How to Dress Cute While Pregnant (on a Budget!)


If you’re reading this, I’m a little jealous of you right now. I hope you know how truly blessed you are… I loved every single second of being pregnant. Every. Single. Second. I was deliriously happy. I never got nauseous.  think it was God’s way of giving me a break after 6 stressful years of fertility treatments and dozens of procedures. I just reveled in my pregnancy.

Of course, all the mandatory shopping didn’t hurt. You know those super-cute pregnant women who can make it through most of their pregnancy wearing their regular clothes, and look adorable all the way through. I was not one of those women. Before I knew I was pregnant, I knew I was pregnant. I was barely 4 weeks along, and I couldn’t button my jeans. Naturally, I prayed it was a baby, and not, you know, pasta.

I did not gradually ease into my baby bump. It seemed to appear virtually overnight, and soon, almost none of my pants fit.

Almost immediately, I needed clothes.

This was just over 10 years ago, and capsule wardrobes were not yet a thing, but if you’ve ever been pregnant, or traveled, or been forced to stick to the small section of clothing in your closet in your current size, then you’ve already experienced a capsule wardrobe. Looking back, I still see my pregnancy as one of these most effortlessly stylish times in my life. My wardrobe may have been limited, but I made the most of it, using a formula similar to the one below—the same formula I recommend for any shorter term life transition. And it looks something like this:

Assess What You Have + Set a Budget + Buy Core Capsule Pieces + Beg, Borrow or Steal = Maternity Wardrobe

1. Assess What You Have

The hardest part of maternity style is saying goodbye to all of your favorites as you quickly outgrow them. Start by separating your clothes into two categories: The things you will definitely not be able to wear during pregnancy, and those that you should be able to wear for part or all of your pregnancy. If you have the room in your closet, divide it into Now and Later sections. The now section will probably include many knits, tunics, leggings, wrap dresses, jersey separates, etc. The Later section will include many wovens, as well as jeans, structured dresses and jackets and tailored tops and skirts. In this example, for a Boho Style Dial #2 mama to be, I’ve rounded up some non-maternity pieces that may already be in your closet: a jersey maxi dress, a casual elastic waist black skirt, tunics and blousey tees, easy dresses… This is now your Starter Maternity Wardrobe.


2. Set a Budget:

Whether it’s $100 or $1000, decide on a budget and stick to it. Trendy affordable maternity pieces can be found at Target and Old Navy, so there’s no reason to blow your budget on a whole new wardrobe. Unless you want to…

3. Buy Core Capsule Pieces:

Now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on those black separates that go with everything and will become the foundation of your entire maternity wardrobe. (Black is easiest to find, but dark grey, navy or chocolate brown would also work for these essentials). Some companies, like Mommylicious, even package half a dozen black essentials together in a single box for $130, a great deal. Here, I’ve added essentials, including black pants, a black tee that transitions to nursing, a black jersey dress, and jeans. Buy these pieces early in your pregnancy, and, when it comes to pants and jeans, buy the best quality you can afford, because you will wear them a lot. A. Lot. If you splurge on those nice jeans early in your pregnancy, you’ll feel cute every time you put them on, and you’ll get the most mileage out of them.

When I got pregnant, I immediately bought a collection of capsule pieces from Isabella Oliver, including pants, a tunic, a tank, a wrap dress, and two skirts. I also bought a pair of 7 For All Mankind maternity jeans. Not only did those pieces serve me well through two pregnancies, but they were also passed on to numerous friends and relatives. The quality is amazing, and they held up for years.


Aim for about two weeks worth of outfits in your regular rotation, and keep in mind that as your pregnancy progresses, certain things will fit better, and other items (perhaps some of the non-maternity items) will stop fitting altogether.

4. Beg, Borrow or Steal

Well, not steal, exactly. But beg and borrow—yes! After all, we all know someone who’s recently had a baby, and you’ll be doing your new mom friend a favor by removing some of those maternity clothes from her house. Honest. As I mentioned earlier, I was thrilled to be able to share maternity clothes with friends and family, and friends gave me pieces as well. This is especially useful if you are looking for a formal dress or something else that you don’t plan to wear often.
Note: Even though this may not give you as many options, make a promise to yourself that you will not wear clothes that don’t suit your style. A very sweet friend passed along some GAP flowered maternity dresses. The print, colors and style were not me at all, and I wore them once or twice before finally admitting they were all wrong for me. Pregnancy shakes up your sense of style enough as it is, without adding clothes to the mix that make you feel like an entirely different person.
If you can’t borrow from a friend or family member, the next best bet is to use one of the brilliant new wardrobe rental services for maternity clothes. The exact details vary, but they offer a great way to mix up your wardrobe during pregnancy, without investing a lot of money. Check out the following:

Le Tote Maternity

For $69 a month, you get 3 clothing items and 2 accessories to wear and return when you wish. You can return totes and pick new items as many times as you want, and the selection is cute and features names you know, like Maternal America and Seraphine.
Oliane top, Le Tote

Oliane top, Le Tote

BUMPstyle Box

BUMPstyle is similar to Stitchfix, but with maternity clothes. You pay $30 the day your box ships, but if you decide to purchase more than $150 of items from your box, the $30 is credited. This is great if you want access to unique, stylish maternity items that would be hard to find otherwise.


Front knot dress, BUMPstyle Box

Mine for Nine

Browse this store to rent or buy maternity clothes from a wide array of designers and brands. Great for special occasion items or when you want a few new pieces to mix in with your capsule wardrobe.

Bliss Blue maternity dress, $41 (to rent),

Bliss Blue maternity dress, $41 (to rent),

5. Add Accessories and Stir

Now it’s take to take all those pieces, and create that dream capsule Maternity Wardrobe. Of course, you’ll need accessories, so may I recommend some pieces from my start-from-scratch accessories wardrobe. So this Maternity Wardrobe, when mixed with cute accessories, can create tons of cute looks.




As always, once you add accessories to the mix, the outfit combinations become a lot more interesting. Here, three of the many looks you can create with this cute new maternity capsule wardrobe and some fun accessories.


See how cute you look?

If you only remember one thing about maternity style, make it this: Be you. Stay true to yourself, and find maternity clothes that express it, rather than trying to transform yourself into an entirely different kind of person, or using your wardrobe to look and feel more mommy-like. Start with what you have, shop early for good quality essentials, beg and borrow the rest, and then mix and match with cute accessories for multiple looks that will carry you through your entire pregnancy(ies) in style!



  1. says

    I loved ASOS when I was pregnant. And the dresses were really inexpensive. If I have another little one, I will definitely try BUMPstyle. Thanks!

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