Since I am over halfway through my second pregnancy, I can definitely understand the frustrations of trying to dress a growing baby bump. Maternity fashion is something that needs to be a priority to keep women confident and feeling like themselves all throughout pregnancy, but that can feel limited if you don't know how to work things to your advantage! Throughout both pregnancies now, I have found ways to really feel like myself, while also shopping for maternity clothes on a budget and want to share a few tips with you fellow pregnant gals out there!!
Before I get to sharing some tips, though, I want to take a moment to encourage you and remind you of a few things:
+ Mastering how to dress a growing belly will be a process of trial and error! I have learned all of the things I am sharing below and still have to try on an outfit a few different ways to get it to the place where it makes me feel confident! It's totally fine if you get a little overwhelmed trying to dress your bump, but just remember that your frustration is being fed by a mean monster called "hormones."
Now that we've covered that, let's get started, shall we:
As your belly continues to grow, you will (and should) want to show it off! With a simple belt, you can turn a tunic, oversized sweater, dress, or regular shirt into a belly-hugging, fashionable look! There are so many possibilities when it comes to belting things and they can allow you to wear "shift" pieces without you looking frumpy! Try tying your belts in new ways, explore new colors, and use them whenever your outfit needs a bit of definition!
Don't be afraid to wear a heel.
Heels are a great way to lengthen out your body, even as you put on weight throughout your pregnancy. Don't go crazy and try to wear anything over three inches or so, but also don't completely avoid them! Pair a wedge with your maternity skinnies or a cute skirt to make your legs look long and put focus on something other than your torso!
Layering is one of the BEST things you can do when dressing your baby bump! No matter what time of year you are going through the dog days of pregnancy, you want to be able to add or remove clothing with ease. Another great thing about layering is that it gives you yet another way to wear different pieces of your pre-pregnancy wardrobe! You can mix things up by adding a cardigan, cute jacket, or chambray top and take one of your basic maternity outfits and make it super cute!!
Experiment with new ways to wear your hair
Even if you're like me and have a hard time trying all of those super creative "10 minute hairstyles" we all see on Pinterest, go ahead and experiment with a few that you think you can do with ease. Don't stress yourself out about it, but just try straying from your everyday, go-to look every now and then. I like to rotate how I style my bangs, wear my hair in a high pony, or braid it to the side! Your outfits will look completely different depending on how you style the rest of your look and you may even be more comfortable with your hair pulled back or let down!
Use what you can of your pre-pregnancy wardrobe.
This can tend to get really frustrating, so stay focused and don't let yourself get stressed out. Focus on wearing what you can when you can and when the day comes that you can't squeeze into that certain dress or top anymore, just move on. There will be a day when you can wear it again.
With that being said, you want to utilize as much of your current wardrobe as you can. Go ahead and pull out all cardigans, sweaters, and even some dresses. You can always use your cardigans (don't forget to layer and add that belt!), you can wear oversized sweaters with no problem, and you can make short dresses into long shirts and pair them with leggings and a cute wedge or boots!!
Another thing that you can buy plenty of during your pregnancy and still use the heck out of them after your baby is born and after you are back down to pre-pregnancy sizes is accessories! We all love accessories (GIVE ME ALL THE THINGS) and they can add such depth to an outfit and always be used! Go ahead and stock up on some bold necklaces, a watch, some bangles, and a group of cute studs that can be worn with a lot of things! You can also use scarves since they can add a really great "punch" to a simple tee and cardigan! [My favorite place to stock up on accessories are Jane.com and Groopdealz]
Buy at least 2 "confidence" pieces
I am really big on stocking up on the staples and making those work through layering and accessorizing, but I think it's so important to remain confident in your changing body and sometimes a piece of clothing can really make you feel fabulous! Go ahead and "splurge" on one or two things that make you feel AH-MAZING! For me, this is usually a tight dress or cute pair of skinny jeans, but just go with what makes you feel beautiful and treat yourself!
