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Maternity Jeans Reviewed: The Yay to the Nay

By Ilana Wiles

the yay to the nayThe photos above are both me taken on the same day. I KNOW- CRAZY. On the left I look like a chic pregnant woman with a cute baby belly somewhere around my second trimester, and on the right I look like I should have given birth weeks ago and also, I might be wearing a diaper.

I’m here to help you from having to go through this exercise yourself. Nobody should ever have to see themselves looking like a pregnant 45-year-old man, even if it’s just for five seconds in a dressing room.

Last week, at twenty weeks pregnant, I took a trip to Destination Maternity— Manhattan’s mecca for all things baby-bump— in search of the best maternity jeans.

Now, finding the perfect jeans is no easy task, even when you are not ‘with child.’ It involves a very careful calculation of both price and fit. And probably a good two hours of time to try on every pair in the store.

Maternity jeans fall into three different price ranges and categories: high-end such as Joe’s Jeans, AG Jeans and Seven for all mankind (priced $150 and up), mid-range such as Mavi and Vigoss (priced around $100) and low-priced such as Motherhood Maternity (priced under $50).

The main goal of my trip was to determine if the $198-priced pairs were really that different from the $50-priced pairs. After all, you are only wearing these suckers for a few months.

The answer I’m afraid is YES.

NOT ALL MATERNITY JEANS ARE CREATED EQUAL. Not by a long shot. (See photo above.)

The more expensive jeans not only fit better, they use lighter, stretchier, more comfortable material, they have fuller firmer belly bands, and they just look 1000x BETTER.

FYI- Heavier material is bad not only because it’s 100 degrees outside right now but because without a zippered waist holding your jeans up, the material will weigh down your pants causing them to sag. Then you’ll try repeatedly to pull them up using the belly band, but you can’t lift your shirt up to your bra in public, so you’ll pull the band at the part where it meets the jeans right above your butt. AND (this is important) if that belly band material isn’t made of something sturdy, it’s going to start to tear. Trust me— I learned this the hard way, this past weekend.

Here’s “The Yay to the Nay” of all the maternity jeans I tried on:

Joe’s Maternity Jeans

The most expensive maternity jeans of the bunch at $198. I found the fit only okay. Verdict: Maybe it’s just my body, who knows, but I say— NAY, not worth it.

AG Maternity Jeans

These were $160 a pair and they fit and look awesome. Plus the material is super light, soft and comfortable. I knew the second I put them on that I would be buying them no matter what the price. Verdict: YAY.

Seven for all mankind Maternity Jeans

This brand of maternity jeans (also $160 per pair) was hit or miss. I didn’t like the fit of the regular boot cut Seven for all mankind maternity jeans and they weren’t nearly as comfy as AG’s maternity jeans, but the skinny Seven for all mankind maternity jeans were AMAZING. The belly band is nude color instead of blue which is actually awesome for sheer summer shirts. And it starts really low so there is never any bulk- you feel like you are wearing a unitard. Plus, they seem like the kind of jeans that will never stretch out. Verdict: Boot cut- NAY, Skinny- YAY.

Vigoss Maternity Jeans


Sold maternity jeans

Both maternity jean pairs looked pretty good but the fabric has hardly any stretch and felt uncomfortably heavy. (Sold maternity jeans pictured below) Verdict: NAY.

Mavi maternity jeans

This is the brand of maternity jeans ($100) I wore during my first pregnancy. They are comfortable but not nearly as flattering as the higher-end maternity jeans. I actually ended up buying a Capri length for summer but those were the maternity jeans I almost ripped this past weekend. YAY for the price- just be careful when pulling them up!

Motherhood Maternity jeans

And last but not least the Motherhood Maternity jeans ($30) were perhaps the most atrocious thing I have ever put on my body. How something can be that loose but also look like you have cameltoe, I have no idea. Also, the jeans below are sized medium and made me want to cry. Verdict: TRIPLE NAY.

The lesson here: if you want to look good and be comfortable in your maternity jeans, you are going to need to shell out some cash.

If you don’t want to spend the money (which is totally understandable and okay), there is no law that says you have to wear jeans while you are pregnant.

Because seriously— you’d have to PAY ME to leave the house in those Motherhood Maternity jeans. I’m having a hard enough time knowing that I just published a picture of me wearing them on the internet.


