Maternity clothes seem to champion some of the most unflattering items I’ve ever seen. No, I don’t want bows on my belly or big dots on my shirt. As a stylist, I’m super picky about my purchases. I’m all about building my wardrobe with items that make me feel powerful, feminine, and put together. No matter what size I’m wearing or what’s going on, I want to feel confident when I step out the door.
The first few months of pregnancy were great because I could still squeeze into a lot of my dresses. There was enough stretch to highlight my new bump, and it looked like it was meant to be. At about the five-month mark, nothing was zipping anymore, so I had to search a little deeper.
You know I’m all about a capsule wardrobe, especially with this pregnancy. I don’t know if I’ll be pregnant again, so I’m looking at these nine months as a very special season. Surprisingly, I’ve done a great job of curating my casual looks and workwear into power outfits that reflect my pre-bump style while still feeling like “me.” (Well, as much as I can with a baby on board.)
What’s my secret? I hardly bought any maternity wear. Seriously.
ONLINE SHOPPING JUST DIDN’T WORK
It can be difficult to shop maternity if you enjoy going out to a store. Many places including Macys and Nordstrom don’t keep maternity in their stores. You can only find those products online, and it can be complicated to find out what is fitting and flattering. I had a maternity photoshoot and was short on time, so I decided to go online to find a dress. As a professional personal shopper, I have a pretty good eye for online buys.
I was completely wrong.
Shopping for a bump is very different than shopping for a non-bump. I went to Nordstrom and ordered a closetful of dresses that made me look like a pregnant nun. I wish I had taken photos of those pieces. My partner couldn’t stop laughing as I showed him the purchases!
Now that I’ve gone into stores and tried on non-pregnancy items that work, I have a better understanding of what to look for online. Basic leggings and maternity shirts are easy, but dresses can be a challenge.
Here’s what I purchased over the course of nine months.
What I looked for in regular sizes:
-Something with a good amount of stretch
-Pieces two-to-four sizes larger than your norm
-Fitted dresses with ruching
-Dresses that are fitted in the bust and loose at the bottom
-Stretchy wrap dresses
-Long, stretchy shirts
My non-maternity purchases:
-So many to choose from! Check out Target, Universal Standard, Michael Kors, Karina, Lulus, and LOFT—just to name a few.
-Bra extender from Target
-Tube top bra from Target
-Bralette from Victoria’s Secret
-Jackets and vests from White House Black Market, Anne Klein, and Anthroplogie
-Tops from Rachel Roy, Ann Taylor, and Universal Standard
Maternity wear items:
-A couple black leggings for working out, which have now become my go-to’s at month eight
-Old Navy jeans, which still fit, but aren’t super comfortable or flexible at month eight
-Old Navy and Target “around the house” shirts
ABOUT THE PURCHASES
Speaking of Universal Standard
My purchases from Universal Standard were semi-maternity wear, but I don’t consider them to be “full maternity” because I can totally wear these post-baby and still feel put together. During my last months of pregnancy, the navy and gray long sleeves have been a staple beneath all my nice jackets.
I’m still working and recording videos, so I have to look presentable from the waist up. I get comfortable in my stretchy maternity leggings and dress up my Foundation Long Sleeve Crew Necks with jackets and fun jewelry. I’m all set for the camera!
Danielle Brooks (Yes, the actress from Orange is the New Black.), partnered with US to create a line for mamas called MOM. All the pieces are meant to fit during and after pregnancy. If you change sizes afterward, you can return the item, even if it looks worn, and exchange it for your post-baby size. This is a perfect gift for anyone expecting!
Why Old Navy and Target are NOT My Favs
There’s nothing wrong with shopping at these stores! I’m sharing this because I truly enjoy special pieces that can last and am a little picky on how fabrics look and feel. During my pregnancy, I’ve been cautious about spending too much money because I’d like to invest in after-baby pieces. I know my body is going to change, and I want to make sure my wardrobe fits and feels good for my new busy life as a working mama.
Why don’t these brands hit the mark? Most of their maternity items are disposable.
I’ve already donated four dresses because they were super pilled at my belly. Everything rubs on my bump. Soft dresses and tops just don’t last, no matter the quality or price. I’ve also been super sweaty which, let’s be honest, is not a good look. Having jackets and layers over my dresses and tops are perfect for hiding the glisten.
You can only sweat through something so many times before it goes into the trash. My pants, bras, and jackets are the only things I plan on saving in case of another pregnancy.
If you’re struggling to dress up your growing bump, check out the retailers above! These brands specialize in pieces that will cover your little one and save you from maternity section blues. After month eight, you might just be living in leggings. But at that point, you won’t really care.
What maternity or non-maternity brands work for you? Share in the comments below or tag us on Instagram @thecloset.edit!