Finding pants for big bellies, or: Why I rock maternity pants when I'm not pregnant

July 21 | Guest post by rubenesque
Over the belly leggings from Target.
Over the belly leggings from Target.

I have a belly. My bump does not have a baby in it, but it is so out of proportion with the rest of me that I often am mistaken for pregnant. I have meltdowns trying to find clothes. Pants that are way too huge for the rest of me are painfully tight on my waist. I end up wearing yoga/sweat pants all the time, which is all right sometimes but kind of depressing when I want to actually look Dressed.

One day I was fuming about this problem: No pants ever fit! Everyone thinks I'm pregnant! Where can I find pants that accommodate a big belly? Then it struck me: Well, maternity pants. Duh.

I swallowed my pride and went to Target. It turned out to be a strange relief to shop in the maternity section — I felt like for once, I didn't have to suck it in. I tried on my "normal" size 12s and had to keep working down. With the elastic waist band, I was actually an 8. No wonder I couldn't find regular pants that worked.

When I told my best friend about this, she was elated. "You're a genius! I loved my maternity jeans. I was so sad when I knew I was going to be done with them. Why wouldn't we all wear maternity jeans?"

I have been wearing this Target pair for a few months, but I don't love the waist band because it is too wide and does that weird folding over/getting twisted thing that elastic bands can do. So I'm in the market for more pants for big bellies.

Do any Offbeat Mamas or Homies with Non-Baby Bumps have more recommendations for belly-accommodating stores or styles that are comfortable and go a step above yoga/sweatpants?

Join our community!

  1. I'm just getting to the point where I have to find maternity pants. I'm resisting for now only because I hate spending too much money on clothes and maternity pants are EXPENSIVE. I hear old navy and gap have them but I may end up going the Kijiji route. A lot of moms wear their maternity clothes lightly and then get rid of them so used stuff is usually very gently used or sometimes unworn. Consignment shops and thrift stores can be a good route to go as well. You can always go to a few maternity stores to try stuff on and find your size and then try to find the same stuff secondhand. Also keep in mind there are different types of panels and some may be more comfortable for your body than others.

    Happy hunting!

    4 agree
  2. Even before getting pregnant, I used to shop in the maternity section of Old Navy, because my chest is so big. Their dresses are almost all empire-waisted, which makes the bottom of the dress not matter at all!
    I can say from experience, that if you want something that feels like a yoga pant, but looks like a dress pant, I highly recommend Catherines. I know! Catherines isn't the hippest place to go, but they carry a line called Suprema, and they fit like yoga pants (with a thinner waistband), and look good enough to be work pants. Try on more than one style. They are all cut a little different, but I like that. That way, instead of having potentially nothing to work with, I can find at least one pair. The other bonus is that they come in all lengths–short to tall. Since I have a 28" inseam, this is a big deal for me. Finally, the price is right.
    I bought some of these over the course of the last year, while not pregnant, and they're the only pants that still fit now that I'm going into month 5 of my pregnancy. Give them a shot. Pants are pants. They don't have to be from somewhere trendy!

    6 agree
  3. I have shopped in the maternity section for years. I have a slight belly, but not huge boobs, and am tall. Shirts are cut longer and offer more coverage for my butt and hips than normal sizes, with a generous belly area that doesn't look saggy or disproportionate with my less than ample (but not entirely non existent) chest. Also the fabric all seems to be softer which my super sensitive skin really loves. I haven't tried pants (being tall, it's already hard enough to find pants) but I buy dresses, skirts, and tops in maternity regularly.

    6 agree
    • My coworker swears by maternity tanks for better fit and more coverage.

      4 agree
      • I'm very long wasted and almost all tanks are belly shirts on me. Until I discovered maternity tanks and nursing tanks. They cause a little bit of uniboob but I'd rather have that then perma-bare midriff.

