Figuring out what to wear while pregnant can be a real challenge. Learn how to save money on maternity clothes with this list of quick and practical tips.
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While you are pregnant, it feels like you are going to be pregnant forever. Then suddenly, there’s a baby in your arms and all those maternity clothes you’ve purchased are relegated to a storage bin.
You can truly spend as much or as little as you would like on maternity clothes. However, since the clothes are only worn during the last several months of pregnancy (and maybe a bit longer afterwards), it makes sense to keep things cost-effective.
You can absolutely dress comfortably and stylishly while pregnant without breaking the bank. There are creative ways to stretch your clothing budget even while purchasing maternity-specific items.
How to Save Money on Maternity Clothes
During my first pregnancy, I realized I wouldn’t be wearing maternity clothes as long as I thought. I was surprised at how long it took before I actually needed to switch to maternity jeans. Then, by the time I started collecting pieces in the second and third trimesters, I realized I only had a few months of pregnancy left to wear these brand-new clothes. It goes faster than you think!
Think Capsule Wardrobe
With this in mind, my first tip is to think “capsule wardrobe”. A capsule is basically a small set of clothing that coordinates well and fulfills the needs of your daily life (working mama, stay-at-home mama, fitness coach, etc.). Now is not the time to purchase pieces that only work with just the right pair of jeans or shoes. Learn more about capsule wardrobes from Modern Minimalism.
When you build your capsule maternity wardrobe, try to purchase similar colors and styles for mixing and matching. Opt to purchase clothing that can be layered or mixed and matched. This allows you to form many potential outfits from a smaller group of clothing.
Buy for the Weather
It’s tempting to start scooping up cute pieces the moment you discover you are pregnant. Until you realize that the seasons will be totally different by the time your baby bump is large enough to fill maternity tops and dresses. Think through your climate before purchasing your wardrobe.
Sometimes, it pays to just wait and see. For my first pregnancy, I knew I’d need a coat. Happily enough, my coat ended up fitting to the end of pregnancy. Sometimes it’s worth it to wait versus assuming you’ll need particular items.
If your pregnancy is running through a colder season and warmer season, purchase pieces that can be layered. Perhaps tee-shirts, light cardigans, jeans that can be cuffed in warmer weather, and multi-season dresses.
Accessorize! Don’t forget to mix in your non-maternity accessories like hats, bags, jewelry, and shoes to give your wardrobe some variety.
Buy On Sale–Even If It’s Early in Pregnancy
Get familiar with the return policies of your favorite stores and grab clothes when there is a great sale (provided you can return items if they don’t work out). The longer return policies are really helpful when you want to capitalize on a sale, but aren’t sure what you will need.
This way you can try clothing on early in pregnancy and discover your favorite brands and styles slowly instead of panic-shopping when your usual clothes truly are not fitting.
Use What You Already Have
If you are trying to save money on maternity clothes, one of the best ways to do so is to use what you already have!
You’d be surprised how much clothing you own that can work all the way through pregnancy! Any top or dress with a loose silhouette or a higher waistline will usually continue to fit. Longer tops will work best as you’ll lose a lot of length when the top drapes over the bump.
Extra-flowy tiered or voluminous shift dresses are in style and work great for pregnancy. Continue to wear cardigans, casual blazers, and flannel tops. Just wear them open over a cute maternity tee in a basic color. With this method, all you need is a t-shirt and comfortable maternity pants or a skirt to create dozens of new outfits just mixing and matching what you already have.
Soft leggings can still work too if worn underneath the bump.
Note: If your clothing has to stretch to fit over the bump, know that it might not return to its original size. Be careful if you have favorite pieces you don’t want stretched out.
Buy Necessities First
You might be wondering what to buy? Start by replacing your most frequently worn items with a maternity version. I don’t work in a professional environment, so I wear a lot of casual jeans with a variety of tops to change the look. I also love looser comfy dresses (most of which still fit during pregnancy–yay!).
My essentials turned out to be: maternity jeans, maternity leggings, and fitted maternity tops. Beyond that I bought a few “fun” pieces like a cute baby shower dress and some nicer tops to mix things up. Then I used dresses I already owned and cardigans/sweaters/blazers to change things up.
I shopped secondhand, Old Navy, and a few other stops for jeans. It’s worth trying on pairs from several brands before you decide–some are certainly better than others! You don’t want jeans that are constantly slipping–so annoying.
