Here's the place for tons of practical, body-positive maternity clothes advice #It worked for me#Shopping#clothing#maternity fashion#pregnancy February 8 2013 | Guest post by Alice It's time to chat about maternity clothes! All photos by Alice. Since I'm now the resident pregnancy expert (ah-ha!) in my social circle, I get questions about pregnancy. Lots of 'em. While I wouldn't claim to be an expert on the medical stuff, I feel pretty confident offering opinions about clothes. So here goes! Basic Concepts Your body keeps changing. No one article of clothing is going to fit the same way all through your pregnancy. You'll need different clothes at different times, and you're not going to get the same level of fit you would when your body's not changing shape. At least not for long. Maternity clothes are (mostly) bullshit. While maternity pants and leggings are great, for most other items you'll have way more (and cheaper) selection if you stick to particular styles of regular clothes. Maternity shirts have their place, but mostly in the 3rd trimester. Making stuff can make life easier. You don't have to be a master seamstress, but a little modification can go a long way. If you can't do it yourself, you can always pay someone else to do it. Sometimes it still winds up being cheaper. Don't force it. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. Pack away clothes once you're too big for them. Try to keep your dresser and/or closet full of ONLY things you can wear right now. It makes getting dressed easier, and it's less frustrating/depressing than looking at a ton of clothes you're not sure you can ever wear again. First Trimester During the first trimester most people won't really look pregnant, and you won't need actual "maternity" clothes. But you might feel terrible, and you will change shape. So the goal is clothes that are comfortable and fit reasonably well that you don't need to think about too much. Even if you're not trying to keep the pregnancy a secret, you may want to err on the side of wearing looser, more forgiving clothes at the beginning. The tight-fitted "OMG baby bump" look works a lot better once you actually HAVE a baby bump. Thrift stores are great for letting you try out styles you might not otherwise have worn relatively cheaply. I found that I had to do some experimentation outside of my previous comfort zone, and not spending a lot of money on the clothes made me more adventurous. Boobs One of the first things you will probably notice is that you need new bras. Sometimes this manifests as back pain because the bra you're wearing is way to small. Just go get new ones. They're more comfortable, and they make everything else look and feel better. Don't wait in the name of economy, and try to actually get the right size. Get measured if you can (stores like Victoria's Secret and Nordstrom's will do this for free). I needed new bras about every six weeks until the end of the second trimester. Sports bras can get you through in a pinch, but in general I suggest just getting 2-3 bras in your current size in whatever style you'd normally wear. Bear in mind that BOTH cup size and band size can change, so finding the right size might involve some trial and error. Related Post Yes Style: maternity clothing that probably won't make you gag I can't tell you why I still cruise maternity wear even though I have no plans to grow another human being, but I do. My... Read more Bottoms Unionbay Women's Maternity Eden Crop Jean ($14.77), Three Seasons Maternity Women's Skinny Jean ($42), Woman Within Plus Size Petite Pants ($26.99, sizes S-5X) Maybe you're the kind of person who can wear regular clothes for the first three months. Go you. If not, there are several options. Bigger pants: You can size up in whatever you usually wear. Depending on how you're shaped and how you gain weight, this can be a really good option. The elastic trick: Loop a hair elastic around the button-hole and button of your pants to give you an extra inch or so in the waist. This works for a little while. Bella bands: Basically just a big stretchy tube of fabric. This can be folded over to cover the waistband of your pants or skirt and cover and jury-wrigging (elastic, safety pins, whatever) you might be doing. Under the right shirt it just looks like you're wearing a long tank top. Just wear loose and/or stretchy stuff. If your circumstances permit it, there are always yoga pants. Dresses that aren't fitted through the waist can be really nice, as can elastic-waist skirts. And leggings are great for under dresses and so on. Actual maternity pants. If you need them, just get them. They're basically just glorified elastic-waist pants. There's no set time when you're "supposed" to start wearing them. Try the different kinds (full panel, demi panel, etc.) and figure out what works for you. I could never get the damn things to stay up, but they are useful. You can also make them – more on that later. Tops and dresses Basic High-Low Dress ($15.99), Floral Strapless Tunic ($8.99), Belted Chiffon Tunic ($24.80, XL-2X). Think long and looser than you'd normally wear. Even if you think you're showing, you probably aren't yet, so super fitted stuff probably won't be flattering. Long tank tops can be layered under other stuff to keep you from having an awkward gap between your shirt and your pants. If you can rock the flowy look, drapey hippie-style tops and dresses with empire waists can be useful here. Or just wear oversized t-shirts with webcomic references. Whatever your thing is. Banana-glams Cardigan ($32.99), Mint Every Word Tunic ($34.99), Girls Just Wanna Have Plum Top ($29.99) — all sizes S-L. Over all that: Long, drapey cardigans are great, and pretty forgiving. Oversized hoodies work well too. Things that end at or below your hips rather than at your waist will hide whatever weirdness is going on with your pants that are being held together by hair elastics and your weird first trimester