I'm dressing for two now!
January 9, 2014 9:01 AM   Subscribe

I need some pregnant-lady style inspiration. Looking for stores, blogs, general advice.

(Anonymous because I've only told a few people about my pregnancy so far.)

I've got a couple weeks left in the first trimester and all my regular clothes still fit just fine, but I'll have to figure out maternity clothes at some point. Normally I love shopping, but I hate the idea of buying a lot of clothes I'll only wear for a few months. And I'm not inspired by the dozens of empire-waist jersey dresses that seem to make up the bulk of most maternity-wear stores.

I admit I'm not very stylish, but I admire people who experiment with their clothing and have a distinctive style. I'm generally casual and comfort-driven, and my default outfit is something like this or this. I like girly dresses and shop at places like Anthropologie and ModCloth, but I love yoga/workout clothes and would wear outfits like this all the time if I could.

Are there any good resources you can recommend? I'm looking for places to shop, but blogs, shopping/dressing advice, and examples of real-life outfits would be even more helpful. And anything that focuses on clothes I can still wear after the baby is born would be awesome. I'd like crafty/DIY resources, too, though I'm probably not going to be sewing myself a new wardrobe.

Thanks in advance, stylish MeFi moms!
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Are you in the U.S., anon? Believe it or not, the Liz Lange Maternity stuff at Target is SUPER-cute... it makes me jealous that I'm NOT pregnant! Their stuff trends towards the comfy/yoga-y side of the spectrum (soft knits, neutrals, etc.), so I wouldn't attend the Met Ball in it, but it's perfectly presentable and NOT stereotypical "giant tent-like tunic" nonsense.

Bonus: they constantly, constantly have that stuff on sale. I'd probably stock up on basics there, then augment with a few REALLY nice pieces from a higher-end maternity store.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:14 AM on January 9, 2014

What is your original size? Would going up a size or two put you in plus sizes? I am going to give you some example vendors that make cute clothing into plus sizes.

My suggestion for you, if you like comfy clothes and leggings, would be to simply size up loose fitting conventional tops and wear things like tunics, etc that provide good coverage as the belly expands. You will get a better selection this way. This is a Canadian example, but this tunic is super cute, I get tons of compliments on it and it would carry me through a pregnancy well. Tunics do not need to look like tents!

Also if you are OK with dresses and you're just looking for something more fashionable, you could try a vendor like Cherry Velvet plus. Though most of their dresses are not jersey and will not expand in the bust. This dress would easily accommodate a growing belly.

It might be unrealistic to buy now some clothes that will carry you through your due date. It's winter now and you'll be due in July. There is not a lot of intersect between my January and July wardrobes.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:31 AM on January 9, 2014

I had a really hard time spending money on maternity clothes, since I was only going to have one and I just could not justify expensive, temporary clothing. So I really looked. If you have a Kohl's near you, I found that they had more cute, affordable maternity stuff than any other chain store (including Target). Also: some Old Navy stores have maternity sections! That was great for stocking up on stuff like t-shirts and casual pants/skirts that were also cute (and cheap).

Also, if you can stand it, Craigslist has constant maternity clothes sales, you could probably find cute stuff that way really cheap, but the hassle might not be worth it.

Also be prepared to buy ANOTHER set of clothes for your post-baby body, I had a period when none of my pre-pregnancy stuff fit anymore (kid just turned 3 and I am only now getting back into it, sigh) and of course I couldn't wear the maternity stuff after the first couple months either.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:31 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Kate Bryan at The Small Things Blog pretty extensively blogged her pregnancy, complete with style/clothing recommendations/reviews. Her style is similar to the images you linked.
posted by coast99 at 9:32 AM on January 9, 2014

Maternity clothing is a trauma-inducing selection of big prices on absolutely appalling fabric. Look for anything non-maternity that you can engineer to work for you -- larger sizes, stretchy knits in "tall" sizes, stuff you might not normally consider like bolero jackets, things from men's sections...

Tops with added length are usually nice postpartum while you're waiting to deflate. Lands' End usually has a big selection of not particularly fashionable but not particularly horrible tunic-length knit shirts, usually in a decent-weight cotton, with linen offerings for summer, that are nicer than mall-grade artificial fibre stuff. Do prioritize fabric quality as the limited maternity wardrobe crossed with infant messiness is really hard on clothing.

