Cover Image for Which fabric is best for maternity wear?

Which fabric is best for maternity wear?


Last Updated:

You probably imagined channelling Chrissy Tiegen or Kim Kardashian’s sultry pregnancy style. Who wouldn’t want to rock Christian Louboutins and a figure-hugging designer dress on their way to Starbucks? The truth is, pregnancy quickly becomes about comfort over style. As your body goes through changes during pregnancy, it’s important to choose the best fabric for your maternity wear.

What fabrics should you look for when it comes to maternity clothes?

The challenge for many of us is finding maternity clothing that is both comfortable and helps you feel like your best self throughout your journey. There are many maternity clothing options out there. Some are great while others not so great. It can be overwhelming to know what to look for when balancing both style and comfort. Additionally, being the smart cookie you are, you’ll want to buy pieces that grow with you and look good for longer. Fast fashion is out.

So, what to look for when it comes to which fabric is best for maternity wear?

Here’s our list so far:

Stretchy materials for your pregnancy journey

It’s widely known that you tend to “get bigger” as the day goes on. Whether it’s water retention, bloating or heat, that tight pencil skirt that fit snugly in the morning will probably be nothing less than annoying by 4pm. Avoid the frustration and be kind to yourself by looking for materials that have a good amount of stretch. Materials such as spandex, jersey, or knit are great options. There are lots of new blends of fabrics is best for maternity wear, including Tencel, cotton blends. There is also Modal, a synthetic fabric made from Beech trees.

As well as feeling luxurious and looking like high quality, these fabrics allow for flexibility and movement as your belly grows. Plus they will help to keep you comfortable throughout the day. Stretchy materials can also help to accommodate your changing body shape. They tend to move and adapt with you and can look incredibly flattering no matter your build or shape. 

Breathable fabrics

Pregnancy can make you feel hot and uncomfortable, even when the weather is cool. So it’s important to choose fabrics for maternity wear that allow for good airflow and ventilation. Look for lightweight and breathable options like cotton, linen, or bamboo. These materials will help to keep you cool and comfortable, even on the hottest days. We love lounging around in linen pyjamas when we’re at home. You can easily pair some luxe linen shorts with a matching shirt and sandals for effortless style. With so many designers embracing linen, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to matching sets, robes, or simple long sleeved shirts you can dress up or down in total comfort.  

Woman in white maternity linen pants
Discover linen clothes like these ASOS pants for any occasion.

Supportive fabrics that grow with you

As your belly grows, you may find that you need extra support to keep you feeling comfortable and confident. Materials like stretchy denim or thick jersey can provide a little extra hold – think pencil skirts that stretch over the bump or panel waisted maternity jeans that you can tie above or below the bellybutton – while still allowing for movement and flexibility. And that’s key (see: the 4pm bloat).

The best fabric for maternity wear can help to alleviate some of the pressure and strain that pregnancy can put on your body, especially as you get into the later stages where you might enjoy a little additional pain in the pelvis or hips. It’s important that as much as you want to look stylish, you’re also making for a more comfortable experience overall. You’ve got a lot going on right now, mamas. 

woman in side panel jeans
Check out Madewell denim and other supportive maternity jeans brands

Soft fabrics for extra comfort in maternity

Pregnancy can also bring on a lot of sensitivity, so it’s important to choose materials that are gentle on the skin. Take psoriasis for example. While the first burst of hormones in pregnancy can be a blessing for clear skin, flare ups can return with a vengeance in later months. You may be limited by what medications you can take while pregnant. So to reduce inflammation, opt for the most cooling, breathable non-inflammatory fabric options you can. Modal or bamboo jersey are known for their softness and comfort, while pure cotton and our trusty friend linen help to prevent irritation and discomfort. Bamboo can be particularly soothing if you have sensitive skin or are experiencing itchiness or stretch marks. 

Boody racerback dress black
Boody offers some of the most versatile bamboo pieces

As part of your journey into motherhood, maternity style can be an exciting prospect. Whether it’s discovering styles to highlight your gorgeous shape or simply make you feel good, consider materials that prioritise comfort. Look for stretchy, breathable, supportive, and soft materials to keep you comfortable and confident throughout your pregnancy.

And don’t be afraid to try out different options – everyone’s body is different. What works for one person may not work for another. The most important thing is to find materials that feel good to you. Even better, those that help you to feel comfortable and supported as your body changes. Remember, be kind to yourself and put your own wellbeing first. And it’s totally OK if that doesn’t include Louboutins!

What not to wear during pregnancy?

Gone are the days where women’s fashion promoted clothes that hid pregnancy. When it comes to maternity style, it’s best to avoid anything excessively tight. This includes tight belts, corsets, pants, shapewear and knee socks. If you wear restrictive shapewear, it’s a good idea to stop while you’re pregnant. These sorts of items can restrict blood flow to your baby bump, as well as restrict your movement and make you pretty uncomfortable. If shapewear is a part of your life, we recommend investing in some comfortable maternity compression wear like Spanx or Skims which are designed to breathe and grow with you.

Clothing hanging up on a rack
Add a few pieces of quality fabrics to your wardrobe to carry you through the seasons.

Can tight pants hurt a pregnant belly?

While there isn’t any scientific proof behind tight clothes hurting your baby, there is evidence that wearing tight pants in particular while pregnant can put you at risk for something called meralgia paresthetica. This condition is caused by compression of the nerve that provides sensations to the skin covering your thigh. At the very least, overly tight pants can inhibit movement during your day, when you exercise or in the heat. You risk chafing, rashes and generally being uncomfortable, which just isn’t worth it. You’re working hard enough as it is growing your little one!

Can I wear regular leggings during pregnancy?

I heard recently that the only time French women wear leggings are when they’re pregnant. It just goes to show that leggings are a modern day staple when it comes to pregnancy style. Not only are they easy to pull on and off, they are super comfortable. Better still, they can be dressed up with a blazer and loafers, or down with sneakers and a hoodie. The only thing to be mindful of is opting for pregnancy-specific leggings if you have varicose veins. Choosing the wrong leggings can irritate or exacerbate your varicose veins.

When do you start wearing maternity clothes?

Most women can wear their normal clothes for most of the first trimester or 14 weeks. I personally found that I was getting bloated after 7 or 8 weeks and my high-waisted jeans became extremely uncomfortable. I also found my boobs got bigger. In this instance, it’s better to be comfortable than anything else. I actually ended up opting for elasticized pants which even now in my third trimester fit perfectly. Another option is to size up in your usual clothing or choose baggier styles instead of button up jeans. Remember, every body is different! It’s common for women on their second or third pregnancy to start showing a lot earlier, so in these cases maternity clothes might be worn from the first six weeks. You might have a smaller or larger bump or you may be enduring morning sickness, eating more or less than usual depending on your appetite. There really is no rule of thumb for when you should start wearing maternity clothes so make the best decision for your body shape and comfort when it comes to swapping out tighter for looser.

When choosing your maternity clothing, think about which fabric is best for maternity wear. Always err on the side of comfort by choosing breathable, stretchy and soft materials. You want to try and aim for quality over quantity where financially possible. Great materials will wash better and last longer. Above all else, choose fabrics that support your changing bod and come in styles you love so you can enjoy this precious journey even more!

Share this article


Style Editor. Minimalist mama writing about capsule wardrobes. Inspired by French women yet also unafraid to leave the house with food on me.