Maternity in style: Nine months of dressing the bump

Usually, it’s swimsuit season that causes me to burst into tears in dressing rooms.

That wasn’t this case this time, standing in a Target dressing room with tears in my eyes. Nope, not swimsuits. Maternity clothes.

I was about three months into this pregnancy with twins, and I had to face the fact that my dream of not wearing the dreaded maternity clothes during this pregnancy was a dream that was fading fast.

I’ve been pregnant twice before, and I never gave much thought to what to wear during those pregnancies. In the past few years, however, with the raising-babies season behind me, I had invested much more time, energy, and money into building and maintaining a sense of personal style. Browsing the racks of Liz Lange in Target revealed lots of items that were cute enough, I suppose, but none of it reflected anything remotely similar to my style.

Eventually, I got a hold of myself (and my hormones) and began to think realistically about how we all can take different approaches to style while our middles grow and grow (and grow). Inspiration abounds no matter how you decide to dress that baby bump!

Option #1: Skip maternity clothes altogether

My first exposure to the idea of forgoing maternity clothes throughout pregnancy came from James at Bleubird:

Throughout her entire pregnancy with her daughter Gemma Bird, she didn’t wear maternity clothing. She preferred instead to stick with vintage clothing and trends that were more her style. You can see more of her non-maternity maternity series here.

Another source of inspiration for wearing regular clothes in pregnancy is Lauren from Busy Bee Lauren:

Here she is at 38 weeks in a fun striped (non-maternity) dress!

The upside of skipping the  maternity section altogether is that you don’t invest money in an entire season (or more) of clothing that you may or may not ever wear again. Dresses and skirts with pleats and stretchy cotton fabrics allow you to stay in clothes that are your regular size (or close to it!), and this makes it really easy to continue to convey your own style as your baby grows.

However, the downside of avoiding maternity clothing is that for some of us, it’s just not an option. When it’s your first pregnancy or if you are gifted with genetics that causes only your middle to grow and nothing else expands, it’s less of a challenge to avoid maternity wear. But that certainly isn’t the case for most women!

Which leads us to:

Option #2: Embrace maternity clothes and make the best of it

This is what I decided would have to work for me as I spend the next few months growing twins:

Though I don’t normally wear Old Navy clothing (it just never seems to fit me correctly), I have to say that it is my go-to place for maternity clothes. This striped pink dress is something I would want to wear even if I wasn’t pregnant!

I’m discovering that even when you decide to embrace maternity clothing fully, you can still bring your personality to the forefront with styling choices. For example, I love to wear my hair in a bun, and there is nothing about being pregnant that has to change that. I love belted skirts and dresses with boots, and I plan to rock those boots as long as my (swollen) feet will let me!

Here are some more examples of beautifully styled maternity clothing:

Merrick of Merrick’s Art:

Andrea of For The Love Of

And Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind:

Option #3: Combine maternity wear with favorite pieces from your existing wardrobe

Of course, what many women do is combine a little of this and a little of that to be true to their own style throughout the maternity months.

A favorite scarf, a trusty handbag, stunning heels, and outrageous tights are all fun ways to pull a maternity look together. Sometimes just a cardigan, a favorite t-shirt, or a even a leather jacket pulled over maternity wear can make a pregnant lady feel a lot more chic.

This is a strapless maternity dress with my favorite retro denim vest on top:

Here, the Hollywood Housewife pairs a maternity tank with a regular-sized skirt from Anthropologie (and an AMAZING handbag):

And we can hardly talk about stylish maternity without featuring Naomi of Rockstar Diaries‘ fabulous take on wearing the bump well:

If ruffles, bows, and heavy shirring aren’t representative of your real life style, there’s no need to despair for forty weeks! It takes a little work to get creative with the maternity months, but feeling good about how you are dressed each time you leave the house makes the ups-and-downs of pregnancy a little more bearable. And hopefully it will keep you from crying in dressing rooms, too!

Share your approach to maternity wear! How long did you make it before you began shopping the maternity racks? Or did you last your entire pregnancy in regular clothes? Any blogs or shops you can recommend for style-seeking expectant mamas?