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About the Author

Ilana Wiles

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertisin...

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertising for the past 15 years. She lives in the East Village of NYC with her husband, her two-year-old daughter and a rapidly growing pile of stuffed animals.

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  • Carolyn

    July 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    You know what’s funny, is that I have a HORRIBLE time finding normal jeans that fit (I have a small waist, big butt, and legs that are deceptively long for someone of average height). I was panicked I’d never find maternity jeans that fit (and I was on a serious budget) and then I found that it was SO MUCH EASIER to find maternity jeans that fit than normal jeans! (Oh how I wish ALL pants had an elastic panel instead of a sized waist!) And while I didn’t even try any of the high end brands you mentioned, the ones at Motherhood Maternity fit me nicer than many of the high end non-maternity jeans I’ve owned 😉 (Now, by the end of my pregnancy the material was wearing thin and ended up ripping, but I wore those suckers every single day for 6 months, so for the price, I think I got my money’s worth!) And I loved the lightweight stretch (why can’t ALL jeans be so flexible??) So yes, those do look pretty hideous on you, but I hope some people give them a try because they CAN be quite flattering 🙂 

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Thanks so much for chiming in Carolyn and sharing your alternate experience with Motherhood Maternity jeans.

      And thanks Ilana for allowing us to post that pic. You’re a champ!

  • Becky

    July 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I think it really depends on body type. I’m petite and super long waisted. And I carry low. 

    The higher end jeans either don’t fit at all because of my belly or my legs. (I cant do skinny jeans – pear). 

    Ironically, motherhood fit me best. I got one with tan belly. The only thing is I have to wash it every or very other time to keep it tight. 

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks for chiming in with your personal opinion. I think that will help other expectant women. 🙂

    • Lisa

      October 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      I also found a pair at Motherhood Maternity that fit well and are flattering and comfortable. They have several different styles, lengths, and fits. Like all jeans, it’s important to try on several pair before choosing one. No two pair of jeans fit the same – maternity or not – even if they are supposedly identical.

  • Abby

    July 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I love my AG (non maternity) jeans. They are my favorite. This time around I have been super prego during the summer so I didn’t even buy maternity jeans–it’s just too hot in south texas. But last pregnancy I loved Gap jeans–I think they are 60 but they are hit or miss so no telling!!

  • Antje

    July 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I agree that those cheap jeans look hideous on you.  However, I bought an amazing pair of jeans at a low-end maternity store chain (it may even have been Motherhood Maternity, I don’t remember exactly).  They looked and felt absolutely fantastic on me.  I received all sorts of compliments on them the first week I wore them, and this from people who didn’t even realize they were maternity jeans “already”.

    I’m just saying your mileage may vary.  Don’t write off the cheaper stores until you’ve tried them.  If you get results like what you’ve shown above, then by all means go for the designer jeans instead.

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      So happy to hear that the less expensive option worked for you. The more personal opinions we get on certain brands, the better. 🙂

  • KJ

    July 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Gap maternity jeans saved my life (or at least my self esteem).  But they’re not super consistent – I had one pair that were amazing (I believe the cut was “sexy boot” and they were full panel) – comfy, flattering, pretty much the only pants I wanted to wear in public. So I bought a different pair online (a cropped jean with an “ultimate panel”, which SUCKED from top to bottom. So: go to Gap maternity, but be sure to try stuff on.

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      thanks for the help with Gap especially the retail vs online feedback. 🙂

  • Ilana Wiles

    July 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I will definitely go to Gap Maternity and see if their jeans work for me.

    I should also point out that each brand has numerous styles and I did not try on ALL of them. So maybe a different fit of Motherhood Maternity wouldn’t have been so hideous. Although, after that pair, I didn’t want to risk it again!

  • Amie

    July 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Second shout-out to the Gap–they saved my pregnant butt.  Both in jeans and dress pants. 

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      thanks for the info on Gap.

  • Jenn

    July 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I liked Gap maternity jeans as well. They’re a great compromise at $70, and you can always find coupons. I will say that the “denim” material did snag a lot on one of the pairs I got, but they fit so nicely it was worth it. Their maternity corduroys are awesome too.