Totally agree with "be prepared to buy ANOTHER set of clothes for your post-baby body" -- even if you are the exact same weight, you may find things have re-distributed and a lot of your old clothes won't quite work anymore. Also: shoe size can change. And then change back, or maybe not. And bra size will probably be an ongoing issue.
posted by kmennie at 9:34 AM on January 9, 2014

I've had hit or miss luck with the Liz Lange stuff too. For some reason it's adorable when I'm not pregnant, but kind of meh when I am. May be more related to hormones, I guess.

Asos and TopShop both have some more trendy fun maternity pieces and I found I wore the Asos stuff all the time for work this last pregnancy (delivered 3 months ago). Free shipping on returns too, which was so helpful!

Old Navy and Gap are good for basics like jeans or tops you're going to wear for more casual things, or for basic dresses.

Congratulations and have fun!
posted by goggie at 9:35 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

36 weeks pregnant and wearing the requisite third trimester uniform: yoga pants and a ubiquitous striped old navy maternity t-shirt. I'm going to say in advance that I was really, really resistant to buying cheap clothes from old navy and wearing yoga pants or leggings as if they're pants but, um, things get desperate by the last month. I'd stock up on some now. In general, old navy is great and cheap. Check their sale items and get on their mailing list for coupons; you should never have to pay more than $6 for a cotton maternity shirt. Also, I'd highly recommend shopping e-bay for maternity jeans and cords from The Gap, which are wonderful and soft and comfy, but overpriced in store/online. And Target is good, but their in-store selection almost always sucks compared to what's available online.

That being said, Asos Maternity has the absolute best balance between cheap and stylish. I grabbed a few dresses and t-shirts from them in the first trimester and they're still in heavy rotation--my only wearable "cool" clothes right now, really. And they mostly rely on very stretchy fabrics that should work post-partum in a pinch; very few of their clothes look like maternity clothes.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:36 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can always use a Bellaband (or something similar) so that way you can stay in your current pants for a little bit longer.

For tops, my best purchases were some v-neck t-shirts from The Gap. I would layer them under my normal cardigans (unbuttoned). The bonus was that they were great shirts for nursing after the baby was born and I still wear some of them a year and a half later. I found similar shirts from Old Navy but those were too thin.
posted by statsgirl at 9:42 AM on January 9, 2014

I am 20 weeks right now and just into maternity clothes. I feel your pain. I tried the belly bands, but they just didn't work for me. I didn't like the feeling of walking around with my pants unzipped.

I bought these corduroy pants in both black and charcoal and I absolutely love them. They are a little spendy but totally worth it. (I also splurged on some $200 designer maternity jeans. Less sure those are worth it. But they were a birthday present.) They come in petite, which mattered to me, but there are non-petite versions too:


I also have been trying to buy pretty things in forgiving profiles, like this dress from Anthro (which I would wear every single day if I could, it makes me feel so lovely):

My main recommendation would to be splurge on pants and save on tops. I tried on some Old Navy maternity jeans and they made me feel so dumpy, I cried.
posted by missjenny at 10:00 AM on January 9, 2014

Ooooh oh this is my favorite question. But there are a few necessary questions.

(1) What climate do you live in?
(2) What size (range) are you normally? (this determines really if you can get away with "sizing up" or not, and where you have to shop)
(3) What's your lifestyle? Do you work in an office, are you mostly at home, do you do fancy socializing?

I have two small children that were both born in September, and I live in a really hot climate. With my first I was working in an office and had to buy horrible unflattering cheapo maternity work pants off the clearance rack at the Motherhood in the mall (not recommended). With my second I was staying home with my first and I mostly lived in tunics and leggings and oversized tank tops, and a couple pairs of secondhand nice maternity jeans (recommended).

So the advice will vary accordingly. But generally speaking, leggings and tunics are absolutely your friend. Get anything non-maternity-specific that you can. Drapey, comfy, stretchy clothes in nice fabrics and textures will be your friend both when you're huge and uncomfortable and after you have the baby (and you're still probably kind of huge and uncomfortable). Anything with pleats or ruffles or itchy material is going to be your enemy. Trust me.

SO: First. Simple ruched tops in a bunch of basic colors are your friend (stock up, I still wear mine and the baby's over a year old). Crap like this is absolutely not your friend. Buy a handful of them (short sleeved).

