As if it’s not enough that you’re literally growing another human being, now that you’re pregnant, you also have to dress the body that’s housing that growing human. This can be difficult and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be!
If you find yourself grumbling over having to buy a whole new wardrobe just because you’re in your first trimester and your jeans are way past the point of using that genius hair tie trick (kudos to whomever figured that out!), you’re not alone.
And we’re here to help! In this article, you’ll find advice about when and where to buy inexpensive maternity clothes, plus a roundup of great maternity/nursing clothes to help you build your very own maternity capsule wardrobe.
Let’s do this, shall we??
When to Buy Maternity Clothes
This varies for every person and every pregnancy. Some women, like Katy, bloat from the beginning of pregnancy and find themselves buying maternity clothes early in the first trimester.
We recommend being careful about buying maternity clothing too early, though.
Your risk of miscarriage decreases dramatically after the first trimester. If you are swollen and bloated and need something to wear during early pregnancy, then by all means, buy yourself some maternity clothes!
But be aware that doing so can lead to heartbreak if you miscarry.
The first time Katy got pregnant, she had to attend a funeral at 7 weeks. She went out and bought expensive maternity clothes to wear to the funeral because her bloated belly looked pregnant in everything she owned, and she didn’t want questions yet.
She then lost that pregnancy at 8 ½ weeks. 5 years later, he still cannot look at or wear these clothes, not even when I needed them during her pregnancy with Jack.
We don’t say this to scare you, but to show why waiting as long as you can isn’t a bad idea.
When to buy maternity clothes is ultimately up to you
But you do you!
If there’s one thing we promote here at Undefining Motherhood, it’s giving you all the information you need to let you make an informed choice.
Many women wait until the beginning of the second trimester to truly start rocking the maternity wardrobe. Once you hit 14 weeks and your belly is starting to show a bit, you can start to feel safer as you peruse all the maternity fashion your pregnant little self can handle.
We’re here to show you how fun and inexpensive it can be!
Where to Buy Inexpensive Maternity Clothes
Where to buy maternity clothes can depend on where you are geographically, as well as the budget you have for maternity clothing. Here’s where the good ole internet comes in handy.
In this roundup of our favorite maternity and nursing brands, we’re relying on the power of the interwebs to supply us with a solid, yet wallet-friendly maternity capsule wardrobe (more on the capsule part in a bit).
Instead of wandering through a store’s maternity section or spending a fortune at Motherhood Maternity (nothing wrong with that if that’s your choice), we’re giving you options to get a wide range of products for affordable prices.
Most of these brands are ones that we have personally tested and loved. And if we haven’t tried them ourselves, we know and trust these brands based on feedback from the Undefining Motherhood community.
So let’s get to it! Here are our favorite inexpensive maternity clothing brands:
Let’s be real here. You’ve likely walked into your local Target in need of dish soap and emerged with $$$ worth of clothes, shoes, and jewelry you didn’t know you needed.
This is because Target has some damn cute stuff, and we stand by those booties we bought alongside our dish soap. Don’t @ us.
And what’s awesome is that this same concept applies to maternity clothes. You can find some FANTASTIC maternity basics at Target.
Okay, so here’s some real talk: you know how sometimes you just need to buy cheaper tops and clothing from websites to jazz up your wardrobe without spending a lot, but you also know the clothing won’t exactly last you until next season?
Well, Patpat is that website when you need maternity and nursing wear.
It has a lot of great, trendy items, but don’t count on them to last super long. But that kind of makes them perfect, since you don’t need maternity or nursing clothes very long. And they should hold up well while you do.
They have literally taken most normal items of clothing and made them into nursing gear, which is awesome, and they also have some fun pieces for making your maternity clothing selection a little more fun.
What’s not to love about that?
This website is amazing for trendy mamas who want to stay super cute their entire pregnancy (read: you probably aren’t staying in leggings the whole time like me, and more power to ya!).
They also have tons of beautiful dresses that will make you feel pretty AND let you stay super comfortable. Love the look in the photo at the top of this article? Check out PinkBlush!
