Where can butches find maternity clothing?

Guest post by S. Bear Bergman

Please welcome guestposter S. Bear Bergman, author of Butch is a Noun and recent parent to son Stanley. S. Bear also wrote a post for Offbeat Bride called “Wedding suits for butches, transmasculine beings, and other festive gender-benders” a couple years back. -Ariel

Can we talk about pregnant butch girls and maternity clothing? My partner of 10 years and I are expecting our first child in November. I am a little softer (and I hate to even say it, “girlier”) on the inside than I am outwardly.

I am starting to show, and my clothes are of course not fitting as well as they used to. I need to go shopping for maternity clothes, but am concerned about the very feminine options that I have seen thus far. -Deena

This is definitely not what one may have in mind for non-girly maternity wear.
Congratulations! I hope your entire pregnancy is smooth and unremarkable in all ways (our midwives taught us that an utterly boring pregnancy is the best thing to wish someone). I really, really feel you on the maternity-clothes issue. The flowers, the bows, the level of twee-ness… well, it’s not really a butch’s dream wardrobe, is it? But fear not, there are some options. Depending to some degree on your work situation and generally what you have to be dressed for between now and November, you ought to be just fine.

I assume you’ve already figured out that there’s no requirement to wear a pregnancy-styled top, and that you can just buy bigger shirts and wear those. The only shirt-related advice I have is that a) a clean button-down dress shirt over a pregnant belly is dress-appropriate for nearly any event known to humanity and b) now is the time to ask friends who wear larger sizes if, come October, you can borrow a couple of t-shirts and a hoodie.

Now, let’s talk about other options…

The Bella Band

Now, let’s talk about The Bella Band. This magic thingum is worn over your hips, across your unbuttoned/unzipped pants, to hold them in place. In general, it’ll buy you a couple months more in your pre-pregnancy pants. Using it requires an untucked shirt/sweater/tunic so that the band doesn’t show, but this thing is great both as you grow out of your pants and as you grow back into them.

Note that there are roughly one zillion imitations of the Bella band, and in my opinion many of them are simply not as good — whatever they’re made of just doesn’t have the right hug-the-body factor. I assume this must be down to the Lycra content, and if you know more about Lycra than I do, perhaps you can find the right fabric and run up a few of your own. Regardless, these things come in plain, lace-free black and white.

Overalls

If you’re a DIY/crafty sort, or if you have DIY/crafty friends, you might like to buy a couple pairs of painters’ overalls and ask them to trick them out for you.

Overalls are primo masculine pregnancy wear. Depending on your shape, you can probably just buy big overalls, cuff up or hem the bottoms, and call it good. Overalls can also be hemmed up to a shorts length or a capri length if that’s your style. Check in with your local dry-cleaners — most will do hemming for $10 per pair or so. For weekends and casual jobs, overalls are great and very comfortable for a pregnant body, since they help give the belly some support toward the end. If you’re a DIY/crafty sort, or if you have DIY/crafty friends, you might like to buy a couple pairs of painters’ overalls and ask them to trick them out for you. They can be dyed amusing colors, embroidered, bedazzled, customized with patches, or whatever appeals to you.

Chef pants

Chefwear, bless them, sells many, many perfectly good looking pants in a huge variety of colours and patterns, each and every one of which has an entirely elastic waist. You can choose from anything from plain black to flying, flaming jalapenos. There are also plenty of stops in-between for solid, pinstripe, and herringbone patterns that will be fine for work situations, and are comfortable all day. You can either choose to wear them below the belly or up over it — depending on what might be comfortable for you. These are relatively reasonable in price, so you may like to pick up a variety. The only drawback here (besides the big Chefwear label, which can be easily removed with a seamripper if you prefer) is that these pants always look a little baggy/relaxed. Makes them hard to dress up enough for anything fancy. (Psst… you can also find chef’s pants on Amazon!)

Amish pants

Don’t laugh. The nice people at Plainly Dressed will sell you traditional Amish-styled men’s broadfall pants, made to measure, in high-quality cotton twill that will take a crease beautifully, or microfiber for days when you just need a pair of trousers that look dressier. Buy them with a pair of their suspenders, and you’ll be surprised at how comfortable they are to wear even all knocked up. They do take a while to arrive — sometimes as much as six weeks — so be prudent in ordering early. These are a great trouser with buttons up both sides, cut modestly (aka: big) and made incredibly well, individually and by hand.

