Congratulations—you’re pregnant! Now comes the hard part: finding stylish clothes to wear the entire ten months. (Yes, it’s typically ten months—nine months is a cruel myth!) To help with this endeavor, I interviewed a half dozen pregnant women, and some who had recently given birth, for clues to the best maternity stores and for specific outfit recommendations for work, evenings out, and just to look cool in every day.
Hands down, Gap Maternity and Old Navy Maternity were favorites among all women interviewed. Old Navy is clearly a bit more affordable, but both are “great for staples.” Shirts, basic black pants, bathing suits, T-shirts, cotton button-up shirts for work, workout clothes, cords can be found at both stores that won’t break the pocket book. Target “was hit or miss” according to Amanda Bolster, who gave birth to her first child September 30th. Although another woman interviewed found some amazing Liz Lange dresses at Target: see section below on shopping for dressier occasions.
It will be hit or miss because each woman will carry her weight differently—some just seem to gain weight no where but the belly, others among us gain weight everywhere else too! You’ll have to try things on, clearly, but there is a consensus that certain items are a must have.
Everyone interviewed agreed they didn’t want to spend too much money and recommended accepting maternity clothes from friends and relatives. With that said, not all loaners fit or look good. Sure, you won’t be pregnant forever, but it is almost a year. It’s nice to still feel sexy. Spending some money on one pair of designer jeans, just may do the trick.
“You can wear them with T-shirts to run errands or with heels and a sassy top on Saturday nights. You will feel stylish. They are also good after the baby is born as they don't scream maternity clothes like some of the stretchy stuff does. I paid $175 for a pair this time and I think they are worth every penny,” says Caroline Wilbert, Divine Caroline’s career editor who is pregnant with her second child.
Caroline’s jeans are made by Citizens of Humanity and can be found in various department stores, like Nordstrom, as well as online.
Most of the women also suggested spending a bit more money on a few sexy tops. One way to show off your enhanced cleavage is to go strapless. Mimi Maternity and Notice were both mentioned as stores that had sexy strapless tops for under $60.
Special occasion shopping is bit tricky. No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on an outfit that will be worn once to a wedding or event and then shelved indefinitely. For that reason, you may want to buy simple, dark-colored dresses that can be dressed up or down with accessories, making them more versatile. Erin Moriarty, a business journalist who is 9 months pregnant, found bargains at Target.
One dress by Liz Lange, is a brown, V-necked, mid-calf dress for $25, that clearly can be worn to work and, with the right necklace, scarf or heels, can be worn on an evening out too.
“I bought three dresses from Target for around $25 each and they were so much more comfortable and flattering than the two dresses I bought at Mimi and Pea in the Pod for over $100 each,” Erin says.
“I wore the Target dresses all the time to work and got more compliments on them than on the expensive ones from Mimi! Just know that Target has many, many more maternity clothes on its website than it does in stores, so you have to go online!” Erin adds.
Caroline spent a bit more on a black soft-stretch knit cotton draw-string dress from Gap, ($58) but didn’t buy several dresses, as she has been able to change the dress’s look dramatically with varying accessories.
“I have worn this dress to a holiday luncheon, out to dinner, and to a very causal child's birthday party. It’s very versatile, depending on your shoes and jewelry. I wore heels and a broach with it to the holiday luncheon for instance, but wore causal boots to a child's birthday party,” Caroline says.
Tips To Make the Most of Your Shopping:
- Don’t buy ahead of time. I recall buying a few outfits when I was four months pregnant to wear later. My breasts, unfortunately, didn’t go up three cup sizes like some of my friends, so certain tops that I bought or received for later in my pregnancy, didn’t work for me. For that reason, shop for clothes for your size now.
- Find a cheap tailor. “For those of us who are already well-endowed on the top, it is worth having a tailor sew up the neckline a bit with some tops and dresses. Some of the dresses I tried were way too revealing to wear to work, but a tailor put a few stitches in them for me for about $8 each and they were perfect!” says Erin.
- Cruise consignment shops where you’ll often find designer maternity dresses from Mimi Maternity or Pea in a Pod for less than half.