Oh, the highs and lows of pregnancy. As you watch your belly expand (so miraculous!), you simultaneously notice the number of wearable items in your closet dwindle (so frustrating!). But you don’t have to be stuck wearing your partner’s saggiest pair of trackies for the next nine months. Here are our best tips and tricks for dressing comfortably — and even stylishly — as you grow a person.
Start with the hair-tie trick. In that awkward early stage when your belly looks less like a baby bump and more like you just ate a big burrito, expand the waistline of your pants with this beloved hack as shown above: Unzip your pants, slip a hair tie (or rubber band) through the button hole, create a loop, then thread the other end of the hair tie through the loop and around the button. Like this. Or buy the popular Bellaband.
Shop your closet. You may have to improvise a bit, but some of the clothes you already have should accommodate your changing shape. Look for looser, flowy pieces — maxi dresses, peasant tops, wrap dresses, and anything with an empire waist. One of my best fashion discoveries was that during pregnancy, fitted T-shirt dresses can become plain T-shirts.
Don’t boycott maternity clothes. This was something I did during my first pregnancy. I thought I was sticking it to consumerism by refusing to shell out cash for anything labelled “maternity wear”. I can just live in leggings and flowy tops and dresses, I insisted. The plan worked fine until about seven months when I started dreading leaving my house because it meant I’d have to put on clothes.
I finally sucked it up and picked up some maternity basics. Oh, my word. I could breathe again. I know there are a lot of articles out there on how to go without maternity clothing for your entire pregnancy (Hack your jeans! Throw together a tunic with a long sheet of fabric!), but really, the moment you slip into the buttery-soft goodness that are really good maternity leggings, you’ll wonder why the heck you didn’t do it sooner.
But don’t go overboard. You aren’t replacing your whole closet — you’re just adding handful of basics to make your nine months of human-baking more tolerable. This pregnancy, I’ve been pretty much living in a single pair of maternity overalls and a rotation of soft tees and tanks, and it is the best. (I work from home, thank goodness.)
For well-priced, decently cute basics, several mums in Lifehacker's parenting Facebook group recommended H&M and Motherhood Maternity. Some of their other maternity wear go-tos:
“After trying on what felt like a million pairs of pants, I finally found some from LOFT that fit well.” — Terisa W.
“PinkBlush has a huge selection of CUUUUTE stuff and it’s not very pricey.” — Jessica J.
“The one and only time I have ever shopped at Macy’s was for maternity clothes. They had petite sized clothes but in larger sizes!” — Jen M.
“Lululemon Align pants are the BEST! I wore mine from about six-months preg through the day I went in to hospital at 41 weeks! Was amazed to find that the elastic had stayed secure and I could wear them for breastfeeding too (the waistband goes up to almost under your boobs so it hid the belly nicely on both sides of birthing!).” — Heather M.
Group members note that a lot of these stores have clearance sections and frequent sales, so if you don’t want to pay full price, check the sites often or use the Honey Chrome extension.
Hit up your formerly pregnant friends for hand-me-downs. Several friends have handed me bags of no-longer-needed maternity clothes with the instructions: “Please do not give these back. Pass them on.” I love it. It’s the Sisterhood of the Travelling Fat Pants.
Try children’s consignment stores. Lifehacker health editor Beth Skwarecki says that’s where she scored some great pieces when she was pregnant: “It felt like a best kept secret because first time mums wouldn’t be shopping in a kids’ used clothing store!” The online consignment store thredUP is also worth checking out.
Check Facebook Marketplace and your local mum clubs. Sellers are often desperate to get rid of the clothes, and they’re usually in pretty good condition as they’ve only been worn for 4 to 5 months. And it might even give you a chance to meet some nice fellow mums in your neighbourhood.
For special occasions, rent. If you’re going to a formal wedding, or doing one of those ethereal maternity photo shoots in the woods, or giving a TED Talk and need a power suit, it might make sense to rent. For wear-once options, simply do a Goggle Shopping search for 'rent maternity clothes'. There are a bunch of Aussie sites that let you borrow maternity clothes for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase them.
Break up the monotony with accessories. Yes, you’re pregnant, which means no one is judging when you wear the same pair of maternity jeans five days a week. But you might start to feel blah with your whole look, which can make you want to hibernate until labour. At this point, some bold earrings or necklaces, bright pink lipstick or lash extensions can do wonders. Throw on whatever gives you a little boost to get you through the final stretch. Because just wait, pretty soon, your most coveted accessory will be these sexy mesh underwear.