How to build a maternity wardrobe you love: Yes, it really is possible!

Pregnancy can be such a joyful time, but does the prospect of putting together a new maternity wardrobe make you feel less than excited? Certainly, some people revel in the fact that pregnancy provides a great excuse to get some cute new outfits. But we’ve been there. The prospect of needing to get new clothes for your changing body can also be a little overwhelming. Plus, limitations of time and money, having to navigate new brands and sizes, and struggling to find maternity clothes that suit your style can make the experience feel not so stellar. But you can build a maternity wardrobe that will bring you joy – we promise! And you don’t necessarily need to buy a ton of new clothes or spend a lot of money to make it happen. Here we’ve got 13 invaluable tips to help provide you with some guidance – all real advice from real moms – and we’ve even included some product picks to help get you started. The pregnancy wardrobe you love is waiting! 

1. Let comfort guide you

Pregnancy is not the time to be uncomfortable just for the sake of style. You’re doing the amazing work of growing new life – the last thing you need is to be tugging on a waistband or doing battle with dicey underwire. There’s enough discomfort that comes along with even a healthy pregnancy, so make sure your clothes feel good and help you feel like your best self.

2. Wear what fits – and ignore sizing and labels as needed

Your body changes in some wild ways during pregnancy, so don’t pay much attention to the size on the label. Try clothes on, size up or down as needed, and only get what fits. Ignoring labels is also good advice when it comes to garments that aren’t technically maternity clothes. Most maternity clothing takes the unique proportions of a pregnant body into account – usually for fit and comfort – so trust us when we say you may want to buy maternity items where that very special maternity fit really matters, like tights, leggings, jeans, and some dresses and tops. But if you find an amazing non-maternity blouse that fits well? Go for it.

3. Get creative with what you already own, but don’t risk discomfort

Again, there are so many styles that aren’t technically maternity wear but that can easily be worn while pregnant. Garments like drapey tunics, stretchy body-con dresses, and soft pajama pants might all be able to be worn comfortably for some or all of your pregnancy – and they may already be in your closet. You can also use items like bra extenders and belly bands in the early days of pregnancy (and even again postpartum) to get a little more mileage out of your pre-pregnancy clothes. Stretch your clothing – both literally and figuratively – as long as it’s comfortable to do so, but don’t risk discomfort, and move on to proper maternity wear as early as you’d like.

4. Plan to spend some money, but not a fortune

This is a time in your life where even if you keep your purchases to a minimum, you will probably need to buy at least some new clothing. But you can certainly do this is in a way that works for your budget, and you don’t need to spend much more than you normally would on clothes. You can keep your costs down by hitting up seasonal sales, shopping within your price point at stores you already go to, buying only what you need, and investing in just a few key pieces of clothing.

5. Know what you need to invest in

When we say “investing in… clothing,” what we mean is making the choice to spend money on a piece of clothing that you know you’ll get a ton of mileage out of. So how can you figure out what’s worth spending on? Think about what you wore most often before you were pregnant and what you need to dress for now. If you work in the sort of place where you need to look super polished even when you’re 40 weeks along, then you may want to plan to buy a few pieces of formal maternity work wear that will take you to your due date. If you typically live in jeans, then you should definitely buy a few great pairs with stretchy belly panels. If you’re on your feet all day and you’ve gone up a shoe size (it happens!), maybe you’ll want to invest in one really comfortable pair of shoes that can go with everything.

6. Get the seasonal pieces you need

Are you going to be pregnant during the winter? Get a winter coat that’s actually going to cover your baby bump. Will you be rocking that bump at the beach? Then, yes, you should get yourself at least one bathing suit that will fit. Don’t try to get by without it. Don’t ask yourself, “Why bother if it won’t get much wear?” You will carry on living your life through this weather and these activities, so you deserve to get yourself the garments that you need to do so comfortably.

7. Borrow from the amazing mamas around you

Consider these facts: You do need to get some new garments when you’re pregnant to keep up with your changing body. Also, pregnancy doesn’t last forever. What this means is that most new moms are left with a number of maternity garments after their baby has arrived. Many people will wear a lot of these items during the postpartum period, during baby’s first year, or even longer. (Of course we’re talking about maternity leggings here). But a lot of maternity garments just might not be needed or might not fit anymore. So if you’re friendly with any new moms, see if they might share the wealth – they’ll probably love knowing that the clothes will go to good use, and this way you won’t have to buy everything you need – and pledge to do the same with expectant friends of your own once you’ve outgrown your own maternity garments.

