What to Wear When You’re Pregnant

This is a post I’ve wanted to do for awhile and the main reason behind it is my own experience with the frustrations of dressing while you’re pregnant. When I first started to need maternity clothes (end of first trimester), I got extremely discouraged by the lack of styles available and also information I could find online on how to dress. Like many other women, honing my personal style isn’t just about looking great but about feeling great. Pregnancy attire can take a lot of that away from you, especially if your style isn’t quite maternity friendly (like having an entire closet of button down shirts that you like to tuck into pants…). I searched high and low for tips and tricks and came up short. It wasn’t until I found a mom whose style I liked and looked at her pregnancy outfits that I found some encouragement and inspiration that I can keep my personal style during the pregnancy with just a little bit of effort.

Goals:

  • Incorporate your regular wardrobe as long as possible.
  • Ability to keep your personal style and feel “put together”.
  • Strategically purchase items that will stretch your current wardrobe and save you money.

Go-To Retailers

  • Old Navy
  • Gap
  • Target
  • Uniqlo

A quick note on retailers: very FEW brands do maternity and do it well, and less places are carrying maternity in-store for you to try on. I had good luck shopping the sales at Old Navy and Gap, getting basics at Target (t-shirts, etc), and then maternity leggings at Uniqlo. It’s key to get things that you’ll wear over and over again, and maybe only an item or two for a special occasion. I bought a dress for Christmas and then one for my baby shower, but I only wore those items once. I avoided maternity only stores because they tended to be pricey and I’d rather spend my money on clothes I can wear after the baby.

Bottoms

Bottom pieces are going to be the first things you notice you need “maternity” versions of. I definitely wore leggings throughout my pregnancy more than any other time in my life, but it really felt nice to have “real” pants as options. There are three main types of pants – side panel, demi, and over the belly. I found all three of these from the Gap website and ordered one of each to see what I liked and returned the rest. I found the demi to be most comfortable for me.

  • Over the belly pants and leggings look really strange, but they are great for the end of the second trimester and the whole third trimester. I found they didn’t fit as well for me before that.
  • I also bought non-maternity leggings a size or two bigger than normal and was able to wear them almost right up to the end.
  • I avoided skirts completely once my “bump” appeared because I thought it looked unflattering where the top of the skirt hit.

Dresses

Dresses are fantastic for warm weather pregnancies, and although I was pregnant in mostly the winter I did buy a few that I wore quite a bit. I definitely didn’t wear dresses as much as a summer pregnancy would because most cold days you are looking to wear pants.

  • Buy ones that can be styled a few ways. I got a plain navy dress and I wore it a lot because it could be dressed up and down for different occasions (pictured below on the left).
  • Empire waist dresses work great, even if they aren’t maternity. The photo above was one of my favorite dresses that had a forgiving waist that allowed me to wear it 6 months pregnant to a wedding. I was so happy it fit!
  • If you’re looking to accentuate your “bump”, a belt can turn your dress into a nice maternity look.

Tops:

This is very important since it will have to fit over your growing belly for as long as possible. Look for basics that can be layered under other pieces. I bought maternity gray and white t-shirts, as well as maternity gray and white turtlenecks and used them non-stop to layer under other pieces that weren’t maternity. I’m also a big fan of button down shirts and found ones I liked from Old Navy and also larger sizes of Ralph Lauren button downs that I received second hand.

  • If you don’t own them already, purchase a few long cardigans in neutral colors that will go with your wardrobe. I had a navy, gray, and green one that I wore up until the day I gave birth. I can also still wear them after since they just go over the arms and drape around you.
  • I wasn’t into showing off my bump, so I found capes and wraps to be nice for my style and kept me warm in the colder months.
  • I found oversized sweaters at the thrift store that I loved alongside borrowing my husband’s sweaters at the end of my pregnancy.

Outwear:

If you happen to be pregnant during a time where you’ll need to wear outwear, it can be frustrating figuring out how to stay warm when you’ve got a bump to cover. Until later in your pregnancy, you can get away with wearing jackets and being able to zip them up, but a time comes when you won’t be able to. I was pregnant from June – late February so I got the brunt of winter and bought a maternity coat. If you aren’t going to be big during the majority of winter, you can get away with not buying one.

  • I enjoyed wearing vests as a light layer, especially since I don’t zip them up even when I’m not pregnant.
  • I did buy a maternity coat and was glad I did. If I was spending less than a month in the winter being pregnant, I wouldn’t have bought one, but with the timing of mine it was worth it. There were several horrible snow storms that I was so glad I could zip my parka all the way up over the bump.
  • There are maternity coats that have a panel in front that you do without after the pregnancy meaning it turns into a non-maternity coat afterward. I didn’t like how this style looked, and also didn’t need another non-maternity coat. I found my maternity parka inexpensively during Old Navy’s online Black Friday sale.

