What to Wear When a Maternity Wardrobe Just Isn’t Your Style

By Nikki M

There are many reasons to skip maternity clothes. With countless baby gear on your shopping list, it's wise to save where you can. After all, pregnancy is only a 9-month affair . . . so it doesn't really make sense to invest in a whole new wardrobe. Plus, most mothers tend to gain weight and "show" beginning in the second trimester.  That means even less time to really get the value out of maternity clothing.

Or maybe you just don't like maternity clothes. Maybe they don’t fit your personal style.  Or let you feel like you.

Tops, not tents

Slouchy, oversized tees and tanks are breezy and low-maintenance. Look out for unusual cuts like a boat neckline, drop shoulders, or an asymmetrical hem.  They add interest to your outfit, keeping eyes closer to your face and away from the bump. Splendid and James Perse are the kings of slouchy tees.

If you’d rather put that growing mid-section on full display (after all, your baby will be the star of the show for years to come), stretchy, form-fitting tops are the way to go.  They hug your belly, offering great support, while giving you a nice silhouette. Stretchy camisoles are great for layering and even just lounging at home.  (Bonus: they’re super practical when breastfeeding.)

Whether you go for slouchy or stretchy, scoop or V-neck tops show off your new assets and feel less constricting.  Plus, now that everything feels quite a bit warmer to you, you’ll look sizzling hot in those low necklines.  Add an artsy statement necklace or layer chains to accessorize.

Bottoms that don’t bulge

Stretchy skirts are extremely comfortable, feminine, and dress up an otherwise simple tee. Plus, if you’ve got great legs, you can still show off those gams. 

If you’re stylishly preppy, wear them with tights and crew neck sweaters in the winter, polos when it’s warm. Bohemian?  Try billowy blouses and a cute floppy hat. For an edgier look, top them with your husband’s dress shirts and belt under your bump with a spiked leather number.  American Apparel carries the best stretchy pencil skirt. 

While leggings tend to get a bad rap for being a lazy go-to, they are a much nicer alternative to sweatpants. Get them in a thick, opaque fabric, making sure they're not see-through in the bum region. Wear them with longer tops and dresses. A lined pair will keep you wonderfully toasty in the winter. Also, consider leggings that flare at the bottom for a casual summer look that keeps the proportions in balance.

No matter your budget, don’t bother splurging here!  There are plenty of down-market options available. Forever 21's are great for the price of a latte. 

Legging pants are a little more substantial than leggings. They tend to be thicker, have back pockets, and may even have a zipper or belt loops. Because they have the illusion of looking like actual pants, you don’t have to worry about the lengths of your shirts.  Legging pants by Uniqlo are my favorite, and come in many colors.

Loose, pull-on pants with an elastic waist feel like pajamas, but could pass for trousers. These pants by J. Crew look like both! Joggers with drawstring waists also work great – both hip and comfy!

If you insist on wearing jeans, try this effective trick. Skip the bellybands that claim to hold up your pants – they won’t!  Or make denim the one purchase you do get at the maternity store.

Dresses with shape

Dresses are so effortless yet make you look so put-together. They're also perfect for the multiple bathroom trips you'll be taking.  Skip the structured, stiff dresses, and stick with flowy, bohemian styles.  Wear them with flat, strappy sandals, tousled hair, and a sun hat.

Wrap dresses are so chic. Tie the sash over or under your belly for added elegance.  (I prefer over.)  You can use these over and over again, even after pregnancy.  You can probably get away with wearing them in your true size.  Simply pair it with a cami under if you find the dress gaping at your chest area.

Knee-length bodycon dresses accentuate your curves, yet the modest length prevents them from looking tacky. Get them in prints or monochrome for a sexy look.  Top them off with shorter jackets like a cropped denim or black leather motorcycle jacket on a chilly day.  Or wear them with an elegant, longer coat for a night on the town.

Tip: when shopping for dresses at high-street stores, pick midi and maxi cuts. Dresses in many fashion retailers tend to run short, and a growing belly pulls hems quite high. 

Fabulous footwear

Flat shoes are a must. While I'm not suggesting mothers-to-be give up their style, wearing heels while you're carrying the extra weight will take its toll via back pain and swelling – not to mention, they’re potentially dangerous! Footwear that slips on and off, without laces or buckles, is very convenient with a belly in the way.

Ballet flats are pretty and feminine, but you might find boyish penny loafers more interesting.  If you’re flat-footed or get cramps in your arches, opt for shoes with a thicker, two-inch heel.

Orthopedic sandals, aka "Granny shoes," offer excellent foot support and are quite trendy. Slip-on styles such as Birkenstock Arizona and Worishofer 251 are cute options.

If you must wear heels, platforms, block heels, and wedges offer stability along with the added height.

Go basic with undergarments

Do invest in a new bra. Your band and cup sizes will expand a lot, so get fitted for a larger pair or two. Although not advisable for bustier ladies, I skipped the lingerie boutiques and went to American Apparel for wireless cross-band bras that are very comfortable, and can be thrown in the dryer.

Check out your husband’s closet

Men's V-neck tees are less form-fitting than women's tees, and are roomier in the chest and shoulder areas. (You'll notice that pregnancy weight doesn't all go to the belly.) Pair them with a slim-cut blazer, sleeves rolled up, for a casual look.  And layer on some bracelets.

Button-down shirts are classic and androgynous. Wear them mostly unbuttoned with pleated, (elastic) pants.  Or button up and belt over pants and skirts.


Cotton blends are key: cotton/lycra or cotton/spandex blends offer a stretchy, supportive fit and hug your curves. Cotton/modal, otherwise called "knit" or "jersey" are the opposite: soft, drapey, and body-skimming.

When shopping for clothes during pregnancy, make sure they also work postpartum, while breastfeeding, and are effortless for a new mother. HATCH is an amazing clothing company built on this premise. They have gorgeous, capsule pieces made with luxurious fabrics.

What are your favorite non-maternity pregnancy looks? Share your tips in the comments below!

Tags : pregnancy   fashion   

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