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Maternity wear guide

pregnant woman shopping for maternity clothes

You’re pregnant – congratulations! And with the onslaught of things you suddenly need to consider, the idea of a whole new wardrobe might seem overwhelming. You may be wondering when to buy maternity wear, where to buy maternity wear, and whether you need to buy maternity clothes at all. Read on for the ultimate guide to dressing while pregnant.

When will I need to wear maternity clothes?

The simple answer? Whenever feels right for you. Many women feel the need around 12 weeks, but if you’re in discomfort before this point (or comfortable enough as you are past it), remember that there are no rules. Some (lucky) women don’t ever feel the need to wear maternity clothes, so really does come down to the individual.

Just buy maternity clothes as and when you feel the need to.

Maternity wear essentials

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few maternity must-haves to have in your arsenal:

Maternity bras were a must for me. I don't think everyone needs them but I grew out of my normal bras very quickly and found anything with underwire uncomfortable.

My absolute lifesavers were a couple of pairs of lightweight harem/yoga trousers from Uniqlo.

What are bump bands?

Essentially, bump bands mean that you don’t need to buy as much maternity wear. You’ll be able to wear old tops that are now a bit too short, because the band prevents the skin of your belly from being exposed. A bump band also allows you to wear your jeans or trousers undone as it holds them up.

I bought some waistband extenders and they were great. I could keep wearing all my own jeans/trousers/skirts as they can be used on anything with either a button or hook-and-eye fastening.

Winning styles

A bump doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice on style, and if you want to live your best radiant-pregnant-goddess life, it all comes down to knowing how to dress your new body. Some silhouettes and styles are widely considered to be flattering for a pregnant form.

  • Wrap dresses. Soft, stretchy and flexible, the wrap-around style is also extremely flattering on a fuller figure (and a larger cup size).
  • Maxi dresses. Floaty, loose and romantic, these have a way of making you feel elegant even while wondering whether an actual elephant is sitting on your bladder.
  • High-waisted pencil skirts – because they add an instant injection of glamour/smartness to any outfit. One or two of these will come in handy for formal events, as maternity party wear, and for wearing around the office.
  • Jumpsuits. Stretchy and loose, jumpsuits were made for being pregnant. Wear a turtleneck underneath when winter sets in.
  • Form-fitting dresses. Many women like to show off their bump – and why not? A snug dress, long or short, can be extremely flattering. Layer it with a long cardigan for more of a comfortable vibe, or accessorize it with jewellery for a dressier look.
  • Dungarees. If you’re looking for stylish maternity clothes, these are a must. As an all-in-one piece, a pair of these is wonderfully practical; allowing all manner of tops and jumpers to be slipped on underneath. And denim (especially acid wash, the 80s aren’t going anywhere) is more fashionable than ever.

Winter maternity clothes

As we’ve seen, there are lots of maternity clothes that can transition through the seasons (think dungarees, maternity jeans, pencil skirts). However, colder weather definitely means that more layers are required, and is thankfully when comfort reigns supreme. Extra-large jumpers and long cardigans are your go-to – play around with layers and bold colours for an extra stylish feel.

winter maternity clothes

Summer maternity clothes

Summer, when the rails are heaving with maxi dresses, can feel like the ideal season for maternity wear. The only problem is the heat – when you’re already sweaty, hormonal and nauseous, staying cool can feel impossible. Counter the climbing temperature with loose, breezy clothing. To avoid feeling shapeless, an empire line will nip in the bust and emphasize your lovely bump.

summer maternity clothes

For a fashionable edge, dive into boho chic with paisley print, fringe, and flat cowboy boots.

If you’re petite…

As handy as maxi dresses can be, you might feel that they swamp you if you’re of shorter stature. Tea dresses are a pretty, practical alternative. Skater dresses less so, because they tend to cinch you in at the waist. That’s where maternity skater dresses come to the rescue.

If you’re tall…

Length isn’t an issue, until things aren’t long enough. If your leggings/trousers/jeans aren’t hitting the right heights (or lows), consider specialist shops like Long Tall Sally, or online stores like ASOS, which have maternity styles dedicated to both Tall and Petite.

Cheap maternity wear

Pregnancy (and baby-related things in general) are expensive enough – you don’t want to spend a fortune on maternity wear, too. Thankfully, there are plenty of places where you can buy second-hand pregnancy clothes – Mumsnetters suggest Gumtree, eBay, Freecycle, charity shops and Facebook groups.

eBay's got some pretty good bundles – just search 'maternity bundles' and they'll come up.

Check your local Freecycle/Freegle for maternity wear.

Generally the Facebook pages are local, meaning no postal charges.