(4) Undercover Mama
So by now you know that we are keen on using nursing wear as maternity wear so that you can make an easier transition to the clothes you need postpartum.
Not breastfeeding? No big deal. But if you are, why have to re-purchase a new wardrobe when so many maternity clothes do double duty?
Undercover Mama is great for this, and our favorite part about this company is that they truly make great nursing (and maternity wear) for every body.
(5) Old Navy
Strangely enough, we haven’t actually shopped Old Navy for maternity wear. But our friends and community members LOVE it for its basics as well as fun pieces.
If you’re looking for a few basic staples, and you want to do so cheaply, then it’s definitely worth it to check out Old Navy’s line of maternity wear.
(6) Amazon Maternity
When you’re pregnant, a whole lot of things about your body change….fast.
You might keep your cute little figure all the way up to the last trimester, and wham! Suddenly all you have to wear are your husband’s over-sized college t-shirts.
This is where Amazon comes in, and while we haven’t tried all their dealers or all their maternity clothes (obviously), we do recommend browsing Amazon when you need something in a pinch, and when you don’t mind sending it back if you have to.
Our favorite thing to do is to order a few styles and sizes from Amazon Prime and then send what we don’t like or need back.
This is possible when you do so ahead of time and when you aren’t super invested in whatever you wear being exactly right.
They also have lots of great inexpensive maternity basics, which we’ll get to later.
Where to Rent Affordable Maternity Clothes
Clothing rental is all the rage right now, and it got Katy through her pregnancy with Jack while actually buying very little.
Did you know there are places where you can rent maternity must-haves so you can constantly adjust your wardrobe to fit changing seasons and your changing body?
So here’s the thing about maternity wardrobes: you’re going to put together a few dresses, leggings, and tops for your capsule wardrobe, and then you’re going to wear them until they wear out.
Or, you might wait several years between pregnancies, only to find that your maternity wardrobe from your last pregnancy is super out of style (if you care about things like that).
OR, you might just be one of those women (like me!) who really enjoys clothing subscriptions and looks forward to the clothing you choose online coming in the mail.
Here are the perks of any kind of subscription:
- You don’t have to pack your closet with pieces you’ll likely never wear again
- They handle all the laundry and dry cleaning for you (!!!)
- There are styles for every trimester and season, so when you go up a size due to very healthy weight gain, you don’t have to buy new clothes
- It’s really easy to rent special occasion outfits for things like funerals, weddings, baby showers, and special events and then just send them back when you’re done!
- It can be more affordable to rent your clothes than buy them
So take all the perks of maternity rental memberships bulleted above and apply them here, too! But this one is less expensive than Rent the Runway (but, by default, also lower quality.)
Le Tote’s slogan is “rent maternity fashion from week 4 to 41!” Yes, please!
With Le Tote, we love that you can build your own “tote” (your monthly subscription box) for maternity clothing for as long as you need to, and then you can cancel at any time.
But if you love Le Tote like we do, you can use their HUGE selection of maternity clothes during your pregnancy, and then transition into their “classic” membership for when you’re in that weird in-between maternity and “normal” clothes.
And unless you’re a complete anomaly, you’re going to need some in-between clothes. Trust us. Your pre-pregnancy body will not magically reappear.
Don’t worry, though. We’ve got you covered for learning to love and trust your postpartum body!
(1) Kindred Bravely
We’ve raved and raved about Kindred Bravely on this website, so you likely know they make clothes for nursing.
But hear us out because their clothes are super comfortable and they can do double duty as maternity clothes and then nursing clothes!
Why? Well, when you’re pregnant, your boobs can get so sore you’ll want to cry.
The sleep bra helps with this so much! Wear it while you’re pregnant and then when you’re nursing. Double duty. You can thank us later (it’s really that good).
Many of their nursing clothes will also work as maternity wear, as they’re designed for women whose bellies are still swollen.
We have five words to say to you about Beta Brand: maternity dress pant yoga pants.
Yes, you read that right! Beta brand, the makers of YOGA dress pants carry maternity ones, too!!!
