AND NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE BREAKDOWN
1. BASE LAYER
Unless you’re on a nudie retreat (sounds fun!), you will sadly need to dress yourself every single day. Wah wah. On the bright side, there are some key items that make this a great deal less stressful and will serve as foundation pieces that mix with your regular wardrobe and adapt to your growing body. Once you have your base layer down, you can experiment with building outfits around those pieces and start to feel a bit more like your old self again.
Long tank. You’re going to want to be in charge of who sees what and when. This is a good way to maintain that control without having to think twice about unintended exposure. Works great in the early days when you just need something soft that's long enough to cover up the hair tie closing your half-unbuttoned jeans, plus it pulls down for nursing access later on.
Hot tip: These four wardrobe essentials come pre-packed for your convenience in our Basics Bundle.
An everyday dress is essential. It should be stretchy so you don’t have to keep buying more sizes as you grow. Choose something neutral, simple and comfortable that you can dress up or down so it doesn’t bore you to death.
A slim, knee-length skirt will define your silhouette, is great for work, and will make you feel like you're wearing a normal person ensemble. You may already own such an item. If not, consider an elastic waist so you can wear it high or low and you’ve got two silhouettes to create outfits around.
Last but not least, you will need a pair of leggings. Love them or hate them, they are a lifesaver while pregnant, mostly because they are usually the most comfortable thing you could possibly imagine wearing. The softer the better. We love pairing leggings with a longer layer for a look that feels put-together enough to leave the house in.
DO YOU HAVE A GIANT, OVERFLOWING CLOSET FILLED WITH TREASURES? GET IN THERE EARLY ON AND PULL OUT ANYTHING THAT CAN GROW WITH YOU, OR ACCOMMODATE AN EXPANDING MIDSECTION. BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR THINGS THAT BELT, STRETCH, THINGS THAT CAN BE UNBUTTONED AND TIED OR WHICH HAVE UNDEFINED WAISTS.
2. ON TOP
That 90s moment where sweatpants became acceptable outside the house is alive again and this is convenient for a pregnant lady. Very convenient. Things that are stretchy, have low necks or loose silhouettes are a bonus, so you can easily pull them down or lift them up to breastfeed later on. Layering is key here. One long layer each day will keep you covered and then you can wear whatever you like on top.
T-shirts. In all likelihood you’ve already got a bunch of tees that’ll be useful for at least a few months of pregnancy. But if nothing is fitting later on, we suggest grabbing a few basic tees in classic silhouettes that look like pieces you’d normally wear.
Loose-fitting tops. A nice, drapey top will give you something to mask a smaller belly while still accommodating a much more giant belly. You may already own some sweaters that fit the bill, or perhaps you know a man willing to share? Seek out pieces that are on the longer side, or layer them on top of a long tank and don’t worry if they come up short. It looks like you dressed this way on purpose.
Long sleeved layers. Add and subtract these as needed to control for hot and cold spells. We like a henley style designed to provide nursing access later on.
Crop Tops. It's like an empire waist but cooler. Have we lost you? Let us explain. The crop top is here to stay and if you did want to try a high-waisted look, with say a pair of pants or a skirt, the crop top makes a lot of sense. No one is suggesting a bare midriff here, just more silhouette options.
MEN CAN BE SURPRISINGLY HELPFUL DURING PREGNANCY. SOMETIMES THEY HAVE LARGER BUTTON DOWN SHIRTS, SWEATERS AND JACKETS FOR US TO BORROW. THIS REQUIRES A FEW STYLING TWEAKS HERE AND THERE TO PULL OFF WELL, BUT IT CAN BE DONE.
3. ON BOTTOM
Early on, there is no shame in using a hair tie to keep pants that still fit but won’t close the normal way in rotation. Add a longer layer on top with some stretch to cover that awkward top of your jeans zone and you're good to go.
Consider investing in a pair of maternity jeans. Or borrowing a pair. If you really rely on denim as a wardrobe staple, it's not easy to give up and there are some great options out there to last you all 9 months. These are the true mom jeans.
At some point you may not want to wear jeans anymore. You may not like pants at all. Another great option at this stage is a comfy pair of pants with an elastic waist. One of our favorites is a simple, straight leg style that looks clean, put together and works postpartum, too. Because, fact: slim pants are universally flattering all the time.
One additional option is a bottom-and-top combo aka a jumpsuit. There is really nothing better than waking up, putting on one single piece of clothing that counts as a top and pants all in one and calling it a day. We recommend something in a knit fabric so you can wear it all 9 months, and beyond.
A soft cup bra. Word to the wise: your boobs may hurt as they grow. The underwire can be a cruel mistress at these times. Get yourself something soft that can accommodate fluctuating breast size and pull aside to double as a nursing bra once the babe comes.
Comfortable briefs. Remember thongs? Many of us might find that thongs just don’t make as much sense when you’re pregnant, for lots of reasons. Do yourself a favor and get some comfy undies that fit. Even better if they're seamless so you can wear them with all your body-con maternity pieces. You may need to think about sizing up as you get on in trimesters.
