Maternity Clothes 101

Maternity Clothes 101

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with maternity clothes. I’m so grateful to have things that actually fit over my growing bump, but at the same time I feel very limited in what I can wear, and getting dressed every morning is a huge challenge. Well, most mornings I opt for yoga pants and a loose top, so let me restate that: Getting dressed every time I have to leave the house is a challenge.

Luckily, I’ve navigated the maternity clothes scene for the last few months, and figured out what you actually need, what you can skip, and what you can just size up on when it comes to regular clothes. Maternity pieces can be expensive, so I suggest only investing in certain things that you really need.

Note that I have yet to find good shorts or swimwear, so send your recs please!

The Essentials

There are certain things that are very helpful to have, and some that you don’t need to spend your hard-earned money on. Based on my personal experience, here are my top maternity clothing essentials.

Jeans: I pretty much live in my maternity jeans for date nights, hang outs with friends, and everything in between. I have probably tried on over 20 different brands and have only found one that works for my body. My mom gave me a dark pair for Christmas and I bought myself a white pair. They’re expensive but I wear them daily so to me, they’re worth it.

With maternity jeans you can either buy low rise or a “hidden belly” which basically has a lot of fabric on the top that covers your belly. I prefer this option because they’re insanely comfortable and hold everything in.

Tank Tops: I wear long maternity/nursing tank tops under cardigans and also under thinner shirts and sweaters. My favorite so far is this one from Boob Designs because of how comfortable it is and how great it looks on my belly. I have a few from H&M that I like as well, but aren’t as great quality. I suggest investing in a white one, black one, and neutral one so you’re covered.

These will come in handy when the baby comes because they all have removable nursing straps.

Leggings: I’ve also tried multiple brands of leggings, and have sadly found that I don’t like any of the maternity ones. They’re either too thick or completely see through. I recently purchased a pair of lululemon Align Pants and they’re money for pregnant bellies. I ended up buying my usual size and they fit perfectly, look super flattering, and never feel too tight in the stomach. The amount of stretch is insane! I bought the cropped and long ones because I wear them so often.

Tees: Get a bunch of plain (and striped, of course!) short and long sleeved tees. I bought like seven of these from Old Navy that I use often and they’re all under $20 (my favorite is the scoop neck in black and navy stripe), but my favorite ones are looser like this striped one that I wear constantly. As far as tighter shirts go, this one in stripe has been my go-to lately. It fits really well and the scoop neck is feminine and pretty. I also have the tank version for under cardigans and working out.

Bras: At this point, underwires are just not even close to comfortable. Luckily buying in a nursing bra early is a smart investment because you’ll use it during pregnancy for comfort and then post-baby for nursing. I pretty much live in this sports bra that is also a nursing bra. It’s insanely comfortable. I also love this non-sports bra version.

Non-Maternity Clothes you Can Wear

Long sweaters: I have a few thin, long sweaters that still fit, and they’re my favorite casual thing to wear when it’s cool. This one is $39 and I bought it in black and grey at the very beginning of my pregnancy when I was just looking a little bloated. They’ve probably been the biggest staple in my maternity wardrobe so far! They’re really soft and look quite flattering.

Dresses: If you go with a simple, loose shift dress, you can pull it off for a while. I’m seven months in and still wearing this dress constantly (I have it in coral). I sized up and it looks great.

Maxi Dresses: No need to size up in looser maxi dresses. I’m still wearing a bunch from last summer! If you like that fitted-to-your-belly look, invest in a maternity maxi. This one from Old Navy is affordable and flattering (see me wearing it here). I also just love this dress in all four colors. I have it in blue and white.

A few fun pieces

You’re pregnant for a long time, and it’s easy to get sick of the few pieces of maternity clothes you probably have already. You don’t need a full on new wardrobe, but pick 3-4 of the pieces below to round out your looks.

Dresses: If you’re pregnant now through summer months, I suggest getting a few cute dresses.

Blouses: I love loose, silky blouses, and although some of my old ones still fit, the loose ones made for maternity wear just look better. I just bought this one from ASOS that I wear over a white tank. It looks super cute!

Sweaters: This sweater (also for nursing) has been one of my favorite maternity purchases because it really hides everything well. On days where I don’t feel like flaunting my belly, it’s a go-to for sure. I wore it to lunch with a friend who is nursing yesterday, and she bought it on the spot!