    Motherhood Maternity pants are like some kind of cruel joke. Sure, they’re cheap… but at the price of your self-esteem.

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      thanks for the feedback on the Gap maternity jeans. given the consistent feedback sounds like it makes a trip worthwhile.

  • Jamie

    July 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I want to say I’ve been living in my H&M maternity jeans. I think they’re skinny. And they’re really affordable. Gap ones from my last pregnancy arent bad either.

    • Isabel


      July 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      great tip on the H&M and Gap. Better price point for sure than the designer ones.

  • Christina

    July 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I just want to put a plug in for Old Navy maternity jeans. I found them to be super cute, plenty stretchy and light-weight and they were all under $30-40 price range. I did have to order a few sizes and fits so till I found the right ones, but it was easy to send back the ones that didn’t work and I was able to buy 5 pairs of jeans in a wide range of washes and cuts for less than one of those pairs. I’m so not in to spending huge amounts of money for a 6 month wardrobe, especially if you don’t know when you’ll be trying for a second baby, and what will be in style then!

  • Alisha

    July 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I also love my Old Navy jeans. They don’t last for ever (7 months into my 2nd pregnancy, the ones from my first pregnancy are tearing in the panel part), but they only cost $40, they look great, and they’re comfortable. I just wish they had the nude panel–I hadn’t seen that before!

    • Isabel


      July 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation on Old Navy!

  • Hannah

    July 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    WOW, I would never spend that much money on regular jeans, much less maternity jeans. The prices mentioned on Old Navy jeans sounds like a good deal, although usually Old Navy clothing rarely looks good on me (prego or not). Seems like ya could’ve gone a size smaller at Motherhood and possibly had a much better fit. For now, I’ll continue wearing my regular jeans with the top tucked in under a belly band, from Motherhood maternity!

  • April

    July 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Almost 3rd trimester on my 2nd pregnancy here. I love my skinny(ish) Liz Lange for Target maternity jeans, they are my “first 2 trimesters” maternity jeans. For longer car trips or airplane flights I start rotating in my Motherhood Maternity pair, and they then take me through trimester 3. Maybe the problem with the ones that looked bad is that they are for closer to the end of pregnancy?

  • Ally

    July 16, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Gap maternity saved all my pregnancies. I’m very petite and had such a hard time finding clothes that looked cute. I loved their jeans and they were very flattering. 

  • Meg A.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I loved my cheap-o Old Navy maternity jeans. I think they were $25? However, I hate jeans in general (even when they fit great) and preferred leggings w/ boots throughout my pregnancy.

  • Frenchie

    July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I wore skinny maternity jeans from the Gap as my ‘dressy jeans’ and I wish I could still wear them. They had an awesome selection of washes that were in style, and they are great quality. I also had a pair of Motherhood Maternity jeans, and liked those fine but they definitely looked more casual. My first maternity denim purchase was Target/Liz Lange and those were AWFUL on me.

    • Isabel


      July 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      thanks for this great feedback on how different brands fit your body.

  • Megan B.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    I can’t wait to show my husband this article! I definitely want a pair that grow with you instead of having the huge band that covers up your belly. Do you know who makes the red top you have on with the capris? I love it! Thanks! : )

  • Hollie

    July 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Bargain hunters! After you try on jeans at your retailer of choice (Gap, Motherhood, Target, etc) and find a style, size, and fit that you love… check eBay! I purchased 4 pairs of Gap jeans and a pair of 7 for All Mankind maternity for about $150 during my last pregnancy (the baby is a month old) and you can also re-sell them. 🙂

    • Isabel


      July 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Love the idea to check ebay as a resource for your favorite items.

