On Not Wearing Maternity Clothes

by | Sep 22, 2013 | Catholic Living, Things I Think, What I Wore Sunday | 14 comments

After last week’s What I Wore Sunday post, my friend Mandi pointed out that it seems like, even at the pretty darn pregnant phase in which I find myself now, I don’t really wear maternity clothes. 

And she’s right, I don’t.
It’s not really something I set out to do intentionally, but it’s definitely where I’ve ended up.


 It probably started back when I found out I was expecting my first, and made some truly tragic maternity fashion choices.



I had a vision in my head of how pregnant women were supposed to dress, I think based mostly on Princess Diana and Darling from Lady and the Tramp. So even though I was 25 — and it was 2002 — I ordered a box of the goofiest maternity clothes ever. Giant denim overalls? Check. Tent-shaped sleeveless shirt? Check. Enormous chambray button-up? Check. Even though none of that is stuff I would wear in real life. I didn’t have a sailor dress or anything polka-dotted and with a giant bow on it, so I can only assume that they didn’t offer those options at Gap Maternity.



I guess it’s nice that I was embracing the whole being pregnant thing, but, really, dressing like you’re at a costume party isn’t something that’s sustainable in the long term. And as other Catholic moms before me have discovered, for many of us, being pregnant isn’t a novelty — it’s a way of being.
Because after pregnant, came nursing, then ten months later came pregnant again, then nursing, then . . . well, you get the idea.
So at first, I had my maternity clothes, and my nursing clothes, and there in the back of my closet, my “regular” clothes. Just hanging there taunting me . . . making me feel badly about my changing body, and making me covet my own stuff, which is a pretty unique sin to be able to commit.


I also had a crisis of conscious every time I made a clothing purchase. If I bought regular clothes in between pregnancies, I felt badly that I might turn up pregnant again soon and not fit into them. If I bought maternity clothes, they were probably overpriced and I probably didn’t LOVE them, since there are so many fewer options in maternity clothes, and I hate spending money on clothing pieces I don’t really love.

But eventually it occurred to me that if I just looked for regular clothes that could double as maternity or nursing clothes, I didn’t have to get so stressed out about buying things. It just so happens that I like the look of clothes that can pretty easily do double duty. And it’s much easier to find a good selection and good deals away from the maternity department.

So, what exactly do I look for? When I’m pregnant, dresses. I look for empire waists, shift dresses, or stretch jersey. All seem to work well for me pregnant or not, and if the top of the dress buttons or pulls down or crosses over, it will work for nursing too. The secret, for me, is the belt.


These are dresses I bought from the overstock section
of eShakti. I put on a belt, and blouse up the top
a bit, and they work as maternity dresses.

Obviously you’ve got to have some maternity jeans. I do. But I mostly hate them. I feel like I spend all day tugging them up. Not cute. I find dresses much more comfortable. But I do wear maternity jeans. And it’s pretty easy to find tunic or bloussant or empire waist tops in the regular section (or better yet, the sale section) to pair with them. And those will ALL still work after the baby’s born.


I do NOT own any of these tops, but I would happily
buy any of these to wear for all three seasons. They’re
also all from the 40% off overstock section of eShakti.
(They are not paying me to promote them either,
I just think their stuff is really cute!)

So, these days, I rarely buy any item of clothing that wouldn’t work for at least two of my three states of life. And, besides jeans, I almost never buy maternity clothes at all. 

Pro Tip: Accessories. If they’re looking at your awesome shoes they might not notice if you have pregnant face.


Happy Hobbit Day!

Today (in addition to being a Sunday, which is ALWAYS a feast!) is Hobbit Day, since September 22nd is the birthday shared by Bilbo and Frodo.


So, since we love The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings around here, we had a hobbit breakfast of Bilbo’s Seedcake and sausage and eggs, and an afternoon snack of hobbit-style carrots (with the stems still on) and lembas bread (shortbread cookies) wrapped in leaves (lettuce, left out overnight to wilt a bit so it can be bent). If these kids ever get their playroom cleaned up, which is starting to look doubtful, we’re going to watch one of the movies.


And . . . back to pregnancy fashion, here’s what I wore Sunday:


Dress, sweater, necklace: Anthropologie
Shoes: Target

The dress and necklace were birthday presents from my darling husband. Along with a new kitchen faucet, which was at the top of my list beacause the old one wouldn’t retract anymore and just dangled there. Bugging me. All day.

The kids each gave me a new baby chick, since our little backyard flock has been decimated by hawks. Sad face. They’re majestic and all. And protected by a riduculously lot of laws. But hawks are a menace and I dislike them a great deal.


