Wednesday, February 4, 2015

3 Tips for Building a Maternity Wardrobe on the Cheap

Enter: the bump!

It's cute, it's fun, and, in most cases, it's the first very obvious sign of your growing bundle of joy. 

You love it. You really, really do! 

But soon you realize, things just ain't gonna fit like they used to. 

So what's a gal to do? 

With a baby on the way, it's not like you've got an abundance of cash lying around to grow the wardrobe. At least, not most of us average folk anyway.

Lucky for us, building a maternity wardrobe is actually very easy to do on the cheap!

First of all, you only need stretchy waistlines and slightly-longer-in-the-front tops and dresses for a few months during and after pregnancy. Then you'll tuck 'em away until you're ready to use them for a few months during and after your next pregnancy. This means you don't really need to invest in many high quality, built-to-last-forever items. 

And secondly, well... that's where my tips come in! 

Now, since this is only pregnancy numero uno for me and I'm only 26 weeks in, I may not be the best expert here, but these tricks have worked for me so far. And I hope they can work for you too! 

Let's get right to it.

1. Work with what you already have.

The best first step in putting together an inexpensive (and awesome) maternity wardrobe is taking note of the non-maternity items in your current wardrobe that would still work with a growing bump. Why buy things you already have, ya know?

Flowy shirts, wrap dresses, and yoga pants are great examples of such items. At least for wearing through the 2nd trimester, I'd say.

top and undershirt from Old Navy Maternity

And in addition to your non-maternity items that straight up fit over your cute popped belly, there are also a few other items you can easily adjust to fit your growing body.

For example, your bras! No need to purchase new ones if it's just your band size that's expanding. Instead, buy yourself some of these: bra back extenders. Thanks to those cheap little suckers, I'm still wearing my pre-pregnancy bras and they're still soooo comfortable. So, until my cup runneth over, AKA my cup size increases, you'll find me comfortably fitting into my old bras, and cheaply. 

You can also wear your non-maternity jeans (and any sort of zip-up pant, really) for a bit longer with this little helper: the Bellaband. You keep your pants unzipped to fit the belly, while the stretchy band does the hard work of keeping your pants up. I wore mine regularly during the first trimester and it was lovely. 

So, don't discredit your non-maternity clothes too quickly. With a quick sort of all your items and a few inexpensive helper items, you might already have more to wear than you realize!

2. Borrow, borrow, borrow!

Early in my pregnancy, I was blessed to have a friend offer me her maternity wardrobe. Talk about growing the wardrobe for cheap!

Think about it, though. Like I said before, you only wear maternity clothes for a few months during and after pregnancy. So if you have a friend or relative who's recently had a baby, chances are she's packed those clothes away and planned on forgetting them until the next pregnancy happens. So while they're not being used, it's the perfect time for you to swoop in and kindly ask if you can borrow a few (or ALL) of her items. Sure, asking might be a bit awkward, but what's the worst that could happen, really? She says no? Yup, actually, that's probably the worst that could happen. Totally worth the awkward asking and probably receiving free maternity clothes, if you ask me. 

tunic from Old Navy Maternity

There are just a few tricks to making this borrowing tip work right...

You've got to find a friend who's generally the same shape and size as you. But that shouldn't be too challenging, as the stretchiness of most maternity items makes it so that you don't have to be a perfect shape and size match.

You've got to find a friend whose style is similar to yours. Otherwise you're just going to feel like you're awkwardly wearing someone else's clothes for several months.

And you've got to be relatively clean. If you're the type that spills stuff on everything, you may not actually be a good candidate for maternity clothes borrowing. In this case, I'd find a friend who's done growing her family and see if she wouldn't mind giving you her maternity wardrobe for keeps. 

3. Shop the sales. 

Once you've sorted through your normal wardrobe and begged a few friends for borrowed maternity clothes, there's only one thing left to do.

And that's SHOP!

top from Pea in the Pod

Ladies, I cannot even tell you how many awesome, inexpensive maternity items there are out there waiting for you to buy. All you have to do is look. And I especially recommend looking at the sale items.

Aside from the maternity leggings I'm wearing in the pictures above, all the other items were bought very inexpensively from the sale racks of shops with HUGE maternity sale sections. 

The jeweled top from Pea in the Pod, originally around $70, I bought for around $25.

And the green top and gray tunic from Old Navy, I bought for less than $10 each. 

Cheap, cheap, cheap! And yet all decent to high quality items! 

