Budgeting for Your Maternity Wardrobe

Budgeting for Your Maternity Wardrobe Behold: a chart of what I spent on my maternity wardrobe during my first pregnancy.

I share my maternity wardrobe budget not because this is the definitive list for maternity clothes (trust me, it’s not), but simply for shock and awe value, at least for newly pregnant moms. You’re going to be amazed at a few things here: a) how cheap everything was — nothing designer, nothing fancy, all bought on sale, b) how many pieces were gifted (usually by my mother sending me something in the mail), and c) how small my collection of maternity clothes was, and d) how I still managed to spend almost $900 on maternity clothes that were only worn for about four months. For most moms-to-be that is not an insignificant amount of money, so budgeting of any kind can be very helpful. (Stay tuned for our upcoming post on how to save money on maternity clothes!)

I recorded my thoughts in 2011, during my first pregnancy, as well as during my second pregnancy, in 2014 — note that I was still working as a lawyer during much of my first pregnancy (my final day was in May and my son was born in August), and that for my second pregnancy I barely gained any weight at all. (I did buy a few more tops and warmer bottoms for my second pregnancy — those totaled $138 — but by and large I wore my maternity clothes from my first pregnancy.)



Keep in mind, of course, that if you plan to birth five kids — and have no intentions of changing your wardrobe style — then you may want to buy better pieces and avoid budget lines entirely in the hopes that they’ll wear better. (I’ve heard the same for baby clothes — although I will say that my second son wears a ton of Carter’s and Old Navy pants that my first son also wore, and they’re fine, if a bit schlubby.)

That said, life has a way of throwing you for a loop, particularly where parenting plans are concerned, so even if you do end up having those five kids, it’s always possible that your wardrobe will need to change because you gain or lose weight, stop working, start working from home, or shift to a more casual job. It’s also possible that the seasons won’t work out, or styles will change entirely (from, say, skinny pants to flared pants) over your kids’ birth years. (My first son was born in late August; my second son was born in late May, so I barely got to wear any of my summer maternity clothes.) Fashion math is even harder to figure out when you don’t know all the factors!

How much did you spend on your maternity wardrobe? (And how long into your pregnancy were you able to wear regular clothes?) Did you have a budget for maternity clothes, or did you just play it by ear as your pregnancy progressed? If you had/have a budget, what was/is it? Was/is it easy to stick to? 

Pictured: Pixabay

Further Reading:tips for budgeting for your maternity wardrobe - personal finance advice for working moms - image of a stylish pregnant professional woman

  • Your Maternity Wardrobe Checklist (On a Budget!) [New Parent]
  • How to Build a Basic Maternity Wardrobe on a Budget [Bustle]
  • Creating The Perfect Maternity Wardrobe (On A Budget) [Momtastic]
  • How One Mom Put Together a Chic, Professional Maternity Wardrobe for $200 [The Penny Hoarder]

We rounded up some of our best tips for budgeting for your maternity wardrobe -- because you'd be surprised how hard it is to keep costs down when you start buying maternity clothes for work! Especially if you're trying to get some semblance of pregnant professional style, it can be really difficult to not go overboard. here are our best tips for how to budget for your maternity clothes!


  1. PregLawyer says:

    I bought almost no new work clothes for my pregnancy. I got two bella bands – one in black and one in grey, so I could expand my pants for the first 5 months. Otherwise I wore jersey dresses that I already had, and which had sufficient stretch to accommodate a growing belly. I had a few Lands End a-line dresses that were a bit too big, and they easily did the trick in the final trimester. Finally, I think I purchased one pair of black maternity pants for work. Ultimately, I just wore the same stuff ALL THE TIME. No one cared.

    I focused most of my spending on lounge clothes and bras. Yoga pants, stretchy tshirts and camis, maxi skirts, and soft sports bras to wear to bed.

