Maternity clothing basics

Maternity clothes you actually need
Dress for pregnancy

It’s been my experience that while you don’t need to buy a lot of maternity clothes, you’ll be a lot happier (read: more comfortable) if you get a few key pieces that don’t make you feel like you’re waging a war to squeeze into your wardrobe every day.

Here’s what I think you really need (for cooler temps, with links to my go-to sources)…

Long-sleeved T-Shirts
Maternity shirts are generally cut higher under the arm and longer in the front than your average, so they’re more flattering (and more likely to conceal elastic waistbands) than if you were to just order a size up. I picked out a striped Breton shirt and some basic black/white/navy long-sleeve t-shirts this time around. (Pictured: ASOS Breton Stripe, Gap Black, H&M Mama Top in stripes.). I especially like V-necks, even if they’re slightly less warm—a little less fabric on an already long-torso seems more flattering. This one looks cute, too, and could be good for after the baby arrives.

You might be able to get by with what you already have! If you are on the lookout for basic boyfriend-cardis, Old Navy has a good selection for not too much money. (I wore this one apple picking last week, here.)

Depending on how you carry your bump (high or low), you might last longer in your own pants or jump straight to the elastic waistbands. But rarely will the hair-tie-looped-thru-button-hole trick get you full term. Go as long as you can without buying maternity denim, but if you wear jeans as often as I do, you’ll most likely end up buying a pair. Some have full panels to stretch over your belly, some have demi-panels to go below. Others have elastic on the sides. I like the demi-panel, but it’s definitely a matter of preference. Gap usually keeps a few fake pregnancy-bumps in the fitting room so that you can pretend you’re bigger than you are. (Pictured: Gap demi-panel skinny.) I also really like the ones at H&M, but they’re pretty long so I’m going to take my pair to get hemmed. I’m curious about these ones from TopShop, and J Brand Maternity Jeans

always get rave reviews, but they’re awfully pricey. Old Navy has a selection as well.

Those of you in a more conservative office may need a lot more than one-pair of non-jeans, but even when I was in book-publishing I could usually get by with one pair of black pants. JCrew just starting selling their popular Minnie (my favorite) and Pixie pants in maternity cuts (with side panels). You could wear them with heels, flats, or tucked into boots. (Pictured: JCrew Minnie Maternity) And then, of course, there are the yoga pants…

Bella Band
I used this waistband a ton when I was pregnant with Hudson. If you can get by with the hair elastic trick and unbuttoned top buttons on your pants, you can just use a Bella Band to cover-up. It’s usually shown stretched over the bump, but I actually think it stays put best when scrunched under. Or, if you have maternity pants and want to wear a too-short shirt, you could use it to cover the elastic. There are a lot of brands making virtually the same thing, now. I think this one is still best, but why not try the cute striped ones from H&M? Tip: After the baby is born, you can also use a Bella Band to keep your stomach covered if you’re going under a shirt to nurse! (Pictured: BellaBand )

A dress (or two)
I almost never wear dresses, so I could probably skip this. But with the holidays around the corner, a black (and perhaps a red) dress that can be dressed up or down could come in handy. (Pictured: TopShop in red and Old Navy in black. I actually bought the black one in its longer form.)

Colorful scarfs and Long Necklaces
Here’s how you get away with only buying long-sleeved t-shirts. Use the accessories you already have! Colorful scarves look great with cardigans, and long necklaces break up that extra-long torso. (Pictured: Anthropologie Infinity Scarf and Madewell Necklace)

Comfortable shoes
Sorry to say, your feet will probably change sizes near the end of your pregnancy. And even if they don’t, suddenly carrying 20 (or 40 or…) more pounds takes its toll. I can feel the difference between a morning walking barefoot around the house and one spent in Birkenstocks. Last time around, it was summer, and I searched all over for the perfect sandal—and found them! I have a feeling this winter will be all about clogs. Ankle boots are in style this season, which might be a good thing when those mid-calf boots start feeling a bit snug. (Pictured: Sweedish Hasbeens Zip It Emy) Although my favorite Madewell boots do come in an extended-calf option!

Warmer Outerwear
Depending on where you live, a maternity coat may be a worthwhile expense. Especially if it will still be cold once the baby arrives and you might be able to wear the coat over a baby-carrier! I’m going to try and get by with what I have and instead just add a roomier quilted down-vest that I can zip-up over my chest even if my coat has to stay open. I actually like doing this when I’m not expecting, too. You get an extra layer without adding bulk to your arms! (Pictured: ASOS Parka and Motherhood Maternity Quilted Puffer Vest)

New Underwear
Don’t forget to get a nursing bra sized before the baby is born! Speaking from experience, it’s a serious bummer to have to go shopping for one with a few-days-old baby. This brand

makes great nursing tanks.

P.S. New baby essentials for your registry. And a fun way to announce you’re expecting.

Related posts:

Travel Guides

Browse By Category