Megan Tietz wants you to join her on the front porch for some long talks and iced tea. She lives in the heart of Oklahoma City with her husband, two daughters, and twin sons. Catch up with her at Sorta Crunchy and join the conversation in her Facebook community.

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  1. Thank you for this post! I’m 22 weeks along on my 3rd pregnancy, and I’m not as small as I was with the previous ones. Currently I’m on Option 3 but pretty soon I know I’ll be in option 2 and I’m encouraged to embrace it! As for inspiration, I get mine from E of Academichic ( and treschicmama ( Will check out the other blogs you mentioned, too 🙂

    I love this post…and I think more mamas need to embrace their own personal style throughout their pregnancy just like you do. And those other examples are awesome, too!

  3. I’m 8 months pregnant with my 3rd and I’ve managed to go mostly maternity clothes free with the exception of a couple pairs of thrifted maternity jeans from Gap and Juicy. 🙂 My only dilemma is wearing non-maternity tops that fit the bump but, are saggy everywhere else. I found some cute longer tees at Forever 21 that work. I agree though, it takes some work to try and maintain your personal style while pregnant!

    • Long tees are a pregnant mama’s best friend! I have also found that a lot of maternity tops are strangely LOW CUT. Like, much lower than normal shirts. WHY? So yes, I try to find great long NON-maternity tees wherever I can. I’ll have to check F21. Thanks, mama!

  4. I completely agree with these choices. I wanted so long to be pregnant with my first child that I jumped for joy at buying maternity clothes. A few cute tops that have stuck around for this second pregnancy, but I have mostly found that I can wear non maternity this time without too much trouble. It’s all in how you look at it!

  5. You are so beautiful, Meg.

  6. That picture of you in that pink-striped dress is ADORABLE. Like I want to Pin it and I have no board that is appropriate.

    You look fantastic, and you did a great job still looking like you.

  7. Thanks for all these stylish examples! One thing I might offer as a word of caution: I avoided buying maternity clothes as long as possible, and now I cannot wear a lot of the pieces that I used to…because I unknowingly stretched them all out in pregnancy. 🙁

  8. Hannah Elise says:

    I don’t run into a problem with maternity wear so much as I do once the baby is here and I’m looking for clothing that isn’t a hassle when it comes to nursing. *shifty* So, if you decide to do a post on -that-… 😉

  9. I love your style Megan, in pregnancy and out of it. 🙂 Personally, I have only had one pregnancy so far and I was able to wear many of my non-Maternity clothes the whole way. The maternity things I bought were jeans, leggings and Old Navy jeggings, plus a few simple tops. One trick I enjoyed was that I would hike up my long flowy skirts to above the bump, or all the way up then belt them to make a dress. I loved wearing my signature scarves and earrings to jazz things up.

    I think you should follow this up with a nursing fashion post in the new year!!! 😉

  10. I love that there are forums like this that let women know what their options are to still feel like they can dress like themselves during the struggles of maternity fashion.

    I’ll be sending this to a few friends, because for me I thought I had to put personal style aside for the most part and take what I could get as far as affordability and availability.

    I would recommend spending extra on cute maternity jeans (which can go well over $100) because you can pair them with different tops and style options. For me comfort needed to be at the waist and in the … tata area.

    I spent most of my maternity $ at Old Navy and Target and rocked lots of horizontal stripes, which are IMO adorable on the baby bump. I also used the Bella Band to make my non maternity pants last longer.

  11. I really enjoyed this post the resources in it and all the comments! I am 16 weeks with my first and i was determined not to buy much in the way of maternity clothing. However at just 16 weeks I’m ready to chunk most everything in my closet every time I try to get dress (in anything other than tees & yoga pants that is). So thank you for putting this post together – gives me some ideas!

  12. A cute up-do and an elegant pair pf earrings goes a long way!

  13. I didn’t know pregnant women could be that gorgeous! It’s not my turn yet but would love to be as blooming as those in the photos in the future. Wearing fashionable maternity dresses makes them more happy looking.

  14. Hi,

    Thank u so much for the different styles… Now i am 10 weeks and now i am not able to fit into my old clothes, so wanna go for maternity wear, my friend have told me about morph maternity wear collection i am so impressed on it and gave a try it satisfied me so much and now i am enjoying my pregnancy period….

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