    • shortperson says:

      i kept hearing this advice and it did not work for me at all. NONE of my clothes fit by the second trimester, with or without a band, so i went out and bought maternity clothes “in your normal size” as every store recommends, which is a small. (i am 5’1″ and normally wore a 4 pre pregnancy, more like a 6 now.) then none of my second trimester clothes fit by the third trimester. i was edging out of size large maternity clothes by month 9. as in, i even had to buy a larger size of maternity yoga pants by then. i was meeting with lots of clients in my third trimester and had to look presentable. so i had to spend significant $$ on my wardrobe but oh well. dd was over 9 pounds at birth.

      • Another short person with a 9lber, too. I ended up borrowing clothes from friends that wore a medium because the size small that fit fine during my first pregnancy stopped fitting halfway through my second trimester. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was down to rotating through 3 outfits.

        • whitney says:

          This is exactly where I am. I was a size small petite during my first (mostly summer) pregnancy. I am now more like a medium 22 weeks into my second (mostly winter) pregnancy. I am borrowing as much as possible but getting good leggings, tights, etc. to try and stretch things as long as I can. Hoping three wrap dresses, tights and booties will get me through Dec/Jan/Feb in a very cold, snowy part of the country. This is likely to be my last pregnancy so I just don’t feel like investing much. I would rather put it toward feeling great six months after the baby arrives.

        • PregLawyer says:

          To be fair, I’m 6’0″. Probably should have put that out there in my original post. Sorry about that.

        • Closet Redux says:

          Yeah, I think this advice definitely works for taller or larger women, or women who deliver summer or maybe fall babies. I’m a slim 5’4″ and had winter babies and definitely had to buy maternity in my second tri. I can make a cotton dress stretch in July or August but the same can’t be said for winter clothes.

          Today I am wearing a non-pregnancy sheath dress that is fitting me like a miniskirt because my bump is so large, but since this is my last pregnancy I am really trying not to buy more clothes. So, if you see a pregnant lady in a minidress and tights, please pretend she looks office appropriate!

          • 5’2″ and usually size 8/10. I bought clothes in size 12, maternity M, and then maternity L. I was due in early spring, so had to have well-fitting clothes to make it through the winter. Then baby #2 was due in the early fall, so then I had to buy a SECOND SET of clothes in all those sizes, but for the opposite season.

            I tried to borrow, but honestly so many maternity clothes are poorly made and barely last through 1 pregnancy. (None of my friends are BigLaw, neither am I, so none of us have the money or need for the high-end stuff.) Especially when you’re trying to get through with as few outfits as possible, and rotate through only 2 pairs of pants for 3 months.

  2. Sonny says:

    I think I spent around $300 total. I borrowed the majority of my clothes from friends, and purchased other pieces from a maternity thrift store. When my pooch is completely gone, I’ll sell those pieces back to recoup some of the cost.

    • Anonymous says:

      +1. I spent $200 (mostly at a consignment store) and resold for $100 after my pregnancy. Part of the reason I could keep costs low is that I live in SoCal and have no weather to contend with. I wore regular clothes with a belly band until I was 7.5 months pregnant; even so, I was beyond sick of my maternity clothes. I had one black dress (which I wore with regular sweaters and blazers), one black skirt, one gray skirt, one pair of black pants, one pair of jeans, 4 work shirts, and 2 t-shirts. Nobody at my large law firm seemed to think I was poorly dressed — I recall receiving compliments about looking fashionable in my last month.

  3. avocado says:

    I wore my maternity clothes a lot longer than four months. I was in maternity pants before the end of the first trimester, and by week 16 or so I looked like I’d swallowed a basketball and needed maternity everything.

  4. I probably spent around $3K. Totally worth it. I loved loved loved my maternity clothes, felt beautiful, and wore them the second time around with kid #2. I worked in BigLaw at the time and it would not have cut it to have worn cheaper stuff.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I spent about $1k, maybe a little more. I was also in Biglaw at the time, and felt like the less expensive stuff that I found just would not have worked in my conservative business casual office. I tried borrowing stuff from a friend who had a much more casual office and I think I only used maybe 2-3 pieces. I did get a little bored with my maternity clothes by the end, but I will wear them again with kid #2 so I think it was a worthwhile investment.

