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9 Maternity Wardrobe Must-Haves

Ah, the glorious time in a woman's life when she carries another life inside of her. Pregnancy is miraculous and wonderful and many women long for the chance to experience it. And then they hit the point when their body really starts changing, and their wardrobe needs an upgrade.

Suddenly, your pants don't button anymore. And your tops all bounce up, showing off your bulging belly. And don't forget about those cankles! With all of the changes that a woman's body goes through during pregnancy, she deserves to look and feel comfortable and confident. So when it comes time to shop for those maternity clothes, there are some wardrobe essentials that will make your 9 month journey more enjoyable.

Have you gotten these 9 must-have pregnancy pieces yet?

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7 Leggings

It doesn't matter what season it is, or how far along you are in your pregnancy, leggings are like comfort food for your legs when you are pregnant. You can walk, run, stretch, do anything in them and they don't need constant adjusting. You can even sleep in them if you want to. You can wear them day after day for almost any occasion (when you are pregnant, you often get a free pass at more formal occasions because people know comfort is more important than looking fashionable).

Leggings are especially nice to have if you already have other children. We all know the energy and patience it takes to raise a child, and with the amount of food and bodily fluids that end up on a mother's clothes every day, pieces like leggings make the daily grind a little easier. Chasing those temper tantrum toddlers can be exhausting, so wearing a pair of leggings that is comfortable makes most moms feel less inclined to drink themselves into oblivion.

Maternity leggings usually come in basic colors like gray or black, which makes them versatile and easy to wear with many different pieces. In the spring and summer, you can wear capri leggings with a colorful tunic. In the fall and winter, leggings can even double as long underwear. They also look cute with a long seasonal sweater and boots. You can usually find affordable leggings at major retailers, or even online. This is a maternity piece that won't put a huge dent in your bank account.

Because leggings are so comfortable and easy to wear, you should get yourself several pairs (if your budget allows). If your pregnancy is going to span more than one season, you want to have leggings that you can wear throughout the pregnancy. 

Choose a basic pair and a capri pair to cover your bases. Get one pair in black and another in gray. And if you can find a pair in a fun vibrant color, add that to your leggings collection too! If you plan to use leggings as a layering piece to wear under your clothes in cold weather, the color doesn't matter. Just make sure you go with a full length legging because capri style will not be effective in adding a layer of warmth.

The key to wearing leggings, whether you are pregnant or not, is to wear longer tops with them. Leggings are not a substitute for pants, per se, but are meant to be more of an "accessory" type of leg wear. Choose long tunics, sweaters, or even short dresses to wear over them. Do not wear a shirt that only comes to your waist with leggings. You don't want to show the waistline of the leggings. Think of them more as tights. You wouldn't wear a short shirt with your tights, would you?

The only possible exception to this rule is if you wear your leggings to the gym or a yoga class (or lounging around the house). In that case, your priority won't be to make a fashion statement, so leggings with a shorter length top are fine. But if you are out and about where people can see you (and judge you), follow the leggings law that says no short shirts with your leggings. Luckily, most maternity shirts come down farther than non-maternity shirts, so you should be able to find tops that can easily be worn with leggings.

6 Maternity Jeans

Jeans are a fashion staple for anyone's wardrobe, and pregnant women are no exception. Even if you are working full-time throughout your pregnancy, you need jeans for the days you are not at the office. They are a welcome relief from the confinement that corporate apparel offers, and much like leggings, they can be worn often and with many different pieces.

The elastic band attached to the top of most maternity jeans is annoying and uncomfortable, but there are lots of different styles of jeans that might fit well enough that the elastic is not a problem. You can also get yourself a belly band to wear over non-maternity jeans, which will allow you to go longer without having to buy maternity jeans. A belly band may also help with lower back pain in your first and second trimester.

If the idea of wearing a belly band doesn't tickle your fancy, you might need to try several different types of maternity jeans before you find a pair that you like. They are available in the same styles as regular jeans (skinny, boot cut, flare, etc.) so you can still maintain your individual sense of style. And as with non-maternity jeans, you can wear them with your favorite pieces to create stylish, seasonal looks for any occasion.

