10 Solutions for Maternity Clothing and Style Problems

A few weeks ago, I unleashed my blog-fury on the 10 Worst Things About Maternity Clothes. At the time, I semi-promised to return with some solutions for those issues – and as bleak and negative as I feel towards dressing my pregnant ass right now, the truth is that I have found some solutions/work arounds/what the internet kids call “hacks” that are worthy of mention. And so.. this is that blog.

(Disclaimers:

  • Note that these tips are the counters to my bitches in the previous post – just to see if I can counter balance myself.
  • This reads like kind of a love letter to ASOS, but I swear, its unrequited.
  • Yup, there are some links to things you can buy if you need to buy things.
  • I didn’t use all the most manicured photos deliberately. Its about how I actually manage to look, not how I wish I looked.)

Problem #1: The over-the-belly waistband.

Solution: Find pants with an under-the-bump band. ASOS Maternity has this option for almost all their house-line jeans. I have had much success with the Ridley jean and Rivington jegging in various colors. They are priced reasonably to begin with – $40 for most styles, and they also go on clearance sale, sometimes for under $30. H&M Mama also has some under bump options; theirs tend to be cotton bands.

ASOS maternity jeans with under the bump waistband – on sale for $33!

The under-the-bump band is an improvement, in my opinion, because it tends to look more like a normal part of the pants, and it doesn’t add another layer all the way up under your shirt. You can also, if you have a long enough shirt, do a partially tucked shirt that still hangs enough to cover that its tucked into a stretchy band. And if you’re wearing something that might, with your arms in certain positions, expose a glimpse of waistband or skin – its not a big deal. Most of the under belly bands pass for normal jeans in the context of quick glimpses.

That’s me, that’s an under-the-bump pant, that’s a sheer-ish shirt, that’s a dog that isn’t impressed, I’m about 6 months pregnant there and I now suddenly in hindsight realize how people failed to notice.
Again, that’s me, about 6 months pregnant, those are H&M Mama shorts with a sheer-ish shirt, and another dog who is not impressed.

A couple of caveats: these bands can have a bit of a tendency to slip, so you may be pulling your pants up from time to time. They also don’t have as much stretch as the over bump ones, so they don’t have as much size flexibility as you get further along – what felt great at 6 months might feel fairly tight under your belly at 8 months.

You can also sometimes make an over bump band less annoying by folding it down so that it basically becomes a halfway or under bump band – I sometimes do this halfway through the day when it starts to get annoying.

Problem #2: That stupid waistband is “flesh” colored.

Solution: There is no solution; just give up on life. I’m not entirely serious.. although once you have a pair of pants that you otherwise love that have the flesh band, there honestly isn’t a solution that I love. Some things that can somewhat compensate for that tragic flaw:

  • Super long, fully opaque shirts. This becomes harder and harder the bigger you get. It was fairly easy for me to find long enough shirts – even non-maternity shirts – until about 7.5 months. At 8 months, its a lot harder. You can try searching for “tunics” rather than “shirts” – Amazon has a lot to slog through, and Zulily has tunics as a reoccurring sale theme sometimes.
  • Try short dresses as tops. This is also an imperfect solution, as the proportions aren’t going to just be magically right every time, but if the garment with the offending band is something like leggings that don’t add much to your silhouette on bottom, then a babydoll dress might work on top. Again, this is not a great solution for outside on hot days necessarily.
  • Layer a belly band in a not-as-stupid color over the fleshy band. I don’t really like this solution much, but mentioning it because apparently its good enough for some people. Alternately, layer a long tank and.. whatever top you want to wear. I also don’t really like this one; I don’t think the look is sleek, and also by the time I was big, it was over 100 degrees F every day.
Babydoll by Chelsea28 – similar to a dress I wear as a shirt.

Problem #3: lack of inseam choices.