Second: Layers. Depending on how you carry, you might be able to get away with non-maternity or upsized cardigans and leggings for a good while. Mix and match these with your basic tee shirts, add colorful scarves/earrings/whatever you like for variety, and it will be less obvious that you have been wearing the same 4 shirts for 4 straight months.

Third: Pants. You need to be more picky with your actual pants - as someone said above, this is where you don't want to skimp (it's really easy to go into shlob territorry with bad ones). Hunt down at least one really good, awesome pair of darker wash maternity jeans that are just a little bit big right now. Don't skimp on this. Go used if necessary but find something awesome, because you will be wearing them a LOT. Mine were a used pair of these from Goodwill.
posted by celtalitha at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

35 weeks pregnant here. And running out of clothing to wear. Currently flopping in my bathrobe, because WHY TRY HARDER.

The only maternity pants I've found that I didn't hate, were secondhand Liz Lange from a maternity consignment shop. They're a bit too long, but they have pockets and look fine. Also, when I wear them, I don't look like I'm trying to be Seeeeeexxxxy Pregnant Lady. I just look like I'm wearing pants. Warning on Target maternity clothing: Every pregnant woman around me is wearing at least some of the currently-available Target clothing, so it's like we're in uniform.

Also, I agree with others that Old Navy really doesn't suck for this problem. Almost all of my maternity clothing has been secondhand, but I've gotten a lot of mileage out of some long Old Navy shirts that I pulled from one of their sale piles. I'll almost certainly be able to wear these shirts afterward, too. They're just stretchy, soft, relatively plain material. And it's hard to get too mad at myself for getting shirts from the Old Navy sale pile, when they were only about $5 apiece. At the last one of their sales, I saw a few wrap dresses that would have definitely worked, and they weren't even maternity dresses. I only didn't get them because I look crappy in the colors that were available.

I also converted a previously-unloved short sweater dress into a maternity sweater, and that worked out well. And some of my old surplice-style shirts were wearable until just recently. People have commented that I looked cute while wearing that stuff, so maybe that kind of thing is an option.

And despite that my pregnant belly is GIGANTIC compared to the rest of me (which has gained very little noticeable weight, making me look kind of cartoonish), several of my pre-pregnancy dresses still fit. Most of them are empire-waisted, yes, but not everything with an empire waist is that ugly maternity crap you see in every store.

This all sounds terribly humdrum, but many of my friends think I'm all Stylish Pregnant Lady for some reason, even though I'm just wearing the same stuff + a few items from maternity consignment stores + Old Navy blah shirts.
posted by Coatlicue at 10:07 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

For general style inspiration, I've posted this website before but it's because I love it so much: Ain't No Mom Jeans (link filtered to maternity-related posts). The first few on that page aren't so relevent but if you go back a bit there are a lot of good tidbits and suggestions.
posted by celtalitha at 10:09 AM on January 9, 2014

I enjoyed Old Navy stuff, particularly the maxi dresses for summer.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2014

That sort of layery look often works well during pregnancy; A: because hot flash, and B: because you can wear your scarves and open cardigans that don't button over the belly, over the same black tee every day, and still feel like yourself.

My local maternity options were pretty minimal. The best place turned out to be the maternity sections of the local kid's consignment store. So I'd say, go there first, and get every inoffensive piece of clothing you can find. Likewise, talk to any recently-pregnant friends, who will probably be thrilled to clear out the junk.

The second thing you might be able to do is go to whatever nearby stores stock those very thin, knit, slightly-long shirts (my Old Navy always has them). A few of those, up a size, lasted me until month 7 or 8 and miraculously shrank back down again to remain slightly sloppy staples.

I spent the most time and money finding a few good pairs of pants. The kind that fit under the belly worked better in the second trimester, and the kind that go over the belly worked better in the third (though I had a late fall baby when the extra layer was desirable).
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2014

ASOS Maternity was awesome for me when I was pregnant.
posted by erst at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2014

I hope this isn't too unresponsive, but I am going to strongly recommend you get yourself at least one really ugly but comfortable, mumu style maternity dress. Particularly if it's going to be hot out when you're pregnant. Not one of those cute little hipster mumus, either, but a full on long mumu like these. I'd recommend cotton. Your body changes so quickly when you're pregnant that you don't really have time to adjust your body awareness to avoid things riding up, falling down, boobs popping out, etc., so having a big old tent that you know will cover you without having to be too vigilant about it, and also let you feel a little bit of breeze when you need it is a really welcome break.