front muffin top. This can be a good thing. Oversized men's sweaters are easily thrifted, and can work if you don't want to look too femme. Harvest Season Dress ($44.99), Pam Breeze-ly Tunic in Green ($34.99) — both sizes S-2X. Second Trimester A few weeks into the second trimester is when most people actually start to look really pregnant. You will probably need "real" maternity clothes sometime before week 28, but not necessarily as soon as you think. A Belt: Get a stretchy belt that you can fasten right under your breasts, at the empire waistline. Mine was black elastic, but they come in all shapes and sizes. Probably you want it to be a couple of inches wide. This allows you to turn all sorts of top and dresses from unfitted to actually somewhat shaped like you. Boobs: Just keep buying bras as needed. No nursing bras yet. Bottoms: Your regular pants will probably stop fitting at some point, and you will need maternity pants. Unless you're willing to just not wear pants (totally recommended, see below). Since, as stated above, maternity clothes are bullshit, this will be a pain in the ass. My big problem with maternity pants is that they typically fit very poorly, and there aren't a lot of styles available. You'll get a much better fit if you're willing to DIY. Megan Nielsen has a great tutorial on how to modify pants you already have. It's pretty easy and worth looking into. But if you have to buy them, just go try a bunch of them on and see what works — two or three pairs is usually plenty. Divine Teal Maxi Skirt ($34.99), Chiffon Maxi Skirt ($12.50), Raspberry Latte Jersey Skirt ($34.99) Also, skirts! I got a TON of milage out to two long skirts that were basically just tubes of knit fabric with some elastic at one end. They could be layered, or pulled up over the bust and belted to act as dresses. For some reason full-length skirts just looked less silly to me than shorter ones. Any longish skirt with an elastic waist would work. You can also wear them right below the breast and cover the impending baby in skirt fullness. Tops and dresses: Once you actually look pregnant, you unlock the "OMG I'm pregnant!" wardrobe option. While it may be exciting now, this will become non-optional very soon, so use with caution. Mostly this means wearing tight things that will stretch across your belly and show off whatever's going on there. If you were a somewhat squishier person to start with, this might take longer to actually look flattering. Just wear what works for you. Check it: skirt as a dress. Dresses are a good option, and most of what got me through the second and third trimesters. I made a lot of my own dresses, which is a great option if you sew. Wear leggings underneath if you feel they're starting to get alarmingly short in front. You may need to switch to empire waist (gathered under the boobs) styles. In my experience "maternity" dresses weren't worthwhile, and I was better off just finding stretchy things that I would actually wear normally. I also wore a fair number of skirts-as-dresses, putting the waist up above my boobs and a belt underneath. If you wear a sweater over that, you can hide bra straps and it looks more or less intentional. The maternity t-shirts with the gathered sides might start to be relevant towards the end of this trimester, but don't rush into anything. I didn't find them truly valuable until the third trimester. My favorite maternity tops were just regular shirts that happened to be very long and very stretchy. You can also wear some dresses that would otherwise be too short as tops. Me at 26 weeks. Warm things: I mentioned drapey cardigans and men's hoodies/sweaters above. They're great. But also bear in mind that just because you can't zip or button a jacket doesn't mean you can't wear it. Your back and arms don't change shape too much, so a lot of stuff you already owned is still serviceable for keeping your arms warm. Just reconcile yourself to your stomach sticking out front and you're good to go. Shoes: Shoes are a problem when your feet are swollen and you can't bend over. Do what you need to do, and don't feel obligated to do daily battle to get them on your feet. Feel free to buy a pair of easy-to-get-on shoes in your swollen size if you need to. I recommend things with arch support. I lived in purple Birkenstock slip-ons for a few months. Dansko clogs can also be a lifesaver. Third Trimester My tips for the third trimester are more philosophical than anything else. This is sort of when things go to hell, clothes-wise. You get really, really big and nothing fits, but there's so little time left that it doesn't seem worth getting anything new. The practicalities are the same as the second trimester, only more so. THIS IS ME HAVING FUN. You'll probably have to get some actual maternity tops by the end, and they still won't quite be long enough. You will be accustomed to a two inch wide strip of the bottom of your belly (it has an underside now!) being permanently exposed to the world. Some things to keep you sane: Anything goes: You are fully entitled to wear a skirt as a dress or yoga pants to work. Really. People do understand that you are ALL OF THE PREGNANT and will not hold you to high sartorial standards. As long as you're okay with how you look, it's fine. Do buy new clothes at the end. Somehow everyone winds up with only one pair of maternity pants for the last few weeks. It's completely fine to buy a new pair at 35 weeks, even though you're "almost done." If your baby is late you could be pregnant for seven more weeks, which is almost two months. If you were on vacation for two months and lost your pants, you'd replace them. Don't feel too guilty. You can get them used and/or sell them afterwards, or use them for your next kid. Just be comfortable. Have fun with it. Wear things that make you happy. Waddling super pregnant women look kind of silly anyway, so don't worry about your clothes making you look weird. If you like it, it's