Maternity Brands I love

AG Jeans: I can’t stress enough how much their maternity jeans have saved me. They’re super comfortable and very flattering. I wear them every day. I have this dark pair and this white pair. I really want this distressed pair too but can’t justify spending that much money on them right now.

Hatch Collection: Their pieces are looser and flowy which I’m definitely more into. I wear this striped tee at least twice a week and am now kicking myself for not buying it in black too! It’s definitely on the pricier side, but I promise it’s worth the investment. Side note, Lands’ End recently sent me this tunic which is only $39 and looks almost identical. It’s non maternity but I sized up and it looks great (see it on me here).

Seraphine: Everything from Seraphine is pretty and feminine, and most of it also moonlights as nursing pieces too. You’ve seen me in this dress (here), but this one on sale is at the top of my wish list!

Ingrid & Isabel: I really love all of their basics that I’ve tried so far. I have this striped scoop neck tee  (seen here) and this tank top (also comes in solids here) that I layer with quite often.

Boob Designs: Everything they make is maternity slash nursing so you get double use out of it. I mentioned this tank top above and highly recommend buying a few. I also have and adore this dress which is a fun piece for summer. You can see it on me here.

Pink Blush: An amazing reader introduced me to this brand and I’m obsessed. The floral dress in this post is from there. The prices are great and they look way nicer in person than I expected considering how cheap they are. Plus they have about 8 million dresses and tops!

Old Navy: Great for basics like tees and cotton dresses. The price is definitely right.

ASOS: For trendier pieces that fit a lot better than you’d think, ASOS Maternity is the place to go. Their sizing isn’t always right, so I order two of each item and return the size that doesn’t fit.

Did I miss anything? Have more questions? Ask below and I’ll answer if I can!

Pink Blush Floral Dress c/o / BaubleBar Necklace


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  1. Alex said:

    I have been LIVING in align pants from lulu my whole pregnancy! So supportive and comfortable. I will definitely check out the boob tank tops, thanks! Also looking for swimwear and shorts recommendations so I’ll be interested to see what other readers recommend! XOXO

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • YES! They’re the best. Currently wearing them on an airplane and so glad I did.

      4.27.17 · Reply
  2. Taylor Cannon said:

    That dress that you have on is so cute! While I am not expecting any time soon, I am definitely going to save this post for future reference.
    Taylor |

    4.27.17 · Reply
  3. Elizabeth Oliveto said:

    That dress is so cute on you! Definitely a list I’ll keep in mind for the future!
    Xo, Elizabeth

    4.27.17 · Reply
  4. Dana Mannarino said:

    Confession: I’ve totally (accidentally) purchased a maternity sweater from Gap once. And I still wear it all the time! Also, I feel like maternity clothes have gotten so much cuter over the years. Whenever I’m browsing ASOS, I always see fun maternity clothes in the mix!

    Pink Champagne Problems

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • Hahah I love that 🙂 ASOS has the cutest stuff.

      4.27.17 · Reply
  5. leah cillo said:

    I actually love the pair of maternity leggings I bought from Target and lucked out by finding some cute maternity sweaters on clearance there a few weeks ago! I just purchased a pair of yoga pants and shorts from Old Navy and i am hoping they fit because I was having a hard time finding shorts I liked. I’m not a huge fan of the maternity leggings I got from H&M because they are very see through and so hard to get on. They are more like tights than leggings. Thanks for all the recommendations!

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • I didn’t love the shorts or yoga pants from Old Navy, but I’m curious to hear about your experience. The pants were totally see through on me when I bent over!

      4.27.17 · Reply
      • leah cillo said:

        Oh no! I read the reviews on the shorts and it said they run big so i am hoping the xs fits but i will report back on the shorts and pants. I couldn’t pass it up it was only $30 for the shorts, pants, and a cute maternity dress!

        4.27.17 · Reply
  6. Katherine Ghirardelli said:

    Have you looked at Target? They have a bunch of great brands for super cheap. I lived in their Liz Lange Maternity dresses-I was super skeptical but they fit great, are basic cotton but can look dressier. not sure if they still carry them-this was 2 years ago but worth a shot! They also used to have Ingrid and Isabel for target and their leggings were my favorite!

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • Jenny said:

      I found the Ingrid & Isabel workout leggings from Target to be very comfy — I like the full belly panel and low crossover back. However, my husband told me (of course AFTER we left the gym) that they were see through! Beware if you use them for workouts.

      4.27.17 · Reply
  7. Caitlin said:

    This is super helpful! I’ve saved a few links for when the time comes for me. I absolutely love that the tank top and sports bra you linked are made of sustainable materials!