      • Anon in Boring Industry says:

        What were your favorite stores for the things you guys in conservative, formal BigLaw-type atmospheres bought?

        • Anon in NYC says:

          I had the most success at a Motherhood Maternity/Pea in the Pod combo store. I bought a few Isabella Oliver and Seraphine dresses, 2 pairs of pants, and a few shirts. For me, it really helped to try clothes on. My usual workwear is a dress or skirt/shirt, and I can usually buy off the rack from places like Banana or J Crew where I can be reasonably assured of their quality, but I needed to see/feel the maternity clothes. I think I bought the store brand pants, which I thought were pretty good for maternity work pants, but I can’t remember the other brands.

        • FTMinFL says:

          I’m not in BigLaw, but in a formal office setting. Tart Collections maternity dresses were workhorses for me when paired with a blazer or long cardigan. I was pleased with the quality and they were all machine washable. I also bought one of their maternity blazers and I still wear it one year post partum because it is so dang comfortable!

          • shortperson says:

            i also work in biglaw and spent about $3k. i liked my jcrew maternity pants, isabella olivier dress, a few rosie pope shirts, and a theory maternity suit i got at pea in the pod ($700 but i needed it and wore it to death), and a couple separates/dresses from loft. i supplemented with the usual target/pea in the pod basics. i got a few pairs of maternity pjs from figure8 and a great athletic bathing suit from swimoutlet.com.

            one other thing to remember is that you may still need maternity clothes after you give birth. i wore my maternity jeans 2.5 months post partum, etc.

            my main regret on purchases is that i should have thought about what would be useful for nursing in my maternity clothes. i.e. the isabella olivier maternity dress i bought did not work for nursing, so i went out and bought an isabella olivier nursing dress. it was a great buy and again, i wore it to death, but i could have planned that one better.

          • Anon in Boring Industry says:

            Thank you both — I’m starting to panic about my formal office wear now that the weather is turning cold, so those suggestions will help!

    • Anonymous says:

      I did not have luck with combo maternity/nursing clothing items. When I was pregnant, I was self-conscious about the obvious nursing features and was forever afraid that they would fall open. After baby, they didn’t fit. I ended up buying a bunch of non-maternity nursing camisoles to wear around the house and wearing normal clothes outside the house. I favored wrap dresses and pullover tops and used a nursing cover.

  5. lucy stone says:

    I was able to get by for a long time, but then I didn’t have anything that fit because most plus size maternity clothes are garbage. I will put in a plug for BumpStart tanks and tees from Macy’s – they are affordable and wear really well. I’m still wearing them now for nursing since they are stretchy and machine washable and they’ve held up great.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I had to start wearing maternity jeans around 11 weeks due to bloat…I’m at 5 months now and I’m kind of shocked at the amount of clothes listed there. There are 9 dresses alone up there!. I basically have 7 outfits on repeat with some variations due to cardigans. I’ll buy a few more things but I think some of this could’ve been cut down with smarter shopping. I cycle through two pairs of jeans and two pairs of work pants with 1 maternity dress right now. Keep in mind that I can wear jeans to work though. I’m not going to apologize for my short-term wardrobe repetition.

  7. Anon for this one ;) says:

    I’m really glad you posted this! Thinking of getting pregnant with #2 and have been trying to explain to my husband that maternity clothes are something you have to build into the budget, especially if you need to look professional for work. It’s been almost 7 years since the last one, so unfortunately I only kept my favorite top and gave away everything else!

  8. s-p-c says:

    Nearing the end of my pregnancy as a senior associate in BigLaw, and I’ve spent about $600 on eight dresses (mostly navy, black, and grey) that I can wear for work, client meetings, weekends, weddings, etc. About half were full-price at Nordstrom and Seraphine, the rest were from a local consignment shop. So far, so good – with cardigans, blazers, my Commando thigh-highs, and my wrap coats, which still fit for now . . .

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