fine. Fourth Trimester Yeah, that's a thing. A few days after birth you'll be much smaller, but your uterus is still the size it was when you were 20 weeks pregnant. It's going to take a while for things to get back to normal. You can basically wear your maternity clothes in reverse, starting from the middle of the second trimester. Though if you're still in maternity jeans at 12 weeks, you might want to just go buy some regular pants in whatever your current size is. Or you can just wear pajamas because HOLY SHIT TAKING CARE OF NEW BABY. You'll drop a lot of water weight pretty quickly and start being a more normal shape within a few weeks (like 6 or 8). Don't stress out about it. You'll probably still have some extra weight. This is normal, and might be part of breastfeeding. (Another approach is just burn the damn maternity clothes because you never want to see them again. That's okay too. But you could consider giving them to charity or a newly pregnant friend.) The important part of the post-partum period for clothes (if you're breastfeeding) is OMG ENORMOUS TATAs. Your boobs will get huge. Huge is relative, but still. HUGE. Personally, I went from a 34D pre-pregnancy to a 36G post-pregnancy. Nursing tank tops (I liked the Glamourmom ones because they're super long) are pretty awesome. Pick up a couple of those before you have the baby. I'd also recommend getting a couple of nursing bras, but waiting until a few weeks after the birth to find out exactly what size you are. In Conclusion Dressing during pregnancy is a bitch, but you'll figure it out. And possibly even be happy with how you look. (At least in hindsight!) Take it one week at a time, and figure out what works for you before buying a lot of new clothes. And remember, you won't actually be pregnant forever. I promise. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Alice Alice lives in San Francisco with her husband and 3 month old son. She writes software by day and then spends all of her free time making stuff and writing snarky things on the internet. http://www.heteronormativelovefest.com PREVIOUS Being super human for our children NEXT Offbeat Home & Life has a new mobile-friendly template Show/Hide comments [ 74 ] This is so helpful. I'm freshly pregnant (not too far along into my first trimester), but I know I have tons of clothes that will get me through the 1st trimester no problem, and (I'm hoping) the 2nd trimester (I own a lot of loose fitting/flowy tops, dresses and sweaters. Also maxi dresses), you know…minus the eventual need of maternity pants. But I am so unsure about the 3rd trimester. I'm going to try and get as much mileage out of my current wardrobe as I can…but I know there will be a point where nothing will fit. I hate the look of most maternity clothes from the shops here (so boring and conservative). I'm into rocker, vintage and boho-esque styles…I'm nutters for Modcloth. There should be shops that cater to the non-steretypical pregnant ladies. Have any shop recommendations? 3 agree Reply Check out the sponsors, Lauren. 🙂 I got a lot of mileage out of layering in the third trimester. One tank that was too short, another that was long enough but didn't cover my growing boobs, and an open sweater on top. 2 agree Reply Ah layering. I suppose I can attempt layering my big tunics under shorter shirts. Unfortunately there's not a lot of clothing sponsors (I did find an item I liked through Hot Mama Ink), and I couldn't even access Rockstarmoms (the website isn't there anymore). I did manage to find Fillyboo which appeals to me. 1 agrees Reply Congratulations! I'm sure you'll be able to figure out lots of outfits with what you have. It just takes a while to get the hang of it! My maternity clothes board on pinterest has some links to stuff I actually wore. Mostly it wasn't sold as maternity clothing – you can find styles that will work at regular stores once you know what to look for. 1 agrees Reply Oh, and I definitely had a couple tops from Modcloth! They have a bunch of tunic-type stuff that can work, and knit dresses. 1 agrees Reply I SO wish I'd had this tunic when I was pregnant: http://www.modcloth.com/shop/pullovers-sweaters/rainbow-affection-sweater 3 agree Reply That's awesome thanks. Another question though: How do you determine your size? For maternity clothing…are the sizes basically carried over? Like…if you're a small in regular-type clothing you'll be a small in maternity clothing? Mainly for shopping online purposes. In store I always try on. 1 agrees Reply Sizes tend to be based on the size you were before pregnancy. 1 agrees Reply Yeah, that's usually how it works. For online stuff it helps to read the reviews to find out if it runs big or small or what. It's hard because bodies don't change in consistent ways during pregnancy – some people gain lots of weight, some almost none…so your size will depend on how you change shape and where you put on weight. There's definitely some trial and error. Some manufacturers add in ease for maternity clothes (so the size 12 maternity is a little bit bigger than the regular size 12, but it fits most pre-pregnancy size 12 people because most people get at least a little bit bigger). I actually found that with Gap jeans even though I'm usually a size 12, their size 12 maternity pants were a bit big until late in my 3rd trimester. So I'd order your usual size unless you've gotten much bigger, and go from there. But there's definitely some trial and error involved. 