Since comfort is of utmost importance during pregnancy, you want to find maternity jeans that are easy to walk in and also easy to put on and take off. As that baby bump grows, you might find that getting dressed/undressed is challenging, so the easier you can make the process for yourself, the better.

Because jeans are typically worn often, you should get yourself at least two pair- one in a simple style, and one with a little bit of personality, like a flare style. Then, you can create a variety of ensembles with your jeans. Here are some looks to try:

  • - Jeans with a comfortable tee and sneakers for a casual day out
  • - Jeans with a dressy top and low heels/dressy ballet flats for lunch with your husband
  • - Jeans with a button down shirt, blazer and low heel pumps for a trip to an art gallery

If your employer allows it, the last look mentioned above could also work for a day at the office.

Something to keep in mind when looking for maternity jeans is the changing of the seasons. If you are going to be pregnant in the summer, jean shorts or capri jeans might be pieces worth investing in. Even if you wear jeans with a tank top, the summer heat can be miserable for pregnant women. 

Remember how, when you were younger, your parents didn't like you wearing skimpy clothing that showed a lot of skin? Yeah, screw that. When you're pregnant in the summer, you want to show as much skin as possible without looking like a white trash trailer park pregnant hoochie. 

5 Comfortable Tees

It should come as no surprise that comfortable t-shirts are a must-have for pregnant women. After all, comfort is a top priority when you are carrying around extra weight and waddling all over like a penguin from Happy Feet. And with the hot flashes that are bound to take over at some point during the 9 month "growing a human journey", a comfortable tee in a light fabric will help.

Some other reasons to get yourself some maternity tees are:

  • - They are easy to put on and take off
  • - They can be dressed up or kept casual
  • - They are affordable, so you can stock up

Seriously, you want to have several comfortable maternity t-shirts in your dresser. Once you find a style that you like, choose a few different colors in that style. Retailers like Target and Old Navy usually have vast selections, both online and in store. Then once you have a nice little pile of comfortable, lightweight maternity tees, here's how to wear them:

  • - Pair with your favorite maternity jeans and ballet flats for a casual day out
  • - Throw on with a cute skirt and some flats or low heels for church or Sunday brunch
  • - Wear with your yoga pants for a prenatal yoga class or trip to the gym
  • - Pair with a blazer and trousers for a day at the office

If you want to add some humor to your maternity tee collection, you can also get yourself a few funny novelty pregnancy tees. There is no question that you will experience a plethora of emotions during your pregnancy, so a little comic relief might be a good way to keep your mood positive. Novelty tees are also great conversation starters and an easy way to keep strangers from asking you those mind your own damn business pregnancy questions.

"When are you due?"

"Are you having a boy or a girl?"

"Have you picked out a name?"

Because pregnant women don't have enough to deal with already. Leave us the heck alone. Are you actually going to remember the answers to those questions? We'll probably never see you again, so why do you even care? If you want to know about other people's lives, get yourself a tabloid magazine.

Being physically comfortable is one way to better handle those inquisitive moments with nosey Nancy. If you are comfortable in your clothing, your mood is better and you aren't as tense. So build yourself up a nice little collection of comfortable, cotton maternity tees.

4 Maternity Bra

One of the benefits of pregnancy, at least for small chested women, is that your boobs get a free augmentation. The further along you get in your pregnancy, the more your boobs grow too. And it's pretty damn cool. You put on your bra, and suddenly you look like a Victoria's Secret model.

Oh, helloooo boobs! So this is what it's like to be well endowed...

When you reach the point where that happens, it's time to invest in the breast.

You can find many nursing bras that work well for once the baby is born, but you can also wear a nursing bra throughout your pregnancy. Bras are not cheap, so if you can find a dual purpose bra, that will save you some money. Besides, a nursing bra will fit the same as a maternity bra, and no one will know that it is intended for breastfeeding. You do want to make sure that you have more than one maternity/nursing bra, especially once baby comes, for sanitary purposes.

