questionable the more your bump grows. I've basically just ignored this and have embraced the highwater life, but I'm also short and lots of maxi dresses run long on me anyway.
- Favorite item: I love this loose-fitting dress from Amazon, which I've bought in two colors, wear at least once a week (okay, more) and I've gotten a lot of inquiries about — from pregnant and non-pregnant friends!
- Fold-over yoga pants
- Good for: First and second trimesters
- Maternity pants have that great "pants that go up to your boobs" band, but I actually found that I had a pair of these in my wardrobe already — some fold-over yoga pants!
- Favorite item: These from Amazon, or Target usually has them in varying lengths and fun colors!
- Wrap dresses
- Good for: First and second trimesters
- In my first couple of months of pregnancy, I was really adament about making sure any maternity clothes I bought were also nursing-friendly. There are different philosophies on this (do you really want to wear your maternity clothes when you're not pregnant?), and I haven't begun nursing yet, so the jury is still out there. But wrap dresses were really great early on when I was feeling bloated and wasn't necessarily showing but couldn't fit in my old clothes.
- Good for: First trimester, and maybe second
- Even if you're not showing, you might get bloated early on, and feeling uncomfortable is a very common feeling. I really craved pants that weren't constricting but wasn't ready for maternity jeans yet. So, jeggings to the rescue!
- Favorite item: These high-waisted jeggings from H&M
- Good for: Any trimester
- You don't necessary need bralettes, but I've just really loved wearing them around the house basically my entire pregnancy. I tried to get some that were more nursing-friendly for after, but also tried to stay on the cute side — naturally!
- Favorite items: I really love these lacey bralettes from Aerie (and as someone who is a 36D, I can vouch on them for bustier girls!), but I also got some sleep nursing bras from Target and wear them a whole lot already!
MATERNITY CLOTHES I COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT:
- Bigger underwear: I do not seem to be alone here, but one of the first things that stopped fitting me in my pregnancy was my underwear. This is before I got a bump or started showing or anything. Like, my ass just immediately got big. I didn't want to buy maternity underwear, and still haven't (going 36 weeks strong)! But I did need to get larger underwear. I really like the hipster cut with the lace top, and they've been comfortable in one size up through these seven months of my pregnancy — Aerie (which has more sizing options) & Victoria's Secret Pink have both had comfortable cuts that sit under my pregnant belly and are still cute!
- Maternity jeans/pants: No rubber band trick here. I was all about the maternity jeans early on. Honestly, I recommend at least one or two really good pairs that you invest in because you won't need a lot of pants, but you'll wear them ~all the time~. My favorite pairs came from StitchFix, which I really enjoyed during my pregnancy, and I'm glad I splurged on a nicer pair or two. Though I do still like my ones from Old Navy! The fit just isn't as comfortable.
- Maternity leggings: So, I have a pair of these for every day of the week and think they're basically essential. They're super comfy and I wear them around the house every day, and I've started wearing them under dresses that got too short but still look cute with my bump. My favorite pairs are from Old Navy.
- Maternity shapewear: This isn't a must-have, but I'm a person who suffers from what I call chub rub and I like to wear shorts under my dresses, no matter my pregnancy status. So when I got pregnant, I was worried about finding a pair of shorts I could wear under my dresses, and though my non-maternity ones fit, they cut me off in the middle and you could see it under my dress. I got a pair of this maternity shapewear off Amazon and am so glad I did, because I wore them all the time in the summer months! It made my bump look nicer and rounder and kept me comfortable.
- Maternity clothing websites I liked: Honestly, I didn't shop or buy a lot of maternity clothing throughout my entire pregnancy. I mostly bought jersey knit dresses and bigger tops + cardigans and I'm glad for it! However, I did really enjoy my maternity StitchFix boxes, as a lot of the pieces they sent me were SO comfortable. And I also bought a few pieces from ASOS' maternity line early on that I wore to death throughout my pregnancy, and thought a lot of their stuff was cute — something that's sadly hard to come by with maternity clothing at times! But honestly, with the exception of pants, I got by mostly on regular clothing in comfortable fabrics and looser fits, and I'm happier for it!
Photos © Tyler Jackson, Delaney Perez, Marissa Yuhas or Cait Griffin, 2017. All rights reserved.