1 agrees Reply More or less. I've found that things that are offered in small/medium/large are usually more forgiving of sizing errors than ones that come in the numbered sizes, for example. I've also found that shirts are pretty easy to pick – your arms and shoulders stay mostly the same (though I've had some rib expansion, so I can't wear my old tighter woven clothes, only the knit ones) – and also flowy dresses, especially if they're made of jersey. Bottoms… get complicated. Your belly's growing, obviously, but often so are your hips and butt. And I found that I hated, HATED the "over-belly" styles, because they'd end up under my breasts and rubbed on my rib cage. The under-belly and folding styles worked better for me, but then it was a question of whether they'd be shaped well enough that they'd stay up. It's summer, so I've given up on pants entirely, but leggings, skirts, and even shorts are pretty forgiving. I think there's less weight for them to develop the saggy butt problem. (I was always having to yank up my pants when I walked.) 1 agrees Reply I haven't actually worn any of them, but ASOS has a maternity range that might be more up your alley. 2 agree Reply Oh yeah lots of those clothes are super cute! 2 agree Reply Asos has cute stuff but it's really expensive. I'm 28 weeks right now but lucky to be tall so I can still wear my regular clothes but my shirts have gotten tight and pants can no longer be buttoned / zipped. I bought one of those belly bands off an Etsy seller (I think hers are so much cuter than the regular Bella Bands and they're also stretchier) also, only 12 bucks. Her shop is RunSystem63. Apart from that, I've been going to Forever 21/H&M and just buying stuff that is either baggy/loose or a size or two up. Cheaper and stuff I can wear again. I emailed Modcloth and told them to make a Maternity section lol. I'm in Seattle which is relatively cold right now (not to me because I'm hot all the time these days) and I bought a fleece cape to stay warm from American Apparel. I had bought a few maternity shirts from Motherhood Maternity/Pea in a Pod but honestly their stuff isn't good quality, super expensive, and most of it I'll probably never wear again. Seriously though…get the belly band. It lets you use your shirts and jeans as long as possible. 3 agree Reply Yay! This is great. I'm on my second pregnancy, and I've got a totally different plan than I had the first time around (which was just, wear maternity clothes that look like what I normally wear). This time? Yup: long skirts, leggings, knit dresses. Because wearing pants when you're pregnant is seriously overrated. The maternity pants never stay up, and it's so inelegant to be carrying a toddler and hitching up your pants at the same time. In a long skirt and drapey top, I look fantastic. 8 agree Reply I'm currently 34 weeks and dresses (some maternity/some not) with leggings have been my wardrobe since my regular pants stopped fitting. I mostly gave up on finding maternity pants that I didn't hate. They're either super expensive and/or fit weird! I live in Chicago so I was worried about the winter but the leggings have been fine. The best thing I did was go to H&M and get a bunch of their non-shelf bra cami's. They're not even maternity but they're long and stretchy and serve multiple purposes: camouflaging all the other lumps & bumps I don't particularly want to show off, making weirdly low cut maternity stuff work appropriate, & keeping my stomach covered up as some of my shirts get a little short in the front! 2 agree Reply Oh, gosh, the weirdly low-cut maternity stuff! I do not understand it. Hello, manufacturers, my breasts are getting huge and veiny and I'm wearing industrial strength bras to support them and hide my nipples. Whatever about all of that makes you think ultra-low-cut is a good idea? 1 agrees Reply At 11 weeks into my first pregnancy, with endless questions, this article is *exactly* what I needed. I would be thrilled to look even half as adorable as you do in your orange and purple ensemble. Thank you for the style inspiration. 1 agrees Reply Thanks! I originally wrote this for a couple of newly-pregnant friends after a long online conversation about what to wear, and then decided there were probably other people who might want to read it too. Early pregnancy is crazy for all kinds of reasons, and the "oh my god I can't even look/feel normal" part of it can make that so much more so. I'm glad I can help, even with this (relatively) superficial part of it! Sometimes just having that one aspect that doesn't feel totally mystifying can make things much easier. Reply I'd say you can manage certain sorts of dress (a-line) and longline tunic tops all through pregnancy without needing maternity ones if you're lucky. I also never needed maternity tights or knickers, so don't buy them upfront – wait to see if you need them. But I did have a fairly high, fairly 'neat' bump both times! I just thank God I was pregnant in the era of lycra and also in a time when a-line and tunic-y styles are in. I mean, it couldn't have been easy in the 80s, and I feel for my mum's generation and before who were stuck with shapeless dresses designed to hide your not-quite-socially-acceptable bump or bloody dungarees! 2 agree Reply When I was pregnant I shopped at and worked in the Juniors section of a major department store; it was fantastic, lots of tunic length tees and tanks, empire waist items that sat above the bump, and stretchy leggings. It's a great way to find cute things that you don't necessarily need to last very long. And if you have the option look for a store with a good plus size selection of juniors clothes; they will more easily accommodate your growing boobs. Larger Macy's shops, and Dillards are usually pretty good for this. 1 agrees Reply This is awesome. I'm 20 weeks with number 2. And none of my old maternity clothes fit and buying things sucks. I am just under 5'2" so everything is way too long or just too short, apparently only supermodels and little people get pregnant here. 2 agree Reply I am 5" and I felt your pain so hard. When you are short and very round its like draping the bedsheets around yourself toga style is the only option. 