Even for the most experienced shopaholics, buying maternity clothing isn't necessarily straightforward. Instead of trying to fit one body, you're stocking up on things that will work for the next five to six to eight months, while your figure is constantly changing. There will be surprises - even your ankles could change and your cleavage might morph from A-cup to pin-up. On top of that, comfort is a priority.
So we asked our mommy friends what they really wore and loved during their pregnancies. We came up with two lists - the clothes you have to have (you'll want to wear them all the time) and those you want to have (they may not be essential, but you’ll be so glad you’ve got them). Try these on for size.
YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE...
So-forgiving stretchy fabric panels make a good pair of maternity jeans a comfy lifesaver. If you wear jeans all the time in regular life, you don’t want to have to give them up like you did your rosé.
“I spent serious money on a pair of designer maternity jeans ... I don't think I've ever spent that much on regular jeans, " says Virginia S. "You really, really cannot fake it with jeans when you're pregnant, and these were so super comfortable but also cute - they made a huge difference. Those elastic waist panels are the best.”
Go ahead and think outside the denim box - black or patterned jeans could add much-needed variety to your closet.
During pregnancy, our mom friends say their dresses did double-duty for work and lounging. Some loved their loose tunic-y shifts, while others swore by long, flow-y maxi styles - you'll have to try on a few to see what works best for you. Asymmetrical hems are a fun and stylish detail that distracts the eye, while the empire waist is definitely flattering to your baby bod. A key component: a bit of stretch for comfort. Doll this up for date night with some sparkly accessories and fun flats.
This multifuctional piece (that coordinates with everything) is a crucial building block for your maternity wardrobe, which will continue to work after the baby arrives.
“I lived in a pair of maternity jeans and a black, stretchy, long sleeve crossover v-neck t-shirt, " says Jen. L. "I liked that outfit so much, I got married in it (at 7 months and in Vegas!).”
Wear your black tee solo or under a cardigan or jacket. Whether it’s V-neck or crossover, short sleeve or long, pick a made-for-maternity style to avoid the front inching up toward your expanding waistline.
Long tank top
Before you had a bump, this was probably already a style staple. Pop your long tank under a sweater and wear it with a skirt or jeans. Pick colors you wear already, but we like black because, with black pants or skirt, it creates a slim line, and it’s easily dressed up or down.
Loose, flowing drape-y cardigan
Whether it has long front panels or a pretty cascade of pleats, your cardi works best if it’s made of a three-season cotton or poly blend. It’s going to take you from those first few “Is that a baby bump?” months well into your due date zone ... and beyond.
Accessories such as scarves and jewelry
You’re probably going to end up re-using items of clothing more frequently than you did before pregnancy. Bright scarves, statement necklaces, dangling earrings, bold cuffs - these can work wonders in camouflaging the fact that you’re wearing the same top as you did on Monday. And you'll wear this long after you deliver.
Chances are you can get away with your regular go-to panties and bra, at least for a few months. But once things are really starting to grow, they’re not going to cut it. Go under-tummy for boy shorts or thongs, or get full-on granny panties for extra comfort. We like boy shorts with fold-over tops because they provide coverage in back without cutting across the belly.
And, consider getting a bra fitting, since your breast size is changing. On top, we like stretchy-but-supportive sports bras that don’t crowd too close to the neck in front or back. Get some without an underwire for ultracomfort.
YOU'LL WANT TO HAVE...
A dark color makes this office-friendly, while sailor stripes make it weekend-fun. Look for split sides that will keep this fitting for months.
Throw them on under a skirt and slide on a pair of cute ankle boots, because who can stand to wear tights when they're pregnant? They may become your uniform, since you can also lounge around in them at home with a tee or wear them under a big shirt while you run errands.
Yoga pants are for those days when you want to leave the house but can’t really imagine getting dressed. Oh, and, of course, you’re still exercising, right?
Pair those yoga pants with a matching hoodie - you deserve to feel put-together even on a super casual day! Instead of grabbing an XXL one from a guy’s closet, pick a hoodie designed for a growing belly with cute details like contrasting seams, piping, or pockets.
Oversize button-down shirt
Wear a classic, menswear-style shirt with leggings and you won’t feel like you’re always swallowed up in your old school tee shirts. (Go Tigers!) We love crisp shirting stripes, chambray, or even denim. Rule of thumb: A hint of stretch in the fabric won’t hurt.
Stretchy pencil skirt
This is where a maternity style will so be your friend, as opposed to leaving a regular skirt unzipped and hoping no one will notice under your voluminous topper. This is for all the ladies who miss wearing fitted clothing since they started to show.
Look for a skirt that hits below the knee, and wear it with a tunic or tee and loose cardigan for a cute work look. This could even be a fun baby shower outfit, with a loose blouse in a print or solid color.
If your pregnancy coincides at all with cool weather, consider a poncho: It’s loose on everybody. It’s also something you can wear before, during, and after baby. And, luckily for today’s pregnant ladies, ponchos are very on-trend right now. For a bold statement, go with a rich color (burgundy, cobalt blue) or try a pattern like (flatteringly) angled wide stripes. A loose cowl or v-neck looks great, and is not at all confining.
Whether it’s a blown-up floral print or a busy Fair Isle knit pattern, this is one piece that makes an outfit. If it’s dressy, throw a silky kimono over sleek black pants and a tank/tee. With the right shoes and jewelry, it’ll be spot-on for a wedding or party. If it’s a little more sweater-y and casual, you can wear it with boots and jeans to work or to brunch. Pick one you love (don’t be afraid of brights or patterns!) and you’ll be able to keep wearing it forever.
What is your favorite piece of maternity clothing?
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