ASOS Maternity Tall Ridley in Clean Black, with Under the Bump Waistband

The afore-mentioned ASOS Maternity offers SOME pants in a long length, but not nearly enough. Poshmark is also good for picking up more-expensive-than-you-would-buy maternity jeans, and you can find some longer inseams there. But, if I’m honest, the first three problems are major contributors to the fact that, now that I’m in very late pregnancy, I pretty much just don’t wear pants anymore. I generally am most comfortable in pants, or jeans – I wear pants to weddings and work Christmas parties. But at a certain point, when you can’t make wearing pants look as good as, or feel as comfortable as skirts.. you’ve got to evolve.

Problem #4: the overwhelming amount of maternity clothes that can’t go in the dryer.

Two things, and you probably aren’t going to like them:

  • Get a drying rack, dry things in front of a fan.
  • Find non-maternity things you can misuse.
Get used to it.

Problem #5: Who the hell knows what size to buy?

Buy from sites with good return policies. Again, ASOS is great for this. They don’t actually do exchanges – if you need a different size, you just return the first and order the next. No waiting for the old item to get back to them. I actually needed to return a pair of pants that I had bought last minute for a work trip to E3 – I sent them back, and ordered the next pair to be shipped to my hotel, and everything worked out.

Alternately, buy really cheap things and roll the dice, or buy from sites with customer reviews (Amazon..) and trust what the customers say about sizing more than you trust the descriptions.

And at any rate.. understand that things aren’t likely to fit you well and comfortably from the time you are first visibly pregnant until the end. I didn’t initially realize this; I guess I thought that those waist bands were stupid stretchy so that you could wear things the whole time. If I would have realized how transient maternity clothes really were, I likely would have bought differently.. and honestly I likely would have bought less “actual maternity clothes”. A couple of caveats to this – almost every maternity item I bought was fitted, I didn’t really buy any oversize, boxy, or sack like maternity clothes, because that is not my favorite look. If I had, maybe more of my stuff would have fit the whole time.. but I probably would have started hating how I looked much earlier. I also didn’t just gain size in the belly.. the hip expansion has been real for me. I suspect this is different for everyone.

Here’s a perfect ASOS maternity skirt that’s not as perfect anymore.. /sniff.

Problem #6: The typical blandness of maternity wear.

There are basically two solutions: look harder/shop longer, or misuse non-maternity items.

If you go with the former:

Zulily sometimes features lines that have some more interesting/experimental pieces. Zulily is a discount/sale site, so its hit or miss on any given day, but I theorize that they tend to have some interesting stuff because they carry stuff that didn’t manage to sell in its regular channels. And “nobody bought it” often translates to “ooh that’s cool” for me. But, if you shop on Zulily – plan ahead. Most of their stuff does not ship in any semblance of a timely fashion.

You can also hunt through the mainstream maternity sites, like Motherhood or Pink Blush. I find that they each generally have about one interesting item on the whole site on any given day. ASOS is also good for this, they have at least some stuff that’s more at the forward edge of trends, and they also tend to have some more sculpturally cut pieces which can be cool. H&M Mama also occasionally ventures beyond basics into a riskier piece or two. For all of these sources though, you really just need to accept that you will be scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling.

Tulip Sleeve Dress from ASOS Maternity

If you go with the later:

This really should be its own blog post (and maybe it will be) as there’s a lot to think about here, and a lot of different approaches I’ve tried. In order to not derail this post, I’ll be general here.