1 agrees Reply I wore stretchy waisted hippie skirts almost exclusively through my entire pregnancy (I also wear them almost exclusively in my non-pregnancy life.) Really comfortable and stayed up better than the two pairs of maternity pants I owned. Also, can I just say something about nursing bras? They are lame. I really recommend using the stretchy sleep-style nursing bras as much as possible. I found nursing tank tops to be equally uncomfortable as nursing bras, but the sleep bras were pretty comfortable. None of the options were all that supportive (at least on me), so I just went with what was comfortable. 1 agrees Reply So many regular clothes work for maternity clothes! The drapey long tops that cover the muffin top/beer belly will work for a long time…(mmmm muffins and beer…) I never really had a problem last time with any skin showing, but I was wearing maternity yoga pants for the last couple months. They sat mid-belly, not low. so comfy! Here is a weird thing about boobs: I'm 11 weeks pregnant with my second, but I'm still nursing. So, I'm still wearing my regular size. Maybe it's because they are already "working", and don't need to do any drastic changes. I guess I'll wait and see. Maybe tomorrow, I'll wish I didn't say anything! 1 agrees Reply I must be an anomally – I've had pretty decent luck with three pairs of maternity pants fitting pretty well from the end of my first trimester now into the start of my third. with the expanding waist band I hope they fit for a few more weeks before i have to figure something else out. They seem like they will. There are sales everywhere. I had decent luck on two work-appropriate pants at Motherhood Maternity, tops from Target and maternity dresses and a pair of pants and a sweater from Old Navy. All maternity. Not necessarily the quality I would normally buy, but worth it for the price a paid and the short time they will be worn. Shop around and just accept that you will be wearing the same pieces over and over, probably more than your normal wardrobe. Don't worry, people give you a pass on that too. Of course, on the weekends its mostly yoga pants, leggings and maternity/long tops. 5 agree Reply Sales! and also, Goodwill. I found brand new Target Liz Lang maternity items with the tags still on for like $2. 4 agree Reply I must be lucky too because my maternity jeans fit awesome, I actually like them more than my regular old jeans. If they don't last me all the way through I'm okay with it because I'll be in my 3rd trimester in the heat of the summer in the South. I plan on only wearing sundresses or skirts and tanks. Reply This is really, really great. A lot of this advice is stuff I did: -Elastic trick (worked for a while anyway) -Bella band (I made my own by buying a cheap super-stretchy tank top and cutting the top part off) Also, I pretty much lived in long tank tops from H&M (super cheap!) and my regular cardigans, either buttoned up partially or unbuttoned. Also, you can buy bra-extenders, that add an inch or so to your bra. Totally helpful if your cup size hasn't changed much (mine didn't really) but your rib cage is expanding (oh yes). Maternity tops that aren't super long are stupid. I had a bunch of borrowed maternity clothes, and there were a ton of tops I couldnt' wear past 30 weeks because they were too short. Sometimes I could make them work with my homemade bella band underneath, but seriously, why do they make these so short??? The only maternity pants I bought were from Old Navy, some maternity jeggings for $20. They were pretty great, surprisingly. 3 agree Reply One thing about maternity tops in general… as someone who had a not insignificant belly going into this pregnancy, flowy empire waist shirts and dresses have done SO much to help me feel like I look pregnant, and not just fatter than usual. Reply This is very helpful advice. I'm 15 weeks and I did buy two pairs of maternity jeans a couple of weeks ago and REALLY wish I had bought some sooner. I went through a phase a couple of years ago where I told myself I wasn't going to wear any more ill-fitting clothes and threw anything out that didn't fit well. I gained 10 lbs in the first month and none of my pants fit. I was so uncomfortable. I resisted buying maternity clothes for so long, but now I'm wondering why I did. Maternity jeans are seriously the best thing that ever happened to me. I wish I had bought them when I started grad school, so comfortable to sit in for extended periods of time! Also, check thrifted/consignment clothing for wear since most people only get a few pairs of pants and wear them all pregnancy. I bought a pair of awesome red cords at a consignment shop, pulled them on and they ripped across the back–beyond repair. Reply "Do buy new clothes at the end" THIS THIS THIS THIS I was cheap and held off buying new clothes because at 36 week I had literally 4 items that fit me, I was starting maternity leave anyways and would just waddle around in my husbands shirts. Colour me shocked with I had a baby two weeks "late". I was so uncomfortable and frustrated and couldn't even wear ANY maternity pants I was so huge… I should have purchased flowy dresses that made me feel goddess-y. When we go for number two, I am spending a SHITLOAD. 4 agree Reply There's a lot of weird head stuff you go through when staring down the face of enormous life change. Feeling goddess-y helps a lot! I don't think you have to spend a TON, but it's usually worth spending something. Going all mommy-martyr at the end isn't helping anyone. Being 36 weeks pregnant is plenty uncomfortable without making it more difficult for yourself. 1 agrees Reply This is such a great post. I have really LOVED making and wearing my maternity clothes. I also bought a few pieces I could grow it and they are still going. I've been the most comfortable in my skin, ever! Displaying the positive energy you have inside out really helps keep you upbeat and motivated. Reply I may be an anomaly, but I LOVED maternity clothes. As a 5'1 plus-sized lady, finding clothes that fit that I love is never easy. I was shocked and delighted at how easily I fit in maternity clothes. So many looked cute on me! Nothing pinched or pulled unflatteringly! Maternity pants were my anti-muffin top dream come true (still wear the shorts in summer). I felt so pretty the second half of my pregnancy. I started wearing maternity pants and long t-shirts at week 20. I wish I'd tried them on a month earlier. It would have saved me frustrating weeks of trying to fit into too small regular clothes. 