You can wear these to the gym, the office, or sleep in them. They’re super versatile, supportive, and they best of all: comfy.
Please note that at the date of publication, these are out of stock, but let’s all pray to the maternity goddess that they are back in stock soon!
We wouldn’t recommend an out-of-stock item unless it was good enough to check daily to see if it’s back in stock. Trust us.
(3) Blanqi or Belly Bandit Support Leggings
These are brands we highly recommend for maternity leggings. Why leggings, you ask?
Well, two reasons:
- Katy lived in them when she was pregnant with Jack, and that girl is literally a legging connoisseur, and
- Most maternity tops are long enough to cover your rear end, which makes them perfect pairing-wise with leggings.
Plus, comfort is KEY when you’re pregnant, and what’s more comfortable (and versatile) than a pair of good looking leggings? Nothing!
I recommend both of these leggings because they provide incredible belly support, and this kind of support becomes super necessary during pregnancy.
Keep in mind, though, that both of these brands are not exactly what we would call “inexpensive.”
So when you wonder when to splurge and when to save, this is where you splurge.
Building A Maternity Capsule Wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes are all the rage. What exactly are they, you ask?
Well, a capsule wardrobe is a minimalist approach to your closet (take a deep breath and stay with me, ok?) that MAXIMIZES the pieces you have so you get the best bang for your buck.
Basically: a capsule wardrobe is a wardrobe that you can mix and match for all occasions so you get the most wear out of it possible.
Think of a capsule wardrobe as a few pieces that you can turn into 20+ outfit combinations.
A capsule wardrobe is full of building block-type pieces that you can use to build your own personal style without going overboard.
We’re going to use the above brands to help you build your own personal, inexpensive capsule wardrobe. Come on, it’ll be fun!
So let’s start closest to the body, shall we? You’re going to need some good maternity underwear and bras, and Kindred Bravely is our go-to for underwear.
Here are our top picks:
- As we mentioned earlier, the Kindred Bravely Sleep Bra is a lifesaver. At $29.99, it’ll be one of your favorite pieces of clothing for both maternity and postpartum nursing.
- This T-shirt maternity and nursing bra does double duty and will be the bra you end up wearing out of the house for the next year or so. It’s a little more pricey at $49.99, but it’s worth every single penny if you have a chest that allows for a plunging neckline.
- Need something for a larger chest? Cake Maternity has you covered with this baby, which Katy basically lived in. (Plunge necklines just don’t work for everyone. Damn it.)
- Do yourself a favor and nab these under the bump seamless maternity panties. They’ll stay put, and at $32.99 for a pack of five, they won’t break the bank.
Again, we’re going with Kindred Bravely first because their pajamas are DIVINE, and they double really nicely as nursing pjs. Seriously, you can’t go wrong.
The Davy nursing and maternity pajamas are glorious. So soft and SO comfortable. Who says that only baby needs soft things?
Girl, you need to be comfortable, TOO. They come in pretty, jewel-tone colors and cost $49.99. Add them to your baby registry!
If you like nightgowns, the Angelina nursing and maternity gown is great, and it’s currently on (final) sale at $19.99! It also doubles as a dress, so wear it out of the house and don’t think twice!
Want more recommendations? Check out our favorite postpartum pajamas and the very best nursing pajamas!
Maternity Daily Wear
Okay, now that we have the comfy/cozy stuff out of the way (the most important part in my humble opinion), let’s talk about what you’re going to wear on the daily.
As you pick your daily wear, remember that you’ll want to mix and match things because this is a capsule wardrobe, and we are picking out building blocks.
This is where Target comes in really handy. (Click this link to get FREE SHIPPING when you spend more than $35)
T-Shirts and Blouses for Daily Wear
We love these pieces from Target for their versatility. I’m a huge sucker for a maternity t-shirt or tank top because they work year-round.
Cardigans and button-downs don’t have to grow to cover a growing belly, so toss one you already have over any of these, and you have a great piece for any time of year!
