green maternity dress

A Maternity Wear Caspule Wardrobe

I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately about how downright awful most maternity clothes are, so today I thought I’d switch things up a little, by showing you some of my maternity style essentials, instead!

Wait, though: isn’t this all a bit early, I hear absolutely none of you ask? Well, maybe for some people, but, in my case, my bump appeared fairly early, so I’ve been in maternity wear (although not exclusively: there are still some pieces from my normal wardrobe that still fit…just.) since the start of the second trimester, and have already developed some firm ideas about what works for me, what doesn’t work (Yes, Bellaband, I’m looking at you…), and what I’d consider to be my second trimester maternity essentials – so far, at least. And here they are…

maternity essentials: a small capsule wardrobe for pregnancy and beyondMY MATERNITY ESSENTIALS:

bras // knickers // PJs

stripe dress // floral dress // jeans // trousers // leggings

black skirt // stripe skirt // cardigan // sweater // tank tops

So! From the top…

Maternity Lingerie & Nightwear

I’m quite possibly veering into TMI territory, here, but my boobs were the first part of my body to get the pregnancy memo, and they still like to remind me of it at every possible opportunity. Thanks, girls, couldn’t do it without you. Even if you’re only at the start of the first trimester, though, I’m sure you’ve already worked out that your boobs are going to grow – and they’re probably also going to hurt while they’re doing it. OUCH. For this reason, it’s pretty obvious that a couple of good bras should be at the very top of your maternity essentials list, and conventional wisdom decrees that you should go and get yourself professionally fitted for them, like the mature, responsible adult that you are. Ahem.

Because I’m NOT a mature, responsible adult, though (And also because I was so sick during my first trimester that the thought of going to a department store was far, far beyond my capabilities at the time), I DIDN’T actually do this, and just ordered a few different bras online, to see which one was most comfortable. (The ones in the image above are from H&M, but I really love this one from Topshop!) This has actually worked out just fine for me so far, but, you know, I’m here to make the mistakes so you don’t have to, so don’t be like me, folks: get thee to a lingerie department, STAT!

As well as the new bras, I also stocked up on some new undies and PJs – all from H&M. The PJs were pretty necessary, because, even before the bump made its appearance, I couldn’t stand the feeling of anything around my stomach, so most of my existing pairs stopped being comfortable a few weeks into the 2nd trimester. The undies I could probably have lived without, but as I’ve been wearing a lot of bodycon-style skirts, dresses and leggings, which are prone to the ol’ VPL, I also invested in a couple of pairs of these: they’re not sexy (most maternity lingerie isn’t), but they do create a nice, smooth line under skirts and dresses, so I guess they do they job.

Speaking of skirts and dresses….

Maternity Skirts & Dresses

Stretchy, figure-hugging dresses have truly been one of my maternity essentials for this trimester: I did order a couple of other dress styles, but they all just looked like sacks on me, so back they went, to be replaced with ALL THE BODYCON STYLES. I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been really enjoying being able to wear these styles without having to struggle into Spanx or suck in my stomach all the time, but they’re also just SO COMFORTABLE – especially the dresses, which obviously have no waistband, and therefore nothing to press down on The Bump.

If you want to keep things super-simple, and go for a really small capsule wardrobe here, I think you could easily just go for skirts OR dresses, rather than both. I’ve been wearing some of my dresses with a shirt or sweater over the top, so they do double-duty, and I’ve also been wearing some non-maternity styles, which I had before I got pregnant, but which are so stretchy that they’re still going strong. Because I’m an incurable shopaholic (and also because I kind of relished the thought of putting together a capsule wardrobe that I’d actually have to stick to for once…), though, I bought both dresses AND skirts… and I’m sure I’ll be buying some more before this pregnancy is over. Because obviously, right?

Maternity Jeans, Trousers & Leggings

I pretty much live in jeans for causal wear: in my first trimester, I bought a couple of Bellabands, in an attempt to just keep wearing my usual jeans for as long as possible, but I quickly realised they just weren’t going to cut it (Might just be me, but I didn’t find them particularly comfortable, and was constantly worrying about my trousers falling down…), which is when the search for petite maternity jeans began. I actually have a whole other post planned about this (So THAT’S something to look forward to, yeah?) because, wow, has that search been a tough one, but what I will say now is that if there’s one piece of clothing worth investing in for your pregnancy, maternity jeans would be it. (Assuming you wear jeans, obviously. If not, feel free to disregard that piece of advice…)

My other purchases in the “bottoms” department have been a selection of maternity leggings, plus this pair of black bengaline trousers, which I absolutely love: these basically have the look of leggings, but they’re a little bit smarter, and with more coverage, so I feel less like I’m out in public without my pants on. As for maternity leggings, meanwhile, I’ve been more or less living in them at home: they’re true maternity essentials for me, and I’ve already ended up buying a few pairs of them. The first ones I got were for H&M, who I normally love for basics, but whose leggings turned out to be a little too thin for my liking. You know when you bend your knee, and you can almost see skin showing through the fabric? THAT. And THAT is just not on, is it? I’ve since bought this two-pack from ASOS, who have a pretty good maternity petite section (Which is like gold-dust, trust me…), and so far I’m happy with them: so much so that I’m just waiting for them to release the grey version in petite, and I’m ON IT…


Maternity Tops & Knits

This is actually one area of my maternity capsule wardrobe which is still mostly made up of non-maternity items. As I mentioned, while my bump appeared fairly early, making anything with a waistband suddenly feel like my mortal enemy, my top half hasn’t changed that much: yes, the girls are larger, and there are a couple of tops that I just can’t force them into any more, but most of my tops and sweaters are either stretchy, or loose-fitting, so I haven’t had to buy too much here – so far, anyway.