        4 agree
    • I hear that– I have a round belly (I constantly look like I'm about 5 months pregnant, it would be cute if it weren't actually just fat) and I love wearing maternity tops because they're flattering… but with a 40" inseam, there's no freaking way maternity pants would fit. I hope that when/if I ever get pregnant, it's during the summer so I can live in capri pants and skirts. I don't know if they make maternity capri pants, but I could just get some at a normal store and they'd fit like capris so…

      2 agree
      • Maternity capris are available but usually are a seasonal item at least at Old Navy. My favorite item was the side stretch jeans, which were a knock off of some Paige Denim maternity pants. Those fit the best and didn't obviously look like "maternity pants."

  4. I have a bit of a belly and prefer low-rise pants. They sit low enough, they don't push my belly up so it's the best way to hide it. They're just a bit hard to find now that 80s fashion is back (urgh).

    4 agree
      • I have the opposite– I find that high-waisted (thank you, comeback!) works best for me to keep things in check. With low rise pants, my belly just spills over them AND I get crack attack in the back. I also have a very flat butt, though, so maybe that's part of it?

        19 agree
  5. I am just the same shape, and I love wide-leg cotton pants with fold down jersey waist bads (they are kinda maternity pants ish, but with more like a yoga pants waistband? Kinda?)

    I also actually wear a lot of skirts and dresses, because I don't have to deal with the hips/butt/thighs vs. waist sizing choices.

    Good luck!

    7 agree
  6. I'm the same shape and can confirm that they fit perfect, however I had no choice but to wear them for over three years straight and now find them a little depressing. I get asked by strangers several times a week if I'm pregnant, and maternity clothing of any kind seems to emphasize the effect. The repetitive reminders can make it harder for me to stay body positive, so I prefer what I call "pants with zippers". Zippers were a real weight loss milestone for me. I've found that "super stretch jeans" actually fit really comfortably! They're stretchy like leggings and are sometimes categorized as "jeggings" but have pockets, working zippers, and seams like regular pants. All the ones I've tried have nice wide waists.

    2 agree
    • I have those too! In black. It feels like wearing PJ's, but my coworkers tell me I look dressed up when I wear them. They're really great for hot days, too. breathe nice. And for linen, they don't wrinkle too bad.

    • I bought some of these, and I was thrilled that they come in petite sizes. They are super comfy and perfect for summer. Thanks so much for the tip, Brooke!

  7. If you are in Canada or are a confident online shopper, Reitmans has something called their "Original Comfort" line, which are pants without zippers that aren't for pregnant people (http://www.reitmans.com/The-Original-Comfort). They have a wide variety of styles, and they may suit your needs. I love them and they seem to last for a pretty long time (like the elastic or whatever keeps them up seems to last as long as the pants themselves, and they don't end up saggy).

    2 agree
  8. Have you tried the side panel maternity jeans/ pants? They have the look of non maternity pants from the front but have stretch on the hips to allow for a belly. I borrowed a few pairs from a friend after I had my last baby. Very discrete paneling making them look not so maternity.

    Old Navy has a good selection: http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/category.do?cid=5848

    Also, do you have a seamstress friend? I send all my oldest son's clothing to grandma to work her magic on. My son is very long and very lean and at 4 years old needs pants that are 18 month old sized for the waist but 5 year old size in length. So he either has to wear well fitting in the waist shorty shorts or extremely baggy but are long enough pants. Until I discovered my mother-in-law was a seamstress back in the day.

    2 agree
  9. This may not be what you're looking for, but I have a similar problem – my belly is proportionally huge. I found these jeans: http://www.jcpenney.com/levis-525-perfect-waist-straight-leg-jeans/prod.jump?ppId=pp5003250273&catId=cat100250096&deptId=dept20000013&topDim=Brand&topDimvalue=levi%27s&dimCombo=Brand|&dimComboVal=levi%27s|&currentDim=Brand&currentDimVal=levi%27s&_dyncharset=UTF-8&colorizedImg=DP0325201517022072M.tif

    They're designed to help contain large bellies, but because they sit a little bit higher (just below the belly button instead of low-rise) I still find them comfortable. I admit that they took a little getting used to, but they fit me perfectly. Which never happens.

