I’d always imagined my maternity wardrobe centering around bump-enhancing dresses, flowing tops, and, of course, leggings outfits with a mix of knits, sweatshirts, and oversize tees. That’s been true to an extent. However, most days, my outfits have been less than photogenic, with sweatpants and comfy long sleeves seeing far more wear than cute maternity outfits.
Surprisingly, other pregnancy staples became essential earlier in my first and second trimesters before my bump substantially grew. My flexible underwear was already starting to dig; I filled out my bras far more than usual; and the stretchy activewear I wore daily quickly became irritating or uncomfortably tight. Pajamas were another unexpected category I needed to address — what I thought were roomy tops and bottoms felt restricting as my tossing and turning increased. Enter maternity underwear and larger sleep and athleisure staples. Oh, and denim? That became a hard pass quickly. That is until I gave in to maternity jeans and promptly devised a hack for making them as comfortable as possible.
It would be an understatement to say I was surprised to feel so many changes rather than physically seeing all that much. But, as many have told me, pregnancy is a journey, and sometimes, a turbulent one. Style modifications are merely part of the ride. So, even though, more days than not, I’m prioritizing comfort over aesthetics — especially now that I’m seven months along — I remain dedicated to cute maternity clothing as often as possible. Ahead are some of the pieces I deem essential.
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I’m a dress lover, through and through, almost always opting for midi lengths from minimal to bohemian. I’ve never been one for overly-fitted silhouettes. However, my growing excitement to showcase a bump changed my tune in favor of body-skimming knit and jersey dresses many days when putting myself together. Of course, my penchant for romanticism has all but faded, and I’ve leaned on smocked styles and tiered shapes often, too.
Given that leggings are so stretchy, I figured many would reach over my growing bump with ease. At first, this was the case. But even within my first trimester, waistbands began sinking to an uncomfy mid-point, including the highest waisted styles in my assortment. So, over-the-bump leggings became essential, from made-to-sweat-in types to soft and cozy versions I rotate through at home.
Bigger Sports Bras
Even though I’m small chested and am not all that bigger than my regular size, this is one area that began to change immediately and continues to do so. Like my leggings, I figured most of my stretchy sports bras would get me through the first several months. But after only two or three, it was time to go up in size. Sure, I can squeeze into some tried-and-true favorites, but it’s mostly not worth the effort. The best investment so far has been nursing styles I can continue to use after pregnancy, but I love many of my regular labels in larger sizes, too.
My regular assortment of tops varies between flowy puff-sleeve styles, crisp button-downs, and sweaters of all kinds, from fitted to oversize. But similar to my dress preference, I’ve mostly preferred fitted but not tight sweaters to display my bump rather than look awkwardly lumpy under a loose or boxy style. Length, however, became an issue with my pre-owned assortment around the six-month mark. So, I’ve added a few lower-hitting styles to my maternity wardrobe — including tees, knit tops, shirts, and sweatshirts — though I find most look best layered over dresses or with leggings rather than maternity jeans that sit under the bump.
I’ve witnessed a phenomenon among pregnant women who aim to avoid maternity clothes as long as possible. I’ve fallen into this camp and get why. Firstly, the cost — who wants to shell out money on temporary attire? Second, maternity clothing gets a bad rap for being unstylish, and jeans, well, they can seemingly appear to be unnecessary torture devices for an ever-changing body. At least for dress girls like me.
At a certain point, I gave in and was pleasantly surprised to find the pair I selected from DL1961 felt comfortable while maintaining the vintage-inspired straight-leg look I love. However, there was one issue: the stretchy panels were highly itchy on my skin. But I quickly figured out a hack: over-the-bump maternity underwear as a base layer.
It’s a much smoother solution than clumsily wearing another thin top underneath tops and sweaters, specially fitted ones. Plus, the length issues I mentioned before meant most layering camis and tees don’t tuck all the way in anyway. The style I chose from Bumpsuit is super stretchy and will last me throughout my pregnancy — I just stocked up on a couple more pairs.
Oversize sweatsuits have been a favorite between winter temperatures and heavily bloated days where I can’t tolerate anything fitted. Fortunately, stylish sweatpant outfits are still trending, and I’ve added a few new pairs from my regular go-to brands to my arsenal, all in bigger sizes for plenty of room.
Most of my pajamas fit loosely before pregnancy, but there’s nothing like a growing bump to make you realize how much more space you can use, especially when an aching body and baby kicks begin interrupting your sleep. I’m incredibly picky about sleepwear fabrics, so I ordered my favorite styles in bigger sizes to make sleep as comfortable as possible.
I knew bigger bras would be essential during pregnancy, but I hadn’t considered how hugely important larger undies would be. Even my most silky smooth, seamless styles began to dig within my first trimester. So I upgraded my assortment with bigger sizes, ranging from breathable cotton undies to over-the-bump styles and seamless thongs for workouts. Plus, I’ve stocked up on soft bras with lots of stretch sans wires.