Here are my go-to maternity clothing shops for items on the cheap:

For inexpensive and decent quality, this is my favorite! Just look at that sale section!! And they usually have some sort of 20% or 40% sale going on on top of their already discounted items, so if you're looking to bulk up your maternity wardrobe on the cheap, make this your first stop. 

I'm definitely not usually an Old Navy shopper, but their maternity items just can't be beat, especially if you're looking for standard items. Their jeans are wonderfully comfortable and affordable, as are their black slacks, and all their tops, really. I do recommend reading reviews on items to get your sizing right. Their maternity items tend to run a little snug, so I generally size up, but it really depends on the item.  

One little bit of a bummer is most of their maternity stuff can only be bought (and returned) online. Meaning you can't try on anything before buying. And if you don't like, you have to ship back. BUT! I say it's still worth it. You just have to see those discounts to believe me.  

The Gap also has a great maternity sale section, mostly online. And they also have sales on top of their sales going on all the time too. Their items are a little more expensive than Old Navy, but also higher in quality. Pro tip: You can combine your online shopping carts from Old Navy and the Gap since they're both owned by the same company, thus saving you on shipping costs. You're welcome!

For really high quality items, this is my go-to. I do have to be careful not to be tempted by their non-sale stuff, because that stuff is WAY out of the budget. But it's easy enough to avoid their lovely non-sale stuff because their sale section is, just like Old Navy, ginormous! I highly recommend shopping at a Pea in the Pod store, as they have a great big sale selection available and you get to try it on before buying, but if that's not possible, online works great too! 

It's worth noting that you won't ever see Maternity Destination or Target on my go-to list. While their items are cute, I find the quality is lacking, sometimes severely. And since you can get higher quality items from the maternity sale racks of other the shops, I'd say skip 'em. But that's just my two cents. 


So, what do ya think? After all those tips and tricks and sale shopping links, does an inexpensive maternity wardrobe sound doable?

I sure hope so!

I will say, I think it's totally worth investing in just a few super high quality, more expensive, non-sale-rack maternity items if you've got room in the budget. Occasions like baby showers and that maternity portrait session you just booked kinda call for it. The key, though, is balancing those few expensive items with a whole bunch of non-budget-breaking items. Mix and match the costly with the non-costly to your heart's content, and with these three tips, I bet no one will be able to tell how very affordably you just built your maternity wardrobe.

In fact, within the next year, I bet pregnant mamas will probably be asking you if they can borrow your maternity wardrobe.

Feels good, doesn't it?

And to the ladies who have done this pregnancy thing before: What are your wardrobe building recommendations? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments!

Happy thrifty sorting, borrowing, and shopping, mamas!


  1. So cute! You look great! I really like that teal Old Navy top.
    I don't think borrowing would have worked well for me... that bump was just a big target for grease stains haha.

    I definitely would check out Goodwill/Salvation Army... Some women only plan to have one or two babies or get a new wardrobe each time, so you can find some nice things there if you're lucky! I think all of my maternity jeans came from Goodwill, and several shirts did as well. I bought quite a lot at Kohl's--maybe not the best quality, but well, if you're prone to grease spots on your bump, its nice and cheap. :-) And I really liked some of their shirts. And the tank-tops/undershirts--I definitely still wear them (they're big/stretchy enough to pull down for nursing, so they're great for layering!)

    As for bras. You'll need to buy new ones for nursing, so... check out Bravado!. ( A lot of people recommended it to me, but I was wary of buying online. Finally when Maria hit 6 months, my size went down and I desperately needed smaller nursing bras, I went for it. Oh my goodness, such a difference! I love them! The website has great instructions for finding your size--and then I went over to Amazon to actually buy them.

    Let's see... that's all I can think of. Well, needing to switch to maternity right at Christmastime helped too ;-)

    1. Great suggestion!! I didn't even think of hitting up the thrift stores. I have to be honest, I'm a terrible thrift store shopper. I walk in and get so overwhelmed, I almost always walk out with nothing. :/ But if you're a pro at that, that's an awesome way to build the wardrobe for cheap!! And that bra suggestion! I'm totally holding onto that. Thank you thank you thank you! I have a feeling that's going to come in super handy very soon. :)

  2. Great advice! I got the majority of my maternity clothes from Gap (my wardrobe is from there 75%, pregnant or not) and Target. I found a fantastic pair of clearance maternity stretchy black jeans from Target that I love, and some basic tees and jean shorts, but all the rest of their maternity section was...lacking. So it probably depends on the "brands" they have at certain times (and what season you're pregnant in!).