    4.27.17 · Reply
  8. Julie Chasey said:

    Did you shop Boob online? Wondering how they’re international shipping is, they have a ton of cute stuff!

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • Online, yes! Not sure about international shipping, so sorry!

      4.27.17 · Reply
  9. Anne Fahlgren said:

    This is awesome! I am going to share this with a few of my pregnant friend. Just adding my two cents on the maternity jeans front. I am pretty tall (5’10”) with a really long torso, and I carried high and straight out. Those full panel pants were so uncomfortable because they never fully covered my belly and would cut me in a weird place and leave a mark. I loved the low rise style because of this.

    4.27.17 · Reply
  10. Elizabeth said:

    Great suggestions! I’m almost 37 weeks pregnant and a lawyer – so dresses have been my go-to for work. I really like Seraphine and Isabella Oliver (although a few of IO’s were a bit too long for me – I’m 5’3″ – and needed to be hemmed). I’ve been able to wear most of my non-maternity cardigans and blazers over the dresses, just without buttoning them. Colorful scarves and fun necklaces have been my favorite accessories, especially since none of my rings have fit my fingers for the last couple of months, and in the past week my feet have started to swell so I’m down to 2 pairs of plain ballet flats.

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • It sounds like you have the work looks nailed down! And they sound quite chic too 🙂

      4.28.17 · Reply
  11. Katie Hilferty said:

    Seraphine has great swimwear too

    4.27.17 · Reply
  12. Joanna said:

    I bought this nursing tank in like every color and can’t recommend it enough. Very affordable, a great layering piece, and allows you to nurse without exposing your entire stomach.

    4.27.17 · Reply
  13. Abby said:

    Last summer when I was pregnant I bought a couple pairs of the J. Crew boardwalk shorts with the elastic waistband. They fit great under the belly and were super comfortable (I was on bedrest so wasn’t moving around at all and these were really comfortable to be horizontal in all day). I sized up just in case but probably didn’t need to. One of the pairs actually fits me fine now so I can wear them again this summer.

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • Great idea! They weren’t too tight on your thighs though? That’s what I’m worried about.

      4.28.17 · Reply
  14. ChristinaBakes said:

    Did you get your prepregnancy size in the AG maternity jeans? Thanks!

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • Alex said:

      I went down a size and still found them to be stretchy

      4.28.17 · Reply
    • I went down a size as well! But I’d order your true size and one smaller then send one back so you can try them both.

      4.28.17 · Reply
  15. Meghan Keleher said:

    I’m petite but curvy so dressing my pregnant body posed a bit of a challenge but was definitely workable! My favorite pieces (jeans, pants for work, and a maxi dress) were from LOFT since they make petite maternity sizes. For leggings, I was disappointed in a lot of the maternity offerings as well, so I ended up sizing up in the Zella Live-In Leggings from Nordstrom and they were perfect. Most of my maternity clothes fit until the final four weeks or so, and then I ended up wearing the same few pieces over and over again because I was so enormous!

    4.27.17 · Reply
    • Oh interesting! I haven’t tried LOFT yet but just looked online and the selection looks great.

      4.28.17 · Reply
  16. I tried H&M which was great for months 3-5, but they don’t stretch much past that. The quality, like you said, also isn’t that great.
    I’ve seen a lot of old navy items online, but I’ve been hesitant to buy anything. Thank you for the suggestion.

    4.28.17 · Reply
    • No problem. Let me know if you like any of them!

      4.28.17 · Reply
  17. Congratulations! And good luck with shopping 🙂

    4.28.17 · Reply
  18. They’re the absolute best. I def need another pair!

    I haven’t tried Blanqi and hadn’t even heard of them, but they look great.

    I love that black swimsuit, great find! I’m buying it now. THANK YOU!! I’m not a prego bikini gal. Way too self conscious 🙂 I love when other people do it but I just can’t.

    4.28.17 · Reply
  19. Kaitlin said:

    I literally lived in the Lulu Align pants in my 3rd trimester! Actually still living in them 3 months post partum – I’ve bought 2 more pairs since baby was born. I also love the Cake maternity/nursing tanks. I own several at this point, and think they’re well worth the price. They fit through the end of pregnancy and have been great afterwards for smoothing things out ;). They also have the added benefit of providing extra coverage while nursing. And I mainly wore the pull on shorts from J Crew last summer, though I probably would have needed to go up at least 2 sizes to fit later in pregnancy.

    5.1.17 · Reply