Cutting Back on Maternity Clothes

“I am just too vain to wear my husband’s jeans and bulky sweaters for the sake of anti-consumerism and the environment, but it would have saved me $277 in maternity clothes,” I wrote in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I can’t wear my husband’s clothes! I have to look professional!” Obviously, I never managed to pull off the pregnant Annie Hall look myself.

The point was (and there was a point . . . I think) that, if we had to—like say we truly had no money or if we went into anaphylactic shock upon contact with stretchy elastic waistbands—we could avoid spending money on maternity clothes. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting cute maternity clothes. Your body is expanding in every direction at an alarming rate; is now the time to start dressing like an overstuffed Raggedy Ann doll? And there are professional appearances to consider, of course. I was lucky (?) enough to work somewhere without much of a dress code: an art college. One of my students made his one set of clothes himself out of raw deer hide. Another doesn’t wear shoes, ever. But I digress.

Assuming you do want to reduce the amount of maternity clothes you buy, here are my top tips:

    1. Low-rise pants. I managed to wear one pair of regular jeans all nine months of pregnancy.

    1. Rubber bands. Extend the life of those waistbands my looping a rubber band through the buttonhole. Attach the rubber band to the button. Voila. That should hold your pants up for a few more weeks, at least.

    1. Long-torso tops. Regular long-torso tees will see you through those first months. Regular maternity tops were always much too loose for me, as I didn’t “pop out” so much as thicken through my midsection.

    1. Long-torso camisoles. A variation on tip #3. With a few long camisoles, you should be able to extend the life of your regular clothes. The bottom of the tank will cover your belly, and you can wear regular tops or unbuttoned tops over them.

    1. Hand-me-downs. Obviously borrowing maternity clothes is the most affordable way to get through a pregnancy in style. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have anyone to borrow clothes from. Boo-hoo.


    1. Bella bands. I never got one of these, but they’re a great idea if you want to extend the life of your regular clothes.
    2. Belly-bearing fashions. If you got it (a big belly, that is), flaunt it. Admittedly, this is not an appropriate corporate look.

  1. Your husband’s clothes. Ha, ha. No, don’t do that.

So, if you do want to buy maternity clothes, go for it! We recommend scouring the consignment shops and thrift stores for the best deals. But if you want to reduce the overall amount of new clothes you buy for this short-lived bodily state, you now have my tips to guide you. Do you have any secrets for cutting down on the amount of new clothes you have to buy during pregnancy? Or ways to extend the life of your regular clothes? Let us know!


  1. If you’re lucky enough to be pregnant in the warmer weather months like I was, a great way to save is to wear loose dresses that you already own. I had so many summer dresses that fit me almost all the way up to my 9 months; however, near the end the dresses became too short because of my ever expanding belly.

  2. Consignment stores are a great option. There are at least 2 where I live that carry good quality used maternity. Not only are the pieces used they are much cheaper than you would pay in store.

  3. Many thrift stores also carry maternity clothes–I found nearly all of my maternity clothes at Goodwill, including several nice pairs of jeans, fancy tops and skirts.

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