  • Autumn

    July 16, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    I did motherhood maternity pants and I was pleased with them.  Partially cause I got 5 pairs of pants (different styles) for $150.  I’m definitely overweight, and I’m apple shaped, so I Have a Heck of a time finding regular pants.  Maternity pants are a blessing (and I’m still wearing a couple of them 10 months later) cause they stretch where I’m still the biggest.  I’m down 30 pounds from my pre pregnancy weight, but my waist size is still the same.  I also wore a lot of maxi dresses while pregnant, so pants weren’t as big of an issue for me (august baby)

  • MamaofTwo

    July 17, 2012 at 10:48 am

    On a budget it is ridiculously hard to find maternity clothes.  I mostly stuck to Old Navy for all my stuff, got a lot of it on sale, and avoided jeans entirely.  I did enjoy this article though.  The emphasis here is that you HAVE to try them on.  We are Americans living in Germany, getting paid USD, and the Euro exchange rate made me balk at the German maternity clothes prices.  I don’t pay $100+ for jeans I plan to wear until they fall off of me, let alone ones I’ll wear for a limited time.  Buying clothes through the mail is VERY hit or miss and frustrating.  So I stuck with non-jean material that was sure to be a little more giving.  Skirts are fantastic and linen pants… there is no substitute.  

    I do wish there was a website where women who bought expensive prego-clothes would resell them to those of us miles from home and looking for a good deal on second hand maternity stuff.  

  • Steph

    July 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I ade this exact discovery the day you published this!   This is my third time around and I decided enough was enough.  Mavi nd AG are the only high end jeans that I have ever splurged on.  I did not try on any AG (only found a few and they were purple or not on sale).  I scored a pair of Mavi’s on sale, but passed on a full price pair because they were too lightweight and not denim-y enough for me.  I also landed a pair by Ripe that are also fantastic, and were also on sale.  Shop around ladies, there are sales to be had!  I paid less than the gap prices on these and am a thousand times happier.

    • Isabel


      July 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      so happy to hear you found a deal. that’s the way to do it!

  • Katy

    July 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    The way you stand in those jeans makes a big difference in the pictures. As does the angle at which you take the pictures, eg. High end – hip height, low end – from above, making eveything closer to the camera look much bigger. For all the high end jeans you struck really cute poses, ones which are known to visually slim a person. Id hazard a wager that you also tried the right size on. And in the low end jeans you decided to take two very unappealing poses first, directly from the side and second square on from the front, both poses that make you appear much wider than you really are. You would’ve also benefitted from sizing down, as it’s clear that because the pants (there is a size small as oppsed to a medium, you know) were too large you needed to pull them way up, thus creating the hideous cameltoe you spoke of. Not everybody can afford to pay 160 for maternity clothes, much less regular clothes. Please don’t make these more affordable options look as terrible as you have by fooling people with camera angles.

    • Isabel


      July 17, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Katy, are you new here? We take our integrity very seriously and have worked very hard to earn our readers’ trusts over the past several years.

      You make a good point about the possible impact of camera angles of the pictures chosen, but I honestly I can’t get past your unfounded and downright nasty accusations.

      First, Ilana wore her jeans in her daily life and actually tested them out. I hired Ilana and trust her to use her judgement which she conveyed in her writing. She shows you the “cameltoe” photo to hit home how BAD those jeans are.

      Second, in my heart of hearts I WISHED that the less expensive jeans fared better in Ilana’s testing. I really did. though, one thing that really came through in this exercise (especially once readers started chiming in) is that jeans shopping (especially for maternity ones) is a super personal thing where trying on lots of different options is ultimately necessary.

      Lastly, I paid for all of these jeans and was NOT compensated or given jeans to review (we would disclose that if we were). Lastly, we don’t make a dime from that link to the Destination Maternity website (also, Destination Maternity is NOT sponsor of our site). Monetarily speaking, we don’t make any money on whether any reader decides to buy an expensive or less expensive pair of jeans.

  • Katy

    July 18, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Hey Isabel, I’m not new. I’ve had this site bookmarked since last June when I found out I was pregnant and have simply been a silent reader until now. Other than a few articles I really enjoy this site. This one in particular though really struck a chord. Although I have to say, I don’t feel like I made any nasty accusations. I wrote that the camera angles and poses in the pictures were impacting and biasing the way the jeans come across to people who were reading this article. Which you agreed with. I dont see the part where I accused you of anything like sponsorships, neither did I point out any link to a website. I simply pointed out that if the pictures were to all be taken from the same angle, with some variation of a ‘slimming’ pose that the cheaper jeans wouldn’t look nearly as bad. And that it would help to try on the right size, even in the article it says she’s wearing a medium but it’s very clear that she should be in a small. Thank you for responding though, it’s great to know that you actually take the time and effort to reply to people’s comments!