    I did really like the BumpStart shirts from Motherhood Maternity, only because they were super stretchy and stayed in really great condition from like 12 weeks to 41 weeks with near constant wear. And they were some of the few maternity shirts that actually fit me still by 40 weeks!

    1. OH, and how could I forget - just the other day I discovered the maternity dress section at ASOS - they're having a huge clearance sale right now so I bookmarked approximately 100 dresses I wanted to buy but have no reason to right now! So for future pregnancies I am definitely going back there. :)

    2. Great suggestions! And I'll agree with you on Target's stuff. It's really hit or miss. I have 2 items from there that are... meh. So I've sorta given up on them. But I bet if I really tried, I could find some nice pieces, as you did. Now I'm tempted to go try on their black jeans. :) Also, I'm glad to hear those BumpStart shirts held up thru the whole pregnancy! I may have to go check those out!! And ASOS, def gonna check that out now too! Thanks for the tips!!

  3. I found an awesome maternity consignment shop & picked up some awesome deals; like a Gap dress for $12 & a few pairs of Pea in the Pod pants for work for like $10 ea.

    You look so cute with the bump !

    1. You are too sweet, Lucky! Thank you! <3 Great suggestion, btw. I wonder if I have a maternity consignment shop nearby... I'll definitely research!

  4. I don't really have anything to add about maternity clothes (though I have accidentally bought some, they're super comfy, lol). I just wanted to say that you and your bump are super cute!

    1. Aww! I'm blushing! Thanks, friend!! <3 And yes, super comfy, indeed. I definitely bought a pair of maternity sweatpants once when I was in high school, accidentally of course. Ha! But worth it!

  5. Hi Stephanie! I am a long time reader but first time commenter, and I just had to jump in and comment on this post because I feel like I was able to build a relatively inexpensive maternity wardrobe that I LOVED by using a lot of the tips you suggested. (I actually kind of miss my maternity clothes now - ha!) I would also add Target to the list for their cheap but versatile Liz Lange tshirts and tanks - loved those! And Kohl's has some decent maternity stuff as well. Finally, ThredUp has a pretty extrnsive collection of maternity items, and I would say I got about 50% of my wardrobe from there. I will include my referral link here:

    1. Hi, Jen! So glad you commented because these are some great suggestions! I'll have to look into those Liz Lange shirts. I think if I have specific recommendations for Target maternity items from folks I trust, I may put Target back on my good list. :) Kohl's is a great suggestion too! I'm not sure we have any near me though. You know I'd be hitting it up if we did! I've also heard great things about ThredUp! Didn't even think to look into them having a maternity section. Another great rec! Thanks, Jen!!

  6. Sorry comments got cut off before I finished! Just wanted to end with a big congratulations on your pregnancy and all of the wonderful things you have going on right now! I am a big Creighton Method fan. :-)

    1. Awww, you are too sweet! Thank you so much. :) I like Creighton quite a bit too. :)

  7. I was wondering how you were going to approach maternity clothes shopping. I guess there isn't a maternity version of Stitch Fix yet? Business plan!! :P

    1. Actuallyyyyyy, there *is* a maternity version of Stitch Fix. I tried it out for 3 months, but unfortunately was very disappointed with the last one they sent me. I sent all 5 items back. :( So Stitch Fix is on hold for now, at least 'til I go back to my non-maternity wardrobe, if I've forgiven them by then. :P

    2. Oh boo Stitch Fix! I was just reading online about a "borrow" feature for maternity clothes on a site called motherhoodcloset... might be worth looking through.

  8. Even if you don't have a maternity consignment store, a lot of cities now have groups that do periodic consignment sales for baby stuff, including maternity clothes. Here in Pittsburgh we have Snuggle Bugs ( and Just Between Friends. I included the link to give you an idea of what to look for.

  9. OMG OMG OMG your bump!!! Steph!!! You look amazing!!! So happy to see that baby S is growing and growing!!!

    1. And growing and growing! Thanks so much, sweet friend. You're too kind!

  10. Thank you for this advice. My daughter-in-law is pregnant and she is growing out of her clothes. Her budget is limited, so her maternity wardrobe needs to be fairly cheap. Your tips will go a long way to helping her find clothes.

    Susan Hirst |

    1. Glad to hear that! Wishing her a healthy and joyful pregnancy!

  11. You are so adorable!!! Love the baby bump photos!!! :)


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