In the meantime, enjoy those big 'ol boobs. They are going to get smaller again once the nursing is over, so whip out those breast enhancing shirts and low cut tops! If you were already big breasted prior to your pregnancy, your new boobs might actually not be something you want to celebrate. With larger breasts comes more weight on your chest, which can contribute to back pain. 

This is why a supportive maternity bra is important. Luckily, your XL boobies won't stay XL forever, so if you can find a way to manage your pain until they go back to normal, your pregnancy experience will be more enjoyable.

Why not just wear a regular bra in a larger size? Because non-maternity bras are designed differently. They don't offer the support that your chest needs during pregnancy. You can wear your regular bra until your boobs start getting too big for it, but then, get those knockers something that will hold them and support them better than a regular bra. It isn't just about comfort, especially if you plan to breastfeed. 

It's about taking care of those boobies so that your baby has a healthy pair to feed from. The reason that women's breasts grow during pregnancy is because they are building up the milk supply. So if you take good care of them, your baby will be better taken care of once he starts nursing.

Use this checklist of what to look for when shopping for a maternity bra to make sure you find the best of the breast best:

  • Non-wired with soft, supportive cups

  • Wide shoulder straps that stay in place when you lift your arms
  • Adjustable back fastenings
  • Your nipples point straight ahead instead of up or down
  • No bulging of the cups

Essentially, you want something that holds your boobs in place and can be easily adjusted as your breasts continue to grow. Your maternity bra can also be worn at night when you sleep, if you feel like you need the extra support.

5. Comfortable Shoes

Oh, the cankles! The back pain! These are just a couple of the pregnancy pains experienced by women. And if your daily life involves a large amount of walking around, you definitely want to have comfortable shoes on. It can be tempting to wear heels during pregnancy, because many women feel less attractive and think that heels will make them look sexier. 

And while heels may add to your sex appeal, they can also add to your risk of falling and injuring yourself and/or your baby. Because your body changes so much during pregnancy, it is easier to lose your balance in heels when you are pregnant.

It is important to note that you can look sexy during pregnancy without having to wear heels from Jessica Simpson's closet. Here are a few tips for wearing heels while pregnant:

  • Choose heels less than 2" tall- you lower your risk of falling
  • Choose thicker heels instead of stilettos- they are easier to walk in
  • Avoid pointed toe heels, or heels that are tight on your toes
  • Avoid heels made from material that is not able to stretch out as your wear them

Most of these suggestions are for when you are further along in your pregnancy, however, heels can pose the same risks for women who are not pregnant. Therefore, even in the early stages of your pregnancy, heels can contribute to injuries. 

On special occasions like weddings or holidays, it's fine to wear heels that follow the guidelines above. But keep in mind that it is not a requirement. People understand how important comfort is for pregnant women, so they do not expect you to show up in heels when your baby bump is the size of a volleyball. Besides, you can still look stylish and sexy in other types of footwear.

Did you know that wearing heels can cause charley horses? Those are not fun. Especially when you are in bed at night, and one hits. Ohhhh, it sucks. As if you aren't going through enough already, a charley horse is a miserable thing to add to your pile of pain. 

And even though they don't necessarily pose a health risk, they hurt. They only last a minute or so, but that one minute is torture. You can save yourself the pain by not wearing heels during your pregnancy as much as possible.

Ballet flats are a great choice for pregnant women, because they are easy to slip on and off, they are comfortable and they come in casual and dressy styles. You can wear them with jeans, leggings, dresses, really anything. For dressier occasions, wear a pair that has some kind of embellishment, like a shimmer, or a jewel, or a layer of lace.

If you want a comfortable shoe option for everyday wear, you can't go wrong with a sandal. Sandals with a very low heel or flat sandals are obviously the safest and most comfortable option. 

In the spring and summer, you can wear sandals with a cute maternity sun dress, maxi dress, or with capri leggings and a maternity tank top. You will find that as you get further along in your pregnancy, it will be harder to even see your feet when you look down. A shoe that you can easily slip on makes this a more manageable problem. 