  • Think about the current shape of the body. Where is the big part? What cuts of things have room around that part? Accept that, once you’re past a certain point, you aren’t going to hide the shape you are, so what is going to make the pregnant shape look the best?
  • Can you move the waist up or down to solve a problem? At first a very low waist that sat below the belly worked well for me – shirts were still long enough, and I only had to fit my hips. Later, moving the waist way up, to the bra line solved the too short shirt problem and also made me look about as streamlined as was going to be n the cards.
  • Go somewhere with a wide variety of stuff, and just try random and varied things on. Don’t be emotionally invested in the outcome. Its an experiment; you need to know whether or not a particular thing works. You don’t NEED each particular thing to work. Fast fashion places like Target or even the usually-beneath-me Forever 21 work great for this because they have so much variety. (If your an ethical type and can’t stomach fast fashion, you can always try on there and once you know what cuts you are looking for, buy somewhere better.)
  • Look around for what other people are misusing. I’m not the only person to blog about this. There are also many items on Amazon that aren’t labeled maternity, but have reviews that start “I’m six months pregnant..” or “Great while pregnant..”
  • There are items of clothing that continuing to wear them while pregnant can hardly even be considered a misuse, such as jackets and shoes. I’m a big fan of jackets anyway, so I had several that were ready to be the most interesting part of my outfit: bombers with embroidery or all over print, a cropped drapey thing with sequins, faux suede vampire jackets, tux-type jackets, sheer or lace jackets, whatever. I don’t really wear heels, so I’m not about to encourage any pregnant people to wear heels, but I find there are many types of interesting shoes that aren’t heels, despite what Pinterest outfit boards want you to believe. I got a ton of mileage out of platforms – both boots and sandals, and red sneakers, and burgundy western boots, and now a pair of silver velvet combat boots.
  • Size up when you need to. Don’t cram yourself into something just so you don’t have to buy a different number.
Moving the waist up, in real life.

Problem #7: The horribly awkward sayings on graphic tees.

No solution. Just avoid.

If you fail to avoid, don’t Instagram it.

This model is smiling because she’s been reassured that you can’t see her face.

Problem #8: The bra situation.

Fortunately, soft and unstructured bras are in right now, so its not terribly hard to find soft, stretchy, non-underwire bras and adjust your size if you’re not ready to give up and go to nursing bras yet. I have a couple of high necked stretchy athlesiure types that have been reliable throughout the pregnancy and were also really cheap. I also wore a lot of sized-up Calvin Klien sports bras earlier on.

Similar to what I have; model less pregnant.

Target is a good option for not expensive but not hideous nursing bras as well, and you can try on at Target, which is more important than you might anticipate because.. whether you’ve realized it or not, you have no idea what your bra size is now.  (I was a 32D. The other day I followed instructions on a nursing bra website and measured at a 38DD. Accurate? I still don’t know, waiting for bras to arrive.) They currently have a yoga nursing bra that looks mainly like a yoga bra, has the snap down cups, and provides enough structure to make it look like you’re wearing a bra.

Yoga Nursing Bra from Target – $19.99

Zulily, again, can be a good source – they sometimes carry the better lines of better looking nursing bra but at a more attractive price. But again, shipping is slow, and sizing is hard, and they don’t do returns.

Motherhood has a lace nursing bra that, rather than clip down, just expects you to whip a tit out the top. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hopeful. Even if it doesn’t work great for nursing, I think it would have been nice to have during the pregnancy, esp given my proclivity for bra-exposing summer shirts. Which brings me to another point.. if, about the time your regular bras lose control of your chest, you buy bras that will work for pregnancy but not nursing.. that’s not the worst thing. First of all, I’m kind of assuming you’re even going to nurse, and even if you’re assuming that too, life might give you the finger and tell you something else. But mostly, I say this because I’ve already just about worn out the first couple of nursing bras I bought back around month four. I only bought a couple at first, so I wore the hell out of them, to the point that I don’t really want to wear their stretched out bands and snaggly straps anymore. If I replace them after having the baby, it won’t have mattered whether they were technically nursing bras or not.

Problem #9: Lack of pockets.

This is best and most constructively dealt with by simply projecting waves of searing hate at the unseen, faceless designers who created these clothing items.

Alternatively..