Always go for ease and comfort
Don't let yourself get hung up on feeling drab as your body changes and as you go through the not-so-fun things of pregnancy, but also don't be too focused on dressing cute and forget that you need to be comfortable! When you go to buy clothes, try on everything (yes even tanks and tees), to make sure that they fit you well, you like the fabric, and that there aren't any annoying parts on them that you can't remove. For example, I stocked up on some maternity tanks to wear under clothes and outerwear and didn't try them on because I just didn't think I needed to. The first time I wore one of those tank tops with a pair of my partial-panel jeans was terrible. The rouching that allowed the shirt to grow with my belly was terribly itchy and now I have three tank tops I can't wear! Stick to soft fabrics and when you try things on be sure to bend down, sit down, and move around before pulling the trigger!!
Stay neutral with pops of color
For those things that you have to buy from the maternity section at some point (tank tops, tees, pants, etc.) keep things neutral. Utilize the other tips on this list to make your outfits fashionable and leave the pops of color up to your accessories or those things that you can wear even when you're not pregnant (like sweaters, etc.)! This will save you money and allow you to buy things that you love and can use for years to come--even when you aren't preggers!
Look past the seasons
On the tail end of that last tip, do not let yourself throw out summer pieces that could possibly work just because you are going to pregnant in a different season! This particularly works well for those of us that are pregnant during the winter months, but try to envision different ways that a piece of clothing could work to your advantage. There are a lot of things that won't work between seasons, but just keep an open mind and keep anything out that has even a little possibility--give yourself room to be creative with your looks!
For example, there are a few dresses and sleeveless shirts that are for summer, but are in darker colors. I have kept them out for my winter pregnancy because they have potential to work beneath a cardigan or thick sweater!
Use leggings to your advantage
While I don't think that leggings are necessarily the best alternative to pants, they are extremely comfortable and will help you transition some of those pre-pregnancy items into your maternity wardrobe! Get a few oversized sweaters or large tunics, accessorize, and you've got a super comfortable outfit that looks great AND shows off your growing baby bump!!
Stock up on dresses
Girls, dresses will be your best friend throughout your pregnancy! They are so easy all the time, but when you're uncomfortable, a little swollen, and not feeling like yourself, dresses make your life so much easier! Be careful not to choose any that are too low cut or short since your body will be changing a lot and you want to be able to use them throughout your entire pregnancy. Go for tight dresses that have quality, thick fabric so that you can't see any lines (you know the ones--where your bra and underwear rest on your skin) and so that your bump shows in a flattering way. For those dresses that are more flowy, use the other tips and add a belt, some accessories, and/or a cardigan or jacket!!
Maxi, maxi, maxi
Maxi dresses and skirts are basically yoga pants without a crotch, so they are naturally one of the best wardrobe pieces for pregnancy! They are so comfortable, versatile, and can be dressed up or dressed down. Grab a few skirts and dresses and use them as staple pieces or to mix things up every once in a while! Get whatever color or pattern you love (and fits the season(s) you will be pregnant) and wear those babies out!! If dresses are your best friend during pregnancy, maxis are your BEST FRIEND FOREVER during pregnancy!
Show off the bump
Right now, it may seem like nine months is a really long time. It kind of is, but it will fly by in the blink of an eye and before you know it you will be calming down an unruly two year old!! SO, show off that growing bump and the amazing life growing inside of you! Wear things that flatter your pre-pregnancy body, but also don't be afraid to try new styles that will showcase that belly! Be sure to take plenty of pictures!!
+ Tight waistlines
+ "Under the breast" cuts (the definition will disappear as you get closer to the end of your pregnancy and you don't want to highlight the fact that your boobs are literally sitting on top of your belly.)
+ "Tent" shirts/dresses, and sleeveless (stick with the theme of showing off your bump and avoid the cuts that will make you look like one big blob. Definition is key.)
Do you have a tip you would add to this list? Leave it in the comments below!