6. A Maxi Dress

A great piece for pregnant women to wear for the spring and summer seasons is a maternity maxi dress. It is comfortable and easy to wear. The fabric is usually light and breathable, which is nice for those crazy, sweaty, dizzying pregnancy hot flashes. You can wear a maxi dress alone, or throw a denim jacket or cardigan over it on chilly nights. Pair with your favorite ballet flats or sandals to complete your look.

Even in the fall and winter, a maxi dress can be a comfortable item to wear. You can put maternity tights on underneath, or even wear the maxi over a long sleeved shirt, depending on the style of the dress. Some maxi dresses have long sleeves, which is nice for when it is colder out. Top it with a weather conducive jacket if needed. 

During the colder seasons, you can still wear ballet flats, even if you have tights on. Or, you could go with a pair of comfortable, stylish boots. Add some western flare to your look by sporting a pair of cowboy boots.

Maxi dresses are a popular choice among celebrities. Many pregnant stars have worn maxi dresses while out and about. They often accessorize with sunglasses or jewelry and they prove that you can be comfortable and stylish while knocked up.

Another option is to go with a maternity maxi skirt. If a maxi dress feels too confining or just isn't comfortable for you, a maxi skirt allows for more variation. You can pair it with comfortable t-shirts or tank tops in the spring and summer, or with a long sleeve shirt and a cute sweater in the fall and summer. 

Most maternity maxi skirts have a ruched band at the belly, similar to what maternity pants have. This helps keep the skirt in place. You can wear the skirt with the band pulled over your belly, or scrunch it down below your bump. Having options to wear something in a way that fits you best is never a bad thing.

To MAXImize (like how I did that?) and make the most out of your maxi dress collection, choose ones that are easy to dress up or dress down, and that coordinate well with other pieces of your maternity wardrobe. Go with neutral colors or colors that go well with the accessories that you own

Think about the shoes that you have also, so you don't have to buy new footwear to match your maxi dress. Don't choose styles that you would only wear to certain functions, because you will want to wear your maxi dress (or skirt) over and over again. 

3 Work Pants

If you work in a corporate environment that has a business dress code, you are going to need some work appropriate maternity pants. You can find maternity trousers that also have an elastic top. As with most business apparel, trousers come in neutral colors like black, brown, gray or khaki. Depending on your employer, any of these options should work.

You can pair your maternity trousers with a colorful top to add some fun to your look.

Consider the following ensembles:

  • - Trousers with a collared button down shirt (blazer optional)
  • - Trousers with a maternity camisole under a cardigan or blazer
  • - Trousers with a seasonal top or tee

Keeping in mind your company's dress code, pair your outfit with ballet flats or a low, closed toe heel. To maintain a professional appearance, keep most of the pieces in neutral colors, with small pops of color added through simple jewelry pieces and accessories. Since trousers are not the most comfortable type of pants, choose tops and shoes that are as comfortable as possible.

One way to get the most "bang for your bump" is to find a pair of trousers that is dressy enough for work, but can also be worn for other occasions. Multi-use pieces are a huge money saver. Look for trousers that you could wear to a night out with the ladies, or to a weekend visit to a museum.

If your office is more flexible with the dress code, you can also try to find more comfortable pants options like khakis or dressy pants made from a stretchy fabric. You can add color and texture with those choices too, by pairing with vibrant colored tops and/or accessories. Consider keeping the pants and top neutral and throwing a colorful cardigan over. 

Shoes are another great way to add color or print to your outfit. A leopard print ballet flat or some low heeled red pumps are popular choices.

While it is unlikely that your maternity pants will have belt loops, you can always add a belt to your look for some added color and style. Wear it below your belly, close to your hips, or even above your belly for a different look. While belts serve a purpose, they can also be worn as a decorative element. 

2 A Dressy Dress

If you are going to be working throughout your entire pregnancy, you are no stranger to the world of corporate attire. So you might already have a dressy dress in your maternity wardrobe. But if you won't be spending your pregnant days at the office, a dressy dress might not be hanging in your closet. Regardless, you need to get one.

A " dressy dress" is a dress that can be worn for dressier occasions, like weddings, church, cocktail parties and other formal events. Just because you have a watermelon sized belly doesn't mean you are exempt from special occasion dress codes. And unlike other maternity pieces, you really only need one dressy dress. 