3 agree Reply I think the thing I find most funny about this is that you say maternity clothes aren't always great, and here I am NOT pregnant and wearing maternity clothes because they're the only things that are long enough and have room in the belly. Haha so I'm grateful they're catering to you, even if the clothes aren't as effective for the actual pregnant ladies as the clothing designers think they are. 5 agree Reply This. THIS. I buy maternity tops all the time and I have never been pregnant. But, being tall and kinda round, they shirts are the best ever for actually covering my lower back when I bend over (and I'm a teacher so I bend over a lot). People always look at me so strangely when I tell them I shop maternity wear, but I swear by it. 3 agree Reply What about in winter time? I live in Canada. Did other expectant moms out there have to buy a new coat? What else did you do? 1 agrees Reply I live in California, so I never had to confront this issue. I just wore regular coats and couldn't close them. Sorry to not have much advice! I have seen cute maternity coats around, but they can be spendy. I also have a friend (in London) who just wore her larger regular coats all the way through (and she had her baby yesterday) – it really depends on how your body changes and what kind of stuff you owned going in. 1 agrees Reply I was pregnant in Portland (OR) during the winter & just wore my regular coat — I unbuttoned it as I grew, added layers as needed. 1 agrees Reply I went to Value Village and bought a coat that was a few sizes larger than I would normally wear-this worked really well for me, seeing as I gave birth at the end of December. Bonus: I could wear the baby in a moby wrap under the coat once she was born, which gave me a tonne of freedom to go out and about despite the fact that it was cold cold cold outside. 2 agree Reply I bought a a baby walh jacket extender for baby wearing works with my coat while pregnant. My OWN coat!! 1 agrees Reply Maternity coats work well postpartum if you babywear. You can put the coat around you and babe during the winter. 2 agree Reply I didn't want to spend the money one new coat but since I was due at the end of Feb, it ended up being totally worth it to have a nice coat. Commuting by bus at 6 am in Seattle in January 8 months pregnant wasn't fun, but a decent coat really helped. Plus, my wife wore it while she was pregnant/post-partum with our second baby and we'll consign or donate it when fall comes around again. 1 agrees Reply I wore my own coat for as long as I could (until I was about 21). My coat was a little bit big for me at the beginning of pregnancy so it worked for a while. I stopped wearing it at the beginning of January. My sister then lent me a bigger coat that she wore when she was pregnant (not a maternity jacket, just a bigger size). It does the job just fine. I live in Montreal and we have had some COLD days this year. The jacket isn't the most flattering but it is warm. I couldn't imagine wearing something unbuttoned right now. You could probably find a used jacket or borrow one from someone who wears a bigger size than you. I find maternity jackets aren't that flattering, too short for the cold we have here and quite expensive for what they are. 1 agrees Reply thanks! I actually live in Montreal too- it has been cold this year. Thanks for the tips Reply Perhaps you've already thought of a solution, but I did this: went to REI (an outdoor store) to replace my raincoat, and used the weights they offer for testing out hiking backpacks to simulate a larger belly. I also tried to make sure it would fit a kid in a wrap/sling underneath, since the baby will be tiny in the coldest part of our year. I don't think that having a slightly roomy raincoat/shell is too big of a deal long term, and it'll work for future pregnancies/kids too. I'm really hoping that layering sweaters/fleeces under this "shell" will be as good as a real coat, since I'll have at least a month of real winter before the kid arrives. I also have a non-maternity long sweater-jacket that is sort of an a-line. Right now is a pretty great time to buy winter gear (even online) since it's the end of the season. Reply I must be another exception–I adore my maternity clothes (both pants and tops). I've had a lot of luck with Gap (their sizes seem to be true to the size I wore as my non-pregnant self). I also used the BellaBand a lot (and still do), but when I'm trying to take a pee in the five minutes between classes (I'm a teacher), I find it easier to yank up maternity pants than to fix the band. 1 agrees Reply This is great! At 26 weeks I'm right in the middle of all these clothing negotiations. During the 1st trimester awkwardness, a scarf was really helpful camouflage for tops that would otherwise be unflattering. Also, I think it's a great idea to buy a few (not too many) maternity items early on. And bring a friend who has been pregnant. I don't like shopping and found it to be a huge relief to feel set for awhile, however my body was going to change. I couldn't agree more about spending the money on a bra that fits. I much prefer underwire bras, but should have gone wireless this time around because it would have lasted longer (they keep growing!!!). Reply where was this 6 months ago?? my tip MAN SHIRTS!!! my poor husbands wardrobe was commandeered! Reply I managed to actually get substantially larger than the largest of my husband's shirts…by like month 6. Which is impressive, given that he's 6'3" and 240 lbs., and I'm 5'6". Reply As far as your body changing shape-this holds oh so true after giving birth. My daughter is fourteen months old, and I feel like my body is still in shapeshifter mode: My boobs are all over the place from nursing, I lost the baby weight but still have a tummy 'pouch', my hips grew but my bum and thighs have gotten smaller, my legs and arms are more defined from carrying/walking with baby. So those stretchy cottons and tunic shirts are still a must for me, even months and months post-partum. 