Shoes:

Summer pregnancies are nicer in this case because you can wear sandals towards the end if your feet swell. I didn’t have swelling in my feet until the last two months, but it was very painful and left me with very little to wear. Thankfully all my boots were a half size larger (I always size up to accommodate thick socks), and my mom is a half size larger and let me borrow a few pairs to get me through the end.

  • Consider getting a pair or two of really comfortable shoes for the end of your pregnancy if you find you can’t fit into any of your current pairs. If you’re looking to save money, just buy inexpensive shoes and add comfortable insoles to them.

Workout Clothes:

If you weren’t working out before your pregnancy, doctors advise you don’t start anything new afterward, however you should be doing some sort of physical activity. I did not enjoy being pregnant, but I had a fairly easy delivery and I credit it to all my time spent in the gym! With that being said, it’s frustrating to not only have to compensate your normal wardrobe but then your workout clothes too. I got VERY lucky because Lucy Activewear got absorbed by The North Face and I was able to pick up maternity workout clothes for a fifth of the price it normally was.

  • If you workout a lot (few times a week), the Bao Bei band is for you! I had a friend recommend it and I LOVED it. I was so worried my abs would split or I’d be putting too much pressure on my body with the added weight of the bump, and this thing is like a sports bra for your belly. It’s not cheap, but it was worth every penny for me. If you don’t workout as often or are doing low impact activity, feel free to skip this!
  • Tops are fairly easy to buy until the third trimester. I would buy looser, larger tops, and only at the end did I pick up a few maternity tops. I bought these at Old Navy and Gap and found most of it during their Christmas sales.
  • Bottoms are a little tougher, but you’ll find your leggings should work for a lot longer than your non-maternity wardrobe. Near the end, only leggings that had a really low band would work other than maternity workout pants. Maternity workout leggings usually come with REALLY high bands that go over the bump and ones that sit right under. I found I liked the ones that went over the bump for support.
  • Shoes weren’t a problem for me, but if your feet are swelling I’d just pick up a cheap pair to get you through the end. My tennis shoes were some of the most comfortable things I’d wear during the whole pregnancy.

My friend Katrina is due in September! She is going to be one stylish pregnant lady!

Other:

Rings: My wedding ring stopped fitting near the end and only recently (4 weeks post partum) does it fit again. I had another ring that was always bigger on me that I’d wear, but also had a silicone ring that I normally wear to the gym that I would wear as well. Feel free to skip a ring if you’d like, or wear it around your neck. Never force a ring that doesn’t fit!

Swim: I bought a maternity swimsuit during an Old Navy holiday sale for $10 and I’m glad I did. I had access to an indoor pool year round at my gym and used it a few times both for leisure and aqua classes. I couldn’t believe how nice it felt to swim while pregnant – you feel like your old self again! Although I only wore it a few times, I thought it was worth it since I didn’t pay a lot and it felt so nice to take pressure off my joints during the end.

Overall tips:

  • Stay optimistic! You’ll get discouraged from time to time being able to wear less of your closet but don’t give up. Looking “put-together” when you don’t feel like it will lift your spirits and make you feel like your old self.
  • Get creative with wearing items a few ways. I utilized Pinterest a lot to search an item and see how many different ways it could be styled.
  • Buy items you’ll wear a lot, with a few exceptions (special events).
  • Buy second hand, or find a friend who had been pregnant that can loan you a few things. You’ll be surprised how many women are willing to share their maternity clothes with you. I was very fortunate to have a few friends and family members who loaned me items that got me through my pregnancy!
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2 Comments on What to Wear When You’re Pregnant

  1. Rox-Anne
    May 2, 2018 at 10:15 am (7 months ago)

    I think you really made pregnancy dressing chic! When I was pregnant many, many years ago it was summer and by August I was in my last month and it was so hot, I gave up trying to look cute. I just wore my hubby’s golf shirts and maternity shorts. Good for you for maintaining your style all 9 months! xx Rox-Anne Celebrating This Life

    Reply
    • thedressdecoded
      May 2, 2018 at 2:06 pm (7 months ago)

      Thank you so much Rox-Anne!! That means a lot to me. It’s definitely not easy trying to look put-together each day during pregnancy. I definitely had more laid back days, especially at the end. 🙂

      Reply

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