These are some of our current favorites from Tar-jay:
- Maternity Striped Knit Tank Top
- Maternity Shirred V-Neck T-shirt (buy a few colors for extra versatility)
- Maternity Short Sleeve Linen Like Cuff T-shirt
- Maternity Striped Short Sleeve Crossover Nursing T-shirt
- Maternity Scoop Neck Tank Top (for all you summer mamas!)
For other daily basics, we recommend trying Amazon. You can find some great deals on things like:
- Ruched T-shirts that will grow with you (LOVE these!)
- Sleeveless tank dresses (in tons of great colors and patterns!)
- And highly rated maternity support bands. (Hands down, no questions asked, the VERY BEST maternity support bands come from Belly Bandit. I have to tell you this, even if they aren’t so budget friendly.)
Jeans, Shorts, Pants, and Leggings for Daily Wear
As we stressed earlier in this article, we’re a huge fan of leggings to wear on the regular, but you might not feel like you can wear leggings everywhere. Ok, fineeeeeeee!
You do you.
This is why we recommend
- 2-3 pairs of leggings
- One pair of shorts
- 1-2 pairs of jeans
- Pants if you need something to wear to the office
These items are all you need for your maternity capsule wardrobe.
We recommend the following leggings, shorts, pants, and jeans for your capsule wardrobe:
- Blanqi Maternity Leggings (these come in a ton of fun colors, but for a true capsule wardrobe, i.e. the BASICS, you’ll want a couple of pairs that match the tops you choose. Black and grey are probably your best bet in terms of easy matchability.)
- Beta Brand Maternity Dress Pant Yoga Pants (again, we recommend stalking this website FREQUENTLY to find out when these come back in stock).
- For shorts and jeans, you can’t go wrong with options like these maternity shorts options from Target, and Old Navy has a large selection of cute maternity jeans.
- If you need to add pants to your capsule wardrobe, we recommend these Wide Leg Maternity pants from PinkBlush, or these tapered trousers, also from PinkBlush. You can dress up both these pants for a night out with your girlfriends or for work.
Professional Maternity Clothes
If your capsule wardrobe needs dressy/professional maternity clothes, we hear you, and this could be its own entire post!
Why? Well, professional and dressier clothing can cost you more, and it’s more likely than basic pieces to go out of style by the time you have another baby (if that’s something you’re considering).
You can save a lot of money with a rental membership. And if you love the clothes so much that you’re unwilling to relinquish them when your time is up, then both of these companies offer options for buying your rental maternity wear.
Plus, you get to break out of the restrictiveness of a capsule wardrobe and order rental clothes that are colorful, fun, and don’t necessarily have to go with everything. Yay!
A Few Fun Pieces for Your Maternity Wardrobe Capsule
Let’s say you don’t want to use a membership subscription, but you do want a few dresses and various fun pieces for your capsule. You’ve got a bump, and you want to show it off!
We get ya.
Here are some cute styles from our recommended list of brands to help bring a pop of color and fun to your maternity style:
- We love this floral maternity/nursing top from Patpat, and it’s only $11.99!
- Want to feel pretty in a fun dress? This side bow dress from Amazon is adorable.
- Date night dress alert! This off-the-shoulder maxi dress is long, flowy, and gorgeous.
- Polka dot dresses are always a favorite. This one from Patpat is also very inexpensive!
Maternity Clothes Galore!
We realize that this overview of inexpensive maternity clothes might look a little overwhelming at first, but it’s actually designed to help you easily build a maternity wardrobe that’s cheap and customizable.
Make sure you have a little fun with it and choose things that represent your personal style. The possibilities are endless!
What inexpensive maternity clothes would YOU add to your maternity wardrobe capsule?
Sarah Creel, PhD, is the editor of Undefining Motherhood, and Director of the Research Communication Certificate in the Graduate School at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Sarah loves to be with her family (including eight nieces and nephews!), friends, boyfriend, and animals (she has two cats and one weird dog. Wait, who is she kidding? They are all weird). At Undefining Motherhood, Sarah brings new perspectives by shedding light on nontraditional ways of being a mother.