The full-cut shirts they sell, though not exactly broad in color array, are also great for pregnancy — and you can get them in linen! Lovely, cool linen for your overheated pregnant self. Just saying. Something to keep in mind is that Plainly Dressed have done extensive work for theater, film, civil-war reenactors, and so on.They do not expect that you will be Amish or Mennonite to wear their clothes, which is why I chose to include them. You may be able to find less-expensive versions of some of these things online, if you are willing to say they’re for someone Amish or Mennonite, which I was not.

Business Clothing

Certainly, there are “business” maternity clothes (which is the code for things that do not look frilly or like overgrown toddler clothes) and you can sometimes find nice looking things secondhand online by searching business or executive along with maternity. But in the world of clothing that will feel, fit, and look as much like men’s clothes as possible while still having room for a pregnant belly, there’s what I’ve found. It’s not much, but it has so far been enough to get a number of butches, trans guys, genderqueerfellas, and similarly gendered peeps through pregnancies, so I’m hoping it helps for you! If you have to go to a formal event, write back, and we can talk about Utilikilts.

Comments on Where can butches find maternity clothing?

  1. Old Navy sells long solid color tanks that are great for layering. Where they’re long, the bella band will work really well.

  2. Great post! I’m femme and even I had trouble finding maternity clothes that I liked. A butch friend tried to convince me that overalls were the way to go because that’s what she wore while pregnant, but I’m just not an overall-wearin-type femme. (They look good on butches though!) That said, I fit into large shirts up until the last month when they were no longer long enough to cover my huge bump. So, I’d add to your recommendations for large tops to try to find large LONG tops. I resorted to wearing long A-shirts at the end which butches could also wear (either alone or under shirts) and look pretty hot in too, I might add. πŸ˜‰

    • I’m totally with you on finding LONG tops. Even some maternity clothes are cut too short for those later months. If you plan to wear regular clothes throughout, pay special attention to length.

  3. Thrift stores and resale shops are also great resources for all varieties of maternity clothes. Sure, you’ll have to pick through the lacy/frilly stuff, but these shops are generally the best for finding a solid variety of simple or plainer clothes with room to grow. Just this weekend, I picked up new-looking plain maternity tanks and tees for $3.00 each at a local Kid-to-Kid shop.

  4. from a friend who, while not butch, had a decidedly butch work uniform requirement while pregnant, i’ve heard that just putting a rubber band (or bands) around your pant buttons will get you pretty far. i think that’s particularly effective with longer shirts – which most men’s shirts are. sounds like the same idea as the bella band, but cheap =)

    • I got through almost my entire pregnancy with 2 hair ties looped together around the buttons of my pants. Saved me loads of money!

  5. Buy several maternity camis/tanks to wear under anything–they are very long and cover the belly and band…and you can wear any shirt over them, since they pick up the slack between the regular top and the expanding belly. They are pretty cheap too at places like Target and Old Navy.

  6. i was going to suggest fisherman pants, like on etsy, or yoga pants, in terms of comfort.

    and i second the old navy tanks. the bella band could work with men’s cargo style shorts. i think overalls are really uncomfortable, but if that’s your thing, that’s cool πŸ™‚ i suppose butch maternity benefits from the fact that it’s trendy to have fitted, longer shirts for both men and women right now πŸ™‚

  7. I *LOVE* my maternity overalls! My mom ordered me (through my last pregnancy) 3 pairs of long and 1 pair of short through Site-to-Store @ Walmart.com. The denim isn’t terribly thick so they’re not too hot for summer. One pair is a bit short, so I think I may cut them into shorts. (I’m pregnant again.)

    She also found me a couple nursing maternity camisoles. They are plain white and plain black, strappy tops. I don’t think they look overly feminine and think they look great under my overalls.

    • i love overalls and would love an excuse to wear them! any source other than walmart for these? we don’t shop at walmart.