  • ASOS has some pants with a respectable number of pockets, but read the description because it isn’t all of them.
  • If you’re doing the jacket wearing thing – it may be easier to find jackets with pockets than it is to find maternity bottoms with pockets.
  • I once put a small workout-oriented waistband pouch under my flowy top (where you couldn’t see it) to put credit cards and ID in on a work trip. (I hate carrying purses on work trips. I’m working, so they are often in the way; I work in an industry full of dudes so there’s often no place to stash a purse; I refuse to check luggage so sometimes I flat out don’t have the space for one; I got mugged on a work trip once, which I recognize isn’t super likely to happen again, but all he got was my phone because everything else was in my jacket pockets.)
  • Buy a really small crossbody that sits close to the body and is almost like an external pocket.
  • Look for things with pockets in the cheap weird Amazon clothing jungle.
  • Technically speaking, most of the time, if a pair of pants has a fake welt pocket (like my jeans in the 10 Worst Things About Maternity Clothes post) you can actually sew in a real pocket if you want, as most of the structure is there, you just need to add the pouch.
Suck it up and carry a bag. (Rebecca Minkoff 5-zip Mini)

Problem #10: The more-or-less mandatory layering.

  • Be pregnant in the winter in a cold climate.
  • Be sweaty and mad all the time.
  • Embrace dresses, even if normally you feel like a crossdresser wearing them. (You can call them kilts if you want to; no one will buy it.)
  • Grow increasingly frustrated, and let that drive you to experiment more freely with ways to wear not-maternity.
Stupid layers are stupid and no one likes you.

Bonus tip:

Whatever you do, don’t follow any advice to do things like hold your pants together with hair ties. That shit ain’t making your life better.

 

Related/Recommended:

Forever Amber finds the “unicorn” of under-the-bump pants..

Natalie Dressed does Summer Maternity with Stitch Fix

D.E. Barbi Bee gets dressed professionally while pregnant. (She’s a lawyer – so a bit higher of a professional standard than I have to hit but I do love finding bloggers with jobs!)

Lizzie keeps maternity style “The Simplist”…

HalfieTruths dares to show the bare pregnant belly! (You know, the one thing you “can’t” do!)

And here’s one I basically totally and entirely disagree with, but in the interest of different perspectives:

Life With My Little’s Myths About Maternity Clothes

 

 

 

 

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Jaimie Zaki says:

    I absolutely love this post! I can identify with so much of it, especially the strong emotions toward the belly band. For me, the over the belly band is much more comfortable than the under belly once I’m in my late third trimester (I carry super low so the underbelly hurts). But the hot extra layer is misery for sure!

    I didn’t realize many can’t be dried.. I guess that explains why my belly parts were always fraying. Yikes!

    1. rika9 says:

      I basically gave up on pants about month 8, so I’m not entirely sure whether under our over is better for me in late third.. basically, my shirts can no longer cover the over bands, and the under bands are a bit tight now. So… Skirts basically.
      In all fairness, probably nothing to dramatic would happen if you dried some of this stuff, a bit of uneven shrinking or a bit of fraying, but I’m so particular about clothes. Since I’m not having anymore kids I probably could have just accepted that the dryer would devour my maternity clothes slowly.. but I just couldn’t do it. (So probably a batch of pristine maternity pants will hit poshmark someday…)

  2. I really like your writing style! Also obviously, this information isn’t relevant to me because I am a guy but I will pass it along to my friend who is having a kid!

    1. rika9 says:

      Ha ha, just appreciate that you never have to do this!

  3. I just had my second baby in July, and my first is a September baby, so I totally wore dresses all the time. And drawstring shorts. 🙂 Totally with you on the hair-ties! So useless. Congrats on your baby, hope your labor is easy!

    1. rika9 says:

      It’s amazing how long the summer is when you’re pregnant. I’m so not a dress person, or I wasn’t, but let’s just say my horizons have been expanded.

  4. Bonita says:

    I like the detailed description, I almost can’t relate but my friend is expectant(yaaaay) When we go for her maternity shopping, I will be the expert stylist thanks to you!
    Regards.

  5. kedawithani says:

    I love ASOS and I love this post… I didn’t know about ASOS back when I was pregnant so I had the ‘unpleasure’ of wearing drab. lol… I’m very not pregnant and have bought from their maternity line because some of the stuff are so cute, I just had to size down…

  6. I love your tips regarding maternity. More benefits to us and less money to spend.

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