    • Isabel


      July 18, 2012 at 8:00 am


      Communication is 80% tone and the tone of your comment was nasty and accusatory. You accused us of *purposefully* making “affordable options [look] terrible” by “fooling people with camera angles.”

      I added the point about sponsorships and links to make it clear that we have no horse in this race. You didn’t bring it up, but I specifically wanted to close the loop especially after an accusation like the one you made of trying to “fool people.” (Although, I want to make it clear that even if there was a sponsor or link involved, it wouldn’t at all impact our views on products. It never has and never will.)

      At the end of the day, to me pictures are secondary to Ilana’s use and what she saw in the dressing room with her eyes and when she wore them day-to-day and how those jeans made her feel.

      Lastly, if you would like to discuss this further, please send me a private message at isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com as I think enough of this thread has been dedicated to this conversation.


  • Courtney

    July 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I found great maternity skinny jeans at H&M for an awesome price! Going there was a last ditch effort for me, but I was pleasantly surprised at their selection of maternity clothes and pants that fit well for a good price.

  • Pregnant on a budget

    July 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Not shocked that if you shell out $200 on a pair of jeans, they’re going to look good. I really question how many women out there can actually afford to drop that kind of cash on maternity clothes. Would love to see a follow up article on dressing cute during pregnancy ON A BUDGET. If I could drop endless amounts of $$ on clothes, I wouldn’t have a fashion problem!

  • Ellen

    July 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    There are other options at a lower price point, and I think your tester could’ve found them if she’d tried a little harder. I also LOVED my Old Navy maternity jeans, and they were pretty stinkin’ cheap. I wore them through 3 pregnancies, and they made me feel skinny (sort of). Also, I do believe she tried on the ugliest style of maternity jeans that Motherhood sells. Now, I hate Motherhood with a passion because a lot of their stuff is overpriced crud, but there are some decent jeans with a low waist there. Also, Target has some good jeans options for maternity. I guess it bothers me that this article may get some women to spend more than they can afford for maternity jeans by assuming that there simply isn’t anything out there that’s flattering that they can afford. And I really don’t think that’s true.

  • Jaimi

    July 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I was a size 14 pre-pregnancy, no hips, a little thigh, a little belly. I got size 14GAP maternity jeans in a dark wash, full belly panel and wore them almost every day. I also bought a pair of jeans with the demi panel and hated them from a maternity boutique. The GAP jeans weren’t too heavy and I wore them into July (delivered 7/12/11) here in HOTtlanta.

    • Isabel


      July 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Thanks for the specific feedback. This is really helpful. 🙂

  • Lisa

    July 29, 2012 at 2:55 am

    I can also recommend H&M maternity jeans for a cheap option (ca. 30 Euro) that looks pretty good.  They have a tendency to slide down, but at least they look good – especially if you’re on a tight budget.

  • Andrea

    July 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Definitely size down one size from your norm for the motherhood denim. I am most definitely not an xs person but the size s were incredibly unflattering, while the xs were pretty cute and held up really well.

    I had a pair of old navy skinnies that looked cute, but were terrible quality. The panel literally started to tear the very first time I wore them and within a few wears was super holey. I might DIY a tan full panel with a belly band onto them for the next time around.

  • Allison

    June 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I have had such a hard time finding good maternity jeans! I have tried on every single style of skinnies at every store I’ve been to, and the AGs seem to be the best (for me at least). I have a question – do you have any recommendations for how to hike up sagging pants without risking tearing the thin fabric belly panel? After sitting down they always need a good tug, but without a true waistband there’s nothing to grab on to. I can’t figure out a quick and graceful way to do it in public! Any suggestions?

  • Jen

    January 23, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    I would have to agree the AG jeans are best. I however always wear designer jeans, have $2,500.00 worth from last year alone. The material is quality. The article was based on was it worth shelling out more money for the expensive pair, and the answer is yes.  Not whether you can afford them or not! 

  • Taryn

    July 22, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks so much for this post!  I’m 19 weeks & in search of maternity jeans.  I have a 4 year old daughter, but all the clothes I wore with her are too big.  I wore Gap & Paige then, but all of those I’ve tried now just aren’t cutting it.  Which style of AG did you try.  Those look great!