  8. It sounds like starting a butch maternity clothing line might be a good idea…

  9. OMG, the chefwear idea has calmed ALL my fears of finding maternity clothing for me. I’m plenty femme so I don’t mind the occasional frill, lace or bow, but I’m plus-sized. I’m not sure if OBM has done a post on that yet or not, but I’m terrified that I won’t be able to find plus-sized, professional maternity clothes that I can afford. The chef’s wear looks PERFECT and I can easily have it hemmed. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Old Navy here too; they do a good job of a more T-shirt-and-jeans aesthetic. I’m not butch but I’m not into ruffles and bows and pink and blah. But really that was pretty easy to shop around.

    Old Navy isn’t the sturdiest stuff in the world, but I didn’t buy a lot, wore it non-stop, and most of it has lasted through two pregnancies, though I had to buy a couple new dressy things for the second pregnancy (since the dressy things from the first from Old Navy just look too worn to still be dressy).

  11. ok, so these are maybe a little more girly than some like but i LOVE Suzy Shier for maternity tanks. the have a tank in their classic line that comes in a range of colours, straight across bust line, thick straps, shelf bra(!!), long, and ruching on the sides which means i could wear them right up to the end. and they’re great for nursing after….and they’re often on sale for 3/15$ or likewise wicked deals….

  12. I loved Thyme maternity (not sure, but it might just be in Canada). They sell great, normal looking maternity clothes. No frills, no giant bows, pink hadn’t thrown up everywhere. It was like shopping in a normal clothing store, just more belly room.

    I lived in their basic tees and cardigans

  13. Thank you to everyone who has commented and especially to the blogger. I am the Deena in the post and am so excited about this options I have been given!! Thanks so much!

  14. I had a little too much luck in the teen section. Many things are cut long and the XL fit great. That opened up more options for me.

  15. Ooooh, bookmarking this (as I did with the OBB post on butch suits/tuxes) for future reference!

    Remember — overalls are a pain to remove and refasten for the bathroom. Overalls and overactive pregnancy bladder may not be a good match!

  16. Suspenders are your friends. (I wore mine with both regular jeans and maternity jeans) Yes they’re a pain in the bathroom, but having my pants constantly fall off was more of a pain.

  17. Chefwear pants were absolutely essential to my butch maternity wardrobe. I already had a closetful, and I didn’t need to buy any new pairs b/c the elastic waistband easily accommodated me — and I was carrying twins, so I wasn’t exactly small.

  18. A butch friend described her pregnancy style as “fat man fashion”. She had a Bob’s Big Boy look going on, and it was pretty adorable.

  19. This may sound strange, but it’s pretty simple to turn mens jeans into maternity pants by sewing some knit material onto the top. I personally went to the hospital in some mens pants and came home in the same ones. Old Navy also has some pretty standard button down shirts I wore well into my last month (when nothing will be comfortable no matter what you wear).

  20. maternity clothes pretty much suck. that’s why i wore *nothing but* super large men’s clothing from thrift stores the whole time. no one even knew i was pregnant until i was in my last trimester. hit up your local thrift stores for extra big jeans, flannels, shorts ect. this is also good because not only are maternity clothes ugly, they’re also fairly expensive for something you’ll only wear for a few months.

  21. I used the Bella band during the first half of my pregnancy. Then, I found this stretchy tank top at Target and I wore it nearly everyday! It fit under all my shirts and over my unbuttoned pants. I used one of those button expanders to help keep things in place. then, I just wore my regular clothes.

  22. Can I just say how much I straight up love the wisdom and wit of Bear? FOR REAL.

    “Nearest Exit” gets loaned out to all my friends as a litmus test of sorts – everyone has loved it. <3

  23. As a plus size mama on a tight budget I tried the large shirts but I just looked sloppy and even heavier. I found that if you are looking for a frill-free maternity style, you can trick out regular tees and tops by using a couple of safety pins or mitten clips (usually on kids mittens, like alligator clips with a little string). Gather the tee in the back so it pulls snug under your breasts; pin in place. It’s a nice way to show off your preggie belly without getting into the maternity clothes nightmare scene.

  24. I don’t know if there are H&Ms in the states, but if there are: great maternity section! Just your usual H&M clothes, but with extra comfiness around those areas you need it πŸ™‚ And for European mama’s: JBC!

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