Finding plus-size maternity clothes: A Canadian struggle, eh?

August 9 2016 | Guest post by Erika Hammer

First she showed you her amazing Simpsons baby shower, then she bravely admitted that she hated being pregnant. Now Erika is talking plus size maternity clothes shopping in Canada…

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By: shutter_grlCC BY 2.0

The syrup from the maple trees is flowing, there’s always a good hockey game to talk aboot, and the world seems to be swooning over our Prime Minister (on both his platform and his looks).

Canada is a pretty sweet place to live, eh?

Except when it comes to finding plus size maternity clothes, dammit!

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was between a size 18-20. I normally did all my shopping at either Addition-Elle or Penningtons. In Canada, that’s about all we have to offer in terms of speciality stores that are readily accessible. Of course, there are boutiques in the downtown core, and some stores, like Old Navy, who have some XXL sizes. But plus size fashion in Canada is somewhat limited, or so I thought…

Once the bump started forming, and my regular clothes started tugging in weird places, it was time to take the journey into finding plus-size maternity clothes in Canada. Oh boy? Hooray? I had a gut feeling that things wouldn’t be all that easy and boy was I right.

Finding plus-size maternity clothing was a nightmare!

Looking at Addition-Elle and Penningtons, I didn’t find anything that was specifically maternity. Sure, I could buy something in the next size up. And maybe a maxi dress would work. But there’s a difference between wearing maternity clothes, and simply the next size up. Maternity clothes are meant to be more spacious around the tummy, and still fit you well at the neck and shoulders. If you resort to wearing clothes that are simply the next size up you risk looking kinda frumpy.

I went to the “go-to” maternity stores — Thyme Maternity and Motherhood Maternity. I found out pretty quick that Thyme Maternity didn’t have anything in plus size, while Motherhood Maternity had a very small (and I mean VERY small) amount of product online. I wanted to try on the clothes in person, though, since I had never bought maternity clothing before.

Reviewing message boards online and countless internet searches, I kept finding a lot of great options for plus size maternity clothes, but they were all based in the US. And with the Canadian Dollar worth only about ¾ of a US dollar, I certainly wasn’t prepared to spend that kind of money (plus shipping) on clothes.

Eventually I said “F&^$ it!” and decided to take matters into my own hands and I learned a few things:

Leggings will be your friend

CHEAP leggings, especially. Those that are a wee bit thinner, and very stretchy, will work well in your current size, as there will be a lot of stretch for over your belly. I bought some of my favourite non-maternity leggings. I also bought a pair 1+ size larger for when the bump got bigger. These worked well until about month seven and a half months in, when my bump popped, and there simply was no longer enough maternity to go over my bump (unless I wanted the world’s most epic camel toe).

If you’re due in the summer, get maxi dresses from plus size stores

But make sure you get ones that are made of stretchy material. Get them to fit your shoulders and not your belly size. It’s okay for the material to stretch over your belly! It’s important that your shoulders are fit correctly so that you don’t have arm holes that are too big.

Shark bite shirts, diagonally cut, and any kind of longer shirt is awesome

Any pre-pregnancy shirt that has a little more length to it will turn into a “regular” length shirt once you’re pregnant

If you have to buy tops in sizes that are too big

Throw a bolero or a light cardigan over top to hide the way-too-big arm holes. Consider bringing them to a seamstress, too, to get them fitted around your bust.

Where the struggle is still real: undergarments

I couldn’t find any plus size underwear at any of the stores that fit my body well. And nursing bras in plus sizes are next-to-impossible to find, unless you’re ordering in from somewhere, and want to play the “let’s order four sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit” game.

It’s not easy finding plus size maternity clothing in Canada, and I wish that retailers would keep in mind that plus size mamas exist, and that we deserve access to fashionable clothing too!

Any other Canadian plus size mamas? How did you find, or hack, your maternity clothes?

  1. I'm only 7 weeks along right now, but worried about finding maternity pants that will fit me when the time comes. I'm not plus-sized, but I am over 6 feet tall and finding regular pants that have a 36" inseam is already a chore. I'm due in March, so I'm hoping to be able to spend the winter in lined leggings and long shirts and sweaters, but I guess we will see.

    1 agrees
    • I feel you! I'm 6'1" and had my baby in April 2015, so similar time of year to be pregnant. I was SO frustrated because Motherhood Maternity here in the states carries longs and plus sizes but not plus sizes in long length. I ended up getting a pair of skinny maternity jeans from them and paired them with a kind of riding boot over top so you couldn't see how stupid short they were.

      I had a lot of trouble with getting maternity items where the waist would come up over my bump and HATED having waistbands hit me on my actual stomach. These leggings from amazon were awesome (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JE8AFPE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1). I then bought a couple of sweater dresses from old navy's online tall selection in a size larger than I normally wear and a couple stretchy belts.

      I also bought a couple of dresses from Angel Maternity. It's an australian based company, but they have a $20 flat shipping fee to north america and some nicer styles. I still wear one of the dresses a year later!

    • I'm terrified of this in particular– I'm not pregnant but it's definitely a possibility in the next several years, and I'm 6'4" with a 40" inseam. Gonna try to time it very carefully so I'd be due in like, September or something so I don't have to deal with finding maternity pants (since regular pants are hard enough). Long Tall Sally has like, one pair of maternity jeans, wish they would carry more!

      (Even more terrifying: the prospect of my feet permanently growing a size, which is a big reason why we're waffling on the whole idea. I'm already a size 15; if my feet grow any more, I'll even be too big for LTS.)

