Secrets of maternity dressing

Secrets of maternity dressing

You're thrilled about having a baby. But you're less than excited about the prospect of giving up your hip clothes in favor of tent dresses and sweats. Fear not – with a few simple wardrobe tweaks, you can be a hip mama.

"The key is to stick with the same kinds of things you wear when you're not pregnant," advises fashion designer Liz Lange. If you wear a lot of black and that makes you feel confident and comfortable, then by all means, don't start wearing pink just because you're pregnant.

If you prefer solid colors to prints, choose a favorite neutral – say, gray, black, or khaki – and build your wardrobe around that.

Borrow before you buy

Maternity clothes can be expensive, especially when you consider that you'll wear them for only a few short months. In fact, the more you can borrow from friends who blazed the baby trail before you, the better.

Check out consignment shops and thrift stores. Women who spend a lot on maternity clothes often try to recoup some of their costs by reselling them at such stores. With a little patience, you can score designer maternity duds at a fraction of the original price.

Scour your closet – and your partner's

"We all have at least a couple of things in our closets that we wear when we're a few pounds heavier than usual," says Lange. Loose tops and pants or skirts with elastic or drawstring waistbands can be terrific pieces to get you through the first few months.

Even your favorite jeans can last a couple of extra months if you use a little ingenuity. Try this trick: Loop a rubber band through the buttonhole and then wrap it around the button. This will provide that crucial extra inch or two of breathing room.

A store-bought alternative is the belly band, a stretchy band you wear around your waist. The band holds up your jeans so you can leave them unzipped. On top, wear a long shirt to cover your quick fix.

Certain silhouettes are especially becoming on your changing form: A-line shifts, empire-waist dresses and tops, and pencil skirts paired with swingy shirts. For a sporty, hip look that showcases your "bump," pair low-rise pants with a fitted tee. Stretchy gauchos create a trim, neat silhouette, topped by a loose peasant-style top. And just about any style made out of slinky, stretchy fabrics can go the distance right up to delivery day.

Don't forget your mate's side of the closet, either. One of his oxford shirts worn unbuttoned over a form-fitting tee or tank – or buttoned over leggings – is a classic look. Make it more feminine by rolling up the sleeves and pairing it with an eye-catching choker or bangles. And if your partner is a woman who wears a larger size than you, bingo! You may find plenty of things in her closet that will work for you as your waistline expands.

Ready to shop? First, buy several transitional pieces

When your regular clothes are just too tight but you're not ready for full-fledged maternity wear, buy a couple of pairs of inexpensive non-maternity pants and tops a size or two larger than you normally wear. Some women have great success finding both transitional clothes and maternity clothing alternatives in boutiques and departments that specialize in "plus sizes." They tend to be less expensive than maternity retailers, too.

"If you shop for maternity clothes too soon, the stuff you buy will be too big at first and then too small later in pregnancy," Lange says. "You'll be frustrated, plus you'll spend much more money than you need to." An added bonus: You'll be able to wear these transitional clothes during the awkward months after you deliver, too.

Don't be afraid to show off those curves

Today's moms-to-be are flaunting their blossoming bellies and breasts in body-conscious clothes that are miles removed from the frumpy, voluminous maternity smocks of yesteryear. And for good reason: Form-fitting is much more flattering than really loose. "If you can't see where the clothing ends and the woman begins, the clothes are too baggy," says Lange.

Show a little skin

If your gams are gorgeous, flaunt them in a short dress. Upper arms like Madonna's? Show them off with a sleeveless shirt. Proud of your new, more expansive cleavage? Try a low-cut top. Neck and shoulders to die for? Highlight them with a ballet-cut or bateau neckline. You don't have to go undercover just because you're pregnant. "I'm not a fan of showing your entire belly – unless you're at the beach – but showing a little skin is always flattering," says Lange.

Paint yourself in one color

"When you're dressed in one color from head to toe, you look really put together," says Lange. You can use a scarf or sweater or even jewelry to add splashes of color, she says.


Your body is working overtime to make sure your baby gets enough blood, nutrients, and oxygen. What this means is that if everyone else is shivering, you're just as likely to be complaining about the heat. With a layered look, you can peel clothes off as needed. On cold days, wear a T-shirt or polo under a sweater or a turtleneck under a long cardigan.

Don't get carried away, though – too many layers or layers that are too loose can look sloppy instead of sophisticated. Sweater sets (maternity or otherwise) are a great way to look sleek and pulled together.

Flex your shoe sense

Shoes feeling a little tight? Many women's feet expand up to two full sizes during pregnancy (and some never go back to their original size).

Fluid retention is only part of the problem. The joints in your body – including those in your feet – are loosening up in response to relaxin, the pregnancy hormone that allows your pelvis to expand to make way for your baby during delivery. So as your hips spread, so do your feet.

What's more, as relaxin loosens your joints, you'll also find your balance becoming a bit more precarious. Needless to say, this is not the time to be strutting around in stilettos. Choose flats or shoes with wide, chunky heels or lower "kitten heels" instead. And be sure to buy slip-ons – you're not going to want to bend over and lace up your shoes when you're nine months pregnant!


Accessories are a great way to get more mileage out of an outfit. You can give a basic piece, such as a black dress, a whole new look by swapping a chunky necklace for a silk scarf. An added bonus: If you splurge on a few accessories, at least you know you'll be able to wear them after you give birth.

Here are some ways to add a little oomph to your outfits:

  • Use a bright piece of jewelry, such as a turquoise or beaded bracelet or necklace, to give a monochromatic outfit some zip.
  • Wear a pair of funky shoes and carry a matching handbag to add your signature to a basic piece.
  • Punch up an outfit with a colorful scarf or by tying a sweater around your shoulders.

Pay attention to what's underneath it all

Whatever you do, don't try to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy bras and panties. Whether you're planning a night on the town or an afternoon lounging around the house, you'll look and feel better if your unmentionables aren't pinching you in all the wrong places.

Your breasts will swell during pregnancy – some women go up as much as a cup size or more – so look for bras that have at least two sets of hooks that let you adjust the band size, as well as adjustable shoulder straps. "You don't need a special maternity bra," says Lange. "Just buy one or two new bras at a time, as you need them."

Lange also recommends letting a knowledgeable saleswoman into the dressing room with you when you go bra shopping: "It sounds humiliating, but these women know their stuff and can help you select the right style and size for you." As for underwear, loose is key. If you wear briefs, you may prefer over-the-belly maternity underwear. Otherwise, just buy your favorite thongs or bikinis in a size or two larger and let the waistband rest under your tummy.

Splurge (a little)

Few women can afford to buy a completely new wardrobe for pregnancy. But you should definitely invest in at least one outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident. A sexy dress, black velvet pants and a swingy top, or a stunning suit can make you look like a million bucks when you feel like anything but. Wear it as much as possible while you can.

Watch the video: Secrets to Dressing with an Ostomy: Tips for men and women (January 2022).