As I write this, I’m currently over 9 months pregnant, just 2 weeks shy of my due date. It’s also quite cold – below freezing (I live in NYC) in fact – which makes getting dressed in anything other than sweats a challenge. But I made a promise to myself when I got pregnant that, as someone who takes pride in her appearance and actually enjoys getting dressed, I wouldn’t sacrifice my style for pregnancy or for motherhood. It’s not always easy but I’m doing my best to hold to it and you can too!
Here are the 10 items I turned to throughout my 9 months to help me strike the balance of style, comfort and function.
Seamless Maternity Leggings
As much as I originally rejected the idea of wearing leggings, they became my favorite go-to item during pregnancy. Once I grew out of my non-maternity bottoms, which was right around the time I had to retire summer dresses, I quickly realized how versatile leggings are. In fact, they were one of the only true maternity pieces I bought and I wore them with everything – oversized button down shirts, a t-shirt or hoodie and blazer, with Chelsea boots, with loafers, I could go on and on.
I chose the Before, During & After legging from Hatch, which lives up to the hype. It’s super comfortable and soft and I opted for the gray houndstooth print so I could easily dress it up or down, but all colors are versatile. I also bought a pair of plain black leggings from H&M’s MAMA maternity line for under $15, and I’d guess I’ve worn them no less than 50 times. I plan on bringing both with me to the hospital and incorporating them into my postpartum recovery wardrobe.
The Ultimate Before, During & After Crop Legging, black,
Mama Before & After Leggings Black
Stretchy Pencil Skirt
Another unexpected purchase I loved was a rib knit striped pencil skirt from H&M, which was not technically maternity, but the material was stretchy & forgiving enough to accommodate my evolving bump in the second trimester (and into the third). I paired the high waisted skirt with a crop tee, a halter blouse, and even a button down shirt, knotted at the waist. The exact item I purchased is no longer available, but you can try this cute set from H&M, or a classic pencil skirt from Storq.
Mama 2-Piece Ribbed Top And Skirt Set Black
Classic pencil skirt Black
Oversized Long Sleeve Tee
Another non-maternity item that made its way into my regular rotation is the Relaxed tee from Everlane. This t-shirt is soft, cozy and incredibly flattering thanks to the cotton jersey and drop sleeve shoulder. The hemline is meant to sit around your bum and the sleeves are designed to be pushed or rolled up, which makes it great to pair with your growing bump. I wore it with the aforementioned pencil skirt, over leggings or a bodysuit, and with slouchy jeans and loafers. You can’t go wrong with classic cream or black, but a stripe is always a good idea.
The Organic Cotton Relaxed Long Sleeve Tee White
Layer up bodysuit Cocoa
The most expensive item I invested in was one I intend on wearing way beyond pregnancy, which is this nursing sweater from Boob Design. It’s incredibly soft and warm, and it offers so much coverage thanks to strategically placed snaps. I’m currently wrapping myself in it, wearing it with a tee and jeans, a stretchy unitard and/or my fave maternity leggings and I can’t wait to cocoon my baby in it postpartum. This item is well made and of a very high quality, making it well worth the investment.
Oversized Wool Sweater With Nursing Access Camel
Button Down Shirt
My love for button down shirts only grew during my pregnancy, along with my belly! This classic closet staple worked overtime, remaining a go-to item I reached for during every trimester. During my first and second trimesters, in the spring/summer months, I wore a button down chambray shirt from Madewell and an oversized lightweight linen striped shirt with striped shorts (with an elastic waistband) or with bike shorts. As the temps dropped and my belly grew, I opted for a very oversized shirt with contrasting stripes from GAP and wore it with everything from denim and loafers to leggings and boots. I chose non-maternity styles but you can also get great styles at Storq and Hatch, which are designed to be worn during and after your pregnancy. One tip for non-maternity styles: when in doubt, size up. Oversized can still be chic even postpartum!