  2. Thanks for this! I am a plus-size Canadian mama only 5 weeks into my second pregnancy and was frustrated the first time around with the lack of options here. Living in a border city, I ended up buying the bulk of my maternity wardrobe in the States at Motherhood. A useful tip if you're buying a size up in non-maternity tops~ invest in a few stretchy/adjustable belts to cinch the extra fabric in and help look less 'frumpy'. Bonus: this also helps show off your bump!

  3. Oh man this couldn't have come at a better time! I'm only a few weeks into my third pregnancy and the state of my one pair of maternity pants is a little frightening! My only recommendation to add is Old Navy's maternity leggings. They are fantastic! I started my pregnancies at a size 18-20 and when I needed warm roomy up top leggings they were a life saver!! Though they don't translate to non-pregnancy life…

  4. I had this problem last year – I ended up ordering five dresses from JC Penny online. They were the only ones on clearance in my size. Some were nice, some were fugly, and I wore them with stretchy maternity tights and regular size open sweaters for the entire time, then a few months afterward until I could afford to buy some new clothes that fit my post-partum self. It sucked. Standard-size women in this area don't have an easier time, though. The nearest store that carries maternity clothes is in a city an hour and a half away.

    Annoyingly, when I Googled 'plus size maternity' + my city, a boutique came up in the search results. Somebody had opened a maternity clothing store with a wide range of sizes just a few blocks from my apartment, but it had gone out of business. Sigh.

  5. Thank you so much for this article, I feel your pain. Everything about this article … preaching to the choir!!! Before I got pregnant I was worried about finding maternity clothes. Oh my goodness! I'm Petite AND Plus (5"0, generally 14p-16p prepregnancy).
    It has been maddening to see that retailers seem to forget that plus size women have babies TOO. TOUGH to find clothes. My go to for actualy Maternity clothes has been ANN TAYLOR LOFT they pretty much have weekly sales for workwear; their maternity clothes go up a size 18P/XXLP and 18. JCPenney has some decent options for plus (not petite plus) but I haven't tried them.
    My saving grace has been waist extenders !! Although my growing thighs & butt have sized me out of my prepregnancy straight leg jeans my boot leg jeans and cargo pants still fit comfortable with the waist extenders & privacy flap.
    Like everybody says non-maternity maxi dresses have been great too. Modcloth has lots of knit (read: stretchy) options for large size and empire waist styles that can work for pregnant women. And Lands End yes LandsEnd has plain solid colored plus (and plus petite – up to 18P) dresses that can work for a growing belly.

  6. I am 26 weeks into my first pregnancy. I'm 5'4" and was a size 18 before getting pregnant. I'm in the US, so I do have access to Target, but I find that the bottoms tend to be too big and the tops are a little too small. I pretty much live in maternity leggings and knit dresses and tees. The struggle is REAL – I still haven't found maternity underwear that is actually affordable, so I mostly go commando (tmi, lol) and I was really disappointed in Motherhood Maternity for the TINY selection of plus size clothes (seriously, I do not want to wear capris. Stop trying to make capris a thing, Motherhood). Old Navy isn't awful, but the quality is really poor and the sizing is weird.
    One thing I would say is that if you are crafty or have a sewist friend, men's tees can be a total godsend. I was really missing my cool graphic tees, so I went to Target (but you can find them at Walmart, ON, etc) and picked up a couple men's shirts in a size or so larger than I had previously worn (Star Wars and Harry Potter, if anyone is interested in the fandoms I am representing on my belly). I used narrow elastic and ruched the sides from the hem to the boob-apex. Then I cut the neckline bigger and finished it with fold-over elastic. This not only looks cool (and can be a more "feminine" finish if you want) but it is also practical – I can pull the neckline down over my boob for future breastfeeding opportunities. For the Star Wars shirt I also narrowed the shoulders by recutting the armscye and reattaching the sleeves. For both shirts I took the sleeves in a bit so they weren't so baggy. I get a TON of complements on my awesome DIY maternity shirts, and they only took me maybe 30 minutes each and a couple bucks' worth of elastic.

    Now I'm wondering if I should take pictures of this process and submit it as a DIY article to Offbeat….what do you folks think?

    4 agree
    • Yes! I have resorted to only wearing plain maternity tees because I swear the ones with designs are almost always too cutesy. I don't want flowers or some saying that draws even more attention to the fact I'm pregnant thanks.

      • YES! I went maternity shopping for the first time yesterday and all the graphic tees were so ridiculously "LOOK AT ME EVERYBODY I'M PREGNANT" that I skipped right over them and went with solid colors.

        1 agrees
    • Okay – I made another shirt and took a bunch of pictures. Now I just need to write up the tutorial and submit it!

      Thank you all for responding so positively! 😀

      1 agrees
  7. I don't know if this could help anyone, but look into "Bellybedaine". It's from Quebec and she has models up to 4x! She's local to me and even made me a custom nursing wedding dress for like 100$!

  8. I wore a thing called a belly band, I believe, and I bought them at Motherhood. They came in black and nude c2012.

    I adapted my pants through the first seven months of pregnancy with them. Because they are foldable, sometimes I'd use them to hold up my (open) pants, and sometimes it was more of a "keep the belly from poking out" when my shirt wanted to ride up, and sometimes both.

    I really recommend you try those. Nothing works for everyone but I bought, like, three maternity tops for the last trimester, and no pants, so it really saved the budget.

    Edited to add, I was then a size 24/26. And for the last two months, I basically wore drawstring bottoms, because I couldn't stand anything tight at all, but I used the belly bands after kiddo was born too- it helped me keep my stomach (with bright stretch marks and large, problematic c section wound) out of sight while boobing the kid left, right and centre.

  9. I'm not pregnant yet, but I am a plus size Canadian and afraid of this. Zulily sometimes has some decent looking plus size maternity clothes that don't look too bad price wise.

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