My birthday presents!

Thanks so much for everyone’s good wishes on Friday. I had a great birthday. Hope your weekend was great, too!

And thanks to the good ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting yet another What I Wore Sunday. Head on over to check out what everyone else wore to Mass today!  



  1. Ellen Johnson

    I love your Anthro outfit! That is a good husband! I will have to send this post along to my hubby…. He will probably be unmoved. 😉

  2. Sarah Isis

    Adorable dress! Points for your hubby for your outfit and the faucet!

    Agree with your post. I finally learned with my third pregnancy. I purchased very loose blouses and tunics and dresses that would also fit me postpartum….. I still miss my skinny nonmaternity jeans though. Still a little hard to not get over the fact that my body changed a lot in the past 4 years of being pregnant, not pregnant, pregnant again etc.

  3. Mary

    Ohmygosh, I did the same thing with the overalls with my first baby! WHY was I so excited to wear them??

    I learned with the last two pregnancies to just buy clothes in a size large or in a stretchy fabric and it was so much nicer than wearing the frumpy maternity clothes. Especially for hobbitish people like me, it's a great tip!

    Love the Hobbit day idea!

    • Suzette

      "frumpy maternity clothes." YES! It's like, "here, look like a giant plastic bag. Happy shopping!"
      lol! I'm hobbitish myself and loving the tip too!

  4. Mary Schneidau Sullivan

    You look radiant, and I love the suggestions!

    I do think being able to double maternity with regular clothes depends a bit on body type. It works for me in dresses (I've found New York and Co. particularly good at being regular/nursing/maternity friendly for dresses), but blouses not so much. I'm all belly when I'm pregnant and while I love the blouses you highlighted here, the size I'd need for later pregnancy, at least, would swallow my frame when I'm not pregnant.

    Also, have you tried the Gap demi panel maternity jeans? The best, by far. I too suffer with hiking maternity jeans up if they're the full panel, but I don't find that problem with the Gap demis, at least.

  5. Son Mom

    Neat idea on the clothes! The overalls made me laugh, because I had a hideous pair of maternity denim overall shorts with my first two, who were born in August and July. Even then I knew they were not flattering, but they were so comfortable I couldn't resist and would end up wearing them practically every day! I finally gave them away to remove the temptation of wearing them.

    Maybe I'll learn something someday by seeing all these nice clothes ideas -I am seriously fashion-impaired. I put off shopping as long as possible, and wear the few clothes I have until they have holes in them. (And sometimes even after they have holes if I think it's not too noticeable.) I had to purge some T-shirts from high school from my drawer!

  6. R2P2

    Have to agree with the comment about body type! I made my regular clothes work for awhile and thought I looked okay, but when I look back at pictures from 18/20 weeks, I think "I wish I'd bought maternity clothes sooner." My regular clothes aren't cut to fit a growing tummy, so I think they end up looking kind of shlubby & make me look chubby instead of preggo. This clothing-body-type issue is compounded because I am VERY busty, to the extent that I prefer to purchase shirts in "long" just so they'll sit at a comfortable place on my midsection. Even the maternity shirts I've bought have gotten a bit short on the bottom; they put in enough stretch for the tummy, but I need the extra length up top, too. Dresses are a little more forgiving but not universally so. I found a lot of great clothes from Target's Liz Lange collection and Old Navy. They were cut in such a way that still give me some shape no matter what stage of pregnancy. I wore a lot of those items in early pregnancy before I really NEEDED them because they were still flattering, and with the exception of a couple t-shirts that are pretty stretched (see above note about length! lol), I think they'll still be forgiving post-partum.

  7. Kim

    my body type is the type that needs maternity clothes. even the stretchiest pants do not feel comfy enough for me. by 6 weeks it literally hurts to not wear maternity clothes. some people just get big all over–like a balloon– and stay that way, like me, until they deliver. you are pretty pregnant. you have a good body type to work with.

  8. Luisa Babich

    Love the coral dress and cardi set! Can I give one fashion tip? A thinner belt (1 inch thick and smaller) belt will flatter you better. Too thick a belt will set up a shelf under your breasts and forms a strong division between both halves of your figure, rather a thinner belt will subtly join the top to the bottom half of your body and highlight your blossoming curves. Use colourful belts if you are looking to distract, as you do with your shoes, however, you look so beautiful that should not be an aim! Also, brown is very workday, so I would avoid this colour belt for Mass. Try a navy blue patent belt one with the green dress or a lavender belt with chambray dress? Also depends on the accessories you plan on using.

  9. Jenny

    Hahaha, coveting your own clothes. YES.

    Love that sweater in your last pic.

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