Tops are fun and practical. Luckily it’s easy to fit cute options from just about any brand. Buy colors and styles that you can mix and match:
Dresses are so comfortable during pregnancy and it’s easy to switch up the look by changing your accessories or adding a cardigan or similar.
Cute Baby Shower Dresses
I love Pink Blush for their cute maternity dresses–one of these is great for your baby shower or maternity photos.
Note: Lots of maternity clothes are also nursing-friendly. You can look for this feature to get even more use out of your clothes after baby is born.
Borrow from Friends
Before you ever start shopping, it might be worth it to check with friends and see if anyone has maternity clothes they are selling, donating, or would be willing to loan.
I received a large stack of clothing from a friend and was able to start out with a few cozy pairs of jeans and several basic maternity tops that helped extend my wardrobe instantly.
I even got to have her maternity coat which I have then been able to loan out as well. Worked perfectly since I didn’t want to buy a brand-new maternity coat only to wear it for a handful of weeks.
This is one of my favorite ways to save money on maternity clothes. You might have to scout around a bit to find a good secondhand store, but when you do it can be gold.
We have a local chain called Clothes Mentor and it’s a great place to shop. The clothing is usually in great condition, and they also run sales and coupons for even more savings.
The maternity section will almost always be tiny no matter where you shop, but it’s worth checking out (and checking back!). I’ve found nearly-new maternity jeans from top brands for around $15 per pair and lots of tops for $12-15.
When shopping secondhand maternity, I highly suggest browsing through all the sizes. I almost always find a few great pieces that were tucked back on the wrong size rack, or pieces that weren’t my usual size but turned out to fit anyway.
You may also use non-maternity clothing for several months during pregnancy. If you find new pieces you like that you can wear during pregnancy and afterwards, it’s a great way to stretch a clothing budget.
Tops: You need flowy and length. The Knox Rose line at Target has some great options (tops/dresses) for unintentional maternity wear.
Oversized sweaters: trendy oversized sweaters can work well with a bump.
Dresses: Same as tops, you will want a higher waistline (or no waistline) and enough length that the dress can be worn over a bump without becoming too short.
Cardigans, blazers, shackets, etc: Anything along these lines that can be worn open will work for maternity wear. Shop your closet first, but you can also add in non-maternity pieces knowing that they will work during pregnancy and beyond.
Skirts: Skirts can work over the bump (soft elastic waistbands here) with a cute knotted tee. Choose midi or maxi skirts since shorter length skirts will become too short over the bump.
Implement Transitional Hacks
Most of us have several great pairs of jeans in our closet that we love. A good collection takes time (and money!) to build, so it’s overwhelming to think of replacing all those jeans with maternity options.
You can use the hair tie trick to stretch out use of your favorite pairs to start. This works well for a few weeks (or perhaps even months), but true maternity jeans will feel a lot more comfortable.
You can also try products like belly bands or button extenders. This allows you to continue wearing all your old jeans.
If you like to sew, you can also hack your old jeans and turn them into maternity jeans. I wouldn’t do this unless I had a favorite pair with a broken zip or something like that. I plan to wear my jeans again after the baby is born so I don’t want to permanently modify them.
Do Laundry a Bit More Frequently
Since we are going to have fewer options in our maternity closet, it helps to do laundry a little more frequently.
As annoying as it is, this will save you money since you can operate with an overall smaller wardrobe.
Create Outfits and Take Photos
If you constantly have that “what in the world do I wear?!” feeling, this tip is for you.
Spend an afternoon creating outfits with your maternity pieces along with pieces you already have. Photograph each outfit and save them to a folder on your phone so you have a quick-reference guide of what to wear.
If you struggle with what to wear each morning, I also suggest removing things that don’t currently fit from your closet and dressers. Toss these items into a storage bin or relegate them to small section of your dresser/closet.
It’s much easier to get dressed quickly when everything that doesn’t fit at the moment is put away.
Plan to Resell
Reselling maternity clothes is a great way to earn back some of the expense. You can sell your wardrobe online or through a consignment store. ThredUp is an easy online option.
Save Clothes for Future Pregnancies
However, don’t get rid of your maternity clothes until you are done having babies! Even pregnancies that span different seasons can still utilize a lot of the same clothing. So don’t be in too much of a hurry to donate or downsize your collection.
While you are between pregnancies, you can also loan clothes out to friends if you like. This tends to work best with pieces that don’t receive much wear, like a coat, special occasion dress, etc.
I hope you found these tips helpful as you prepare to add a baby to your family. What money-saving tips would you add?
Have a great pregnancy and have fun shopping!