When I was pregnant with my first kid, who is now 3, I was determined to spend as little money as possible on maternity-specific clothing. As a result, I was often uncomfortable and didn’t look very cute. During the warmer months, I was able to rotate through my collection of (prepregnancy) oversize dresses, but I was due in late February, which meant I spent the coldest parts of winter, when I was the hugest, in bad maternity jeans and whatever tops would fit. The outerwear situation was its own challenge, and I was always cold.
Now that I’m a few weeks from having my second baby, I think I’ve finally figured out what works — and what absolutely doesn’t — in terms of maternity (and bump-friendly) clothing that is actually comfortable and looks nice. Here’s everything I wore that I loved, from underwear to sweaters to dresses, that I plan to wear postpartum, too. And no, you will not find a single pair of maternity jeans here, because two pregnancies later, I’ve come to conclude they really are the worst.
With my first pregnancy, I bought a pack of maternity underwear on Amazon and called it a day. They were fine and actually held up over the years (I kept them around as backup), but I wanted an upgrade this time. I bought a couple of these from Old Navy and loved them so much that I ordered more (I also have them in tan and white). They’re incredibly soft and well made, provide great coverage without feeling like granny underpants, and fit nicely under a growing belly.
This bra admittedly looks a little frumpy, but you don’t even notice you’re wearing a bra when you have this on, so it doesn’t even matter. I wore it and another style (since discontinued) during my first pregnancy and then it became my go-to WFH bra during the pandemic. It’s lightweight but still provides enough support and, because it’s soft and flexible, accommodates your growing breasts throughout all nine months. It’s also super-durable and looks basically new after three-plus years of constant wear. The only caveat is that because the neckline is pretty high, it doesn’t work well with button-ups or V-necks.
When I wanted to feel cute, I put on my Skims. Whatever you think about Kim Kardashian, she makes damn good lingerie. These aren’t as comfortable as the Uniqlo bra, as the chest band is tight and on the narrow side, but they’re well made, have a really nice hand-feel to them, are supportive, and quite sexy for being minimal in design. I sized up for pregnancy.
I bought these footless tights to wear under a wrap dress for my cousin’s wedding in January, and though they were a special-occasion purchase, I’ve been wearing them constantly ever since. As I wrote at the time, I went back and forth about what size to get, but I stuck with my regular, prepregnancy size (S/M) and was glad I did. They look teeny-tiny, like something for a child, and you seriously doubt they’ll fit, but trust me, they will. The legs are supertight, and you have to kind of yank them on, which is tricky when you have a bulging belly in the way, but once they’re on, they feel amazing. They provide smoothing and compression in the legs, slight lifting in the ass, and really nice coverage and support of the belly (they don’t feel tight at all). A silicone waistband keeps them from slipping down. I wear them under dresses when tights feel too warm or formal.
I’ve been layering Uniqlo Heattech tops for years and was delighted to learn they work incredibly well during pregnancy, too. They’re comfortable, warm, last forever, and are super-stretchy. I wore them under my Babaà sweaters (see below) all winter long.
These truly are the be-all and end-all of pregnancy leggings. They’re not maternity leggings, yet they’re superior to all the actual for-pregnancy leggings that I’ve tried. I’ve worn the same pair through my first pregnancy, the pandemic, and now, and they’ve miraculously kept their shape and stretch, no matter the size of my stomach. I admit that they’re extremely pilled, but I don’t mind, as I mainly wear them at home. There’s not a single hole or snag after over three years of wear, and aside from the inevitable pilling, they don’t look worn in the least. As Strategist contributing editor Jessica Silvester wrote, “They’re designed to look like a legging but not feel tight.” They’re supersoft and supple and make my legs and butt look fabulous. They never slip down and don’t feel constricting on my belly. I hate that they cost $100, but they’re worth the money. I tried a cheaper dupe that’s available on Amazon, but sadly they don’t compare. Don’t hesitate — just get them. These are the real deal. I bought another pair at the beginning of this pregnancy (in navy), which I save for when I go outside.
If work or some other situation demands that you wear real pants, then here’s your solution. With Augie, I wore a pair of Madewell over-the-belly maternity skinny jeans that I’ve come to despise. For this pregnancy, I thought an under-belly maternity jean with a looser leg would be more comfortable, and it was, for like a minute, when these Old Navy straight-leg jeans did the trick. But by the third trimester, I concluded that I never wanted to put on another pair of maternity jeans ever again because they just felt so constricting and horrid. (Don’t get me started on maternity overalls, which I think are a cruel joke that the Big Mama Industry pulled on pregnant people.) As a new mom put it to me, the fake waistband is such a bummer, and it’s true. But these formal pants — which also have a stretchy faux waistband — are actually comfortable. (They’re by a brand that makes this Pleats Please–esque jumpsuit that I first read about on the Strategist and totally would have ordered, were I a jumpsuit-wearing kind of person, which I sadly am not.) The pin-tuck pants are lightweight and stretchy but still look like nice, tailored slacks that you could wear to a more formal setting like a corporate office or an event. And you can’t beat the price.
I succumbed to the cult of Babaà and bought this cardigan a couple of years ago on sale and then another (now discontinued) sweater last year — also on sale — and basically rotated them every (cool) day throughout this pregnancy. (Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens also owns the cardigan.) They’re oversize and roomy and fit over a gigantic bump while managing to still look stylish. I wore them with my Aligns, with jeans (when they were still tolerable in the early trimesters), over dresses, and on hikes. They’re super-cozy, look more expensive than they are, and are surprisingly hardy. I will say that they’re on the scratchy side, being made with 100 percent “eco” Spanish wool, but it’s the thick, chunky, textured knit that makes them so appealing. (Word to the wise: Babaà has frequent sales and ships free to the U.S. from Europe.)
Editor’s note: Babaà lists all prices in euros, so the price shown above is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.
This shirt (in white) was gifted to me by the brand when I was pregnant with Augie. It’s an oversize button-up made from the softest modal blend that is just easy to wear (and just as easy to care for), as the name suggests. It doesn’t wrinkle, and you can throw it on and feel instantly put-together. You can wear it so many ways: as a shirt over pants or a skirt, or, as I often do, as an open jacket over dresses. Storq was kind enough to send me the striped one for this pregnancy, but even if it hadn’t, I would have purchased it myself in a heartbeat.
I bought this dress myself, on Poshmark, when it was sold out on the website. Having already tried Storq’s clothing, I knew the quality would be top-notch even when secondhand. Made with a silky soft, stretchy modal spandex, it feels so slinky and smooth on the body. It hugs my bump and curves in all the right places and just makes me feel really cute. I love the flattering scoop neck and the thick-but-not-too-thick straps, and I plan to wear it postpartum, too.
I think of this as the tank version of the dress above. It’s by maternity brand Hatch, which was kind enough to send this to me as a gift, and it’s as close to the ideal pregnancy tank as I’ll ever come. It’s thick, ribbed, formfitting, and doesn’t look like maternitywear at all, which is why I was skeptical when I first saw it. But then I put it on, and it felt like a hug. It comes with a shelf bra that I was surprised to find was comfortable and supportive. The tank itself is stretchy and fits nicely around the belly, and the straps and scoop neck, like the Storq dress above, are flattering and even sexy.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.