  10. This isn't just a big belly thing, I have a couple of friends who just don't have much of a defined waist, so it doesn't go in above their hips, who have the same problem of not being able to find pants to fit their waist.
    We were talking about a DIY for your jeans found on Pinterest the other day, that shows you how to remove part of the front of your jeans where the pocket is and replace with a stretchy fabric.
    Might be useful if you're crafty?
    http://seekatesew.com/stretchy-pocket-maternity-pants-tutorial/

    1 agrees
  11. I'm in Australia and Australia does NOT do maternity clothing well. It pissess me off immensely. I've found (comparitively) affordable options at H&M (which only recently opened in Aus to my joy and delight) and online at Asos, which have a large maternity line!

    Many friends-who've-finished-having-children still wear their maternity pants. Bodies have changed permanently and they're damn comfortable!!!

    1 agrees
  12. Jeans are the absolute worst! If it's any consolation from someone with the opposite body shape (big thighs, small waist), jeans never fit me either. Who are they meant for????

    What about a series of posts on jeans for different body shapes? I'd be curious to see Offbeat's lovely body-positive spin on a topic like that.

    12 agree
  13. i just had a baby and let me tell you…maternity leggings are where it's at! I got some before I was really showing and decided right then that I'm never going back to regular leggings. The high panel ones are awesome because the waistband doesn't roll down and exaggerate my muffin top underneath dresses. The ones from motherhood maternity are really well made and fit my large thighs really well (targets leggings were too narrow for my legs).

  14. I started shopping in the maternity section when I was in my teens, way before even thinking about kids. It seems like pregnancy is the only time in life where people expect us to be pear shaped, but I'm pear shaped all the time!

    In this instance BetaBrand has been a life-saver and I don't think anyone has mentioned them yet (forgive me if I missed it in the comments). Their dress-pant yoga pants are pretty pricey, but they also do a pretty damn good impression of a pair of dress pants and they definitely accommodate my belly. The company has sales from time to time, so do not despair if these are way out of your price range.

    Hope this helps!

  15. I'll second the bid for Target's maternity clothes. They're REALLY affordable when they go on clearance, and our local Target usually has a pretty decent sized clearance section. I actually shopped in their maternity section before I got a belly, because I've always been long torso-ed and their maternity tees are super soft, comfy, and most importantly, really long. Saves having to pull down the hem of a shirt to make sure the belly's not peeking out. I've always been big busted as well, and it seems that maternity clothes frequently account for a bit chest without assuming that I want to wear a potato sack everywhere.

  16. I have wanted to try maternity pants for years but was too embarassed to try them on and to cheap to just grab a pair and take the risk. I found a pair cute pair of maternity jeans in the free box at a local thrift store. I am in LOVE. I am currently looking for a couple of pairs of cute maternity dress pants.
    My friends and I wore maternity tops in college because they were usually in the clearance section at target and accommodate huge boobs with no problem.

  17. I have the issue of being unnaturally high waisted, and now NO waisted as my abdomen has expanded while the rest of me has same relatively the same. I'm nearly 70, tried dieting and working out but the gut remains the same. I thought about saying I was carrying a kid for someone who wan't able to but decided that wasn't believable, I've been to a gastroenterologist who scoped me from both ends and did a CT scan to see if there was a medical reason for this humongous belly and it appears not. But it hurts, when I wear anything slightly tight, I have pain. Regular jeans that fit everywhere else kill, and bigger sizes that will zip fall down, unless I belt them which, again, hurts. I'm thinking materity pants might be the answer. I live in a very small town with very little shopping so I order online. I don't want to spend a lot on them, so any recommendations would be appreciated.

  18. I had luck with Chicos. More expensive but they have sales and can go as low as $25 or $30 sometimes.
    They have a lot of elastic in the waist.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.