Unless you are a cast member on The Real Housewives of Pregnant-Ville, you probably won't be attending many formal events. If you do happen to have a jam-packed schedule, however, you can just splurge on a few dressy dresses and rotate them for your various soirees.

If you aren't sure how to re-wear a dress without people noticing that you "double dipped," you can change your look by wearing different shoes or jewelry. The easiest way to mix things up with an outfit is with accessories. You can style your hair differently too, or throw some outerwear over your dress if the occasion calls for it.

The most important thing in looking for a dressy dress is to find one that makes you feel great. You still want to be comfortable and confident. And in most cases, it's perfectly fine to take a step down from the formal dress code in order to cater to your comfort. 

Most people understand that pregnancy is a time when getting dressed (for any occasion) can be challenging. Try to find a middle ground between formal attire and comfortable pregnancy wear.

More specifically, here's what you want to search for-

  • - FABRIC
    • Most dressy dresses are not made from cotton. Luckily, you should be able to find a maternity dress that allows for some stretching. But if you are having a hard time finding a dressy maternity dress in a fabric that gives you some "wiggle room," go ahead and get one that is a little less dressy and embellish it with accessories as needed.

    • - FIT
      • In general, the best styles for dressy dresses are sheath, shift or a-line. You might even be able to find a dressy maxi dress. Some maternity retailers make dresses in these styles, and they are usually made in a way that conforms to a pregnant body. Keep the dress code of the event in mind when shopping for a dressy maternity dress. The most comfortable option is probably an a-line or maxi, but just like every pregnancy is different, so is every woman. Find the style that fits you best.

      • - COLOR
        • >li> Did you know that the colors you wear can affect both your mood and other people's perception of you? During pregnancy, it is important to keep your spirits up, and one way to do that is to wear colors that are bright, vibrant and cheerful. There may be times when you are required to wear a darker, more professional color, but if you have the option to be bolder with your outfit, choose something in a hue like orange, blue or pink. Otherwise, be sure to accessorize your dark colored ensemble with dazzling jewelry.

        • - LENGTH
          • Dressier occasions are not the time to sport a short dress. Save those dresses for your private home life. No matter what the occasion, your dressy dress should fall at or just above the knees. No exceptions. Not even for pregnant women. Yes, comfort is important, but do you really think a shorter dress will be more comfortable? Try again.

          1 Cardigans

          So you have a closet full of maternity wear and you are ready to paint the town red. But it's that time of year when the weather outside doesn't match the temperature inside. When a day dress is perfect for outdoors, but when you go inside, you need something to throw over yourself because the air conditioning is blasting.

          The solution? A cardigan.

          Cardigans are another wardrobe staple that you can stock up on, because they get worn so often. Even with those pregnancy hot flashes, sometimes pregnant women have moments where they get cold. But not so cold that you need a jacket, just a little something light to provide some warmth. Cardigans are the perfect solution.

          The nice thing about cardigans is that sometimes you can find non-maternity ones that still fit you once you're pregnant. So if you have some already hanging in your closet, you might still be able to wear them. If, however, your pregnant body is like, "nope, not gonna happen," you can find some maternity cardigans in different styles.

          Most maternity cardigans are in the $30 price range, but you can often find ones for less than that. If it works with your budget, it's a good idea to get yourself a few cardigans. You could get one long sleeved cardigan and one 3/4 sleeve. You could get one in a neutral color like black, and one in a bright color. 

          You could get one in a casual style, and one with some simple embellishments (beading, for example). The more versatility you can create with your cardigans, the better. You don't realize how long 9 months is until you have to get dressed everyday and you have a closet full of the same boring maternity clothes.

          Not sure if you'll wear a cardigan very often? Here are some ways you might enjoy having one on hand:

          • - If you're attending a fall BBQ and the weather is cool
          • - If you're attending an event indoors
          • - If you work in an environment that is often air conditioned

          You might be surprised how often you need to pull out a cardigan. Not only do they provide additional warmth, they are also an easy way to add some depth to your outfit with colors, textures and prints. They are both functional and fashionable. 

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