When I was pregnant about a thousand years ago, someone gifted me with the ugliest, most ridiculous mumu type maternity dress I had ever seen. I was absolutely horrified and sure I'd never be caught dead in such a thing, but it ended up being indispensable. When I was feeling a little uncomfortable (hot, itchy, nauseated, or just really tired), I could put that thing on and at least not have to worry about clothing rubbing up against me.

Obviously, you can probably find something that's a little less ugly, but I ended up appreciating the aggressive ugliness too, because it seemed to convey to others that it would be a bad idea to give me any crap. My family and friends definitely noticed that that was my signal that they should be very careful around me, but also, if I wore it out to run errands, strangers didn't try to touch my belly or ask me how babby is formed the way they did when I was wearing something more socially appropriate. It was like a big old "Keep off my Ass" sign that I could wear when I didn't have the patience for other people.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:59 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I was visibly pregnant, the public goodwill towards me went up like, 4,000%... on many an occasion, I dressed like a homeless person and was accepted and welcomed everywhere, and this was in NYC which is NOT a family-oriented place. Pregnancy is a great time to take it easy :)

Having said that, there is this thing called the belly band that will allow you to keep using your regular pants through the awkward stage where you are too pregnant for your old size but not yet pregnant enough for special maternity pants. You simply unzip your pants and cover up with the band for a neat layered look.

Also, I gave away some really nice, expensive clothes because even a couple months after birth I was still a size larger than before - only to regret it when I was back to my old size a year later. Judging from my own cluelessness and the public reaction to Kate Middleton's post-pregnancy body, a lot of women are not aware that they are likely to look semi-pregnant for up to a year after birth!

Also, keep in mind that your legs/feet will likely get quite swollen towards the end so you want to plan your outfits around comfortable flats.
posted by rada at 11:09 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

A little over 35 weeks pregnant, and hands down my favorite purchase has been a pair of black stretchy skinny jeans from Kohls, along with a $35 pair of slouchy boots from Target. I throw on some shirt and a longer non-maternity cardigan with that and I'm ready to go. Most of my other things have come from places others have named, like ASOS and Old Navy/Gap. Another place to check occasionally is Thyme maternity, which is sold through Babies R Us in the US; they have my favorite jeans. They have really good prices, although they're often out of stock on some sizes. I even found a few cute things through JCPenney.

Number one thing to realize is that you're going to have to order things online and return what doesn't work. It's near impossible to find things in-person. However, places like Target, ASOS, Old Navy/Gap, and Kohls will have free shipping and free returns.
posted by bizzyb at 11:34 AM on January 9, 2014

Thumb's up to Old Navy, Gap, & Target maternity clothes. Thumb's up to spending on a couple of pairs of maternity pants -- black slacks for work, jeans for everywhere else -- and then getting a bunch of cheap tops. Anthropologie has a lot of loose-fitting tops and dresses that will get you most of the way through. Tunics are your friend.

One additional tip: if you're planning to nurse the baby, look now for tops that have buttons, snaps, or a neckline that's easy to pull down. You'll still want to wear loose-fitting tops for awhile, and button-front tunics or shirts are easier, cheaper, and more stylish than those damn nursing tops. No reason to buy a whole separate nursing wardrobe from your maternity wardrobe...especially because shopping is a special circle of hell once you have a newborn.
posted by equipoise at 12:07 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might get really lucky and not show too much until your 3rd trimester. That's what happened to me. Until then, when my pants were just a bit tight but I wasn't in full-on pregnant belly stage, I used a waist-extender on my regular pants. It's basically a piece of elastic with a buttonhole on one end (to attach to the original button on your pants) and a button on the other end (to attach to the original buttonhole on the other side). I wore the looser of the shirts already in my wardrobe.

When I finally needed actual maternity clothes, I mostly shopped the clearance racks at Destination Maternity. The Target brand just never did it for me. I also looked at Kohl's & Old Navy.