8. Start thinking ahead

You want your clothes to grow with you over the next several months. You may even want to think beyond your due date and consider your body’s needs postpartum. So will the clothes you buy now still fit at 40 weeks? Could the wrap sweater you borrow now be used as a nursing cover-up later? And when it comes to things like bras or soft camisoles, which you’ll likely need to buy more of as your breasts grow and swell, you may want to think about buying nursing bras and garments now in the event that they’ll also fit comfortably immediately postpartum – when you’ll want to have those garments at the ready.

9. Show your breasts some love

It’s not just your waistline that’s growing. As breasts change, it can be tough for many women to keep up with this growth, but you don’t want a too-small band digging into you, and you don’t want to be spilling out of your cups. The best advice here is the simplest, and that’s to always be wearing bras that fit well and feel good. This might mean having to buy a few different bras as the weeks go on. And what feels best to you when pregnant might surprise you – some people suddenly crave the support of underwire or might never want to hear about underwire again – so be open to what your changing body prefers. Again, in thinking ahead, you may want to consider nursing options (since you can’t really know when your breasts will stop growing, but what fits you when pregnant might also fit you postpartum) and soft but supportive “sleep” options (since right after birth your breasts may be engorged and leaking so you might want some support while sleeping or to hold breast pads in place overnight).

10. Don’t forget about the basics

Your off-hours comfort is plenty important. With this in mind, make sure you have some pajamas, loungewear, and casual comfy clothing that fits. This might be as simple as a few nursing tanks, maternity leggings, and pajama pants – then you can add a robe to lounge in bed, or throw on an oversized sweatshirt to go to the grocery store. Plus, don’t underestimate the power of one great T-shirt. And though we’ve already talked bras, make sure you have undies that fit your changing body too. 

11. Wear your pregnancy garments postpartum, with pride

And then once your baby arrives? You might still be wearing a lot of the same clothes! So many new moms wear pregnancy clothes well beyond the immediate postpartum period (especially a lot of those comfy clothes mentioned above). There’s no question that your maternity leggings will probably be very welcome right after you have your baby. Remember, after birth you’re probably still going to have a substantial bump, and whether baby is born vaginally or via C-section, you might also be uncomfortable across your tummy and crotch for several weeks as you heal. Comfort and support is the name of the game here.

So wear those maternity leggings – and jeans and tops and dresses and whatever else fits and feels good – in the immediate postpartum period and as long going forward as you want to, no shame at all. This writer still wears her maternity leggings and her oldest child is now three, because, well, those leggings are incredibly comfy.

12. Have some fun

Don’t get overwhelmed by all your choices or by having to find “the best” thing out there. There’s more maternity clothing on the market than ever – and even then, a lot of people still aren’t happy with what maternity wear has to offer. So when you find a brand or store or style you like, get a few things, and don’t overthink it.

Plus, you won’t be wearing these pieces forever, so it doesn’t hurt to try out a new trend or look that you might not normally. Show off that amazing bump or don’t; just buy, borrow, and wear pieces that make you feel as awesome possible. Pregnancy brings us all days that leave us feeling not our best, so if your dress or your neon power blazer or your super soft leggings can make you feel like a superhero, or even just smile, all the better. 

13. Treat your maternity wardrobe like a capsule collection

If it feels overwhelming to think about just what you might need to buy or borrow to get through the next several months, it might help to think of your maternity wardrobe like a capsule collection – a small collection of pieces that you can mix and match to create a lot of different outfits and get a lot of wear out of. So consider your work and off-hour needs, your style preferences, as well as what’s in your wardrobe already that you can include in the mix – and then get the maternity items you need to round things out. A capsule collection might look like a couple pairs of jeans or pants; a few versatile tops; a dress or two if that’s your style; a few sweaters or blazers, dressy or casual as appropriate for your work and life needs; some of that comfy loungewear mentioned above; one two pairs of shoes; and a coat or jacket. Dress things up or down, accessorize away, and you should be able to create plenty of great looks. Having a capsule wardrobe to take you through pregnancy can help dressing each day come with more confidence and ease – and fewer mornings where you stand in front of your closet asking, “Uh oh, what am I gonna wear today?”

We hope this advice will take you to your due date and beyond. And, really, at the end of the day, most of the advice boils down to wear what makes you feel good. You deserve to dress in clothes that make you feel as beautiful and powerful and comfortable as can be.

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