Socks. You may be getting up in the middle of the night to pee quite a lot. Cozy socks can help ease you in and out of bed and minimize the bracing effect of cold bathroom floors. This is a small but high-impact luxury that you’ll appreciate when you’re on your eighth nightly round trip. For those of us that have some swelling, compression socks can provide some relief.
Pajamas. Get a set of super comfortable pj’s that will elevate how you look and feel inside the house. They’ll make you feel more like yourself throughout pregnancy and will help you greet your many postpartum visitors looking genuinely put together (though you may not feel that way at all, which is completely normal).
An unstructured blazer is great for any and all serious work situations. It does not need to close, it just needs to have the appearance of professionalism. These are great because they don’t nip in at the waist, and you don’t really have a waist anymore. If you don’t already have such a blazer kicking around, borrow one from a friend or try a consignment shop.
A coat with a belt is great to have. Trench coats work in this category. Keep it classic here. Again, how it closes can be your own interpretation. If investing in a coat that specifically accommodates a pregnant belly isn't your thing, you still have options. When you’re desperate, borrowing from a man’s wardrobe can work. Just cuff the sleeves a bit, throw a belt around the whole thing and channel Diane Keaton's menswear-loving spirit.
You may not need to buy a maternity-specific coat. Try adapting something you own, or borrow from the menfolk, we know you’ll find a way. We believe in you.
Long cardigan. For an easy, everyday piece you can throw on to keep cozy we love a long, lightweight cardigan. Find a style with a generous fit to keep in your wardrobe post-baby that you can use to keep everyone cozy during nursing or while wearing the wrap or carrier.
Denim jacket. Another link to your pre-pregnancy self. This is a classic, universal piece you can throw on and feel pretty damn normal. It makes regular stuff like tanks and tees look more put together without much effort. Or, if you’re the most cool person, you may prefer a leather jacket. That is way badass, but we suggest borrowing one because this is an investment you should probably make when you’ve got your hormones in check.
When all else fails, accessories will be there for you. Accessories are your link to the real world — items that fit anyone and everyone and complete your look pregnant or not. The best part? You already have lots of accessories! So sort through and pull out your favorites. And if you do invest in anything beyond the basics, make it accessories.
Sunglasses are the best. They hide your tired eyes and make you look cool. Whether it’s an old classic, an aviator, something round or something large, sunglasses are basically the greatest invention ever.
Dig in your closet and pull out some comfortable shoes. Loafers are classic, very buttoned up and appropriate for work. Sneakers are abundantly acceptable these days, definitely take advantage of that. Flats can also be versatile and classic, they work well with jeans or dresses and won’t be too punishing on swollen feet after a full day of wear.
Coco Chanel advised women to take off at least one accessory before walking out the door. That's probably a good guiding principle for the maximalist accessorizer, but we say do whatever makes you happy.
Low heeled boots or sandals. Sometimes you do need a little heel, just for the sake of all goodness in the world. In those instances, avoid eating pavement in your occasionally absent-minded pregnancy delirium by opting for a sensible height of max 3 inches. Go for something black in the boot world so it goes with everything. In the sandal-world try for something in a color you love so you can draw attention downwards and you don’t have to think as hard about succeeding with what’s on top.
Jewelry. So effective when executed the right way. We usually choose to avoid so-called “statement” pieces because they tend to distract from your excellent cleavage or slender wrists (some things do stay slender). But earrings are a great accent to simple, figure-hugging ensembles, as are sculptural bangles. Inspirations here are Tina Chow and Diana Vreeland.
There are lots of cliches about how you’ll look and feel while pregnant, but in reality you'll have good days and bad days. In other words, it's ok if you’re not glowing.
On less great days, never underestimate the power of a good red lip. If you’re concerned about the ingredients in your old stand by, consider going natural. There are a few really exceptional natural brands out there that are fully on par with your old guard favorites. The bold red lip is an instant mood and style elevator that should not be overlooked.
Mascara. Again, if you’re worried about ingredients there are some epic natural beauty options out there. Mascara is another high impact, low effort way of feeling like your old self. Just a little mascara paired with your natural glow (aka some highlighter) is all you really need most days.
Belly oil. One last note on the beauty front: short, daily massages with belly oil (preferably post-shower) can feel incredibly luxurious as your skin is stretching to accommodate a growing babe. We love an all-natural formula with a delicate scent for sensitive pregnant noses.
Finally, all women react differently to pregnancy, and while some prefer to ban certain items from their routine, others prefer to stick with our old standby's (as long as they don't suddenly smell crazy to you). You should do what you feels comfortable to you, no explanation required.
PS YOU ARE A RADIANT GODDESS. YOU WILL NOT ALWAYS FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING, SO RELAX, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, AND REMEMBER THAT THE PERSON CLOSEST TO YOU IN NOT EXACTLY JUDGING.