This is an article in our Pregnancy Week by Week series, a resource to help you manage your job and life, through and after your pregnancy.

Week 15: How Long Can You Get Away Without Maternity Clothes?

Never has the world given us so many maternity wear options and places to buy maternity clothing. But unless you’re loaded, it’s not exactly the way most of us want to spend our hard-earned cash.

What can you do if you want to look presentable at work without spending a fortune? One option in the early days is to simply wear the less structured, flowy pieces in your closet. Wrap dresses, forgiving silhouettes, ruched tops and loose-fitting blouses can all hide a small bump for a good part of your first trimester. Blazers over more form-fitting tops can also help.

Most of us have at least a few stretchy pieces we wear when our weight fluctuates. It’s time to dig out those pieces from your wardrobe since there’s no time like the present to embrace elastic. Trust us: you’ll appreciate the room to expand.

But, can you actually get away with buying virtually no maternity-leave wear for work? Unless you’re someone with only form-fitting, perfectly tailored clothes in the closet, you’ll probably be able to wing it in the beginning. That’s exactly what the Digital Executive Editor of Conde Nast Traveller magazine did. She explains to workwear company M.M. LaFleur why she avoided maternity leave clothing:

I find them to be overpriced and sadly unimaginative. The last thing I need is another black turtleneck dress or a striped shirt from a store that exists to remind me just how much my body is changing. No thanks. I have the same feelings about “maternity clothes” as I do about “wedding diets.” Both marginalize women and make us feel a bit sub-human during what should be the most exciting times of our lives.

Instead, she turned to roomier tops by J.Crew and Zara and styles that were flowing, like peasant dresses or tunics. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong if you are looking for an excuse to shop.

Mainstream shops like Gap, H&M, TopShop, Asos, Old Navy and even Target carry maternity lines. And their options for maternity and post-natal wear options go way beyond “mom jeans.” Even those “traditional” maternity retailers like Pea-in-the-Pod and Destination Maternity offer cute outfits and designer labels, and Seraphine has particularly fashionable maternity wear.

One #BeenThereDoneThat tip we wish we had known: If you plan on nursing, make sure you can unbutton your top or work dress, or be able to pull it down easily for your baby (or breast pump). Your pregnancy lasts nine months, but you may be pumping and nursing for another few months to a year. And buying another set of clothing for breastfeeding is as about much fun as it sounds.

And oh, we can’t write about maternity clothes without talking about shoes. Have you heard of shoe shaming? That’s what happened to the Fashion and Beauty Editor at Essence Magazine, Julee Wilson, who says, “I was literally lectured by a woman on the street about how unhealthy, dangerous and vain it was for me to be wearing high heels. Gasp! I honestly don’t wear heels everyday -- my belly, aching back and slightly swollen feet won’t allow it. However, whenever I’m feeling particularly sassy I’ll throw on a pair of stilettos and cautiously strut around. Clearly, that’s not OK with everyone, but I won’t let it kill my vibe.”

And that, my friends, is how it should be. Dress how you will during your pregnancy. It’s your body, your style, and you can rock this moment with plenty of flair if you so choose.

Related Articles

Would you like to receive personalized, pregnancy emails directly to your inbox? Sign up now for our free week-by-week emails.

Discussion board icon

Any tips for not spending a fortune on maternity wear?

I really don't have a lot of money to blow on pregnancy clothing at work. Any tips on how to save money and still stay professional-looking?

User image

Join the Discussion

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously

Want To Start Planning Ahead?

Week by week calendar

Look at next week’s article or find a past week you missed.

Read More

Support, tips & advice just for you.

Inspiring articles are on their way!

Just a few details, please:

*Required