1 agrees Reply I liked my maternity dress pants, and (shh don't tell anyone) sometimes still wear them now. They kinda cover the post-baby belly flop that hasn't yet gone away… But for my pregnancy, since I'm freakishly tall, I only had to buy 2 actual maternity tops. All of the empire waisted shirts that I had, and these stretchy dresses I wore over leggings, worked out just fine until the end. 1 agrees Reply Two things: — Buy at least one dress (maternity or not, as long as it fits till the end) that makes you feel like a goddess. I actually had two – one maxi, one knee-length, sorta body-con ruched number – that I WORKED for the better part of six months. On the days when you feel the worst, those dresses are worth every penny. — If you have long hair already, and everyone keeps telling you to cut it short so it will be "easier" in the fourth trimester, don't do it. Nothing is easier than a top knot when you haven't showered all week. 5 agree Reply So where do you get fitted for nursing bras? I am(was) a larger size to begin with and I don't really want to empty my whole bank account. My impression of shopping at conventional lingere stores with my massive chest was a bit disheartening, and as for the maternity shops I know of where I live, my impression having never set foot in one so far is that they are very expensive and friendly to a limited selection of body types. But I really want the cute new clothes I make or buy to look nice and the terrible stretched out whathaveyou I am using now is really not fit for leaving the house in. 3 agree Reply I bought nursing bras from here: http://www.lindasonline.com/ while nursing I'm something like a 36G, so I've given up on finding much in stores. You can still get measured in a store, or do it yourself at home (there are lots of instructions online). I like hotmilk for brands – no underwire nursing bras that don't look excessively frumpy. You can sometimes find them cheaper on amazon as well. It also helps that I only own three of them, and I don't put them in the dryer so they're looking pretty good despite constant washing. Fewer things of better quality is totally the way to go here, I think. Reply I am in my first pregnancy (at the end of 34 weeks currently), and a few family members & friends have given me maternity tops to wear — most of them I love for sleeping, but for actually wearing, I love the tunics I already had way more. I'd like to stock up on more tunics, because a tunic + yoga pants are my current favorite work outfit. I also want to throw out there, that if there is anything I've learned from my friends, your first pregnancy body shape/changes may be very different from your second (or third… or…). One of my friends hardly showed at all through her entire first pregnancy — at the end of her third trimester, she had just started to develop a tiny baby bump (she compared it to a beer pooch). Other than finding shirts that were a little longer, and going up a size or two in pants, she really didn't need to change her wardrobe too much. However!! For her second, she looked as though she was having twins at week 23 (she wasn't, and her second baby was 8.4 pounds, so it's not like he was particularly huge either). So: don't feel bad if you've saved up all your old maternity clothes & still find that you need to buy more with the next pregnancy! Sometimes, that's just how it goes, and for many women it's totally normal & OK. 2 agree Reply My two cents as a person who is 6' and broad hip/ shouldered and also extremely broke, old navy maternity has been my friend. They have long length maternity jeans. Even jeans that have a stretchy elastic waist for the beginning when you may not need a panel but everything is just uncomfortable. They have awesome clearance prices too, baby shower dress=$9! Long tunic or empire waisted tops have been key for me. I love being in dresses and leggings the most at this point (34 weeks). I am still wearing the same coat. It has an empire waist so it buttons across my bust and still has enough overlap on the bottom to be closed As for undergarments, my bra size has not changed at all. Bras are very uncomfortable to me except sleep bras. After trying on hundreds, I gave up and have been wearing molded cup sports bras mostly. Also I found that only certain underwear are comfortable as well. No need for maternity undies though if you wear bikinis. I just had to get more of the "comfort fit" band and I went up a size due to weight gain. 1 agrees Reply Definitely agree on the underwear. I just went up a size in my usuals, and that's worked so much better than the "maternity" underwear I also bought. Reply about nursing bras: even it you always wear under wire your nursing boobies might be more sensitive to it. I definitely couldn't wear it at all because i would get clogged ducts and infections. Reply I wish I'd heard you make the "if you were on vacation for 2 weeks and lost your pants you'd buy new ones" before I stuck out my almost 2 weeks late kiddo with literally no pants to wear. Because that is some seriously convincing logic. 🙂 My PROTIP: I second the cardigans-over-a-plain-shirt advice. I bought a bunch of solid color (mostly black, brown or grey) maternity shirts from places like Old Navy and wore them under my normal cardigans (unbuttoned or less buttoned towards the end). For me it was psychologically very helpful to have something that felt like my "regular" clothes to wear since I hated my maternity clothes so so so very much. 1 agrees Reply I don't know much about maternity bras, but I do know that Victoria's Secret is notorious for doing a poor job fitting bras – I would strongly recommend going elsewhere! 