I did buy a handful of maternity t-shirts and tank-tops, mostly because they tend to be much longer than regular fit, which means I can wear them over my maternity leggings. (This has actually been a revelation to me: I’ve always struggled to find good-quality longer tops in the past, but now I’ll be going straight to the maternity section, without the slightest hint of shame!) Other than that, though, most of what I’d call “maternity essentials” in terms of knitwear aren’t actually maternity clothes at all – they’re just loose-fitting, slouchy sweaters and cardis, which I wear often anyway, and which still fit over the bump, without looking odd. By far my favourite purchase(s) so far has been a selection of these chunky knit cardigans from ASOS (I’m wearing the pink one in this post, with a non-maternity stretchy dress…). These are open at the front, so I’ll be able to continue wearing them once the baby’s here, and they’re nice and warm too, so I’ve been wearing them as outerwear on some of our chillier summer days. I’d happily own one in every single colour, but for now I have three (pink, grey and cream), which are on constant rotation, over dresses, jeans and leggings. For now.

I also invested in this cashmere sweater from H&M (Who do a surprisingly good range of cashmere, just FYI): again, it’s not maternity, but I bought my usual size, and it’s a very loose fit, as well as being long enough to wear over leggings, so I’m hoping to get a few month’s use out of it yet – and, assuming I don’t let it get stretched out by the growing bump, to continue wearing it afterwards, too.

And those are my 2nd trimester maternity essentials: what would be on your list?

More capsule wardrobes and style essentials

What to wear when you're pregnant: the ultimate maternity wear capsule wardrobe

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  • Aw man, I think I lived in New Look maternity jeans from 14 weeks onwards and I swimming wear non-under-wired bras 99% of the time more than two years later.

    July 28, 2017
  • Myra Boyle


    Looking great in comfy maternity/bodycom dresses and skirts. Your maternity wardrobe is fab, as predicted. Loving the striped and the soft pinks

    July 28, 2017
  • I totally love the idea of all the soft materials and the bodycon dresses without worrying about sucking it in!

    ? Pia

    July 28, 2017
  • Rachael Dickinson


    Looks gorgeous! I am sure you will be amazing in these clothes!

    Rachael xox

    July 28, 2017
  • Loved the Topshop nursing bras, by far the prettiest. I picked up some great Topshop maternity wear, a lot of it hardly worn, on eBay. Got a couple of really comfy (not frumpy) dresses from Red Herring at Debenhams, think they still do maternity. Katie x

    July 28, 2017
  • D. Johnson


    Another great capsule wardrobe! I loved the test of good leggings “… when you bend your knee…” I also hate the feeling that I wandered out of the house without finishing dressing. This is exacerbated by my wearing tights under jeans in winter for warmth. You made your capsule sound so comfy and cozy that it’s worth copying (to some degree) by us non-pregnant comfort seekers.

    July 29, 2017
  • Decca


    I’ve tried bump bands and found the same thing, I was too nervous about them holding my trousers up to relax. Using them to lengthen tops has been fine though.

    I have a wardrobe full of empire-line dresses, so I wasn’t particularly worried about what I’d wear on top, but I knew I’d have to have a good pair of maternity jeans (I now have blue, grey and black ones… all New Look because the fit is spot on for me,) and I got a few pairs of maternity leggings too.

    What surprised me most was I could get into a pair of Primark leggings that have a stretchy waistband and plenty of room in the top, so they are also handy but now I’m almost into the third trimester I’ve been folding the waistband down.

    Work wear has been difficult. I work for a supermarket and our uniform does have maternity options but I hate them with a fiery passion. They don’t fit well and they look horrendous. My solution was to buy plain round necked maternity t-shirts in the corporate colour and a pair of maternity trousers, and it blends in well enough with the uniform jacket, which still fits in the back and arms but I can’t fasten anymore! Plain work wear seems to be a let down for a lot of women looking for maternity clothes. I’m surprised Next or H&M haven’t taken up the challenge.

    July 29, 2017
  • gemma


    love the polka dot knit, where’d you get it from? x

    July 29, 2017
  • Ahhh I’m so excited to start maternity shopping! Thanks for the info!

    August 9, 2017
  • Myra


    Good post

    September 4, 2017
  • Bethany


    Hi, where are the two dresses from please? Thanks!

    May 27, 2020