Denim Oversized Button-Up Shirt In Derussey Wash
Throughout my pregnancy, it was important to me that I maintain my personal style and not succumb to solely wearing leggings and sweats. A great dress made me feel put together and polished without sacrificing the comfort I needed for my belly. I found not one but two great styles to get me through the months with style and comfort. I found tight fitting styles to be most complimentary to flaunt my bump so my first purchase was a slim knit tank dress in black from Soon, which I’m still wearing even in December (just with Ugg boots and a cropped sweater). Later in my pregnancy, as it got colder, I found an oversized mini sweater dress, similar to the Kendall style. I wore it with snakeskin booties and Mary Jane-style flats for a chic but comfy autumnal look!
Crepe Feeding Tank Dress Black
The Kendall Sweater Dress Oat Melange
If you work out, be sure to grab a unitard or bodysuit. You’ll be surprised to realize that one day, your typical leggings won’t fit comfortably over your bump. Plus, you can easily layer other items with it, like an oversized button down shirt, a vintage cardigan or a cropped sweater. A unitard is not just for exercise, but for everyday use too! I recommend the Skims onesie or the layer up onesie from Storq (currently on sale!).
Cotton rib onesie soot
Layer up bodysuit Black
As much as I resisted buying maternity jeans, by the 7th month of pregnancy it was getting colder and I was getting bigger and I had to surrender. Fortunately, I found a great deal on a slouchy boyfriend style from Madewell that has since sold out but they have plenty of other styles. I preferred a style that did not feature an over-the-bump panel, similar to these shorts, but if you go that route, try to find a flattering cut that feels true to your style. My recommendation is to avoid ultra skinny and opt for a straight or kick-crop silhouette instead.
Maternity over-the-belly perfect vintage jeans in delora wash
Maternity over-the-belly kick out crop jeans in cherryville wash
Another tip is to avoid pregnancy jeans altogether and scour the internet or your local shop for a pair of vintage men’s Levi’s. You’ll need to drastically size up at the waist, but the fit may be more comfortable than the over-the-bump panel featured on most pregnancy jeans.
Maternity wideleg jeans Medium Blue
You can’t underestimate the power of the right shoe during pregnancy. Shoes can make an otherwise basic outfit feel polished, but comfort is key especially if you’re dealing with swollen feet and ankles. The two most utilized pairs of shoes during my pregnancy (other than my Birkenstock slippers) were a pair of loafers and a good pair of sneakers. You can’t go wrong with a classic black loafer, but if you want to inject a little fun into your maternity wear, try an unexpected color or print. If you’re concerned about swelling and/or your size changing, you could try a mule style for more room. For sneakers, I found New Balance to be the most comfortable (I live in a city and walk a LOT) and I found a neutral style to be the most versatile. If you’re looking for something with a bit more color, consider a neutral style with colorful details but make sure the color you choose complements your wardrobe!
Unity Loafers Black Patent
Wanda Loafers Black Leather
574 grey with white
Last but not least, there were plenty of non-maternity items that already existed in my closet, which I wore throughout my pregnancy. Some were made from forgiving, stretchy fabrics, while other jeans had forgiving details like an empire waist and some were oversized. My tips are to consider items in your closet that have some give, like a stretchy tank dress, or have a roomier fit, such as an oversized button down.
If you want to buy new clothes but don’t want to buy maternity wear, consider the following items/silhouettes: a babydoll dress, a stretchy tank dress, two-piece sets (knit sets for colder months and cotton short sets for warmer temps). Lastly, consider shopping menswear and/or shopping vintage. Two of my most loved items are a pair of vintage men’s Levi’s denim shorts and a vintage men’s tee that accommodated my bump that I’ll continue to wear post-pregnancy.
Jacqui Knit Tank – Navy / White
Jill Sleeveless Tank Midi Dress – Taupe
The most important piece of advice is to stay true to your personal style and preferences. Drastically changing your wardrobe and abandoning your style identity will only make pregnancy harder, and it’s challenging enough already!