4 agree Reply Yes! I don't get it. I went in there to get fitted once, because I do like their memory foam bras. She tried to tell me I was a 32B, and couldn't figure out why I was squishing out of the top and bottom of the cups. I'm actually a 32D, but I tried the smaller one on just to humor her… Maybe their formula is flawed, but I think bra sizing is more like an art. You really have to have an eye for it. Nordstrom fitters are a lot better at it. 2 agree Reply I have loved the Coobie bra so far. I am just starting my 2nd trimester, and I started out as a 32 D. Because I have a less-common size, I always get a bogus measurement. The Coobie bra is under $30, does not have an underwire, but provides a lot of support. It expands with your body. I have had mine since early in the first trimester and have continued to find it comfortable as I have grown three cup sizes. Reply I had a lot of hand me down shirts that were way too big for me normally, but I was able to belt above my belly later in pregnancy as a flattering option. I purchased most of my maternity clothes at consignment stores, and got pretty lucky…One thing I HATED about maternity tops is that they are often polyester. They had nice stretch, but I had my baby in late summer so I was uncomfortable all summer long in crap that wouldn't breathe. Reply I wore those bella style bands for all 3 trimesters and into the fourth. My favorite pair of pants was my pre-pregnancy pants with a bella band to hold them up. Reply I live in Minnesota and getting a maternity coat coat was a necessity but I'm tall and carrying twins. For me, a wool coat doesn't cut it in the winter but you could get one of those wool swing coats, they are also cute for after pregnancy. Reply This the secretest, most sorest of topics with me. I have not shared my frustrations with dressing with anyone but it is my least favorite thing to do being pregnant. I'd love to run around nude all day (especially because I think it looks better) whilst pregnant and hauling this belly but apparently that's "frowned upon" in public, so I'll take some of this advice. I wish I'd read this sooner. PS: I have that orange dress, and it is so awesome. I just need more shooooeeess. Reply I found suspenders to be awesome for holding up maternity (or not-all-the-way-fastened) pants. I would then wear my shirt over the suspenders. Peeing was awkward, but I felt much more professional with my pants not falling down. 1 agrees Reply I'm 14 weeks now and as I see it the one advantage to my timing (that I will be enormously pregnant in June-July-August) is that summer is prime time for flowy dresses and those will be perfectly acceptable to wear. (Today, where I life, it is about 20 degrees F and I am glad I still fit into my regular warm wardrobe.) The hard part is being a borderline size to begin with. I wear a 16 and that means the vast majority of places where I ordinarily get clothes don't *have* a "one size bigger" that I can transition to for the time being. And the 18/20s tend to be cut very, very differently from the 12/14/16 range so it's not much help there either. Alas. And two local Goodwill stores between them had exactly one pair of maternity jeans, in size 6. I might have to hit up actual maternity clothes much sooner than I would like, which is "never." Reply I started out at a 14, so I definitely had a lot of these problems later on in my pregnancy. Old Navy/Gap were workable if you're up for ordering online. Similarly you can find used maternity clothes on ebay, etc. And you're totally right about the 3rd trimester – flowy maxi dresses are late pregnancy gold. I have a size 16 friend who had good luck with maternity clothes from the brand Japanese Weekend. I never tried them, but she seemed very pleased with their stuff. Reply I'm 20 weeks now with #2 and gave up on regular pants and switched to maternity pants at 9 weeks. My son is 8 and I didn't save any of the clothes I had when I was pregnant with him so I started from scratch. I found maternity pants so much more comfortable with all the bloating I had and also the weight gain from switching to a lower carb diet to a basically entirely carb diet to manage morning sickness. Tops though, I have only just started wearing some specifically maternity tops and still wear a lot of my regular long stretchy tops. I can't wait for it to get warmer. I can't handle dresses when it's this cold because I'm cold all the time as it is.I lived in dresses during the end of my first pregnancy and plan to do so again this time. The only thing I hate is that it seems to be impossible to find maternity style scrubs, so I have resigned myself to just wearing larger sized scrubs than normal. I had a pile given to me but I hate them. I just feel fat wearing them even though I have a definitely pregnant looking belly in regular clothes, it's hard to see in the giant scrubs. Reply Just have to put in a plug for Belly Jeans. http://www.belly-jeans.com/ This woman will take you fave pair of regular old jeans and maternity-ize them! She takes out the zipper and sews the fly closed, cuts out the waistband, and replaces it with a thick piece of elastic lined with cotton. I just got a pair of skinny jeans converted, using the demi band in red bandana print, and they are AWESOME under a high-waisted dress or long sweater. I'm in my second trimester and these are way better and way cheaper than any store-bought maternity jeans. Reply Another handy piece of clothing: a wrap, a kimono-like shirt or dress. You can give it more room while you grow. Also… this works really wel as baby clothing too. Those little babies grow so fast, it's hard to keep up! Reply Great post, Alice. Everything you said is pretty much spot on! 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