Since I only had to wear maternity clothes for 3-4 months, I took a hard look at what I really needed. I bought two pairs of work pants, and 4 work tops (I work a 4-day week). I layered with existing roomy cardigans that I already had, and left them unbuttoned when necessary. For my off-work time, I got one pair of maternity jeans, and then just used the yoga pants I already had. I bought a couple of casual maternity tops, and again, used the roomier of the tops I already had.

Since that time I've discovered that stores that sell used kids clothes also usually sell maternity clothes that are in good shape. You could also join a local moms group on FB, or your local La Leche League; people are always posting their gently worn maternity clothes for sale, trade, or even sometimes to give away.

posted by vignettist at 12:20 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

One simple tip that got me through some of the worse days: If you buy (or save from gifts) a few long ribbons, you can use them with any oversized t-shirt to make it prettier - tie it just under your bustline (with the tie in back) and it creates a simple Empire look that accentuates your belly without being all froofy the way some Empire-waist tops can do.

I also loved wide-leg drawstring pants (non-maternity, like these). Comfy enough for doctor's appointments, but still stylish enough for the office. I would find them at places like these
posted by Mchelly at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2014


I'm 28 weeks pregnant. I've been pretty conservative with my maternity clothes mostly buying a mix of basics from Old Navy and Motherhood Maternity. One newbie mistake: I started out with a couple pair of Old Navy jeans but their belly panel thingy at the top of the pants got way too tight toward the middle of my 2nd trimester. Probably this isn't the case for everyone but I wouldn't buy their pants again. I ended up having to get a couple more pairs of jeans/pants from Motherhood Maternity which have a stretchier belly panel.

ON has been good for cheap tops, skirts and dresses (I have been living in a $12 black dress that I got off their website).

I've been able to make most of my pre-pregnancy cardigans (the buttonless kind) work throughout the pregnancy, as well as some of the stretchy, longer tops I own.

I got an extender for my bra at first. Eventually you need to size up though!
posted by medeine at 1:45 PM on January 9, 2014

I'm 17 weeks, and maternity jeans are so comfortable right now. I wore my regular jeans as long as I could, but maternity jeans (at least mine from Macy's) have this stretchy band at the top so they're like yoga pants but look more put-together. I thought I'd hate them but I don't. I love them, and we're friends.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:49 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW people sell job lots of maternity clothing on Ebay (like maybe 20 items of size whatever maternity wear that isn't needed post-partum). It can be a good way to obtain a bunch of basics in your size at low cost and then you can just shop for fill-ins that appease your style cravings.

And congrats!
posted by DarlingBri at 3:23 PM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't have a lot of advice. I tried to buy things that weren't specifically maternity (though my best skirt was this long slender stretchy explicitly maternity skirt that made me feel comfortable and attractive). But I ended up with only a handful of outfits (I never found pants really that worked -- but I'm six foot tall and have trouble even not pregnant) and am sick of most of those pieces. I do strongly recommend not skimping on bras if you can. I used extenders for a while, but I ended up having to get new bras twice during pregnancy (then again post partum). It's SO nice to have a properly fitting bra and did wonders for me not feeling dumpy or unattractive.
posted by R343L at 4:03 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife bought a couple maternity tops that turn into nursing tops (thus justifying the expense) from this etsy store. She's in her third trimester and wears them all the time.
posted by EtTuHealy at 5:26 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Style blogger Cardigan Junkie, who is pregnant, had this great post on maternity clothing. Gap, Topshop, and LOFT were her top picks.
posted by hush at 5:28 PM on January 9, 2014

I'm 22 weeks along and looking for inspiration too, and what I've been doing is searching on Pinterest for "maternity fashion" or "maternity style" or "bump style" and seeing what comes up.

Sometimes the photos have an accompanying blog post if you click through, which can be helpful too. I've seen a few "I avoided maternity clothes for my whole pregnancy" posts, which boggle my mind but apparently some people are able to do this successfully. I've also seen several "dress your bump" type posts (like this one or this one).

Your two outfit examples are perfect for adapting to maternity-wear, especially something like the second one with the tee/skirt/boots/cardigan - all you'd need to do is (maybe) get a maternity tee and (maybe) get a maternity skirt, like Old Navy's fold-over waistband ones. Presto!

Also, since you mentioned DIY solutions, Merrick's Art has several DIY posts, like this one about making your own maternity shorts/pants.
posted by meggan at 7:21 PM on January 9, 2014

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